Part 5 out of 5
adaptabilities of voice, should do the talking.
"Grand Central," he said.
Barbara was reading "Smoke" and did not wish to be interrupted by a
"young person" (in the footman's words) who refused to give her name.
Nevertheless she was weakly good-natured in such matters, and closing
her book said: "Very well--in here, John."
A moment later the young person was shown into the living-room. Barbara
was still more annoyed, for young faces covered with powder were odious
to her. But suddenly the young person's mouth curled into a captivating
grin, and the young person trotted forward in a very un-young-personish
way, and cried triumphantly:
And Bubbles followed Barbara's gratifying exclamations of surprise and
inquiry with a syncopated outburst of explanation, finishing with: "And
Mr. Lichtenstein said I was to throw us on your mercy, and ask if he
could stay to finish his writing, and he's stepped into some bushes off
the driveway to put on his own clothes. And please, Miss Barbara, he's
just the finest and bravest ever, and don't care what happens to him,
only he says they're bound to get him now everything's found out, and
he's just got to finish writing down what he carries in his head."
"Of course," said Barbara, "we'll have to tell my father; but all will
be well. Mr. Lichtenstein shall stay. Bring him to me when he's finished
changing, and then you'd best change, and if you don't want to have a
sore face wash all that nasty stuff off it."
Lichtenstein had already changed, and was coming up the driveway
carrying a suit-case. Bubbles brought him at once, and with great pride,
to Barbara. Mr. Lichtenstein had never seen her before. In his bow there
was a trace of Oriental elaboration. And his curiously meagreish,
pug-nosed sandy face beamed with pleasure and admiration.
"I thought I knew my New York, Miss Ferris," he said, "but it seems I
Since the compliment was obviously sincere, Barbara took pleasure in it,
and the pleasure showed in her charming face. "And Bubbles says," said
she, "that you are the 'finest ever.' I'm glad if staying here is going
to help the cause. You can be as private as you like--" But a sudden
change had come over Lichtenstein's face, the smile had vanished, the
eyes grown sharp, even stern. "What is your maid's name?" he
"My maid? Why, what about her?"
"She passed just now--by that door. I saw her in the mirror at the end
of the room. What's her name?"
"Marion--" Barbara hesitated.
[Illustration: He caught her by the wrist, drew her to her feet, and
into the room]
"I thought so. She's in Blizzard's pay. If she has recognized me--Shut
the door into the hall, Bubbles."
The door being shut, Lichtenstein crossed the room and stood near it,
his hand on the knob. For nearly a minute he neither moved nor changed
expression. Then a smile flickered about his mouth, and, sure of his
effect, with a sharp gesture he flung the door wide open, and discovered
Miss Marion O'Brien kneeling in the opening. He caught her by the wrist,
drew her to her feet, and into the room.
"Marion!" exclaimed Miss Ferris.
There was a long silence during which Miss O'Brien tried to look
defiant, and succeeded only in shedding a few tears. Barbara had always
liked the girl, and now felt profoundly sorry for her. Liechtenstein,
too, seemed sorry and at a loss for words. The position was difficult.
The O'Brien's eavesdropping warranted her discharge, and nothing more.
She would go straight to Blizzard and disclose Lichtenstein's
whereabouts. But this in itself was merely an annoyance, as in the
meanwhile the secret service head could go elsewhere. There was nothing
for it but to discharge her and let her go. So Lichtenstein said
presently, and then wrote with a pencil on a card. This card he handed
to the maid.
"Give that to your employer," he said. On the card was written: "If
anything happens to me you will be indicted for the Kaparoff business,
and there is enough evidence in a safe place to make you pay the
"And now, Miss Ferris," he said, "it will be as well to let this girl
first telephone to her master to say that I am here, and second to pack
her trunks and go."
Barbara smiled, but not unkindly, at Marion, and nodded her brightly
colored head. "I think that will be best, Marion."
The maid turned without a word and started for the hall-door, but was
brought to a trembling stop by sudden words from Bubbles.
"Miss Barbara," said he, "ask her where your diamond bow-knot went!"
"Oh," exclaimed Lichtenstein, "an excuse for keeping an eye on her,
perhaps. That was what we needed. How about this bow-knot, Marion?"
The guilt in the girl's face must have been obvious to the dullest eye.
"Oh," said Barbara, "is it good enough? She'd communicate with him
somehow. This isn't the Middle Ages. Marion, if by any chance any of my
things have gotten mixed with yours, please leave them on my
Marion, very red in the face, lurched out of the room.
"I can't very well give her a character," said Barbara.
Lichtenstein laughed. "Plenty of worse girls," he said, "receive
excellent characters daily. And now I suppose I ought to put distance
between this house and myself."
Barbara lifted her eyebrows. "Why?"
"Why? She's probably working the telephone now."
"I know," said Barbara, "but if you pretend to go, and then come back,
this would be the last home in the world that Blizzard would suspect
you of hiding in. Marion will tell him her story. And he certainly won't
look for you here."
Lichtenstein's face was wreathed in smiles, "So be it," he said, "and I
shall sit at your feet to learn."
"Can you drive a car?" asked Barbara.
"What kind of a car?"
"A Stoughton? But if you can drive any kind you can drive a Stoughton.
