It is a cold, rainy day in London, but Sara is never forced to notice them now. Instead she is able to snuggle down with Becky in front of the fire and listen to Uncle Tom tell a story about India. Sara has discovered that listening to other people's stories is even nicer than it is to tell her own. Becky swears loyally that Sara's are always the best and although Sara knows that that can't be true, Becky saying it gives her a funny, warm feeling in her chest.
Later, she writes a long letter to Ermengarde about the people she sees walking outside her window: about the girl smiling secretly to herself (she is a singer with the voice of an angel who sings for the sick children in Great Ormond Street Hospital); about the two young men having an urgent quarrel in low voices and eventually clasping hands and striding away together (they are on a desperate quest to find one man's beloved sister and are planning a daring rescue attempt – but they fear very much for each other's safety); and finally about the blind man who taps his cane along the street and begs for pennies (the old man is happy to talk at length about his life and Sara listens intently and gives him food and all the pennies she has in her purse).
Writing to Ermengarde is something that Sara loves to do: she writes everyday, although half of those letters are locked away in a secret drawer. These letters are full of the things that Sara can never tell Ermengarde; these letters contain words that Sara will never tell Becky. Sometimes Sara wonders if the strange fancies that she conjures could ever be understood by anyone but Sara Crewe. They are not, after all, the dreamy tales of mermaids and long ago, far away; but something unnatural and terrible, yet beautiful and right.
Ermengarde could never understand and that's all right with Sara, who loves her friend for the plump, timid, rather stupid girl that she is, for she knows better than most that princesses don't always have golden hair. Ermengarde once broke the harsh laws of her country to scatter largess and what is a more princely way to act?
The thought that Becky might not understand, however, makes Sara hurt inside. Becky, in a strange way, has become the one person that Sara would rather die than hurt and so she will never know why Sara holds her so close by the fire; never know why Sara kisses her cheeks with tears in her eyes; never know why Sara smiles so wistfully when they share secrets in bed.
Sara knows all of this, but when Becky grins a little shyly at her and slips one small hand into hers, she finds it very hard not to blurt out everything in her soul. She settles for squeezing Becky's hand very tightly and smiling a smile that feels as if it will split her face.
Perhaps one day they'll write a story together.