It was the other room-mate this time. The only real aristocrat in the whole graduating class, high-browed, high-cheekboned,—eyes like some far-sighted young prophet,—mouth even yet faintly arrogant with the ineradicable consciousness of caste,—a plain, eager, stripped-for-a-long-journey type of face,—this was Helene Churchill. There was certainly no innocuous bloom of country hills and pastures in this girl’s face, nor any seething small-town passion pounding indiscriminately at all the doors of experience. The men and women who had bred Helene Churchill had been the breeders also of brick and granite cities since the world was new.
Like one infinitely more accustomed to treading on Persian carpets than on painted floors she came forward into the room.
“Hello, children!” she said casually, and began at once without further parleying to take down the motto that graced her own bureau-top.
It was the era when almost everybody in the world had a motto over his bureau. Helene Churchill’s motto was: Inasmuch As Ye Have Done It Unto One Of The Least Of These Ye Have Done It Unto Me. On a scroll of almost priceless parchment the text was illuminated with inimitable Florentine skill and color. A little carelessly, after the manner of people quite accustomed to priceless things, she proceeded now to roll the parchment into its smallest possible circumference, humming exclusively to herself all the while an intricate little air from an Italian opera.
So the three faces foiled each other, sober city girl, pert town girl, bucolic country girl,—a hundred fundamental differences rampant between them, yet each fervid, adolescent young mouth tamed to the same monotonous, drolly exaggerated expression of complacency that characterizes the faces of all people who, in a distinctive uniform, for a reasonably satisfactory living wage, make an actual profession of righteous deeds.
Indeed among all the thirty or more varieties of noble expression which an indomitable Superintendent had finally succeeded in inculcating into her graduating class, no other physiognomies had responded more plastically perhaps than these three to the merciless imprint of the great hospital machine which, in pursuance of its one repetitive design, discipline, had coaxed Zillah Forsyth into the semblance of a lady, snubbed Helene Churchill into the substance of plain womanhood, and, still uncertain just what to do with Rae Malgregor’s rollicking rural immaturity, had frozen her face temporarily into the smugly dimpled likeness of a fancy French doll rigged out as a nurse for some gilt-edged hospital fair.
With characteristic desire to keep up in every way with her more mature, better educated classmates, to do everything, in fact, so fast, so well, that no one should possibly guess that she hadn’t yet figured out just why she was doing it at all, Rae Malgregor now with quickly readjusted cap and collar began to hurl herself into the task of her own packing. From her open bureau drawer, with a sudden impish impulse towards worldly wisdom, she extracted first of all the photograph of the young brakeman.