We'll lend you a car and you shall take a long run and come back when
it's dark. If you start at once, Marion will know of it. Meanwhile I'll
tell my father all about everything. But first of all I'm dying with
curiosity to know what you wrote on that card. That's all I can say. Of
course if I'm not to be told--"
Had she asked for his dearest secret Lichtenstein could not have refused
it, and he told her what he had written on the card.
"But why," said Barbara, "if you have a criminal, so to speak, where you
want him--why let him be free to make more mischief? I ask merely for
"If he were punished for an ordinary crime," said Lichtenstein, "justice
would be cheated. But if we can really get him where we want him, why,
not only crime will be tried and found guilty, but the whole fabric of
the police--yes, and the administration of the law. Therefore," and his
voice was cold as marble, "it would be inadvisable to run him in for
such picayune crimes as twisting lead pipe round young women and
throwing them overboard, or otherwise delicately quieting tongues that
might be made to wag against him. And now if you are going to lend me
Wilmot Allen was surprised and annoyed at being called back to New York
by his employer. He had not "gotten over" Barbara in the least, but the
great West had entered his blood. Thanks to financial arrangements with
Blizzard he had lived a life free from care, and indeed had grown and
developed in many ways, just as a forest tree will, to which air and
sunlight has been admitted by removing its nearest neighbors, together
with all their claims upon the rainfall and the tree-food locked up in
the forest soil,
He had grown in body and mind. Wall Street, that had seemed so broad and
important to him, now seemed narrow and insignificant. It was better for
a man, a good horse between his knees, to find out what lay beyond the
Ridges than whether steel was going up or down. He looked back upon his
past life, not, it is true, with contempt and loathing, but with amused
tolerance, as a man wise and reliable looks back upon the pranks of
He loved Barbara with all his heart, but no longer with the feeling that
the loss of her would put an end to all the possibilities of life.
Indeed he was coolly resolved in the event of her marrying somebody else
to marry somebody else himself. The thought of children and a home had
grown very dear to him. In short, he had assimilated a characteristic
of the great unsettled West, where the ratio of the male of the species
to the female is often as great as ten to one.
But if the year did not cure him of Barbara he would get her if he
To the main line was a day's journey over a single-track road abounding
in undeveloped way stations, at which an insatiable locomotive was
forever stopping to drink. At one of these stations a young man taller
and broader even than Wilmot himself, and like him bearded and brown as
autumn leaves, boarded the train laboriously and came down the aisle
occasionally catching at the backs of seats for support.
A second look assured Wilmot that the stranger was not drunk, but sick
or hurt, and he was wondering whether or not to offer him assistance,
when the stranger suddenly stopped and smiled, steadied himself with one
hand, and held out the other.
"I heard that you would be on this train," he said simply, "so I managed
to catch it, too. May I sit with you?"
Wondering, Wilmot made room for the stranger and waited developments.
But as these were not at once forthcoming he felt that he must break a
silence which seemed awkward to him. And he turned his head and saw that
the man had fainted.
A request for whiskey addressed to a car containing a dozen men
accustomed to wrest metals from the earth was not in vain. Wilmot chose
the nearest of twelve outstretched flasks, and was obliged to refuse a
thirteenth in the kindly hand of the conductor.
"Thanks, I'm all right."
The twelve miners withdrew tactfully to their seats.
"Sure. Just let me sample that brand again. Good. Now if you don't mind
I'll say what I came to say."
"But aren't you hurt--isn't there something to do?"
"I've _been_ hurt. I'm just weak. Don't think about it. But you're Mr.
Wilmot Allen all right, aren't you?"
"It's hard to be sure of a man you never knew and who's grown a beard
since you saw him last."
"I assure you," Wilmot smiled, "that I'm only waiting to reach a
"Perhaps you will change your mind."
"Why should I?"
"You know a man named O'Hagan?"
"I had a talk with him up in the mountains yesterday. He spoke truth for
once. You know a man in New York--Blizzard?"
"He's been a good friend to me."
"Why?" asked the stranger.
"I don't know. I've asked myself that question a thousand times."
"He's helped you with your debts in return for your services in
teaching a lot of foreigners to shoot straight?"
"Did it ever occur to you that he could have obtained half a dozen
teachers for a tenth of the money?"
"That _has_ occurred to me," said Wilmot stiffly.
"Obviously then he has some ulterior use for you."
"Please don't take offence. There are reasons why you shouldn't. I am
coming to them. Remember, O'Hagan talked to me, and talked truth.
Blizzard is planning a revolution. You are to be one of the leaders. You
imagine that one of the hell-governed Latin republics is to be the seat
of operations, or you wouldn't have gone into the thing. But Blizzard is
after bigger game than undeveloped wildernesses. Mr. Allen, you are part
of a conspiracy to overthrow the government of New York City."
"Say that again."
The stranger smiled. "O'Hagan at the last made a clean breast of
everything. He had to. I came West to make him."
"At the _last_? What does that mean?"
"When a man won't talk you have to make him--even if you fix him so that
he can never talk again."
"Is O'Hagan _dead_?"
"He had his choice. But he _had_ to talk. If I had let him off
afterward--I couldn't have gotten away with the information. One of us
had to go out, and I had the power to decide which. I chose that O'Hagan
should be the one. He was a man steeped in crime. I am not."
"You killed him?"
