Curley’s wife laughed at him. “You’re nuts,” she said. “But you’re a kinda nice fella. Jus’ like a big baby. But a person can see kinda what you mean. When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft.” To show how she did it, she ran her fingers over the top of her head. “Some people got kinda coarse hair,” she said complacently. “Take Curley. His hair is jus’ like wire. But mine is soft and fine. ‘Course I brush it a lot. That makes it fine. Here — feel right here.” She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head. “Feel right aroun’ there an’ see how soft it is.”
Lennie’s big fingers fell to stroking her hair.
“Don’t you muss it up,” she said.
Lennie said, “Oh! That’s nice,” and he stroked harder. “Oh, that’s nice.”
“Look out, now, you’ll muss it.” And then she cried angrily, “You stop it now, you’ll mess it all up.” She jerked her head sideways, and Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. “Let go,” she cried. “You let go!”
Lennie was in a panic. His face was contorted. She screamed then, and Lennie’s other hand closed over her mouth and nose. “Please don’t,” he begged. “Oh! Please don’t do that. George’ll be mad.”
She struggled violently under his hands. Her feet battered on the hay and she writhed to be free; and from under Lennie’s hand came a muffled screaming. Lennie began to cry with fright. “Oh! Please don’t do none of that,” he begged. “George gonna say I done a bad thing. He ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits.” He moved his hand a little and her hoarse cry came out. Then Lennie grew angry. “Now don’t,” he said. “I don’t want you to yell. You gonna get me in trouble jus’ like George says you will. Now don’t you do that.” And she continued to struggle, and her eyes were wild with terror. He shook her then, and he was angry with her. “Don’t you go yellin’,” he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.
He looked down at her, and carefully he removed his hand from over her mouth, and she lay still. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said, “but George’ll be mad if you yell.” When she didn’t answer nor move he bent closely over her. He lifted her arm and let it drop. For a moment he seemed bewildered. And then he whispered in fright, “I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing.”
He pawed up the hay until it partly covered her.