(Ailie would have been my grandmother Mary, she was a strong willed woman. That this character started so early is not at all surprising)
Fond as Willie is of Baby Ailie when they are riding together on the hobby-horse, or taking their turn at jumping off the sofa, he gets bored with her demonstrative affection at times, and especially when they are put three in a bed after the jumping exercise has gone to dangerous lengths.
After she left her crib, and after her big sister went off to boarding-school, where was she to sleep? Who was to sleep alone in the little bed in the corner which just held big Brown-Eyes when he came home from school to be father’s head man in the holidays? The difficulty was partially solved by putting the little ones three in a large bed, with Ailie next to the wall and well propped in with pillows. Oceans of room for the other three if they would lie quietly and decorously.
But you can picture them all crowding together, the three heads knocking against each other, and before ten minutes, the neatly arranged bedclothes “fankle’t” beyond belief, and poor Winkie just holding on to the extreme edge of the bed stock and plaintively calling out, “Our John! Give us more room.”
Now, why shouldn’t John, with all the strength of his nine years, hold the bedstock, and keep the two babes in orderly bounds? Because Ailie is so inordinately fond of Winkie, clasps him so tightly round the neck, and kisses him so hard all over his eyes, his nose, and his head, that he is nearly suffocated, and John’s larger person has to be laid between them as a buffer.
Even then, she climbs on to the pillows and attempts to clamber over John’s head, with one swift wriggle throwing her small arms over the yellow pow (head) beyond and nearly suffocating them both in the act.
Then John — who, in consequence, is not such a favourite — assumes a stern tone. “Aillie! I’ll call father, an’ you’ll see what he’ll do. Lie over there!” And he catches her, not too tenderly, and bumps her flat against her own bolster, and threatens her with direst penalties if she moves again. But then there are repeated scrambles over the pillows, perhaps a weeping scream for “Tadge! Tadge!” — an indulgent nurse. The end of it is that she gets the two pushed close to the front, and the three lie packed together, with half of the great bed empty.
Not so long ago, before her advent, Willie ruled the bed in another way. He lay kingly in the very centre, claiming both pillows, while the heads of the older brothers reposed precariously on the extreme outer slopes. Thus does one tyrant succeed another.