"I am a very poor talker if I have conveyed another meaning. I tracked
him into the mountains. He shot me twice before I could get my hands on
him. I twisted the truth out of him, and then as I was about to faint
like a school-girl, and as my information was precious, I flung him over
a cliff. If I hadn't, you see, he could have fixed me while I was
The man's voice was very quiet, very matter-of-fact. Wilmot stared at
him with a sort of wondering horror, for he knew that the man was
telling the truth.
"He shot you twice. That was some time yesterday. You've seen a doctor?"
"There was none, and I had to ride all night to get here."
"Are you badly hit?"
The stranger drew back his coat and disclosed a shirt twice perforated
over the abdomen and dark with dried and thickening blood. "Please don't
try to do anything. There's no help. The damage is where it doesn't
show. Only listen, please, and believe, and be frank with me."
Wilmot nodded gravely. "I don't know who you are," he said, "but you are
hurt, and if you'd rather talk than try to do something about it, of
course I'll listen."
[Illustration: "I twisted the truth out of him, and then flung him over
"You are in wrong on the revolution," said the stranger. "It is not to
come off in South America, but in the city of New York. If Blizzard's
plans carry, this will happen. On the 15th of January there will be an
explosion of dynamite loud enough to be heard from, the Battery to the
Bronx. At that signal two-thirds of the police force, at the moment on
active duty, will be shot dead in their tracks. The assassins,
distinguished from law-abiding citizens by straw hats of a
"I have such a hat in my trunk."
"Are to assemble together with that third of the police force whom it
was not necessary to annihilate, at the Sub-Treasury in Wall Street.
Here they will receive further orders--some to loot the Sub-Treasury,
some to loot banks, some Tiffany's, some the great wholesale jewellers
of Maiden Lane. You, perhaps, as a man of superior talk and breeding,
would be sent with a picked crew of Polacks, dagoes, and other
high-minded patriots to rifle the Metropolitan Museum of Art--"
"Look here, did O'Hagan--"
"He did. Meanwhile all communication by telephone, by telegraph, by
cable between New York and the outer world will be cut off. For at least
twenty-four hours the city will be in Blizzard's power, at his,
"How about communication by train?"
"Trains will come into the Grand Central and the Pennsylvania, but they
will not go out."
"A man could jump into an automobile and carry the news."
"Ferries will stop running. Bridges will be closed."
The idea of looting New York had fired Wilmot's imagination. It was a
possibility to which he had never before given any thought,
"But," he objected, "there must be a flaw somewhere."
"Probably," admitted the stranger. "For there is a flaw in Blizzard's
mind. It is the only way to account for him. He stands on the verge of
"Suppose the plan carries. The city has been looted. What next?"
"The stuff is hidden under Blizzard's house in Marrow Lane in cellars
that he has been preparing for years. A passage leads from these cellars
to a pier on the East River. Either he gets away with his loot in a
stolen liner, or he finds that he may live on in New York, or perhaps in
"I don't see that."
"What effect would a successful revolution in New York have upon the
discontented and the murderous of other cities? Are the criminals of San
Francisco, Denver, Chicago to be outdone by the criminals of the effete
East? I tell you, Mr. Allen, that sometimes in mad visions the legless
beggar sees upon his brows a kingly crown."
"But the rest of the police--the garrison at Governor's Island?"
"O'Hagan was Blizzard's right-hand man, his general in the West. For
the honor of being his left-hand man there are two aspirants--the mayor
of New York City and the police commissioner--nor will the
lieutenant-governor of our great State hold his hands behind his back
and shake his head when the loot is being distributed."
"Are you _joking?"_
"No, Mr. Allen. I am dying. Now listen. I assume that you are no longer
"What an ass I've been!"
"You are to find Abe Lichtenstein and tell him what I have told you. The
boy Bubbles will put you on his track. As for money which Blizzard has
advanced to you--" The stranger fumbled in his breast pocket and brought
forth a much-soiled sheet of paper. "This locates outlying mining claims
in Utah. They will make you rich. One-third to you--one-third to Miss
Barbara Ferris--one-third to the boy Bubbles. You will tell him that I
was his brother--different mothers, but the same father."
"_You_ are Harry West," and Wilmot looked with compassionate interest
upon the man who, if only for a brief period of time, had once stood
first in Barbara's affections.
Under the strain of talking West's voice had grown weaker. "Miss
Barbara," he said quietly, "is in great danger from my father--"
"Didn't I tell you? Oh, yes. He is my father--Blizzard. That is why I
don't mind dying. When the city is in confusion, and without any laws
save of his own dictation, Miss Barbara will be in terrible danger. Many
years from now, when it can do no harm with you, tell her, please, that
in my life I had the incomparable privilege--"
Wilmot leaped to his feet. "Is there a doctor here? This man is dying."
But the Spartan, the wolf Death gnawing at his vitals, had said all that
it was necessary for him to say. Wilmot Allen's strong arm about him,
his mouth vaguely smiling, he fell heavily forward as if under the
weight of a new and overpowering wonder and knowledge.
Nothing so makes for insomnia as a man's knowledge that he has made a
fool of himself. Between Chicago and New York Wilmot Allen did not even
have his berth made up. He visited the dining-car at the proper
intervals, hardly conscious of what he ordered or ate. He bought
newspapers, books, magazines, and opened none of them. For the most part
he looked out the window of his compartment into rushing daylight or
darkness. His mind kept travelling the round of a great circle that
began and ended in humiliation. He had been as confiding in Blizzard's
hands as an undeveloped child of seven. He had been teaching men whose
creed was murder and anarchy how to handle weapons. He had taken at
their face value words uttered by an emperor among scoundrels; had asked
no material or leading questions, and was in his conscience paying the
penalty for having snatched at tainted money with which to relieve
himself of obligations that pressed till they hurt.
