THERE were moments in the life of Leavious Throop when she was all herself and all to herself. These moments had no relation to any other human being. They were not necessarily the highest or the best or even the most truthful. They simply appeared and had to be realized as such.

Now, during one of these moments, Leavious put her hands to her mouth and let them wander. Somehow, the whole of her face was no longer sensitive to the touch of her black fingers. The section of it under her right cheekbone was inexplicably numb. It looked the same as the rest of the cord-grained glaze of flesh but it would not respond even to the heaviest handpouncing. Leavious sometimes thought that perhaps all the buds of feeling on her right side had been wrenched out of her by the stench of the public toilets to which she attended. Her right profile had been turned towards the men’s room now for over fifteen years and Leavious would not change her position for fear that the buds of her other cheek would be driven away as pitilessly.