“T’ank God for nice Wose, Amen,” she said, but she meant, not God, but her friend. He, her friend, had never sent her anything before, and now that Rose had come straight from him, she must have a great deal to tell her about him. Nothing puzzled her more than the distressing fact that she wondered sometimes whether her friend was ever really coming again, whether any of the wonderful things that were happening on every side of her wouldn’t suddenly one fine morning vanish altogether, and leave her to a dreary world of nurse, bread and milk, and the Romans sacking Jerusalem. She didn’t, of course, put it like that; all that it meant to her was that stupid people and tiresome things were always interfering between herself and real fun. Now it was time to go out, now to go to bed, now to eat, now to be taken downstairs into that horrid room where she couldn’t move because things would tumble off the tables so ... all this prevented her own life when she would sit and try, and try, and remember what it was all like once, and wonder why when once things had been so beautiful they were so ugly and disappointing now.
Now Rose had come, and she could talk to Rose about it. “What she sees in that ugly old doll!” said the nurse to the housemaid. “You can take my word, Mary, she’ll sit in that window looking down at the gardens, nursing that rag and just say nothing. It fair gives you the creeps ... left too much to herself, the poor child is. As for those old women downstairs, if I ’ad my way—but there! Living’s living, and bread and butter’s bread and butter!”
But, of course, Angelina’s heart was bursting with affection, and there had been, until Rose’s arrival, no one upon whom she might bestow it. Rose might seem to the ordinary observer somewhat unresponsive. She sat there, whether it were tea-time, dressing-time, bed-time, always staring in front of her, her mouth closed, her arms, bow-shaped, standing stiffly away from her side, taking, it might seem, but little interest in her mistress’s confidences. Did one give her tea she only dribbled at the lip; did one place upon her head a straw hat with red ribbon torn from poor May—once a reigning favourite—she made no effort to keep it upon her head. Jewels and gold could rouse no appreciation from her; she was sunk in a lethargy that her rose-red cheeks most shamefully belied.
But Angelina had the key to her. Angelina understood that confiding silence, appreciated that tactful discretion, adored that complete submission to her will. It was true that her friend had only come once to her now within the space of many, many weeks, but he had sent her Rose. “He’s coming soon, Wose—weally soon—to tell us stowies. Bu-ootiful ones.”
She sat, gazing down into the Square, and her dreams were longer and longer and longer.