Beginning in humiliation, the circle of his thoughts ascended time after
time to Barbara, only to fall from the high and tender lights which
memories and anticipations of her brought into them, back to that
darkness in which he struggled to give himself "a little the best of
things" and could not.
On arriving in New York a man of more complex mental processes would
have tried first of all to get the precious information which he carried
into the possession of Lichtenstein, but Wilmot felt that he could have
no peace until he had seen Blizzard, spoken his mind, and washed his
hands of him. That he would then put his own life in danger did not
occur to him, and would not have altered his determination if it had.
The lure of Barbara, however, drew him aside from the direct path to
Marrow Lane. He had resolved not to see her for a year, but thought it
right to break through that resolution in order to tell her at first
hand of Harry West's death. But the janitor told him that Miss Ferris
had not been coming to the studio for a long time. She had had no word
from her. She had left one day by the back stair without her hat; a
little later the legless beggar had left by the front door. His
expression had been enough to frighten a body to death. Yes, the boy had
come one day in a taxicab and gone away with her things. He had refused
to answer any questions. She had never thought very highly of him as a
boy. No, the bust upon which Miss Ferris had been at work had not been
removed. No, the gentleman could not see it. Orders were orders.... Yes,
the gentleman could see it. After all there had been no orders recently.
She led the way upstairs, her hand tightly closed upon a greenback. She
unlocked and flung open the door of Barbara's studio, remarking that
nothing in it had been touched since that lady's departure.
Wilmot noticed much dust, an overturned chair, and then his eyes rose to
the bust of Blizzard as to a living presence. The expression of that
bestial fallen face made his spine feel as if ants were crawling on it.
And he turned away with disgust and hatred. "Oh, Barbs, Barbs, what a
wrong-headed little darling you are!" But he added: "And Lord, what a
talent she's got!"
Blizzard was not in his office. But he was upstairs and expected Mr.
A girl who had been wonderfully pretty told Wilmot these things. She
would have been wonderfully pretty still, for she was very young, if she
had not looked so tired, so unhappy, so broken-spirited. Did Rose still
love the man for whom she had betrayed her friends and her own better
nature? Yes. But she had learned that she was no more to him than a
plaything--to caress or to break as seemed most amusing to him. At first
until the novelty of her had worn off he had shown her a sufficiency of
brusque tenderness. Latterly as his great plans matured he had been all
brute. Sometimes he made her feel that he was so surfeited with her love
that he considered killing her.
Sideways, with eyes haunted by shame and tragedy, she gave the handsome
bearded youth a look of compassion. "In here, please," she said.
The door closed behind Wilmot with an ominous click, and he found
himself face to face with the legless beggar. In this one's eyes, seen
above a table littered with pamphlets and writings, was none of that
mock affability to which he had formerly treated Wilmot Allen. He looked
angry, dangerous, poisonous. And he broke into a harsh, ugly laugh.
"It takes you," he said, "to rush in where angels fear to tread. Welcome
to my parlor! What a fool! My God! You heard what Harry West had to say
before he died, and you came straight here."
"I don't know how you know it. But I did talk to your son. I did hear
what he said. And I came here to tell you. And to tell you that there
will be no more dealings between us. I am going straight from here to
tell the proper authorities what I know."
"Aren't you going to punch my face first? That's what you'd like to do.
It's in your eyes. But you're afraid."
"I am not afraid," said Wilmot, "and you know it."
For answer the legless man picked up a silver dollar from among the
papers in front of him, and broke it savagely into four pieces.
"Afraid!" he said. "Afraid! Afraid!"
Wilmot took a step forward. "It would give me the greatest pleasure," he
said quietly, "to knock your head off. Unfortunately you are a cripple."
Blizzard said nothing, and presently, white with anger and contempt,
Wilmot turned and tried the handle of the door by which he had entered.
[Illustration "Climb out of that chair, and let me out of this house"]
"This door is locked," said Wilmot.
"You are a prisoner in this house."
"I am, am I?"
Quick as lightning he had drawn and levelled at the legless man an
automatic pistol of the largest calibre. The legless man did not move an
inch, change expression, or take his eyes from Wilmot's.
Wilmot advanced till only the table separated them. "You will," he said,
"climb out of that chair, and let me out of this house, walking in
front of me."
The legless beggar appeared to consider the matter. There was silence.
Wilmot shifted the position of his feet, and the floor boards under
Blizzard appeared to have made up his mind. He spread his hands on the
table as if to help himself out of his chair. The palm of his right
hand, unknown to Wilmot, covered an electric push-button.
"Perhaps," said Blizzard, "you won't be in such a hurry to go after you
hear that Miss Barbara Ferris is also a prisoner in this house--"
In horror and bewilderment Wilmot allowed the muzzle of his automatic to
swerve. In that moment the palm of the legless man's right hand pressed
upon the button, and the square of the floor upon which Wilmot stood
dropped like the trap of a gallows, and he fell through the opening
He was neither stunned nor bruised, and he began to grope about for the
pistol which in the sudden descent had been knocked from his hand. The
only light came from the open trap in the floor above. Something fell
softly at his feet; he picked it up. It was a cloth, saturated with
chloroform. He flung it from him, and began with a new haste to grope
and fumble for his pistol.
