Part 2 out of 5
every which way, the eyes of an invalid, ears of unequal size and
different shapes, that stuck straight out from his head--all the
stampings, in short, of street-birth and gutter-raising. The workman had
an efficient, commanding look, the easy, strong motions of an athlete
trained and proved. Neither in the least resembled the other, yet both
resembled the legless beggar, who in turn resembled Satan after the
fall--and Barbara was inclined to laugh.
"I am so obsessed with one man's face," she thought, "that I see
something of it in all other faces."
"Good-morning, Harry." It was the beggar's voice, cool, and perhaps a
"Good-morning, Blizzard." The young man nodded curtly and turned to
Barbara. "Do you wish all the knobs changed?"
Without another word, the young man knelt at the door by which he had
entered and began with the aid of a long screw-driver to remove its
ancient lock of japanned iron and coarse white china.
"What's the best news with you, Harry?"
The young man did not look up from his work. "That the water'll soon be
warm enough for swimming," he said.
To Barbara that answer seemed pleasantly indicative of a healthy nature
and a healthy mind.
"It's a curious thing," observed the beggar, "how many more people drown
themselves when the water is nice and warm than when it is cold and
inhospitable. And yet it's in the cold months that the most people
receive visits from despair."
Bubbles looked up, wondering. In his experience the legless beggar had
no manner of language different from that of the streets to which he
belonged. But now he spoke as Miss Barbara spoke, only, perhaps we may
be permitted so to express it, very much more so.
Barbara turned to the beggar. "I haven't paid you."
But he retreated in smiling protest, picked up his hand-organ, and slung
it across his shoulders. "The door, Bubbles."
Bubbles sprang to let the beggar out.
"To-morrow," said Barbara, "at the same time. Good-by, and thank you."
"Good-by, and thank _you_," said Blizzard.
Bubbles followed him to the head of the stairs and watched, not without
admiration, the astounding ease of the legless one's rapid descent.
Harry, the workman, having disengaged the old japanned lock from the
door, rose to his feet, and turned to Barbara with a certain quiet
eagerness. "Look here," he said, "it's none of my business, but I know,
and you don't. That man," he waved the screw-driver toward the door by
which Blizzard had departed, "is poison. There's nothing he'd stop
"Quite so," said Barbara coldly; "and, as you say, it's hardly anybody's
affair but mine."
The workman was good-nature personified. "If you _must_ go on with him,"
he said, "haven't you a big brother or somebody with nothing better to
do than drop in, and," his eyes sought the clay head of Blizzard, "watch
the good work go on?" He stepped closer to the head, and examined it
with real interest. "It _is_ good work," he said; "it's splendid."
Barbara was mollified. "What," she said, "is so very wrong about poor
"Oh," said the young man, "we know a great deal about him, and we are
trying very hard to gather the proofs."
"I'm a very little wheel in the machinery of the secret service."
"I _knew_," said Barbara, "the moment I saw you that you weren't _only_
a locksmith or a carpenter. Does Mr. Blizzard know what you are?"
"He can't prove it, unless you tell him."
"I sha'n't do that."
"How often will he have to pose for you?"
"Heaven only knows. But I think"--and she looked the young man in the
face, and smiled, for his face had charmed her--"I think that if ever I
finish with Mr. Blizzard, I shall ask you to be my next model."
The admiration with which the young man regarded Barbara was no less
frankly and openly expressed than was hers for him. "Until this moment,"
he said, "I have never understood the eager desire which some people
have to sit for their portraits. Whenever _you_ say."
She laughed. "And the new door-knobs?"
"Just because a man belongs to the secret service," returned the youth,
"is no reason why he shouldn't attempt once in a while to do something
And he knelt once more and took up his work where he had left off.
Barbara stood by and watched him at it. "I would like to do his hands,
too," she thought, "when I can get round to it." They were very strong,
square, able hands. She found herself wishing to touch them. And since
this was a wish that she had never experienced for any other pair of
hands, she wondered at herself with a frank and childish wonder.
"Your taxi, Miss Barbara."
"Thank you, Bubbles."
She slipped out of her overall, and with swift touches adjusted her hat
at a small mirror. The secret-service agent once more rose from
"Good-by," said Barbara, "and thank you, and don't forget."
"Never," said he.
She shook hands with him, and his firm strong clasp, literally
swallowing her own little hand, was immensely pleasant to her and of a
"Good-by, Bubbles. See you in the morning."
"Good-by, Miss Barbara."
She was gone. The man resumed his work. The boy watched.
"Was I right?"
[Illustration: Harry, the workman, ... rose to his feet, and turned to
Barbara with a certain quiet eagerness]
"A wonder--or not?"
"You won't leave Blizzard up to me all alone, will you? Not _now_, you
"No, Bubbles, not now. Whenever he's posing in this room, you and I
won't be far off."
"Because," said Bubbles, smiling with relief, "I'd do my best, but if it
came to a show-down with _him_ there ain't a thing I _could_ do."
"One time or another," said Harry, "we'll _get_ him. You and I will."
"I betcher," said Bubbles.
And in his little peaked face there was much that was threatening to the
ultimate welfare of the legless beggar.
Barbara, ordinarily clear-minded and single-minded, drove uptown with
her thoughts in a state of chaos. She wished to think only about her
newly begun head of Satan fallen, since nothing else seemed to her at
the moment of any importance, but the face, hands, and voice of the
young secret-service agent refused to be banished, and kept suing for
In almost the exact degree in which the legless beggar was repulsive to
her sense of perfection the secret-service agent was attractive. She had
never seen a man so agreeable to her eyes. And yet, as a marine artist
might see fame in painting a wreck upon a sea-shore, rather than a fine
new ship under full sail, so she felt that, artistically considered,
there was no comparison whatever between the two men. The face of the
elder compelled attention and study, and loosed in the observer's mind a
whole stream of conjecture and unanswerable questions. The face of the
younger began and ended perhaps in the attractions of youth and high
spirits. It was a face of which, should the mind back of it prove
wanting, you might tire, and learn to look upon as commonplace.
In the midst of unguided thinking Barbara laughed aloud; that small boy
whom she had lifted from the cold gutter to comparative affluence and
incomparable affection for his rescuer came unbidden into the
flurry-scurry of her thoughts, and remained for some time. And she knew
that if all her friends should fail her, if the beggar returned no more
to be modelled, if the secret-service agent proved but a handsome empty
shell, Bubbles would always show up at the appointed time and place
while life remained in him. Then, again, as she tried to concentrate
upon her bust of Blizzard, the secret-service agent stepped forward, you
may say, and smiled into her eyes. And she smiled back. Again she seemed
to feel the strong clasp of his hand, and to hear the agreeable and even
musical intonation of his strong voice. Odd, she thought, that he should
come to put on door-knobs, turn out to be a secret-service agent, and
have at the same time, if not the characteristics of a fine gentleman,
those at least of a man of education and sensibility infinitely superior
to the highest type of day-laborer or detective. One of her new
acquaintances talked like a gentleman and claimed to be the son of a
distinguished man; the other, claiming nothing, was infinitely more
presentable; and there was only the small boy who remained frankly
representative of his class. In spite of his coat of bright buttons, he
was of the streets streety; a valiant little ragamuffin, in all but the
actual rags. He had the morals of his class and the point of view, and
differed only in the excellence of his heart. This was a heart made for
loving, devotion, and sacrifice. Yet it was crammed to the brim with
knowledge of evil, and even tolerance therefor. That certain men in
certain circumstances would act in such and such a way was not a
horrible idea to Bubbles, but merely a fact. In the boy's code stealing
from a friend was stealing, but stealing from an enemy was merely one
way of making a living.
Upon arriving at her father's house, Barbara met Wilmot Allen just
turning away from the door. His handsome face brightened at the sight of
her, and he sprang forward hatless to furnish her with quite unnecessary
aid in stepping out of the taxi.
"Oh, _there_ you are!" he said. "Sparker said you might be home for
lunch and again you might not. Please may I graft a meal?"
"Of course," said Barbara, "but unless somebody else drops out of the
skies we'll be all alone."
"Your father off on a case?"
"Yes," said Barbara, as they went in, "he is operating, but in Wall
Street. And what's the best news with you?"
"That spring's come and summer's coming. When do your holidays begin?"
"_That"_ said Barbara, with a certain air of triumph, "is a secret of
the workshop. Let's sit in the dining-room. It's the only way to
To persons used to humbler ways of life Dr. Ferris's dining-room would
have proved too large and stately a place for purposes of intimate
conversation. Warriors and ladies looked down from the tapestried walls
upon a small round table set with heavy silver and light glass for two,
and having the effect, in the midst of an immense deep-blue rug, of a
little island in a lake. But Barbara and Wilmot Allen, well used to even
larger and more stately rooms, faced each other across the white linen
with its pattern of lotus-plants and swans, and chatted as comfortably
and unconcernedly as two children in their nursery.
