“If I don’t I won’t say so,” remarked Betty softly, with a sigh of relief; “but of course I can’t make myself believe you if I don’t.”
“Oh, can’t you?” said Dan. “You try once and see. Now then, Anna, your turn.”
“I don’t know anything about robins,” said Anna. “Mother thought nursery rhymes were foolish. So do I.”
“Oh no, you don’t really,” cried four voices in tones of mingled amazement and disgust.
“Yes, I do. Why not?”
“What a pity,” said Kitty softly. “I think they are beautiful. I am glad my mother thought so too, But it need not be a nursery rhyme, Anna. Don’t you know,
“’Little bird with bosom
Welcome to my humble shed,’
“or any other?”
“Ye—es,” said Anna doubtfully. “I had to learn that once at school, but, somehow, I didn’t think that it was about a robin.”
“What did you think it was about?” asked Kitty.
“Oh, I don’t know. I thought it was just poetry. I never think poetry has any meaning in it. It seems to me such silly stuff, all about nothing.”
“I suppose even poetry must be about something,” said Dan sarcastically.
“I don’t think so,” said Anna. She, the prize-winner of her class, was not going to be snubbed by her cousins. “As long as the words rhyme, it doesn’t matter what the rest is like.”
To Kitty that seemed neither the time nor the place to argue with Anna, so she let the subject drop. “Now then, Betty.”
“I know so many,” said Betty very anxiously, “that they seem to be all jumbled up in my head, and I can’t get one quite right. Let me see now—”
“Do let me say mine while you are finking. Shall I?” pleaded Tony eagerly.
“Little Robin Redbreast
Perched upon a tree,
Up went Pussy Cat
And down went he.’”
By the time he reached the end of the second verse he was almost breathless. “I was afraid you would say it before me,” he gasped as he concluded the last line; “that’s why I hurried so.”
“Oh, I was trying to think of something much more—more, well, not so babyish; more like what Kitty said than what you and Dan said.”
“Perhaps you had better compose something yourself,” said Dan, “and we will go on and light the fire and get the dinner ready while you are about it.”
“You needn’t be in a bad temper,” retorted Betty severely, “even if you couldn’t make the donkey go.” And Dan thought perhaps it might be wiser not to torment his younger sister any more.
They all struggled to their feet after that, collected their baskets, and resumed their climb, over big boulders, through furze and bracken, dead now and withered, but beautiful in the glow of the clear wintry sunshine, until at last they came to an immense flat rock, with another rising high behind it, sheltering them from the wind and catching every gleam of sunshine that possibly could be caught.