Another cloth fell, and another. Distant and ugly laughter fell with
them. More cloths, and already the air in the place reeked with
He no longer knew what he was looking for, and when at last his hand
closed upon the stock of the automatic, he did not know what it was that
he had found.
Another cloth fell.
He came to in a narrow iron bed, weak, nauseated, and handcuffed. He
could rub his feet together, but he could not separate them. He had been
dreaming about Barbara--horrible dreams. His first conscious thought was
that she, too, was a prisoner in the house of Blizzard, and that somehow
or other he must save her. Having tried in vain to break the bright,
delicate-looking handcuffs, he tried in vain to think calmly. Hours
passed. Nobody came. He worked himself gradually into a fever of
impotent rage. Civilization slipped away from him. He was ready, if
necessary, to fight with his teeth, to gouge eyes, to inflict any
barbarous atrocity upon his enemy.
Gradually, for the air in the room was fresh, the feeling of sickness
passed away, and was succeeded by weakness and lassitude. As a matter of
fact, being a strong man, in splendid health, he was faint from hunger.
But he did not know this.
An elderly woman came softly into the room. She wore a blue dress, a
white apron, a white kerchief, white cuffs, a white cap. Her face was
disfigured by a great brown protruding mole from which a tuft of hair
sprouted; she had an expression of methodical kindness, but small
shifting eyes in which was no honesty.
She carried a cup that smoked. She put the cup on a table, lifted
Wilmot to a sitting position, as if he had been a child, and asked him
if he was hungry.
For a moment he did not answer; he was getting used to the discovery
that he had been undressed and was wearing a linen night-gown. Then he
nodded toward the smoking cup.
"How do I know it isn't poisoned?"
"Come--come," said the woman, "you'd have gone out under the chloroform
if that had been the intention. Better keep your strength up."
After a few spoonfuls of the soup, Wilmot suggested that he should
prefer something solid.
The woman shook her head.
"If I'm to be kept alive," he said petulantly, "why not comfortably?"
"Nothing solid. That's the doctor's orders."
"No. The doctor."
"Why, Dr. Ferris."
"Where is he? I want to speak to him."
"He isn't here. He's coming when everything's ready."
"Everything ready?" A nameless fear began to gnaw at Wilmot's vitals.
And at that moment the door swung open, and he saw, beyond the bulking
head and shoulders of the legless man, a narrow iron table, white and
shining, in a room all glass and white paint.
On the entrance of Blizzard, the woman took up the remains of the soup,
and passed noiselessly out of the room.
Blizzard climbed to the foot of Wilmot's bed, and sat looking at him. In
his eyes there was a glitter of suppressed excitement. "When our last
talk was interrupted," he said, "I had just told you that Miss Ferris is
a prisoner in this house. You don't like the idea?"
Wilmot shuddered and made a convulsive effort to break the handcuffs. He
struggled with them in desperate silence for nearly a minute.
"I might break them," said Blizzard, "but you can't. Try to be as
reasonable as you can. Miss Ferris is in no immediate danger. I am going
to let her go, if you and I can agree."
"What do you want _me_ to agree to?"
"I've had it in mind for a long time. It was why I relieved you of money
cares, and sent you West. I wished to put you in a state of perfect
health before trying an experiment of the utmost interest and value to
science. Only your consent is now wanting. Upon that consent depends
Miss Ferris's fate. Refuse and I leave your lover heart to imagine what
that fate may be. She is absolutely in my power--absolutely. Do you know
He smiled a little and held before Wilmot's eyes a sheet of note-paper.
"She has just written it," he said, "of her own free will."
Wilmot read: "I will marry you, as soon as I know that Wilmot Allen is
out of your power and safe in life and limb."
A sort of ecstasy, half anguish and half delight, thrilled through
Wilmot. The writing was unmistakably Barbara's--and she was ready to
make that sacrifice for him!
"She sha'n't do that," he said, "so help me God. What must I do--to save
"Young man," said the legless man, "you must give me your legs."
Wilmot was at first bewildered.
"They are to be grafted on my poor old stumps," said Blizzard. "You
won't die. You'll just be as I am now. And I--I," his eyes shone with an
unholy light, "shall be as you are now--a biped--a real man--a giant of
a man. You are going to consent?"
"How do I know that you will let Miss Ferris go?"
"You shall have news of her freedom and safety in her own writing."
"When I have that assurance," said Wilmot, "I will consent to anything.
Any decent man would give his life for a woman--why not his legs? Is Dr.
Ferris to operate?"
"He will be the chief of three surgeons."
"But he won't cut off my legs. We're old friends. He--"
"Won't know you in that beard. I have told him that you are a murderer
whom I have saved from the chair. That in gratitude for this and for
the further services of smuggling you out of the country and giving you
a large sum of money--not forgetting the crying interests of
science--you have consented to give me your legs. He will ask you if you
consent to have your legs cut off, and you will nod your head without
speaking--then when my old stumps have been prepared--you will be put
under an anaesthetic--"
"First I must know that Miss Ferris is safe."
