“Good-by—then,” croaked the Senior Surgeon. “I’m as good as dead now.” A single shudder went through him,—a last futile effort to stretch himself.
“Good-by,” said the White Linen Nurse. “Good-by, sir.—I’d heaps rather have you die—perfectly whole—like that—of your own accord—than have me run the risk of starting the car full-tilt and chopping you up so—or dragging you off so—that you didn’t find it convenient to tell me—how to stop the car.”
“You’re a—a—a—” spluttered the Senior Surgeon indistinguishably.
“Crinkle-crackle,” went that mysterious, horrid sound from somewhere in the machinery.
“Oh my God!” surrendered the Senior Surgeon. “Do it your own—damned way! Only—only—” His voice cracked raspingly.
“Steady! Steady there!” said the White Linen Nurse. Except for a sudden odd pucker at the end of her nose her expression was still perfectly serene. “Now begin at the beginning,” she begged. “Quick! Tell me everything—just the way I must do it! Quick—quick—quick!”
Twice the Senior Surgeon’s lips opened and shut with a vain effort to comply with her request.
“But you can’t do it,” he began all over again. “It isn’t possible. You haven’t got the mind!”
“Maybe I haven’t,” said the White Linen Nurse. “But I’ve got the memory. Hurry!”
“Creak,” said the funny little something in the machinery. “Creak—drip—bubble!”
“Oh, get in there quick!” surrendered the Senior Surgeon. “Sit down behind the wheel!” he shouted after her flying footsteps. “Are you there? For God’s sake—are you there? Do you see those two little levers where your right hand comes? For God’s sake—don’t you know what a lever is? Quick now! Do just what I tell you!”
A little jerkily then, but very clearly, very concisely, the Senior Surgeon called out to the White Linen Nurse just how every lever, every pedal should be manipulated to start the car!
Absolutely accurately, absolutely indelibly the White Linen Nurse visualized each separate detail in her abnormally retentive mind!
“But you can’t—possibly remember it!” groaned the Senior Surgeon. “You can’t—possibly! And probably the damn car’s bust and won’t start—anyway—and—!” Abruptly the speech ended in a guttural snarl of despair.
“Don’t be a—blight!” screamed the White Linen Nurse. “I’ve never forgotten anything yet, sir!”
Very tensely she straightened up suddenly in her seat. Her expression was no longer even remotely pleasant. Along her sensitive, fluctuant nostrils the casual crinkle of distaste and suspicion had deepened suddenly into sheer dilating terror.
“Left foot—press down—hard—left pedal!” she began to sing-song to herself.
“No! Right foot!—right foot!” corrected the Little Girl blunderingly from somewhere close in the grass.
“Inside lever—pull—way—back!” persisted the White Linen Nurse resolutely as she switched on the current.