Hungry people are easily led. The footman held the door of the car open, and a moment later they were skimming through the dusk.
“There!” said Rosemary. She had a feeling of triumph as she slipped her hand through the velvet strap. She could have said, “Now I’ve got you,” as she gazed at the little captive she had netted. But of course she meant it kindly. Oh, more than kindly. She was going to prove to this girl that – wonderful things did happen in life, that – fairy godmothers were real, that – rich people had hearts, and that women were sisters. She turned impulsively, saying’. “Don’t be frightened. After all, why shouldn’t you come back with me? We’re both women. If I’m the more fortunate, you ought to expect…”
But happily at that moment, for she didn’t know how the sentence was going to end, the car stopped. The bell was rung, the door opened, and with a charming, protecting, almost embracing movement, Rosemary drew the other into the hall. Warmth, softness, light, a sweet scent, all those things so familiar to her she never even thought about them, she watched that other receive. It was fascinating. She was like the rich little girl in her nursery with all the cupboards to open, all the boxes to unpack.
“Come, come upstairs,” said Rosemary, longing to begin to be generous. “Come up to my room.” And, besides, she wanted to spare this poor little thing from being stared at by the servants; she decided as they mounted the stairs she would not even ring to Jeanne, but take off her things by herself. The great things were to be natural!
And “There!” cried Rosemary again, as they reached her beautiful big bedroom with the curtains drawn, the fire leaping on her wonderful lacquer furniture, her gold cushions and the primrose and blue rugs.
The girl stood just inside the door; she seemed dazed. But Rosemary didn’t mind that.
“Come and sit down,” she cried, dragging her big chair up to the fire, “m this comfy chair. Come and get warm. You look so dreadfully cold.”
“I daren’t, madam,” said the girl, and she edged backwards.
“Oh, please,” – Rosemary ran forward – “you mustn’t be frightened, you mustn’t, really. Sit down, when I’ve taken off my things we shall go into the next room and have tea and be cozy. Why are you afraid?” And gently she half pushed the thin figure into its deep cradle. .
But there was no answer. The girl stayed just as she had been put, with her hands by her sides and her mouth slightly open. To be quite sincere, she looked rather stupid. But Rosemary wouldn’t acknowledge it. She leant over her, saying:
“Won’t you take off your hat? Your pretty hair is all wet. And one is so much more comfortable without a hat, isn’t one?”
There was a whisper that sounded like “Very good, madam,” and the crushed hat was taken off.
“And let me help you off with your coat, too,” said Rosemary.
The girl stood up. But she held on to the chair with one hand and let Rosemary pull. It was quite an effort. The other scarcely helped her at all. She seemed to stagger like a child, and the thought came and went through Rosemary’s mind, that if people wanted helping they must respond a little, just a little, otherwise it became very difficult indeed. And what was she to do with the coat now? She left it on the floor, and the hat too. She was just going to take a cigarette off the mantelpiece when the girl said quickly, but so lightly and strangely: “I’m very sorry, madam, but I’m going to faint. I shall go off, madam, if I don’t have something.”
“Good heavens, how thoughtless I am!” Rosemary rushed to the bell.
“Tea! Tea at once! And some brandy immediately!”
The maid was gone again, but the girl almost cried out: “No, I don’t want no brandy.* I never drink brandy. It’s a cup of tea I want, madam.” And she burst into tears.