On this morning she lay in bed, and knew that she was excited because her friend had come the night before and told her that to-day would be an important day. Angelina clung, with a desperate tenacity, to her memories of everything that happened to her before her arrival on this unpleasant planet. Those memories now were growing faint, and they came to her only in flashes, in sudden twists and turns of the scene, as though she were surrounded by curtains and, every now and then, was allowed a peep through. Her friend had been with her continually at first, and, whilst he had been there, the old life had been real and visible enough; but on her second birthday he had told her that it was right now that she should manage by herself. Since then, he had come when she least expected him; sometimes when she had needed him very badly he had not appeared.... She never knew. At any rate, he had said that to-day would be important.... She lay in bed, listening to her nurse’s snores, and waited.
At breakfast she knew that it was her birthday. There were presents from her aunts—a picture-book and a box of pencils—there was also a mysterious parcel. Angelina could not remember that she had ever had a parcel before, and the excitement of this one must be prolonged. She would not open it, but gazed at it, with her spoon in the air and her mouth wide open.
“Come, Miss Angelina—what a name to give the poor lamb!—get on with your breakfast now, or you’ll never have done. Why not open the pretty parcel?”
“No. Do you think it is a twain?”
“Say train—not twain.”
“No, of course not; not a thing that shape.”
“Oh! Do you think it’s a bear?”
“Maybe—maybe. Come now, get on with your bread and butter.”
“Don’t want any more.”
“Get down from your chair, then. Say your grace now.”
“Thank God nice bweakfast, Amen.”
“That’s right! Now open it, then.”
“No, not now.”
“Drat the child! Well, wipe your face, then.”
Angelina carried her parcel to the window, and then, after gazing at it for a long time, at last opened it. Her eyes grew wider and wider, her chubby fingers trembled. Nurse undid the wrappings of paper, slowly folded up the sheets, then produced, all naked and unashamed, a large rag doll.
“There! There’s a pretty thing for you, Miss ’Lina.”
She had her hand about the doll’s head, and held her there, suspended.
“Give her me! Give her me!” Angelina rescued her, and, with eyes flaming, the doll laid lengthways in her arms, tottered off to the other corner of the room.
“Well, there’s gratitude,” said the nurse, “and never asking so much as who it’s from.”