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There was no plan in her mind, only a powerful and formless longing. Now that the day was here, she wished she hadn’t known about it. The problem with the gift of knowledge was that you could never give it back. Late that night she called Lincoln Hospital, the Negro hospital, and said she was Mercy’s sister. The desk nurse was very sweet and found out for her that Mercy was still in labor. Ruth slept fi tfully and was wide awake again at 5 am. This time when she called, the desk nurse already had the information. “Baby Malcolm was born at 1:39 this morning. Nine pounds and healthy as a horse.” Malcolm, Ruth thought. How many more insults could she possibly bear? In the grip of an impulse she could not resist, she put on her oldest gardening clothes and tied a drab scarf over her hair. With a pair of old sunglasses, and with her shoulders slumped to minimize her fi gure, she barely recognized herself. The address for Lincoln Hospital was in the book, and it was easy enough to fi nd. She went straight past the nurse at the
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