Virginia paused, breathing heavily, almost in sobs. “At dawn, from our concealment did we emerge, we and some few others. Naught o' our homes, our wares, did remain; all by the savages had been burnt or carried off.”
“Then did we bury those who by the savages had been murtherèd. And so my mother did I prepare for her æternal rest. From her face did I wash the blood and lay her at her peace, and at her side my brother William and—” Virginia choked back a sob then went on in a whisper. “And my Little Shadow, mine Elizabeth, with her lamb o' rags and stuffing in her arms fore'er held.”
For what seemed to Evan to be an eternity, Virginia sat utterly still, staring at the fire. His arm was still around her, she was still pressed against his side.
He felt her tension mount; he felt the muscles in her shoulders tighten. Then, with a scream of grief and agony and rage, she snatched a cut-glass bowl from the low table in front of her, leaped to her feet, and hurled the bowl across the room. It struck a large decorative mirror hanging over the fireplace; shards of glass exploded across the room. With another scream, she hurled a heavy silver candlestick, leaving a long gouge across the lid of the piano; another candlestick followed the first, smashing into a wall.
Frozen in shock, Evan could do nothing. He hadn't noticed the rest of his family entering the living room as Virginia had told her tale of horror; he was shocked again when his father leaped over the couch and seized Virginia, holding her arms at her sides.
With a snarl of rage, and a strength that astonished the older man, she wrenched her arms free.
From behind Evan, his mother shouted, “No! Let her!”
Screaming, Virginia was pounding with both fists on George Merrill's chest and shoulders. Understanding his wife's intent, he made almost no attempt to protect himself from her assault, letting her release all her rage and grief in a terrible emotional catharsis.
Seconds that seemed like hours passed. Virginia's furious attack slowed, then, with a final slam of her fists against George's chest, stopped. Her screams of rage faded, to be replaced by loud sobs. Her body shook. At his wife's nod, George wrapped his arms around the hysterically weeping girl. She clung to him.
Then there was stillness. The only sound in the house was that of Virginia's sobs.