“No you don’t!” cried Zillah now, as she saw the mystery threatening so meanly to escape her.
“No you don’t!” cried Helene. “You’ve seen our mottoes—and now we’re going to see yours!”
Almost crazed with new terror Rae Malgregor went dodging to the right,—to the left,—to the right again,—cleared the rocking-chair,—a scuffle with padded hands,—climbed the trunk,—a race with padded feet,—reached the door-handle at last, yanked the door open, and with lungs and temper fairly bursting with momentum, shot down the hall,—down some stairs,—down some more hall,—down some more stairs, to the Superintendent’s office where, with her precious motto still clutched securely in one hand, she broke upon that dignitary’s startled, near-sighted vision like a young whirl-wind of linen and starch and flapping brown paper. Breathlessly, without prelude or preamble, she hurled her grievance into the older woman’s grievance-dulled ears.
“Give me back my own face!” she demanded peremptorily. “Give me back my own face, I say! And my own hands! I tell you I want my own hands! Helene and Zillah say I’m insane! And I want to go home!”
Like a short-necked animal elongated suddenly to the cervical proportions of a giraffe, the Superintendent of Nurses reared up from her stoop-shouldered desk-work and stared forth in speechless astonishment across the top of her spectacles.
Exuberantly impertinent, ecstatically self-conscious, Rae Malgregor repeated her demand. To her parched mouth the very taste of her own babbling impudence refreshed her like the shock and prickle of cracked ice.
“I tell you I want my own face again! And my own hands!” she reiterated glibly. “I mean the face with the mortgage in it, and the cinders—and the other human expressions!” she explained. “And the nice grubby country hands that go with that sort of a face!”
Very accusingly she raised her finger and shook it at the Superintendent’s perfectly livid countenance.
“Oh, of course I know I wasn’t very much to look at. But at least I matched! What my hands knew, I mean, my face knew! Pies or plowing or May-baskets, what my hands knew my face knew! That’s the way hands and faces ought to work together! But you? you with all your rules and your bossing and your everlasting ‘S—sh! S—sh!’ you’ve snubbed all the know-anything out of my face—and made my hands nothing but two disconnected machines—for somebody else to run! And I hate you! You’re a Monster! You’re a ——, everybody hates you!”
Mutely then she shut her eyes, bowed her head, and waited for the Superintendent to smite her dead. The smite she felt quite sure would be a noisy one. First of all, she reasoned it would fracture her skull. Naturally then of course it would splinter her spine. Later in all probability it would telescope her knee-joints. And never indeed now that she came to think of it had the arches of her feet felt less capable of resisting so terrible an impact. Quite unconsciously she groped out a little with one hand to steady herself against the edge of the desk.