He rose when Iylaine came in.

Iylaine’s father had been sitting at Gunnilda’s table, but he rose when Iylaine came in. She thought at first that he meant to come embrace her, and she stopped and stiffened.

He did not advance.

She realized then that he only rose because she was a lady, and she was hurt. She would not have welcomed his embrace, but she thought he ought to have tried anyway.

“What’s this I see?” he laughed. “A sunburn? Watch yourself, Baby, or it will be freckles in the fall.”

'What's this I see?'

When he was merry, he had a big, booming laugh that swept up everyone else and carried them along in it.

She recalled entire years when he had not laughed like that – years when he had had her alone – and so she alone did not laugh with the others. She had stayed behind in those old years while he and his laugh had rolled onward and away.

She alone did not laugh with the others.

“Then I shall use elder flower water on them,” she said coolly, and the others laughed again – all but her father, who gave her a strange, soft look, and Gunnilda, who turned her eyes away.

“But you better not call her Baby,” Bedwig said. “She doesn’t like that any more.”

“Oh, no?” her father smiled across the room at her, though he spoke to Bedwig. “Why is that? Too much confusion? Has little Baby Margaret been coming running every time someone calls her?”

'Has little Baby Margaret been coming running every time someone calls her?'

“No!” Bedwig laughed. “Maggie can’t run! It’s ’cause she’s not your baby anymore, she said.”

“Beddy!” Gunnilda scolded softly.

Her father’s smile wavered.

Iylaine was annoyed. For days she had been planning how she meant to tell him this, and she had sharpened her words to a razor’s edge. Now Bedwig had come blundering in and told him with all the finesse of a club to the head.

Iylaine was annoyed.

“I suppose you have others now,” she said haughtily, but it was already too late. The words had had some of the desired effect – she could see that he was hurt – but there was also confusion in his eyes. She had meant to hurt him with such precision that he would understand how he had hurt her – but it was too late. And it didn’t take away any of her own pain.

She could see that he was hurt.

“Thank you for warning me,” her father said to Bedwig. She could see he was trying to recover his poise. “What have you been calling her?”

Wynna muttered, “Her ladyship,” under her breath, and Iylaine’s sunburned face grew hotter still. But she could not reveal that she had heard. No one else had.

“Just Iylaine,” Bedwig said.

'Just Iylaine.'

“She lets me call her Baby still,” Alwy chuckled to himself gleefully. “‘Cause I always forget.”

“Iylaine,” her father said, “you must forgive me if I too forget at first. You were my baby for so long.”

'You must forgive me if I too forget at first.'

Gunnilda looked up at him with compassion in her eyes, though he did not see. This too infuriated Iylaine. Was his pain the only pain that mattered? It was his fault – both his pain and her own. If he had wanted her, he could have chosen her. He had other babies now.

“I always remember,” little Gytha said proudly.

'I always remember.'

“Good girl!” Iylaine’s father said, but he was still staring across the room at her.

“Where are we going?” Iylaine asked, hoping to put an end to this conversation.

“Maire is expecting us for dinner, and after that we may do what you like.”

'Maire is expecting us for dinner, and after that we may do what you like.'

They never ate with Gunnilda and Alwy when he came. She did not know why.

“You could go swimming,” Bedwig offered helpfully. His own sunburn – which covered more than his face – was due to that favored pastime.

“I hate swimming,” Iylaine said.

“How would you know?” Wynna laughed. “You don’t even know how!”

“I’m certain we shall think of something,” her father said. “Are you ready, Bab – Iylaine?”

“You almost said it!” Alwy chortled.

“Fortunately I caught it in time,” he said, and his eyes were still on her. “Give me a day or two, and I shall have learned.”

'Fortunately I caught it in time.'