"Give me your word of honor that when you _know_ that she is--you will
"I don't know what you have to do with honor," said Wilmot, "but I give
"Then," said Blizzard, sliding to the floor, "I go to set Miss Ferris
At first Barbara could not bear to tell her father, but at last her
excitement and distress became so great that she had to tell him. In a
few hours she had changed from a radiant person to one white, sick,
"I've seen that man," she said. "I was writing notes in the
"What man--Blizzard? Well?"
"I've promised to marry him. He has Wilmot Allen in his house--in his
power. He told me that if I would marry him, he would let Wilmot go. If
I wouldn't, he would kill him with indescribable tortures. I told him
that I would marry him when I learned that Wilmot was safe. And so I
will, and then I will kill myself. You've got to do something. I never
knew till he was in this awful danger that in all the world there was
never anybody for me but Wilmot--fool not to know it in time."
Dr. Ferris made her drink something that he mixed in a glass. In a few
minutes her jumping nerves began to come into control.
[Illustration: "I've seen that man. I was writing notes in the summer
house when he came".]
"Wilmot," said he, "will never consent to save himself at your expense.
And I think I can promise you that Blizzard will do nothing in this
matter for some time. He is to undergo a very serious operation
to-night. It has all been arranged. A man under obligation to
Blizzard has consented to give his legs--I am to operate. Don't look at
me like that, daughter. I have given my word that if I thought the thing
could be done, I would do it. The man consents. There is no reason why I
shouldn't. I would do more to undo what I have done, and in the
interests of science."
"You don't understand. The man who _consents_ is Wilmot."
"Did Blizzard tell you so?"
"Nobody has told me. I know it. He consents so that I may go free."
"Of course if Wilmot is the man--"
"You couldn't--you wouldn't do it to _him_, father."
"And you so in love with him, my dear! We must go to the police."
"No, we mustn't. He said that if we tried to play any tricks, we might
get him, but never Wilmot, alive. Don't you see? Father, the man isn't
fit to live. He's insane."
"Answer wanted, Miss Barbara." Bubbles entered hesitatingly, a note in
One glance at the superscription, and Barbara ripped open the envelope.
She read the note and her brows contracted with pain. "Read
Dr. Ferris read:
I can't help breaking my silence to say I love you with my
whole heart and soul. Only tell me that you are safe and
sound in your father's house. I want much to know that, for I
am on the brink of a great, a dangerous, and I think a noble
"What did I tell you!" she exclaimed. "Who brought this, Bubbles?"
"Barbara," said her father, "write that you are safe at home. I'll tell
Lichtenstein what has happened. He's our best advice. Where is Mr.
"In his room, sir, writing."
Dr. Ferris left hurriedly, and Bubbles, gnawed by unsatisfied curiosity,
stood first on one foot and then on the other while Barbara wrote to
Wilmot. Somehow it was a very difficult note to write, for she felt sure
that it would not be read by Wilmot's eyes alone, and she didn't wish by
a syllable further to incite the legless man against his prisoner. So at
last she merely wrote that she was with her father at Clovelly. What she
wanted to write was that her love for him had grown and grown until she
was sure of it.
After Bubbles had gone with the note she sat for a long time without
moving, silent and white.
When her father returned, bringing Lichtenstein, he, too, was white. "I
am going to town at once," he said. "God willing, I shall have only good
news for you."
Barbara turned to Lichtenstein. "You've thought out something?"
He nodded gravely.
[Illustration: "Read that, father"]
"My treasure! My ownest own!"
Rose cowered from the cold malice in the legless man's voice, and from
the unearthly subdued excitement in his eyes.
"Sit there opposite me. Don't be afraid. Things are coming my way.
To-morrow I shall have a pair of legs. Think of that! Are you
thinking of it?"
The legless man wiped his mouth with the palm of his hand. "I told him,"
he said, "that she was a prisoner in this house. He said he would give
me his legs if I would let her go free. He wrote a note asking if she
was safe and sound. I sent it out to her place where she was all the
time, and of course she answered that she was safe and sound."
He chuckled, and his agate eyes appeared to give off sparks.
"But she," he went on, "has promised to marry me, if I will let _him_ go
free. They love each other, Rose. They love each other! But I'm not
jealous. It won't come to anything. First I will get his legs. Then, if
he lives, I will make him write to her that he _is_ sound and free. I
will tell her that he refused to sacrifice himself. That will make her
hate him, and then we'll be married and live happily ever after. But if
she breaks her word, why on the 15th of January she will be taken,
wherever she is, and brought here, and we--we _won't_ be married!" He
laughed a long, ugly laugh.
"What are you going to do with me?"
The legless man considered, "I'm afraid you'll be too jealous to have
about, my pretty Rose. I'm afraid your love for me will turn into a
different feeling--in spite of the beautiful new legs that I shall have.
In short, my dear, knowing women as I do, you are one of my greatest
problems. If I could be sure that you wouldn't give anything away before
the 15th--after that it wouldn't matter."
"Are you leading up to the announcement that you are going to kill me?"
She looked him straight in the eyes, and began to shiver as if she was
"Wouldn't that be best," he asked, "for everybody concerned?"
"I swear to God I won't give anything away," she said.
He continued to smile in her face. "I could do it for you," he said, "so
delicately--so painlessly--with my hands--and your troubles would be
He took her slender white neck between the palms of his great hairy
hands and caressed it. She did not shrink from his touch.
