He felt in his throat a hard, choking lump. He came closer to his sister.
“You might pay ’tention, Lucy,” he said plaintively.
Lucy broke a daffodil stalk viciously. “Go and talk to the others,” she said. “I haven’t time for you.”
The tears were hot in his eyes and anger was in his heart—anger bred of the rain, of the noise, of the confusion.
“You are howwid,” he said slowly.
“Well, go away, then, if I’m horrid,” she pushed with her hand at his knee. “I didn’t ask you to come here.”
Her touch infuriated him; he kicked and caught a very tender part of her calf.
“Oh! You little beast!” She came to him, leant for a moment across him, then slapped his cheek.
The pain, the indignity, and, above all, a strange confused love for his sister that was near to passionate rage, let loose all the devils that owned Bim for their habitation.
He did three things: He screamed aloud, he bent forward and bit Lucy’s hand hard, he seized Lucy’s wonderful Russian mug and dashed it to the ground. He then stood staring at the shattered fragments.
There followed, of course, confusion. Nurse started up. “The Shadow of Ashlydyat” descended into the ashes, the children rushed eagerly from beneath the table to the centre of hostilities.
But there were no hostilities. Lucy and Bim were, both of them, utterly astonished, Lucy, as she looked at the scattered mug, was, indeed, sobbing, but absent-mindedly—her thoughts were elsewhere. Her thoughts, in fact, were with Bim. She realised suddenly that never before had he lost his temper with her; she was aware that his affection had been all this time of value to her, of much more value, indeed, than the stupid old mug. She bent down—still absent-mindedly sobbing—and began to pick up the pieces. She was really astonished—being a dry and rather hard little girl—at her affection for Bim.
The nurse seized on the unresisting villain of the piece and shook him. “You naughty little boy! To go and break your sister’s beautiful mug. It’s your horrid temper that’ll be the ruin of you, mark my words, as I’m always telling you.” (Bim had never been known to lose his temper before.) “Yes, it will. You see, you naughty boy. And all the other children as good as gold and quiet as lambs, and you’ve got to go and do this. You shall stand in the corner all tea-time, and not a bite shall you have.” Here Bim began, in a breathless, frightened way, to sob. “Yes, well you may. Never mind, Miss Lucy, I dare say your uncle will bring you another.” Here she became conscious of an attentive and deeply interested audience. “Now, children, time to get ready for tea. Run along, Miss Dorothy, now. What a nuisance you all are, to be sure.”
They were removed from the scene. Bim was placed in the corner with his face to the wall. He was aghast; no words can give, at all, any idea of how dumbly aghast he was. What possessed him? What, in an instant of time, had leapt down from the clouds, had sprung up from the Square and seized him? Between his amazed thoughts came little surprised sobs. But he had not abandoned himself to grief—he was too sternly set upon the problem of reparation. Something must be done, and that quickly.