"What are you doing?" she asked.
Miriam glanced up, and in her eyes there was a look that was not ordinary. She was standing by the bureau, a jewel case opened before her. For a minute she studied Mrs. Miller, forcing their eyes to meet, and she smiled. "There’s nothing good here," she said. "But I like this." Her hand held a cameo brooch. "It’s charming."
"Suppose—perhaps you’d better put it back," said Mrs. Miller, feeling suddenly the need of some support. She leaned against the door frame...the light seemed to flutter defectively. "Please, child—a gift from my husband …."
"But it’s beautiful and I want it," said Miriam. "Give it to me."
As she stood, striving to shape a sentence which would somehow save the brooch, it came to Mrs. Miller there was no one to whom she might turn; she was alone...here in her own room in the hushed snow city were evidences she could not ignore or, she knew with startling clarity, resist.
Miriam ate ravenously, and when the sandwiches and milk were gone, her fingers made cobweb movements over the plate, gathering crumbs. The cameo gleamed on her blouse, the blond profile like a trick reflection of its wearer. "That was very nice," she sighed, "though now an almond cake or a cherry would be ideal. Sweets are lovely, don’t you think?"
Mrs. Miller was perched precariously on the hassock, smoking a cigarette. Her hair net had slipped lopsided, and loose strands straggled down her face. Her eyes were stupidly concentrated on nothing and her cheeks were mottled in red patches, as though a fierce slap had left permanent marks.
"Is there a candy - a cake?"
Mrs. Miller tapped ash on the rug. Her head swayed slightly as she tried to focus her eyes. "You promised to leave if I made the sandwiches," she said.
‘Dear me, did I?"
"It was a promise and I’m tired and I don’t feel well at all."
"Musn’t fret," said Miriam. "I’m only teasing."