“Oh, my Glory!” gasped the White Linen Nurse. “Oh my Glory, Glory, Glory!” Without any warning whatsoever she felt suddenly like Nothing-At-All, rigged out in an exceedingly shabby old ulster and an excessively homely black slouch hat. In a desperate attempt at tangible tom-boyish nonchalance she tossed her head and thrust her hands down deep into her big ulster pockets. That the bleak hat reflected no decent featherish consciousness of being tossed, that the big threadbare pockets had no bottoms to them, merely completed her startled sense of having been in some way blotted right out of existence.
Behind her back the Senior Surgeon’s huge fur-coated approach dawned blissfully like the thud of a rescue party.
But if the Senior Surgeon’s blunt, wholesome invitation to ride had been perfectly sweet when he prescribed it for her in the Superintendent’s office, the invitation had certainly soured most amazingly in the succeeding ten minutes. Abruptly now, without any greeting, he reached out and opened the rear door of the car, and nodded curtly for her to enter there.
Instantly across the face of the little crippled girl already ensconced in the tonneau a single flash of light went zig-zagging crookedly from brow to chin,—and was gone again. “Hello, Fat Father!” piped the shrill little voice. “Hello,—Fat Father!” Yet so subtly was the phrase mouthed, to save your soul you could not have proved just where the greeting ended and the taunt began.
There was nothing subtle however about the way in which the Senior Surgeon’s hand shot out and slammed the tonneau door bang-bang again on its original passenger. His face was crimson with anger. Brusquely he pointed to the front seat.
“You may sit in there, with me, Miss Malgregor!” he thundered.
“Yes, sir,” crooned the White Linen Nurse.
Meek as an oiled machine she scuttled to her appointed place. Once More in smothered giggle and unprotesting acquiescence she sensed the resumption of eternal discipline. Already in just this trice of time she felt her rampant young mouth resettle tamely into lines of smug, determinate serenity. Already across her idle lap she felt her clasped fingers begin to frost and tingle again like a cheerfully non-concerned bunch of live wires waiting the one authoritative signal to connect somebody,—anybody,—with this world or the next. Already the facile tip of her tongue seemed fairly loaded and cocked like a revolver with all the approximate “Yes, sirs,” “No, sirs,” that she thought she should probably need.
But the only immediate remarks that the Senior Surgeon addressed to any one were addressed distinctly to the crank of his automobile.