Bodil winced.

“Aw, let’s not bother with Derdo and Laila. All those little girls want to do is to fly back and forth on their swings, doing that silly little chant about Derdo and Laila, Lassiman, Suomi, Finland, over and over.”

Mrs. Poulsen looked up over glasses. She sent Bodil a glance of disapproval. “That little chant of theirs,” she said, “is all these poor girls have left from their life back home. After the Russians invaded Finland, their parents decided to send Derdo and Laila to Denmark to be safe from the fighting in their own country. And before they sent them away, the parents made their girls remember these words by chanting them over and over again. This way they won’t forget who they are and where they have come from.”

Bodil said, “But why can’t they play by themselves in Mrs. Olsen’s garden? They’ve got that nice swing set put up for them on the lawn.”

“Shame on you, young lady, for having a short memory,” Mrs. Poulsen said.

”Remember, when Mrs. Olsen took in these refugee girls, she asked you to come over to play with them? Feel free to come over as much as you like, she said. That’s how you can help them to feel at home here.”

“But,” Bodil said, “I never promised to play with them every day!”

Morten said quickly. “Why don’t we play with the girls from Finland tomorrow?”

“Then we can’t play at all in the hayloft tomorrow,” said Bodil. “Remember how upset they became that day in the cow-barn, when we heard those bomber planes flying over? Remember how they stormed out the door, looking up to see where the planes were going, and screaming, covering their ears with their hands. They thought we were about to be bombed.”

“All right then, we’ll play with them in their garden tomorrow,” Morten said. “They’re not afraid of planes as long as they can see where they’re headed.”

“Poor things,” Mrs. Poulsen said. “They must’ve been terrified when their home town was bombed. I suppose they and their parents were hiding in the cellar and they couldn’t see out, and they had no idea whether the planes were coming for them.”