"Rose," he said presently and with the brutal and tigerish quality gone
from his voice, "you're brave. But I know women too well. I don't trust
you. If you'd screamed then or shown fear in any way, you'd be dead
now. After the 15th you shall do what you please with your life.
Meanwhile, my dear, lock and key for yours."
"You'll come to see me sometimes?"
"After to-night, I shall be laid up for a while, growing a pair of legs.
Later I'll look in, now and then. How about a little music, before you
retire to your room for the next few months? I'll tell you a secret. I'm
nervous about to-night, and frightened. A little Beethoven? to soothe
our nerves? the Adagio from the Pathetique?"
He stumped beside her, holding her hand as a child holds that of its
nurse; but for a different reason.
That night, securely locked in her own room next to his, she slept at
last from sheer weariness. And she dreamed that he was playing to her,
for her--the Adagio, and then the "Funeral March of a Hero."
Occasionally now, for a long time, there had been coming from the next
room the dink of steel against steel, a murmur of hushed voices, and a
sound of several pairs of feet moving softly. With the exception of two
cups of soup, Wilmot, in preparation for what he was to undergo, had had
nothing to eat. What with this and the natural commotion of revolt in
his whole nervous system, he was weak and faint.
The door opened, and Dr. Ferris came quietly into the room and bent over
him. He was in white linen from head to foot, and wore upon his hands a
pair of thin rubber gloves, glistening with the water in which they had
Prepared to find Wilmot, he naturally recognized him, in spite of the
beard which so changed the young man's face for the worse; but of this
recognition he gave no sign. The legless man, alert for any possibility
of self-betrayal on Wilmot's part, had followed him into the room. Dr.
Ferris spoke very quickly:
"My man," he said, "is it true that of your own free will, in exchange
for immunity and other benefits received, you consent to the amputation
of both your legs, as near the hip-joint as may be found necessary?"
Wilmot drew a long breath, focussed his mind upon bright memories of
Barbara, and slowly nodded.
"You are quite sure? You are holding back nothing? There has been no
"It's all right," chirped in Blizzard. "Glad of the chance to pay me
back, aren't you, my boy?"
For a moment Wilmot's eyes rested with a cold contempt on the beggar's.
And he thought, "to save her from that!" and once more nodded.
"Shall I tell them to bring the ether, doctor?"
Dr. Ferris turned his head slowly.
"What are _you_ doing here?" he said, in his smiling professional voice.
"You ought to be undressed, scrubbed, and ready for the anaesthetic
"But I thought--I thought you'd make sure of the legs first, before you
did anything to me."
"The success of graftage," said the doctor, "lies in the speed with
which the parts to be grafted can be transferred from one patient to the
other. In this case, the two operations will proceed at the same
time--side by side. There are four of us, and two nurses to do what is
necessary--now if you will go and get ready."
"Frankly, doctor, do you think the chances of success are good?"
Dr. Ferris's voice rang out heartily. "Splendid!" he said, "splendid!"
He turned once more to Wilmot. "I am sorry for you," he said kindly,
"but you are willing that we should go ahead, aren't you?"
Blizzard stood, hesitating.
"Not losing your nerve?" asked the surgeon, and there was the least hint
of mockery in his voice.
"Hope this is the last time I have to walk on stumps," Blizzard
answered, and he began to move toward the door.
"I hope so, too, Blizzard," said Dr. Ferris, "with all my heart." And
with an encouraging nod to Wilmot he followed the beggar out of the
room, and closed the door behind him.
In the operating quarter were two nurses on whom Dr. Ferris had been
able to rely for many years, and three clean-cut young surgeons, in whom
he had detected more than ordinary talents.
"He said he'd send word when he was ready," said one of the nurses.
"Good," said Dr. Ferris, "for I have a few words to say to you all,
knowing that, because of the etiquette of our profession, these words
will not go any further."
For five minutes he spoke quietly and gravely. He told them his
relations with Blizzard since the beginning. And something of Blizzard's
relations, subsequent to the loss of his legs, with the rest of the
world. Then he explained the operation which he was _expected_ to
perform, enlarging upon both its chances for success and for failure.
And then, much to the astonishment of his audience, he brought his talk
to an end with these words:
"But in this instance the operation has no chance whatever of success.
The stump of a limb amputated in childhood does not keep pace with the
rest of the body-growth. And we should be trying to graft the legs of a
grown man upon the hips of a child. It seems, therefore, that I have
brought you here under false pretenses. Technically I am going to commit
a crime--I am going to perform an operation not thought of or sanctioned
by the patient. But my conscience is clear. When I examined the child
Blizzard after he had been run over, I did not give the attention which
would be given nowadays to minor injuries, bruises, and contusions which
he had sustained. From all accounts the boy was a good boy up to the
time of his accident. In taking off his legs I have blamed myself for
the whole of his subsequent downfall. I think I have been wrong. The man
was once arrested for a crime, and freed on police perjury. During his
incarceration, however, accurate measurements and a description of him
were made. Only to-day a copy of this document has been shown to me, by
a gentleman high in the secret service. And it seems that Blizzard is
differentiated from other legless men, by a mole under one arm, and by a
curious protuberance on the back of his head--and I believe that his
moral delinquency is not owing to the despair and humiliation of being a
cripple, but to skull-pressure upon the brain."
