‘Spado’ is a common insult in Dai and Julia’s world. Means literally ‘eunuch’, metaphorically ‘stupid fool’…
That evening when he arrived home from work, Julia thought Dai looked weary, and she guessed at a difficult case. She was about to try and pry the problem out of him when fate intervened.
Aelwen had picked up a word to add to ‘Dada’, ‘Mama’, ‘Dog’, and ‘Uned’. When Dai bent to pick her up she held out her little arms and carolled delightedly.
“Spado, spado, spado.”
Julia laughed until she all but cried and Dai wasn’t much better.
“Where did she pick up that little gem?” he asked.
“She and Luned were out in the garden taking the air when one of the apprentice boys fell off a ladder. He wasn’t hurt, but he fell into Cookie’s herb garden and that was about the least offensive thing she called him. They all thought Aelwen asleep. But. As you can hear. And she enunciates it so clearly. Luned and Cookie are mortified.”
She watched the tension seep out of Dai’s shoulders and felt grateful for that, deciding to leave the thumbscrews for a later occasion. Instead, she watched indulgently as Dai and his daughter lost themselves in some rough and tumble and tickles. When she judged the baby to have had sufficient excitement she held up a hand.
“If you and your potty-mouthed daughter are quite finished, I’ll get Cookie to serve some food.”
Dai threw Aelwen up in the air and caught her expertly. “Lead us to it.”
As they sat down at the table, Cookie brought bowls of savoury stew, with fresh bread, yellow butter, and sharp local cheese. Once she was sure Aelwen’s portion was properly cool, Julia put the bowl in front of her and a small spoon in one chubby hand.
“Eat monster,” she said lovingly.
Aelwen obliged, albeit with a lot of noise and splashing.
“Look at her,” Dai said proudly, “not quite a year old and already feeding herself.”
“And Merch – who is kindly cleaning the floor under her high chair.”