"As for holidays," said Barbara, "I have a new model, Wilmot; a
wonderful person, and that means _work_. I may stay in town right
through the summer."
Allen sighed loudly, and on purpose. "You make me tired," he said.
"Bring a lump of clay down to Newport, and _I'll_ sit for you."
Barbara affected to study his face critically. Then she shook her head.
"My new model," she explained, "has got the face of a fallen angel. I
think I can do it. And if I can do it, why, I see all the good things of
sculping coming my way."
"An ordinary every-day angel face wouldn't do?" her guest insinuated. "I
could go out and fall."
"I don't doubt it!" she returned somewhat crisply. "I feel very sure
that you could disgrace yourself without trouble and even with relish.
But it wouldn't show in your face. You see, you couldn't really
"Couldn't I though!" exclaimed the young man. "A lot you know about it.
I could eat you up for one thing without turning a hair, and that would
"It wouldn't," Barbara laughed. "It would be greedy. My new model has
the face of a man who has never stopped at anything that has stood in
his way. I fancy that he has murders up his sleeve and every other crime
in the calendar. And sometimes memory of them brings the most wonderful
look of sorrow and remorse into his face, and at the same time he looks
resolved to go on murdering and burning and sinning because he can't get
back to where he was when he began to fall, and must go on falling or
perish. Don't you think that if I can cram that into a lump of clay I'll
make a reputation for myself?"
"I think," said Wilmot, "that if you've got that kind of a man sitting
for you, you'll need all the reputation you can get. You talk of him
with the same sort of enthusiasm that a bird would show in describing
being fascinated by a snake."
Barbara considered this judicially. "Do you know," she agreed, "it is
rather like that. He fascinates me, and at the same time I never saw a
brute I hated so. He must be wicked to deserve such pain."
"Oh, he suffers, does he?"
"Of course. Wouldn't you suffer every minute of your life if you had no
Barbara, intent upon what was on her plate, did not perceive the sudden
astonished darkening of Wilmot Allen's face, nor that the interest which
he had hitherto only feigned in her new model had become genuine.
"What is he?"
"I was going to say 'just a beggar,'" said Barbara. "But he isn't just
a beggar. I've gathered that he's rather well off, and that he's one of
the powers on the East Side. And he looks money and power, even if he
doesn't talk them."
"Is his name by any chance Blizzard?"
She looked up in astonishment "How did you know?"
"Oh," he said cheerfully, "I've knocked about the city and known all
sorts of curious people, and heard about others. So Blizzard's your new
model. Now look here, Barbara, are we old friends, or aren't we?"
"Very old friends," she said.
"Then let me tell you that you're a little fool to have anything to do
with a man like that. You can't touch pitch, you know, and--"
"I only touch him with a pair of compasses," she interrupted sweetly.
"Don't quibble," said Allen with energy; "it's not like you. That man is
so bad, so unsavory, so vile, that you simply _mustn't_ have him about.
"So is a volcano," said Barbara, "but there's no reason why the most
innocent bread-and-butter miss shouldn't paint a picture of a volcano if
she felt inspired."
"I see that there's only one thing to do. I shall tell your father."
Wilmot Allen was genuinely troubled. And Barbara laughed at him.
"I'm not a child," she said.
"That's just it," said he; "that's why you ought to be ashamed of
yourself. And anyway you are a child. All girls say they aren't until
they get into a mess of some sort, and then they excuse themselves to
themselves and everybody else by protesting that they were. 'I was so
young. I didn't know,' and all that rot."
"Blizzard," said Barbara, "is quiet, polite, and a good talker. He
comes, he sits for me, and he goes away."
The butler having left the room, Wilmot fixed his rather tired eyes on
Barbara's face, and spoke with a certain earnest tenderness. "Barbs," he
said, "take it from me, happiness doesn't lie where you think it does. I
think the very highest achievements of the very greatest artists haven't
brought happiness. Look here, old dear; put a limit to your ambition.
Say that by a certain date you'll either succeed and quit, or fail and
quit, and then see if you can't take a little more interest in your own
people, in your own heart--even in me."
"Wilmot," she said seriously, "if I fail with my head of Blizzard, I
think I _shall_ give up."
"Wouldn't it be better," he pleaded, "to give up now? And then, you
know, you could always say if _only_ you'd kept on you would have made a
"And who would believe that?"
"_I!_" said Wilmot. "It's easy for me to believe anything wonderful of
you. It always has been."
"And a moment ago," she smiled, "you called me a little fool and said
you'd tell my father on me."
She rose, still smiling, and he followed her into the library.
"Are all the studios in your building occupied?" he asked.
"They are," said Barbara, "and they aren't. Kelting, who has the ground
floor, has gone abroad. And Updyke, who has the third floor, has been in
Bermuda all winter." She sank into a deep leather chair that half
"There's a janitor?"
"No. There's a janitress, a friendly old lady, quite deaf. She has seen
infinitely better days."
"To all intents and purposes, then," said Wilmot, and the trouble that
he felt showed in his face, "it's an empty house, and you shut yourself
up in it with some model or other that you happen to pick up in the
streets, and you don't know enough to be afraid. You'll get yourself
murdered one of these bright mornings."
"Oh, I think not!" said Barbara. "There's Bubbles, you know."
"Oh, Bubbles!" exclaimed Wilmot. "He doesn't weigh eighty pounds. This
Blizzard--look here, get rid of him. I can't tell you what the man is."
He laughed. "I don't know you well enough. But take my word for it, if a
crime appeals to him, he commits it. And the police can't touch
"Why can't they?"
"He knows too much about them individually and collectively. They're
afraid of him. Get rid of him, Barbs."
Wilmot Allen's voice was strongly appealing. The fact that he sat
forward in his chair, instead of yielding to its deep and enjoyable
embrace, proved that he was very much in earnest. But Barbara shook her
"You ask too much, Wilmot. My heart's in the beginning I've made. I've
got to go on. It's a test case. If I've got _anything_ in me, now is the
chance for it to show. You see, when I made up my mind seriously to try
to do worth-while things with my own hands, everybody was against me.
And the sympathy that I am going to receive if I fail to make good is of
a kind that's almost impossible to face."
"Then do me a favor. It won't interfere with your work, and it may be
very useful at a pinch." He drew from his hip pocket a small automatic
pistol. "Accept this," he went on, "and keep it somewhere handy as a
sort of guardian. It's much stronger than the strongest man."
"How absurd!" she said. "And what are you doing carrying concealed
weapons? I'm beginning to think that you're a desperado yourself."
He rose, smiling imperturbably, and laid the pistol in her lap.
"At least," she said, "show me how it works."
He explained the mechanism clearly and with patience, not once, but
several times. "Point it," he said, "as you would point your finger, and
keep pulling the trigger until the enemy drops."
"One every two hours," Barbara commented, "until relieved."
"May you never need it," said Wilmot, earnestly.
"I never shall," said Barbara. "Must I really keep it?"
"But you," she exclaimed, "you will be quite unprotected all the way
from here to the nearest shop where such things are sold."
"I shall be armed again," he smiled, "before I am threatened. Indeed, to
know that you are armed has heartened me immensely. What are you doing
"I don't know," she answered with provoking submissiveness; "you haven't
"It's just possible," he said, "that the turf courts at the Westchester
Country Club have been opened. I might telephone and find out. Then we
could collect some clothes, jump into a taxi, and go out and open
"You can't afford taxis, Wilmot. And you never let anybody else pay for
"Oh," he pleaded, "I can afford a taxi this once, believe me."
"In that case," said Barbara, "I surrender."
"If you only would, Barbs."
"'Phone if you are going to, and don't be always slipping sentiment
into a business proposition," She affected to look very stern and
"I shall engage the magic taxi," he affirmed.
"Don't you know? There's a magic taxi in the city--just one. You get in,
you give your order, and lo and behold, rivers and seas are crossed,
countries and continents, until finally you fetch up in the place where
you would be, and when you look at the meter you find that it hasn't
registered as much as a penny."
"Time," said Barbara, "flies even faster than a magic taxicab. So if you
are going to 'phone--"
"Is there no drop of sentiment in that exquisite shell which the world
knows as Barbara Ferris? Didn't any man ever mean anything to
She flushed slightly, for there had come into her thoughts quite
unbidden the image of a certain young man in workman's clothes, kneeling
at a door, and removing an old japanned iron lock. She shook her head
firmly, and smiled up at him insultingly.
