Initially, Ellen was in high spirits about the success of her tea, but afterwards remnanants of conversations niggled at her. Despite Sarah’s fauning, It occurred to Ellen some of her compliments were over the top. The references to Titian and Rubens were starting to sting. Was the simpering little bitch calling her a fat redhead? Agitated, that laugh she’d heard when Cora announced her echoed louder and louder in her memory. The longer she thought of it, the angrier she became.
Ellen strolled in to dinner after Charles and the boys were seated. All three burst out laughing when they saw her hair. “Dear God, Ellen! You’d got to get that toned down!” Charles told her, as he wiped away tears with his handkerchief. “You can’t go out in public like that.” The boys struggled to get themselves under control.
She’d anticipated a triumphant entry. This reception undid her pride. Humiliated, she flew into a rage. “How dare you laugh in my face! You’re not fit to wipe the mud from my shoe, none of you and you’re sitting there laughing at me like a bunch of hyenas!” She picked up a vase off the sideboard and slung it at Charles’s head as she whirled to leave the room. “You disgusting bastards! I hate you! All of you!”
He ducked and told the boys, “Go on with your dinner. I’ll go up later.” Having witnessed so many outbursts from their mother, once the fit was over, they settled down to dinner, occasionally stifling a snicker.
Charles went up to Ellen after dinner. When she didn’t answer his knock, he tried her door and entered. “Ellen, I regret laughing, but your hair was a shock. I’m sure your hairdresser can tone it down before anybody else sees it. You don’t want people laughing at you. I don’t want you to be embarrassed.”
“Get out! Get out! I don’t want to see your ignorant face!” She flew at him, pummeling him with her fists and screaming. The boys flew up the stairs when they heard the fracas, Charles got her pushed to the bed and held her arms at her sides. “I hate you! I hate you!” She screamed and struggled to get free.
“Hold her while I get something to calm her.” The boys kept her on the bed as she screamed. She spat the medicine back in Charles’s face and fought even harder. Finally, he gave up and injected her into calm and left her snoring. He was desolate at the mess his life had become. Ellen was getting no better.