“Don’t say ‘don’t know’ like that. You must have had some reason. Don’t look at the doll like that. Put the doll down.” But this Angelina would not do. She clung to Rose with a ferocious tenacity. I do not think that one must blame Miss Emily for her exasperation. That doll had had a large place in her mind for many weeks. It were as though she, Miss Emily Braid, had been personally, before the world, defied by a rag doll. Her temper, whose control had never been her strongest quality, at the vision of the dirty, obstinate child before her, at the thought of the dancing, mocking gardens behind her, flamed into sudden, trembling rage.
She stepped forward, snatched Rose from Angelina’s arms, crossed the room and had pushed the doll, with a fierce, energetic action, as though there was no possible time to be lost, into the fire. She snatched the poker, and with trembling hands pressed the doll down. There was a great flare of flame; Rose lifted one stolid arm to the gods for vengeance, then a stout leg in a last writhing agony. Only then, when it was all concluded, did Aunt Emily hear behind her the little half-strangled cry which made her turn. The child was standing, motionless, with so old, so desperate a gaze of despair that it was something indecent for any human being to watch.
Nurse came in from her afternoon. She had heard nothing of the recent catastrophe, and, as she saw Angelina sitting quietly in front of the fire she thought that she had had her tea, and was now “dreaming” as she so often did. Once, however, as she was busy in another part of the room, she caught half the face in the light of the fire. To any one of a more perceptive nature that glimpse must have seemed one of the most tragic things in the world. But this was a woman of “a sensible, hearty” nature; moreover, her “afternoon” had left her with happy reminiscences of her own charms and their effect on the opposite sex.
She had, however, her moment.... She had left the room to fetch something. Returning she noticed that the dusk had fallen, and was about to switch on the light when, in the rise and fall of the firelight, something that she saw made her pause. She stood motionless by the door.
Angelina had turned in her chair; her eyes were gazing, with rapt attention, toward the purple dusk by the window. She was listening. Nurse, as she had often assured her friends, “was not cursed with imagination,” but now fear held her so that she could not stir nor move save that her hand trembled against the wall paper. The chatter of the fire, the shouts of some boys in the Square, the ringing of the bell of St. Matthew’s for evensong, all these things came into the room. Angelina, still listening, at last smiled; then, with a little sigh, sat back in her chair.
“Heavens! Miss ’Lina! What were you doing there? How you frightened me!” Angelina left her chair, and went across to the window. “Auntie Emily,” she said, “put Wosie into the fire, she did. But Wosie’s saved.... He’s just come and told me.”