"Men, Wilmot," she said, "are nothing to me but planes, angles, curves,
masses, lights, and shadows. They are either suited to sculpture or
Wilmot laughed, and while he was busy with the telephone, Barbara tried
to think of the secret-service agent in cold terms of planes, curves,
masses, etc., and found that she couldn't. Which discovery annoyed and
The girls who plaited hats for Blizzard had just finished luncheon and
were taking their places at the long work-table. The entrance door
having clanged its bell, twenty heads bent earnestly over twenty hats in
various stages of construction, and twenty pairs of hands leaped into
The master passed up and down on his crutches, observing progress and
despatch with slow-moving, introspective eyes. Presently he came to a
halt and clapped his hands sharply together. Twenty pairs of eyes, some
cringing, some with vestiges of boldness, some favor-currying, sought
his, and twenty pairs of hands ceased work as when power is shut off
from as many machines. Blizzard's eyes passed slowly over the girls in a
sort of appraising review, once, and a second time.
The speaker was one of those flowers of girlhood which bloom here and
there in the slums. She might have been a princess in exile and
disguise. Even her hands and feet were fine and delicate. And if in her
expression there was a certain nervousness, there was none of fear.
She rose in her place; the corners of her mouth trembled a little, but
curled steadily upward.
"Stand out where I can see you."
She did so, with a certain defiant grace.
"Turn around, slowly."
She might have been one of those young ladies at a fashionable
dressmaker's upon whom the effect of the latest Parisian models is
continually tried. While she slowly gyrated, the legless man, looking up
at her, spoke aloud.
"Muck! Muck!" he said. "And yet she's the pick of the bunch."
The girl kept on turning,
She did as ordered, but it so happened that her back was squarely turned
upon the master.
"No monkey business," he shouted. "Face me! Face me!"
She faced him, still scornful, but white now, and biting her lips.
"The rest of you," he said, "will have the rest of the day off. Get
Seventy-six chair-legs squeaked, and Miss Rose's nineteen companions,
with murmurs and occasional nervous giggles, hurried off to the
coat-room. A few minutes later the bell of the outer door clanged
once--they were going; clanged a second time--they were gone.
[Illustration: She faced him, still scornful, but white now, and biting
Meanwhile the legless man had not taken his hard, calculating eyes off
the girl who remained. Presently he spoke. "We're alone," he said.
"I'm between you and the door." He spread his great arms, as if to
emphasize the impassability of the barrier which confronted her. "Are
The legless man laughed. "Well said," he remarked, "and truthfully said.
And why are you afraid?"
"Everybody's afraid of you."
He regarded her for some moments in silence. "You needn't be. Have I
ever hurt you?"
"How long have you worked for me?"
"And you are the cleverest worker I have. You admit that?"
"I don't know."
Again he laughed. "Once," he said, "I thought you were the prettiest
girl I'd ever seen. But I've seen a prettier."
"I believe you."
"'But you've got a certain spirit. You don't cringe."
"No!" he bellowed, "you don't." And when he saw that she didn't cringe,
he laughed once more.
"You live with Minnie Bauer?"
"You have no father--no mother?"
"Burnt alive in a tenement fire, weren't they?"
She answered with a great effort, and seemed upon the verge of tears,
"You will leave Minnie, and come here to live."
"Because I make it my business to reward the skilful, the laborious, and
She shook her head. "That's not good enough," she said.
"You will keep my house in order," he said; "you will learn to help me
with the piano. You will have fine clothes to wear, and the spending of
plenty of money."
"Not good enough," she repeated.
"I have read you these five months as if you were a book. You are loyal
to your friends. You can keep secrets. I admire you. There are many
things that I wish to talk about. But I cannot talk about them except to
some one that I can trust. Will you stay?"
She shook her head, but the legless man smiled, as he might have smiled
if she had nodded it.
"I am suffering," he said, "the tortures of the damned. I ask you for
help and for comfort, and you refuse them."
A look curiously like tenderness swam into the girl's eyes. The beggar
moved sideways upon his crutches.
"If you want to go," he said, "the way's open."
"Can I really go if I want to, and not come back?"
"You really can," he said. "Most things that I want I take, but a man
can't take help and comfort unless they are freely given."
She moved slowly forward as if to discover the truth of his statement
that the way was open. He made not the least gesture of interference.
When she was between him and the outer door and rather nearer the
latter, she turned about sharply.
"What's troubling you?" she asked.
"The fact," he said, and there was a something really charming in the
expression of his mouth and eyes, "that though I can give orders to very
many people, and be obeyed as a general is obeyed by his soldiers in war
times, I have no friend. Fear attracts this person to me, self-interest
attracts that person, but there's no one that's held to me by
"You're only asking me to be your friend?"
"You will be as safe in my house as in the rooms of the Gerry Society."
"If you want me for a friend why did you call me _muck_ just now?"
"I don't want the others to know that we are friends. I want them to
think--what they always think."
"How do I know you trust me?"
"Lock the street door," he said; "you're younger than I. It's easier for
you to move about."
She locked the door and returned.
"Are you staying," he asked, "through curiosity or friendship?"
"Look here," she said, "it's neither, Can't you guess what ails me?"
She took his strong, wicked face between her young hands, and bending
over kissed him on the forehead. Then she drew back, flaming.
The legless man was touched. "Why?" he asked.
"I don't know. It just came to me," she said. "God knows I didn't want
it to. I guess that's all"
Rose found it hard to control her jumping nerves. A curious thing had
happened to her. Having at last wormed her way into the master's
confidence, and brought a long piece of play-acting to a successful
conclusion, a certain candor and frankness which were natural to her
made the thought of divulging what she had already found out, and
whatever he might confide to her in the future, exceedingly repugnant.
And she acknowledged with a shiver of revolt that the creature's
fascination for her was not altogether a matter of make-believe. She was
going to find it very hard to keep a proper perspective and point of
view; to continue to regard him as just another "case" and all in the
"In my house," he said, "you shall do as you please. You're a dear girl,
"I feel at home in your house," she said, "and happy."
A cloud gathered in Blizzard's face. "Happiness!" he exclaimed. "There
is no such thing--neither for you, nor for me. The world is a
torture-chamber, and remember, Rose, we are to be allies; we are to
have no secrets from each other."
She shrugged her shoulders. "That was what you said," she complained.
"But have you really shown me any confidence?"
He smiled as upon a wayward child. "You shall know everything that there
is to know--when the time comes."
"And what, by the way," he went on, "have _you_ told _me_?"
"I have told you," she answered with dignity, "my one secret."
"The way you feel about me?"
She nodded and blushed. It was going to be a hard lie to keep telling.
"And you've no other secret? Nothing else that you ought to tell me?"
There was more meaning in his voice than in his words, so that for a
moment Rose was startled. Was it possible that the man suspected her,
and was playing with her as a cat plays with a mouse?
"What else could I possibly have to tell you of any importance?"
"I was joking," said the beggar.
Rose sat at the window of her room looking upward into a night of stars.
She could not sleep. Twice she had heard the legless man pass her door
upon his crutches. Each time he had hesitated, and once, or so she
thought, he had laid his hand upon the door-knob. She wondered how much
of her wakefulness was due to fright; and how much to the excitement of
being well launched upon a case of tremendous importance, for the secret
service knew that Blizzard was engaged upon a colossal plot of some
sort, and just what that was Rose had volunteered, at the risk of her
life, and of her honor, to find out.
The next morning, at the appointed hour, Blizzard climbed the stairs to
Barbara's studio, knocked, and was admitted. That he was welcome, if
only for his head's sake, was at once evident.
"Something told me that _you_ wouldn't fail me," said Barbara.
"You can be quite easy about that," said Blizzard. "I am in the habit of
keeping my word."
He climbed to the model's platform and seated himself as upon the
previous morning, with a kind of business-like directness.
"Ready when you are," he said.
Barbara withdrew the damp cloths from the clay, looked critically from
the bust to the original and back again. "My work," she said, "still
looks right to me. But you don't."
"Yesterday," she said, "you looked as if you were suffering like," she
laughed, "like the very devil. To-day you look well fed and contented.
Now that won't do. Try to remember what you were thinking about when I
first saw you."
At once, as a fresh slide is placed in a magic-lantern, the legless
man's expression of well-being vanished, and that dark tortured look of
Satan fallen which had so fired Barbara's imagination, once more
possessed his features. Barbara's eyes flashed with satisfaction.
"It wasn't hard for you to remember what you were thinking about, was
it?" she said.
"It was not," said Blizzard, and his voice was cold as a well-curb.
"When I first saw you, I was thinking thoughts that can never be
"Lift your chin, please," she said, "just a fraction. So. Turn your head
a fraction more toward me. Good. And please don't think of anything
pleasant until I tell you. Anybody can make an exact copy of a head.
