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About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 22, 1896)
her. A girl cornorways across the aisle
giggled. The red-headed boy was com
ing to help her, but he drew back. The
t assistant stood suddenly at Jean's side
' and began to pick up the pieces of glass
without speaking. When he had cleared
the desk ho turned to Jean. Her eyelids
burned with a film of tears but he did
4 'This is the third explosion today," he
said unconcernedly, "Careful work seems to
be an unknown quantity. If I gave an ex
periment on green peas, some would be likely
to use gunpowder."
Jean answered hotly
"I didn't make a mistake with the chemi
cals. The heat broke the glass I
I can't help forgetting sometimes.
SJ M 11 J.41W11T
She smiled nervously.
The assistant turned cahny on his heel.
'You arc quite right"1 he said sarcastically,
and walked away.
Then Jean noticed that the handkerchief
in her hand was blackened by the acid, and
that her fingers were numb ami blistered
Her eyes btung with tears as she walked un
stea.lily to the sink. She turned her face
away from the desk where the assistant sat
twirling his chain She held her hand low
in the sink and turned on the noisy water.
How cold it was! It drove the blood up to
her elbows and made her. wrists as white as
the blistered places on her fingers. It
steadied her nerves and forced the tears back
from her eyelids.
She supposed the assistant wjis looking:
"Let him look." She held her head high
and turned off the water. Then she walked
back to her desk and began to write out an
order for a new retort. She would try
While she wrote he came and stood bv
her. She heard him come and kept her
level eyelids down. Her fingers burned
again against the pencil, but she wrote stead
ily. When she had finished she turned with
the paper in her hand and looked him square
ly in the face. She would have brushed by
him but he stopped her with a gesture.
"I did not think about your fingers," he
said quietly. "If you will let me put some
of this on them "
He reached out as if to take her hand.
Jean snatched it away from him and threw
back her head.
'My fingers don't hurt," she burst out.
"If you will just let me alone !''
bhe stopped suddenly. He was looking
sternly away from her, and she realized what
she had said
"Oh, I beg your pardon," she ended up
gently. "They do hurt;" and she holdout
her fingers to him again.
When the students were gone that after
noon, the assistant filed the papers on his
desk. The laboratory was almost dark.
The desks and fiuor had taken on a sombre
shade of brown. The hoods looked deep
and black. Dirty, half. melted snow was
piled along outside the windows Some
where in one of the sinks the water dripped
loudly. And when he walked he jarred the
floor and rattled a row of test tubes left out
side by some careless student. Thev were
on .lean's desk. The assistant found them
and put them away. He stood a moment
and smiled at the scar of the acid on it. She
would never make a good chemist nor, he
smiled again, a good housekeeper. But she
was interesting He wondered what sho
would be like when she came to know the
world. He remembered how illogical she
had been when she attempted to explain her
accident. He saw again her girlish figure
as she stood at the siuk and let the water run
down over her blistered hands. She had
blazed immature delianc.j in his eyes when
he had offered to bind her fingers up for her.
She had shrunk back from him.
The assistant wondered, there was not the
shadow of abinilo on his face now, wondered
gravely and intensely what had led her to
shrink back. She was proud or she knew.
But then she couldn't have known nobody
knew except Pete; and afterwards she had
let him tic her lingers up and had smiled at
him, a pale confused sort of a smile.
The assistant's eyes softened and he put
out his palm over the scar on Jean's debk.
The assistant sat in his room and held hie
eyes on his books. The wind sucked the
yellow green curtain out into the window,
held it there in a strained sort of way and
then putted it in again. The assistant won
dered why boarding houses always had
yellow green curtains. Not that he cared
particularly. Curtains seemed very insig
nificant tonight since he had made up his
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