Tiny, but cheering.
My eleven-year-old cousin Millie frequently appears at my door after school, bounces off the walls of the cottage for half an hour or so whilst peppering me with ten-mile-a-minute questions, and then, without pausing to draw breath, flits off to have her tea.
My cousin, her step-father, (I'm sure future anthropologists are going to make entire careers out of tracing our postmodern, post-divorce kinship systems), his wife and their five children from various previous and current arrangements all live loudly and boisterously in the big house next door to my row-cottage I am often cheered while I am beavering away on the computer in the upstairs sitting room to hear the girls playing and shrieking from through the adjoining wall. I will miss them when the tribe moves this weekend into more capacious quarters about a mile down the road.
Yesterday, Millie popped over for her usual quick visit brandishing a little red plastic-covered book, and before she could even make it across the threshold wanted to know "What is this about?"
I was surprised and delighted to discover that the entire student body had been given sturdy little New Testament n' Pslams from the stalwart Gideons that day in school. She had looked at it on the bus home and found it intriguing though difficult to understand.
"What's this about? What is it?" she demanded, still standing in the doorway, waving the familiar little book under my nose.
I ushered her in and said, "It's a bible."
"Half a bible," I amended.
"What's it about? What does it mean? I don't understand it."
She was looking at Ephesians.
I took down my old KJV and explained as briefly as possible the difference between the Old and New testaments, the story of creation, the history of the Jews and the idea of the Law, and the prophecies of the Messiah. I flipped to the New T. and told her that the Prophecies predicted the coming of Jesus but that the Jews of His time misunderstood and mostly didn't recognize Him or realize that He was not supposed to be be a political messiah.
I told her that after the Gospels comes the bits about what happened to Jesus' followers after his Resurrection and how to live as a Christian.
She seemed satisfied with this, bounced around the parlour for a bit, poked at my map of the British Isles and my bookshelf before demanding to know which was my "best book". At this point I laughed and said, "Millie, you have the attention span of a distracted sand flea."
She very humbly agreed and after a few more pleasantries, was gone, like a jumping fish, to have her tea.
The miraculous school that still hands bibles out to students, (apparently without the slightest instruction on its contents,) is I hasten to add, a CofE school. Not Catholic.
Cousins Millie and Sophie, near Peckforton, Cheshire.