Expressions are the things that only lucky people can catch."
"I believe you are one of them," said Blizzard. "I believe you will
catch mine--if you keep on wanting to."
"I must," she said simply.
And then for half an hour there was no sound in the studio but the
long-drawn breathing of the legless man. Barbara worked in a kind of
grim, exalted silence.
Meanwhile Bubbles was climbing the back stair to his bedroom, where he
had left Harry, the secret-service agent, on guard over Barbara. The
boy, all out of breath with haste, opened his right fist and disclosed a
narrow slip of paper with writing on it.
"The minute _he_ came out of his burrow and started uptown," said
Bubbles, "and was out o' sight, I begun to spin my top up and down
Marrow Lane. Rose she's moved upstairs, like she said she would."
Harry's eyes sparkled with interest and approbation. "Good girl!" he
"I seen her," Bubbles went on, "at an upper window, and when she seed
me, she winked both eyes, like as if the sun was too bright for 'em. I
winked the same way, and then she lets the paper drop."
Harry took the paper out of the boy's hand, and read: "Nothing done,
"She's a grand one," said Bubbles. "If he ever gets wise to her, he'll
tear her to pieces."
"I'm not worrying about Rose--yet," said Harry. "She knows what she's up
against, and she can pull a gun quicker than I can. We used to play
getting the drop on each other by the hour."
"What for?" asked Bubbles, always interested in the smallest details of
"Poker-chips," said Harry, and Bubbles looked his disgust. There was a
minute's silence, then:
"Harry," said Bubbles, "what do _you_ think he's up to?"
"By George," said Harry, "I can't make out. What do _you_ think?"
Bubbles's sensitive mouth quivered eagerly. "You tell me," he said,
"what he's making hats for--he don't sell 'em--and I'll tell you what
he's up to."
"Some of the labor leaders in the West are mixed up in it," said Harry;
"we _know_ that."
"Labor leaders, Harry!" The small boy's face was comic with scorn and
"You know the ones I mean, Bub. Not the men who lead labor--that's only
what they call themselves; but the men who betray labor for their own
pockets, the men who find dynamite for half-witted fanatics to set off.
The men--" He broke short off, and listened. "Better butt in to the
studio, Bub, and see what's doing,"
"Did you think you heard something?"
"I know that I haven't heard anything for half an hour."
In a few minutes Bubbles returned. "He's just sitting there with a hell
of a face on him," he said, "and she's working like a dynamo."
And although Barbara actually was working with great speed and
gratitude, the entrance of the small boy had seemed to disturb the train
of her inspiration. Somewhere in the back of her head appeared to be
some brain-cells quite detached from the important matter in hand, and
to these was conveyed the fact that a door-knob had been turned, and at
once they began to busy themselves upon the suggestion. Something like
this: door-knobs--old door-knobs--new glass door-knobs--man to put on
new glass door-knobs--wonderfully prepossessing man--name
Harry--charming name. Harry--charming smile--wonder if anybody'll ever
see him again.
Gradually other cells in Barbara's brain took up the business, until
presently she was entirely occupied with unasked, and unwelcome, and
altogether pleasant thoughts of the young secret-service agent. It was
almost as if he laid his hand on her shoulder, and said: "You've worked
long enough on this dreadful beggar--come with me for a holiday."
Twice, sternly, she endeavored to go on with her work, and could not.
Something of the May-weather message, that all is futile except life,
had filtered into her blood. Her hands dropped to her sides, and her
face, very rosy, became so wonderfully beautiful that Blizzard almost
groaned aloud. Something told him that his morning was over, his morning
filled with the happiness of propinquity and stolen looks, with the
happiness that is half spiritual and half gloating.
"Thank you," said Barbara, "ever so much. I sha'n't do any more to-day.
I'm not fit. But we have gotten on. Want to look?"
She turned the revolving-table so that Blizzard could look upon his
likeness. And you may be sure that he did not lose the opportunity thus
presented. He regarded the clay steadily, for a long time, without
speaking. Then he drew one very long breath, and the expression upon his
"That man," he said, "has had a hard life, Miss Ferris. It is all
written in his face. When he was a little boy, he was the victim of a
mistake so atrocious, so wicked, that the blood in his body turned to
gall, and all his powers of loving turned to hatred. Instead of facing
disaster like a man, he turned from it, and fled--down--down--down, and
fell down--down--grappling with all that he could reach that was good or
beautiful, and dragging it down with him--to destruction--to the pit--to
hell on earth. And then he lived a long time, pampering all that was
base in him, prospering materially, recognizing no moral law. He was
contented with his choice--happy as a well-fed dog is happy in a warm
corner. And then the inevitable happened. An idea came to him, a dream
of peace and beauty, of well-doing and happiness. But that chance was
torture, since, if he was to live it, he must undo the evil that he had
done, unthink the thoughts that had been meat and drink to him, and he
must get back to where he was before he fell."
He paused, and extending his right forefinger pointed at the bust of
himself and exclaimed:
"That man--there--that you've made in my image--line for line--torture
for torture, must go on living in the hell which he has prepared with
his own perverted mind. He can never get back. It is too late--too
His voice rose to a kind of restrained fury. The room shook with its
Then he turned to Barbara, smiled, all of a sudden, gayly, almost
genuinely, and said in a voice of humble gallantry:
"But I've done you a good turn. If you never proved it before, you're
proving these days that you are a heaven-born genius."
A harder-headed girl than Barbara must have been pleased and beguiled.
She blushed, and laughed. "I've only one thing to wish for," she said.
"What is that?"
"I wish," she said, "that you were the greatest art critic in the
He leaned forward, and in a confidential whisper: "A secret," said he,
"between us two. I am."
Then they both laughed, and the beggar, not without reluctance, climbed
down from the platform. Swift and easy as were his motions, he appeared
to terrible disadvantage, and he knew it. So did Barbara, who a moment
before had been on the point of really liking him. She steeled herself
against the sudden disgust which she could not help feeling, and smiled
at him in a steady, friendly way.
"To-morrow?" she said.
"At the same time, please. Good-by, and good luck to you."
"Good luck to _you_, Miss Ferris." And he was gone.
Barbara, opening the door into the next room, surprised a sound of
voices. They ceased instantly.
"Bubbles," she called.
He came, looking a trifle guilty.
"Who's that with you?"
"Harry," he said simply.
"The man who was here before?"
"Yes, Miss Barbara."
"What's he doing in my rooms?"
"He was just sitting, and chinning," said Bubbles.
Miss Ferris was displeased. "Tell him," she said, "that I can't have my
apartment turned into a Young Men's Club."
Bubbles retired, reluctantly, with the message, only to return in a
"He says will you let him speak to you a moment, please."
She hesitated. And then, "Yes," she said. "I suppose he wishes to
He was even more charming-looking than the memory of him. She made an
effort to look a little displeased, and a little unfriendly. She failed,
because the May-weather message had gotten into her blood, and because
certain forces of which as yet she knew little had established
connecting links between herself and the young secret-service agent.
"I am going to scold you," said Barbara. "Bubbles has his work to do."
"But I was helping him with it."
"He said you were just sitting and--and chinning."
"When we had finished working."
"Have you been here long?"
The young man looked her steadily in the face, and said gravely: "Ever
since Blizzard came."
Barbara lifted her chin a little. "I am quite able to take care of
myself," she said.
He shook his head sadly.
"Do you make it your business"--she had succeeded in making herself
angry--"to keep an eye on all young women whom you fancy unable to take
care of themselves?"
"I only wish to God I could," he said earnestly. "But of course it's
impossible. So I just do the best I can."
"And why have you chosen me? Surely others are even _more_ helpless than
I am." She managed to convey a good deal of scorn. "Why," she continued,
"must I be the particular creature singled out for your
"I don't know," he said simply.
All the anger went out of Barbara, and a delicious little thrill passed
through her from head to foot, leaving in its wake a clear
"Bubbles," said the young man, "would die for you; but he is only a
little boy. I am very strong."
Barbara refused to rise at the implication that the strong young man was
also ready and even eager to die for her. "Tell me more about
Blizzard," she said.
"He's one of the half-dozen men in the city that we would like to have
an eye on night and day. We want him."
"Oh," she said, "then you are not here entirely on my account? It is
also your business to be here?"
He nodded, not altogether pleased with the turn the matter had taken.
"In that case," she said, "I have no wish to stand in your way. But--I
don't propose to be a cat's-paw. You may sit in Bubbles's room if you
like, but I won't have you on your hands and knees at the studio door
listening at the key-hole. That must be understood."
The young man flushed with righteous anger. "You don't _look_" he said,
"as if you could say a thing like that to a fellow."
Instantly, and almost humbly, she begged his pardon.
