222 THE SECRET GARDEN
again and turned on his face and sobbed and wailed but he didn't scream.
" You didn't feel a lump! " contradicted Mary fiercely. " If you did it was only a hysterical lump. Hysterics makes lumps. There's nothing the matter with your horrid back — nothing but hysterics! Turn over and let me look at it! "
She liked the word " hysterics " and felt somehow as if it had an effect on him. He was probably like herself and had never heard it before.
" Nurse," she commanded, " come here and show me his back this minute! "
The nurse, Mrs. Medlock and Martha had been standing huddled together near the door staring at her, their mouths half open. All three had gasped with fright more than once. The nurse came forward as if she were half afraid. Colin was heaving with great breathless sobs.
" Perhaps he — he won't let me," she hesitated in a low voice.
Colin heard her, however, and he gasped out between two sobs:
" Sh-show her! She-she'll see then! "
It was a poor thin back to look at when it was bared. Every rib could be counted and every joint of the spine, though Mistress Mary did not count them as she bent over and examined them with a solemn savage little face. She looked so