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Mathilde was one. A whole year old, and they had had a family celebration with cake and presents. She could nearly walk - one or two steps before she fell back down and crawled instead - and Anna insisted she could say ‘Mama’ although no one else had heard it yet.

Now all the children were fast asleep in their beds and their parents, too, had retired to their bedroom. Anna was thoughtful as she undressed and brushed out her hair. Her husband watched her. “Penny for them.”


“What’re you thinking about?”

“Oh, nothing - just Mathilde’s got so big! She won’t be a baby much longer.”

“That’s true.”

“And I was thinking, it seems a bit unfair that all her brothers and sisters are so much older than her. She won’t be able to play with them so much. It’s like there’s the four of them, and then there’s her. It just seems a bit unfair.”

“Also true.”

“And five’s an odd number.”

Kristoff looked amused. “You want to have another baby.”

“No! I mean - maybe. I don’t know.” Anna fiddled with her hairbrush. “What do you think?”

“I think - to a certain extent, what happens, happens.”

“You don’t think I’m too old?”

“No. Tell you what, take off your nightdress, get in the bed, and I’ll give it my best shot. Okay?”

“I’m being serious.”

“So am I.”

She pulled a face and got up from her dressing table. Kristoff looked at her, then went over to the writing desk, found a piece of paper and a pencil, and started writing.

“What’re you doing?”

“Hang on.”

Anna went up behind him and read out what he’d written. “‘Reasons to have another baby. One, playmate for Mathilde.’ You’re making a list?”

“You think I’m not taking you seriously. I am. What else? Oh, I know.” He wrote something else. Anna read it out. “‘Two, babies are nice’? That’s not very serious.”

“Well, how else should I put it? If babies weren’t nice, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But they are. I like them. You like them. More about the place is a good thing.”

“…okay. Babies are nice.”

“Anything else?”

“No? Oh! Five is an odd number. And we have an extra girl, we need another boy to even it out again.”

“I’m not sure you can just keep having babies until you have an equal number of boys and girls again. What if we have another and it’s a girl?”

“Then I’d need two more boys.”

“Now who’s not being serious? Okay.” He turned the paper over and wrote ‘Reasons not to have another baby’ at the top.

“Anything?” he said.

“There must be something.”

“Like what? We have plenty of space, plenty of money, plenty of staff. Tell me one good reason and I’ll write it down.”

She thought. And thought a bit more. And couldn’t think of a single thing.

“I don’t have any.”

“Excellent. Nightdress off, then.”