"Then I may come to-morrow?" he asked.
"And the next day," said Barbara. "And, by the way, what is your name?"
"Harry," he said.
A look very much like pathos came into his handsome eyes. "I want to be
honest with you," he said. "I don't own any other name. I call myself
West. But I've no right to it. I don't know who my father was or what
"You don't have to explain," said Barbara. "I think you would have been
quite within your rights in saying that your name was West and letting
it go at that."
It was not her intention to receive Mr. West's confidences either at
this time or any other. And so, of course, ten minutes later, as she
drove uptown, she was "dying" to know all that there was to be known
about him. He had gone downstairs with her, and put her into her cab. He
might have been a prince with a passion for good manners. He seemed to
her wonderfully graceful and at ease, in all that he did.
Dr. Ferris smiled tolerantly, and said to the footman who had brought
the card: "I shall be very glad to see Mr. Allen." And he kept on
smiling after the footman had gone. The interview which he foresaw was
of that kind which not only did him honor but amused him. Wilmot Allen
would not be the first young man to whom the rich surgeon had had the
pleasure of putting embarrassing questions: "What can you tell me of
your past life and habits?" "Can you support my daughter in the way to
which she has always been accustomed?" etc., etc.
But Wilmot Allen did not at once ask permission to address Barbara. He
entered with that good-natured air of easy laziness which was rather
attractive in him, and without looking in the least troubled announced
that what he had come to say embarrassed him greatly.
"And furthermore," he said, "if Barbara hears of it, she'll be furious.
She would take the natural and even correct point of view that it's none
of my business, and she would select one of the thousand ruthless and
brutal methods which young women have at their disposition for the
disciplining of young men. So, please, will you consider my visit
professional and, if you like," he grinned mischievously, "charge me the
regular fee for consultation?"
Dr. Ferris laughed. "I shall be delighted to play father confessor," he
said, "if you'll sit down, and smoke a cigar."
Mr. Allen would. He lighted one of Dr. Ferris's cigars with the care due
to a thing of value, settled himself in a deep chair, and appeared by
slightly pausing to be gathering scattered thoughts into a focus.
"Yes," he said at last, "there's no doubt about it. I am about to be
very impertinent. If you like you shall turn me out of your house, with
or without kicks, as seems best to you. Barbara needs a nurse, and it
seems to me you ought to know it; because in a way it's a reflection
"Quite so," said Dr. Ferris. "I am not at all pleased with Barbara. What
has she done?"
"Do you suppose it would be possible to get her interested in anything
besides this sculpture business--before it's too late?"
"Before she gets a taste of success."
"But will she--ever?"
Wilmot Allen nodded eagerly. "She will," he said. "She is doing a head.
It's far from finished; but even now, in the rough state, it's quite the
most exceptional inspired thing you ever saw. She will exhibit it and
become famous overnight. I can't bet much--as you may perhaps
suspect--but I'll bet all I've got. And of course, once she gets
recognition and everybody begins to kow-tow to her--why,
"Still," said Dr. Ferris, "if she's developing a real talent, I don't
know that I ought to stand in her way. And, besides, we've fought that
all out, and," he laughed grimly, "I took my licking like a man."
"Of course," said Allen. "When a girl that ought to go in for marriage
and that sort of thing takes to being talented--I call it a tragedy.
But, passing that, the model for the head she's doing isn't a proper
person. That's what I'm driving at. He's one of the wickedest and most
unscrupulous persons in the world. Barbara ought not to speak to him,
let alone give him the run of her studio and hobnob with him same as
with one of her friends. He's a man too busy with villainy to sit as a
model for the fun of sitting. The pay doesn't interest him. And if he
shows up every morning at nine and stays all morning, it's only because
he's got an axe to grind. He talks. He lays down the law. He appeals to
Barbara's mind and imagination; and it's all rather horrible--one of
those poison snakes that look like an old rubber boot, and a bird all
prettiness, bright colors, innocence, and admiration of how the world is
made. Look at it in this way. She makes a great hit with the bust. Who's
responsible? Well, the creature that supplied the inspiration, largely.
She'll feel gratitude. He'll take advantage of anything that comes his
way. And frankly, Dr. Ferris, I may be making a mountain out of a
mole-hill, but I'm worried to death. Suppose I told you that, say, Duane
Carter spent hours every day in Barbara's studio?"
Dr. Ferris jumped to his feet, white with anger. "Do you mean to tell
me that my daughter is friendly with that person?"
"Oh, no," said Allen calmly. "I think Barbara's new friend is a very
much more dangerous person for her to know. Whatever Duane Carter is he
wouldn't dare. This other man--"
"Look here, Wilmot"--Dr. Ferris began to pace the room in considerable
agitation--"you're an old friend of Barbara's. Is friendliness at the
root of your worry, or is it some other feeling, not so disinterested as
Wilmot Allen rose to his full height, and Dr. Ferris paused in his
pacings. They faced each other.
"If I was any good," said the young man slowly, "if I had any money, if
Barbara would have me, I'd marry her to-morrow. But I'm not any
good--never was. I haven't any money, hardly ever have had, and Barbara
would no more have me of her own free will than she'd take a hammer and
smash the bust she's making. So much for motives. Have I disposed of
Dr. Ferris nodded.
"The man," said Allen, "isn't a man. He's a gutter-dog, a gargoyle, half
a man. And his position in the city--in the whole country, I think--is
so fortified that with the best will in the world the law cannot touch
him. Duane Carter--well, he's been a gay boy with the ladies--a bad man
if you like--but at least he is not accused by gossip of murder, arson,
abduction, and crimes infinitely worse than these. He may have beguiled
women, but at least his worst enemy would never suppose that he had
trafficked in them. Barbara's model is all the things that you can
imagine. And all of them are written in his horrible face. To see them
together, friendly, reparteeing, chummy, would turn your
stomach--Barbara so exquisite and high-born, and the man, his eyes full
of evil fires, sitting like a great toad on the model's chair. And at
that--good God, you might stand it, if he was a whole man! But he isn't.
It's horrible! He has no legs--and you want to stamp on him till
Dr. Ferris had turned white as a sheet. "To me," he said quietly, "that
is the most horrible form of mutilation. I can't tell you why. It is so.
And you will believe that in my practice I have encountered all sorts.
But who is he?"
"He's a man named Blizzard--he passes for a beggar, grinds an organ,
sells shoe-laces and that sort of thing. As a matter of fact, he's very
well off, if not rich. Why don't you visit Barbara's studio to-morrow,
look things over, and put a stop to it? You can say things to Barbara
that I can't, that no young man can say to a girl. Go as far as you
like. Whatever you tell her about him will be true even if you can't
prove it. You can make her see what thin ice she's skating on. Or if you
can't nobody can."
"I'll go to the studio to-morrow," said the surgeon. "I am very much
disturbed by what you have told me: the more so because as a physician
I have learned how many impossible things are true. Have you told me all
you wish to? Or is there more? Do you think," he spoke very steadily,
"that Barbara _cares_ for this beast? Such things happen in the world,
"God forbid," said Allen, "but I think he has a sort of fascination for
her, and that she doesn't realize it. You'll let your visit appear
casual and accidental, won't you? You won't let Barbara suspect that I
had anything to do with it?"
Dr. Ferris promised, and the two parted with mutual good-will; but
neither the next morning, nor the morning after that, was Dr. Ferris at
liberty to pay a visit to Barbara in her studio. Nominally retired from
active practice, and devoting whatever of life should remain to surgical
experimentation and theory, the sudden and acute jeopardy of an old
friend caused him to put all other considerations aside for the time
being, and once more to don the white harness of his profession. For two
days Dr. Ferris hardly left his friend's side; on the morning of the
third day, quite worn out, his jumping nerves soothed by a small dose of
morphine, he called a taxicab, gave Barbara's number in McBurney Place,
leaned back against the leather cushions, relaxed his muscles, and
The taxicab and the legless man reached the curb in front of Barbara's
studio at the same moment. The driver of the cab lifted one finger to
his hat. The legless man nodded, and peering into the cab recognized
the handsome features of the sleeping doctor. He smiled, and said to
"Take him back to his house."
The driver said: "If I do he'll enter a complaint."
"No," said the legless man; "you will tell him when he wakes that he
gave you the order himself. He won't know whether he did or
The driver once more lifted one finger to his hat and obediently drove
It was very silent in McBurney Place; the double row of ancient stables
made over into studio-buildings appeared deserted. The legless man could
not but flatter himself that his actions had been unobserved. He
chuckled, and with even more than his usual deft alacrity climbed the
stairs to Barbara's studio.
Meanwhile, however, a young man and a small boy, looking through the
curtains of the latter's bedroom window, had been witnesses of all
"That was Miss Barbara's father in the taxi," said Harry West.
"Looks like he'd been out all night," said Bubbles.
"He may have been drugged."
"Doubt it. The taxi turned north at the corner. If the ole 'un had had
the doctor drugged o' purpose he'd 'a' sent him south where he could use
him. I guess he's sent him home."
"He doesn't want his morning with Miss Barbara interrupted."
Harry West sighed and said: "I don't smoke, Bub. Give me a cigarette."
Bubbles accommodated his friend with eagerness.
"And now," said West, "the road's clear to Marrow Lane; better slip down
and see if Rose has any word for us. I'll keep a good ear on Blizzard."
Bubbles changed from his buttons to his street-jacket, and departed by
the back stairs. Harry West took a small automatic pistol from his
breast pocket and played with it, but in the expression of the young
man's face was nothing bellicose or threatening; only a kind of gentle,
He passed fifteen minutes in taking quick aims with the little automatic
pistol at the roses on the wall-paper. Short of actual target-practice,
he knew by experience that this was the best way to keep the hand and
eye in touch with each other. He let his thoughts run as they would. And
presently he heard the sound of Bubbles's feet upon the back stairs.
"All serene here," said West.
"All serene there," said Bubbles, and he produced a slip of paper upon
which Rose had written:
"Don't come so often. You've been noticed. He'll tell me things before
long--or wring my neck."
"She worked her hands some," said Bubbles, and he made letters of the
deaf and dumb alphabet upon his fingers. "She said O'Hagan's in the
city. They had him to eat with them last night. He's growed a beard, and
trained off twenty pounds, so's not to be knowed."
The air of revery had left Harry West. "O'Hagan in the East!" he
exclaimed, rather with exhilaration than excitement. "Things are coming
to a head."
"Yep," said Bubbles, "and we don't know what things is--"
"Bubbles! Oh, Bubbles!"
The boy disappeared in the direction of the studio.
"Mr. Blizzard has gone," said Barbara. "Ask Mr. West if he will speak to
me a moment."
Mr. West would; and he, the athlete, the man of trained poise, actually
overturned a chair in his willingness.
"Mr. West," she said, "you know all sorts of things about people, don't
you? And if you don't know them, you can find them out, can't you?"
"Sometimes, Miss Barbara."
"I want to know about the man who comes here to pose--not vague things,
but facts; who his people were, what turned him against the world."
"You're troubled, Miss Barbara?"
"I am terribly troubled. He has told me a terrible story. But how do I
know if it's true or not? If it's true, he ought not to be hounded and
hunted, Mr. West; he ought to be pitied."
"Then I'm sure it's not true," West smiled quietly. "What did he tell
"No matter. But will you find out what you can about him?"
"Why, yes, of course. But believe me, it's not his beginnings that are
of importance. It's his subsequent achievements and his schemes for
"Another thing," she said, "I'm sure he means no harm where I'm
concerned. He has never known that I have a protector within call, and
yet his whole attitude toward me has been gentle, humorous, and even
chivalrous. I think," and the color came into her cheeks, "that he feels
a fatherly sort of affection for me. So thank you for all the trouble
"I, too, have reason to think that he means no harm," said West, "and if
that is true, I am wasting my time."
There was a look of bitterness in his eyes that was not lost upon
Barbara. And she was troubled.
"Of course," she said, "if you _like_ to waste your time--"
He looked her straight in the eyes. "I do," he said, "I love to. No
man's life would ever be complete if he didn't waste the best part of
it--throw it away on something or other--on an ambition--on an
ideal--on a woman."
Barbara returned his glance. "Just what, Mr. West," she said, "is the
And here, Mr. Harry West might have found the sudden courage to speak
out what was in his heart, had he not remembered that to all intents and
purposes he had no father, and consequently in the eyes of the great
world to which Barbara belonged could not be considered to have any
"Oh," he said, "I was just talking through my hat."
Barbara, who, you may say, had been unconsciously putting out tentacles
of affection toward Harry West, at once withdrew them, and said coolly:
"So I supposed."
"May I look at the bust?"
She removed the damp cloths from her work, and Harry found himself
looking into the legless man's face. The features at once attracted and
repelled him, and these sensations mingled with them feelings of wonder.
Some subconscious knowledge told the young man authoritatively that he
was looking on a master work. Barbara noticed this, and her heart
warmed, and her pride was gratified.
"I'm going to hurt your feelings," she said.
"Mine? Don't. Please don't."
"If you," she said, "devoted the next twenty years of your life to
wickedness and vengeful thoughts you would get to look like my friend,
Now that same thought had occurred, and not for the first time, to Harry
West, but he did not care to admit it. So he laughed gently, and said:
"In that case I shall devote the next twenty years of my life to
philanthropy and--loving thoughts."
He turned toward her, all smiling. And she avoided his eyes without
appearing to do so.
The next morning Blizzard was fifteen minutes late to his appointment
with Barbara. He had sat up all night with O'Hagan, talking
energetically, and for once in his life he felt tired. To this feeling
was added the fear--almost ridiculous under the circumstances--that
Barbara would scold him for being late. Unscrupulous brute that he was,
his infatuation for her was humanizing him. And in the whole world he
dreaded nothing so much, at this time, as a look of displeasure in a
He had left off the threadbare clothes in which he usually went begging,
and had attired himself in clean linen and immaculate gray broadcloth.
His face was exquisitely shaved; his nails trimmed and clean. And there
hung about him a faint odor of violets. In short, the male of the
species had begun to change his plumage, as is customary in the spring
of the year.
His mouth full of apology, he hurried up the stairs to the studio, only
to find that Barbara herself had not yet arrived. Upon the seat of the
chair in which he always posed, the legless man perceived an envelope
addressed to himself. This contained a short note:
DEAR MR. BLIZZARD:
I can't be at the studio till eleven. Please find somewhere
about you the kindness to wait, or at least to come again at
that time. You will greatly oblige,
Blizzard read his note three times; it was very friendly. The "Yours
sincerely" touched his imagination. Especially the "Yours."
"Yours," he said, "mine," and with a sudden idiocy of passion he crushed
the note to his lips. And then, as if with remorse at having been rough
with a helpless thing, he smoothed out the crumpled sheet, and placed
it, together with its envelope, in that pocket which was nearest to his
heart. Then he seated himself on the edge of the model's platform, laid
his crutches aside, closed his eyes, and for perhaps five minutes slept,
motionless as a statue, except that now and then his ears twitched. At
the end of five minutes, he waked, greatly refreshed, and ready, if the
need should arise, to sit up the whole of the following night.
There was a sound of a man's steps mounting the stairs. And then a brisk
knocking on the studio door.
"Come in," said Blizzard.
Dr. Ferris entered, hesitated, and then closed the door behind him.
"You'll pardon me," said Blizzard coolly, "if I don't get up?"
"Yes--yes," said Dr. Ferris, and in his handsome eyes was a look of
pain and pity.
"It isn't easy for me to get up," Blizzard continued in the same cool,
emotionless voice, "you can see for yourself. I can't spring to my
feet--like other men. Do you know who I am?"
"Yes," said Dr. Ferris, "I'm afraid I do. But they told me the name of
the man who has been posing for Miss Ferris was Blizzard. Your name--"
"My name," said Blizzard, "is forgotten."
Dr. Ferris bowed gravely. "Quite so, Mr. Blizzard," he said.
"Miss Barbara," said Blizzard, watching closely the effect upon the
older man of the familiarity, "will not be here till eleven. And as you
and I cannot possibly have anything pleasant to say to each other, and
as you, although the older man, are far better off than I am for means
of locomotion, and as even _thinking_ of you has something the effect
upon my stomach that mustard and warm water would have--"
"If you have any mercy in your heart," said Dr. Ferris, his mouth
distorted with emotion, "don't talk to me that way. What made a hell of
your life has made a hell of mine."
The look of cold hatred in Blizzard's face changed at once to curiosity.
"Really?" he said; "you mean that?"
"It is the truth."
Blizzard considered, and then shook his head. "No," he said, "it
couldn't be the same. It may have stretched you on the hot grid now and
then, but between times of remorse you've had long, long stretches of
success and happiness. I haven't. I have burned in hell fires from that
day to this."
"I told you on that day," said the surgeon, "that if there was ever
anything under heaven that I could do for you, I would do it. You've
never called upon me for anything--money--or service."
"I've not forgotten," said Blizzard, "and some day I may hold you to
your word. Right here and now I will ask something of you--an absolutely
truthful answer to a question. Do you hate me?"
Dr. Ferris turned the question over in his conscience, and presently
said: "I am sorry. Yes."
"Thank you," said Blizzard, who was not in the least disturbed. "I've
often wondered, and even, putting a hypothetical case, thrashed the
matter out with my friends. You _would_ hate me. It's thoroughly human.
With me, for instance--I feel non-committal about a man. I decide to
injure him. I do so. _And then_ I hate him. Now, if you have any message
for Miss Barbara--or perhaps you came to see the bust. I will call
Bubbles. He and Miss Barbara are the only persons allowed to touch the
cloths. I think she'd let me uncover the thing, but, as you and I know
so well, I am not tall enough."
"My business with my daughter," said Dr. Ferris, "concerned you."
Blizzard chuckled. "Her friends," said he, "have been at you to
interfere. They have persuaded you that her model should be _persona non
grata_ in the best studios. They have, in short, begged you to take me
by the scruff of the neck and kick me out into the gutter where I
belong. Well, kick me. You know as well as I do, that I can't
"You hurt me very much," said Dr. Ferris simply, "if that is any
pleasure to you."
"It is," said Blizzard.
"What your intuition has told you," continued Barbara's father, "is the
truth. I had made up my mind to interfere."
"Well, why should you?"
"I have heard terrible things about you, Mr. Blizzard."
"That I have done things which the world regards as terrible is true,"
returned the legless man imperturbably. "What of it? Haven't you?"
Dr. Ferris turned away and slowly paced the length of the studio and
back. "I owe you," he then said, "anything you choose to ask. But that
is not the whole of my obligation to this world as I see it."
"You will oblige me," said Blizzard, "by spitting out the moral homily
into which you are trying to get your teeth. It is very simple. I do not
wish to be sent away. I ask you not to send me. If your statement that
you owe me anything I choose to ask amounts to two pins' worth, I think
that I shall continue to pose for your daughter as long as she
"Oh, I'm quite helpless," said Dr. Ferris; "I realize that."
"Spoken like a man," said Blizzard. "And to show that my nature isn't
entirely cruel, I'll tell you for your comfort that in Miss Barbara's
presence the bad man is a very decent sort. We are almost friends,
Doctor, she and I. She talks to me as if I were her equal. As for me, in
this studio I have learned the habit of innocent thought. Only yesterday
I took pleasure in the idea that in the world there are birds, and
flowers, and green fields."
The beggar's eyes glittered with a sardonic look. He watched the surgeon
as a tiger might watch a stag. There was quite a long silence. Dr.
Ferris broke it.
"For God's sake," he said with great energy, "tell me one truth. Is it
part of your scheme of life to revenge yourself on me through my
Blizzard raised a soothing hand. "Dr. Ferris," he said, "what would
cause you suffering would cause her suffering. So, you see, I am tied
hand and--Pardon me! I shouldn't now think of hurting you through her
unless it might be for her own happiness."
"I don't understand."
"Then you don't understand the hearts of women. Then you know nothing of
the heights to which even fallen men can raise their eyes."
"What are you telling me?"
"Very little--very much. Perhaps I love your daughter."
Horror and loathing swept into the surgeon's eyes, but he controlled
himself. "Mr. Blizzard," said he presently, "I find it hard to take you
seriously. _Are_ you joking? Whether you are or not, the thing is a
joke. If you really care for my daughter, I am very, very sorry for you.
I can't say more. If nothing worse threatens her than the possibility of
her heart being touched by you, there is no need for me to be anxious
about her. As for telling her the truth about you and me, why not?"
"_You_ tell her."
"I will. To-night"
"Won't you be playing into my hands?"
"No," said the surgeon curtly, "she has too much common-sense."
"But you won't tell her what I've said?" The beggar was suddenly
"No," and Dr. Ferris smiled, "I may safely leave that to you."
"Damnation," cried Blizzard, "you are laughing at me."
Dr. Ferris's face became serious at once. "God forbid that!" he said.
"If you have spoken sincerely I feel only sorrow for you and pity--more
sorrow and pity for you even than I ever felt before."
"S-s-s-s-t," exclaimed the beggar, and his ears twitched. "She's
"I shall wait," said Dr. Ferris, "and take her uptown, when she has
"Well," said Blizzard, with a kind of humorous resignation, "I'd kick
you out if I could; but I can't." And he added: "You haven't got an
extra pair of legs about you, have you?"
"Why!" said Barbara when she saw her father. "Art _is_ looking up.
_You_ in a studio!"
Secretly his presence pleased her immensely. She had always hoped that
some day he would take enough interest in her work to come to see it
uninvited. And she now felt that this had happened. And she thanked
Blizzard with sincerity for having waited.
"Mr. Blizzard and I," she told her father, "are doing a bust. And
whatever anybody else thinks, we think it's an affair of great
importance. Mr. Blizzard even gives me his time and his judgment
"Well," Dr. Ferris smiled, "I am willing to give you the latter, on the
same terms. May I see what you've done?"
Barbara removed the cloths from the bust, and so life-like and tragic
was the face which suddenly confronted him that Dr. Ferris, instead of
stepping forward to examine it closely, stepped backward as if he had
been struck. And then:
"My dear," he said gravely, "the thing's alive."
He looked from the bust to his daughter, and felt as if he was meeting
some very gifted and important person for the first time. Barbara
laughed for sheer pleasure.
"What do you think of it?"
"I will buy it as it stands," said her father, "on your own terms."
"If you think it's good now," said Blizzard quietly, "wait till it's
"If I had done it," said Dr. Ferris, "I wouldn't dare touch it."
"Yes, you would," said Barbara, "if you knew that you could make it
better. It's still a beginning."
"When do you expect to finish?"
"I'm going to keep on working until I know that I've done the best I
can. We may be months on it."
Blizzard smiled secretly, and Dr. Ferris managed to conceal his
"I wish, my dear," he said, "that I had taken you more seriously in the
beginning. But it is not too late to get some advantage by studying in
Paris and Rome."
"I don't believe it's ever too late for that," said Barbara, "and of
course I've always been crazy for the chance, but knowing how
"Say the word," said her father, "and you shall go to-morrow."
Blizzard's face was like stone; he felt that his high hopes were on a
more precarious footing than ever. If she had the whim, Barbara would go
abroad, far beyond the reach of even his long arms.
"You could finish your bust any time," said Dr. Ferris persuasively.
But Barbara shook her head with complete decision. "A bird in the hand,"
she said, "is worth two in the bush. And--I hope I'm wrong--but I have
the conviction that this head is going to be the best thing I shall ever
do. I can look at it quite impersonally, because half the time it seems
to model itself. _I_ think it's going to be good. If it is good, it
will be one of those lucky series of accidents that sometimes happen to
undeserving but lucky people."
Dr. Ferris sighed inwardly, but the expression of his face did not
change. "Do you mind if I stay?" he asked. "I think it's time I knew
what you look like when you are at work, don't you?"
"_High_ time!" exclaimed Barbara. "I'll just get into my apron." She
went into the next room and closed the door.
"Your innocents abroad," said the legless man, "wasn't a success." His
face was a jeer.
"Barbara," said her father when they had finished dinner, "I made a
threat this morning, and I'm going to keep it. If you have no especial
objection, will you come into the library?"
Her face was radiant; he had been praising her work for the tenth time.
"It sounds," she said, "as if I was going to be whipped. That wasn't
what you threatened to do, was it?"
"No," said he. "_I'm_ to be punished. I'm going to tell you about a
mistake of judgment I once made. But not as a warning, or a moral
lesson--merely, my dear, that you and I may learn to know each other
better. First, though, I want to talk to you about your model."
"He's rather fascinating, don't you think?"
"He is very clever," said her father, "and when he chooses he can talk
very well. He proved that this morning. To me, personally, he is most
repugnant, but I admit that when he once launched out, I listened as a
school-boy listens to stories of treasure and pirates. He's lived and
observed and suffered. There is no doubt about that. But I shall be
greatly relieved to hear that your bust is finished. I don't like the
idea of such a man being in the same block with you. I hope that you
will not feel inspired to do another head of him."
"He's a splendid model," said Barbara. "Of course this morning he
didn't keep still--and he did talk. But then I wasn't really working;
When I wish he keeps almost as still as the clay I work with."
"Doesn't looking at him ever give you--oh, a disagreeable creepy
"Not any more. I'm so used to him now. No, I feel a genuine friendliness
"I thought," said her father, "that to you artists, models were
absolutely impersonal--just planes and angles and--what was it you
used to say?"
Barbara flushed slightly, remembering a former and very disagreeable
conversation. "Your memory is much too good," she said.
Dr. Ferris frowned, "I'm not trying to interfere," he said; "you're old
enough to know what's best for you, but if I could instil in you a
proper distaste for your friend, Mr. Blizzard, I should be delighted.
Beauty and the beast do _not_ go well together."
"_Please"_ said Barbara, "don't bother your head about me. When the bust
is finished, you and I go abroad for to look, for to see, for to learn.
That's agreed. We shall not invite Mr. Blizzard to go with us, and all
will be well. There's my hand on it!"
She laughed rosily, and they shook hands.
"Until recently," said Dr. Ferris, "I have taken, as you know, very
little interest in your career as a sculptor. Haven't you thought that
rather an unnatural attitude?"
"Why, yes," said Barbara, "I have."
She took a box of safety matches from a cigar-table, and kneeling,
lighted the fire in the big chimney-piece.
"I hope you don't mind," she said; "I'm shivery."
She knelt on, watching the little flames grow into big flames, and
spreading her hands to the warmth. Her face, arms, throat, and the front
of her white dress became golden. She looked more like some lovely
vestal of fire-worship than an ambitious American girl, determined to
achieve fame in the battleground of the world.
"Why, yes," she repeated, "it has seemed strange to me. When I've
thought that I wanted to do things, you always took a lot of interest
and trouble, but when I _knew_ that I wanted to do one thing, you gave
me a dreadfully cold shoulder." She smiled whimsically. "I shall do an
allegory in bluish-white marble--The Cold Shoulder."
She retreated a little from the fire, and sat at her father's feet. He
laid his hand on her many-colored hair.
From childhood Barbara had resented parental caresses. On the present
occasion, she felt a sudden tenderness for her father, and leaned a
little against him, in answer to the touch of his hand.
"Did it ever," said he, "strike you as strange that you never took any
interest in _my_ career?"
"I've always been tremendously proud of you," she said. "You know that."
"You liked my results," he said, "the show pieces--newspaper
notoriety--speech-making--the races in special trains against death.
But you don't even know what has chiefly interested me during the last
thirty years; nor the goal which I have felt I must reach before I could
be resigned to parting with this life."
"No," she said gently, "I don't. Tell me. I _want_ to be interested."
"You know, of course, that I experiment with animals."
"Yes. I have seen crates of guinea-pigs and monkeys at the laboratory
door. I'm afraid it always made me a little unhappy. But I suppose it's
the only way to get certain results. And you always give them something,
"Always. They don't suffer more than a man would while healing a deep
clean cut. In other words, they don't suffer at all. And they're not
unhappy, and they don't bear malice. And still I wouldn't do it, if I
could help myself. I think, my dear, that I have been chosen for my sins
to introduce a great benefit to mankind. It seems now only a question of
perfecting the technique. I've already had extraordinary results."
"What's the idea?"
"You know, of course, that a piece of skin from one man can be
successfully grafted on another man. Well, so can a liver, a finger, a
hand, a foot, an arm, a leg. I have two monkeys now: a black and a gray.
The black monkey has the gray hands and forearms, the gray monkey has
the black. I made the exchange eighteen months ago. And they have
developed the same strength and skill with the grafted members that they
had with their own. I have a monkey who had only one eye when he came.
Now he has two--they aren't a good color match, but he sees as well with
one as the other. When these ideas are perfected it will be possible,
perhaps, to make old people young. The secret is absolute cleanliness
and the accuracy in joining of a Chippendale or an Adams. So you see,"
he smiled, "that in a way you and I are chasing the same ambition--how
to express the thing imagined through perfection of technique."
"Are you the only man working along these lines?"
"Heavens, no! Aristotle probably believed in animal grafting. But I
think that, owing to a natural talent for doing close and accurate work
with my hands, I have gone farther than anybody else. What gave you the
impulse to be a sculptor, Barbs?"
She laughed gayly. "The statues in the Metropolitan that have lost their
arms and heads and legs. I felt very sorry for them. I was very young
and foolish, and I invented a game to play. I'd select a statue that
needed an arm, say, and then I'd hunt among the other statues for an arm
that would fit, or for a head or whatever else was missing. Through
playing that game I got the idea of making whole statues from the
beginning and not bothering with fragments."
"And to think," said Dr. Ferris, "that we have failed to understand
each other. Why, Barbs, your ambition is a direct lineal descendant of
mine. It was a maimed marble that showed you your life's work. It was a
maimed child that showed me mine. It seems that at heart we are
"I began on dolls," said Barbara.
"And I began on guinea-pigs."
A footman entered with whiskey and soda on a tray. Barbara rose.
"Shall I pour you a drink?"
"A very little one, please."
She poured him his drink, and once more seated herself at his feet.
"After I graduated from the P. & S.," said Dr. Ferris, "I did ambulance
work for two years, accidents, births, fires. I was ambitious to learn,
and worked myself sick. One morning, after I'd been all night bringing a
most reluctant young Polack into the world, I was called to the house of
a world-famous man in East Thirty-fourth Street. The house was full of
servants mad with grief and fright. The man and his wife had gone out of
town, and their son, a beautiful boy about ten years old, had got
himself run over by a truck. His governess, I gathered, a German fool,
had been in some way directly responsible. But that is the small end of
the matter. The boy's legs were horribly crushed and mangled. It seemed
to me that if his life was to be saved, they must come off at once. The
family's physician was the famous old Doctor Watson Bell. I sent for
him. He didn't come at once, and when I had waited as long as I dared,
I took upon my own shoulders the very heavy responsibility of operating.
I put the child under ether, and with the help of one assistant took his
legs off just below the hip-joints. Then Dr. Bell came. He was a very
old friend of my father's, and he had always been very good to me. First
he looked to see that what had been done had been well done. Then he
examined the legs that I had taken off. Then he sent the nurse out of
the room. Then he turned and looked at me, and his face was gray and
cold as a stone. He said: 'You fool! You imbecile!' And he showed me,
clear as a flash of lightning, that the legs never should have been
amputated. Then he said, more gently: 'For your father's sake I will
save your face, young man. I shall set my approval to this catastrophe.
For your father's sake, and for your mother's. I have always looked on
you as an adopted son. Are you drunk?' I told him that I had been up all
night, and had had no sleep since five o'clock the morning before. He
shrugged his shoulders, and said: 'In your right mind, you couldn't have
done it,' and I knew that I couldn't. 'Horrible!' he said, 'horrible!
This poor baby to be a wreck of a thing all his life, because a healthy
and hearty young man cannot get along on a little sleep. But, thank God,
the child will never know that the operation wasn't necessary,'
"By common accord, we turned to look at the little boy. His eyes were
open. He had come out of the ether with miraculous suddenness. And we
saw by the expression of his face that he had heard--and that he had
Barbara took her father's hand in both hers and pressed it hard. "Poor
old dad," she said.
"Of course," Dr. Ferris went on, "the child told his parents. But Dr.
Bell lied up and down to save my face. He said that what the child
thought he had heard was part of an ether dream. And I lied. And nobody
believed the little boy. I had told him, before Dr. Bell could stop
me--I was hysterical and crazy--that if there was ever anything under
heaven that I could do for him, I would do it--no matter what it was.
And the boy told his parents that I had said that, but it was only taken
by them as evidence that I felt terribly sorry for what I had had to do,
and that I had a tender heart."
"Poor old dad!" said Barbara. "And what became of the little boy?"
"He grew vicious," said Dr. Ferris. "I don't blame him. Quarrelled
fearfully with his father, dropped into all sorts of evil ways and
companionship--all my fault, every bit of it--and finally disappeared
completely out of the station to which he had been born. I had reason
until the other day to believe that he was dead. Then I saw him."
There was quite a long silence. The fire burned brightly. Dr. Ferris,
greatly agitated by tragic memories, closed his eyes very tightly, as if
to shut them out.
"And of course," said Barbara at last, "the small boy is my Mr.
Blizzard. Well, what can we do for him?"
"_You_ owe him nothing," said her father sharply.
"Oh, yes," said Barbara gently, "oh, yes. Your obligations are mine. I
shall tell him. It's like owing a frightful sum of money. We can't be
happy till we've paid up, can we? You and I?"
"It seems," said Dr. Ferris, "that I have made two terrible mistakes.
And the second is having told you about the first. My God, but this life
is hard to bear!"
"But--why--what have I said? If there is _anything_ we can do for him,
we ought to do it."
"Are you going to say that to him?"
"Of course," she said.
"Suppose," said her father, "that in all this world he wanted only one
This suggestion was most unexpected to Barbara and odious. And she said
coldly: "I hope he is not quite such a fool."
"But if he is?"
"My dear father," said Barbara, "I have been told that somewhere along
the Milky Way there is a bridge between stars. Let's cross that when we
come to it."
A footman entered carrying a large pasteboard box on which, in gilt
letters, was the name of a Third Avenue florist. But the jonquils in the
box were very fresh and lovely. They were, however, unaccompanied by
[Illustration: "Some unknown person," said Barbara, "has formed the
habit of sending me flowers"]
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