The three young surgeons looked at each other. One of them started to
voice a protest.
"But, doctor--it's--you're asking a good deal of us. I don't know that I
Three knocks sounded quietly on a door of the room. Dr. Ferris, breaking
into a smile of relief, sprang to open it.
In the rectangle appeared Lichtenstein; he was dripping wet from head
to foot and carried in one hand a heavy blue automatic.
"'Fraid you couldn't make it," exclaimed the surgeon.
"Had to dynamite a safe down in the cellar--hear anything?"
Dr. Ferris shook his head, and turned to the others.
"Mr. Lichtenstein," he said, "of the secret service ... Lichtenstein,
some of these youngsters don't want to mix up in this. Tell
Lichtenstein smiled broadly. "Then I'll have to operate," he said. And
he lifted his pistol ostentatiously. "Young men," he went on, "if you
aren't willing to make a decent citizen of Blizzard, why I must arrest
him, and send him to the chair, or if he resists arrest, I must make a
decent dead man of him--"
In the distance there rose suddenly the powerful cries of the legless
man. "All ready," he cried, "bring on your ether."
"Who's going to help me?" asked Dr. Ferris.
The three young surgeons stepped quickly forward.
"Good," said Dr. Ferris. "He's strong as a bull. You come with me,
Jordyce, and you two wait within hearing just outside the door."
"One moment," said Lichtenstein, "where's young Allen?"
"In there," said Dr. Ferris.
"I'll just introduce myself," said the Jew, "and tell him what's up. He
must be in a most unpleasant state of mind."
To Wilmot there appeared the figure of a little stout man with red hair
and a pug nose, who was dripping wet, and who smiled in an
"You're safe as you'd be in your own house," said the kindly Jew; "no
ether--no amputation--no nothing. And here's a note from Miss Barbara.
I'm dripping wet, but I guess the ink hasn't run so's you can't
Wilmot read his note, and a great light of happiness came into his eyes,
"After a while," said Lichtenstein, "I'll hunt up more clothes for you,
and you can jump into a car and run out to Clovelly. Don't let Miss
Barbara see you in that beard, though."
"I won't," said Wilmot. "Tell me what's happened. Has Blizzard been
"I'm Abe Lichtenstein--"
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Wilmot, "if I'd only gone straight to you--"
"If you had you might never have known that Beauty would have married
the Beast--just to save young Mr. Allen pain. But why come to me?"
"With information from Harry West. He had run the whole conspiracy down.
"Names--did he give names?"
Lichtenstein's eyes narrowed with excitement.
In the next room there arose suddenly the sound of many feet shuffling,
as if men were carrying a heavy weight, and presently the smell of ether
began to come to them through the key-hole. And they heard groans, and a
dull, passionless voice that spoke words of blasphemy and obscenity.
It was rare in Dr. Ferris's experience to see a man, after an operation,
come so quickly to his senses. It was to be accounted for by perfect
health and a powerful mind. The patient lay on his side, because of the
wound on the back of his head, and into his eyes, glazed and
ether-blind, there came suddenly light and understanding, and memory.
Memory brought the sweat to his forehead in great beads.
"Is it over?" he asked quickly. "Have you done the trick?"
"It couldn't be done."
"When did you find that out?"
"I knew it before you went under ether."
"Then you haven't mutilated young Allen?"
The legless man's eyes closed, and he smiled, and for perhaps a minute
dozed. He awoke saying: "Thank God for that." A moment later: "I'm all
knocked out of time--what have you done to me?"
"I took the liberty of freeing your brain from pressure--result of an
old accident. It can only do you good. It was hurting your mind more
"I'd like to sleep, but I have the horrors."
"What sort of horrors?"
"Remorse--remorse," said the legless man in a strong voice.
Dr. Ferris was trembling with excitement.
"But thank God my deal against Allen didn't go through. That's something
saved out of the burning. Where is Rose? I want Rose."
"I remember. I locked her up--in that room. The key's in the bureau top
drawer, left. I'd like her to sit by me. I want to go to sleep. I want
to forget. Time enough to remember when I'm not sick.... That you, Rose?
Sit by me and hold my hand, there's a dear. If I need anything she'll
call you, doctor. Just leave us alone, will you?"
He clung to the hand, as a child clings to its mother's hand; and there
was a tenderness and trust in the clasp that thrilled the girl to
"Say _you_ forgive me, Rose." His voice was wheedling.
She leaned forward and kissed him.
"We got a lot to live down, Rose. Don't say we can't do it. Wait till
I'm up and around, and strong."
He fell asleep, breathing quietly. Two hours later he woke. Rose had not
"We'll begin," he said, "at once by getting married. I've dreamed it all
out. And we'll set up home in a far place. That is, if _they'll_ give me
a chance. But I've never asked you--Rose, will you marry me?"
"Do you want me?" She leaned forward and rested her cheek against his.
"Do you understand?" he said. "We're beginning all over. You can't undo
things that you've done; but you can start out and do the other kind of
things and strike some sort of a balance--not before man maybe--but in
your own conscience. That's something. I want to talk to Ferris. Call
him, will you, and leave us."
"Doctor, was everything I _was_ bone pressure? Ever get drunk?"
Dr. Ferris nodded gravely. "In extreme youth," he said.
"Well, you know how the next day you remember some of the things you
did, and half remember others, and have the shakes and horrors all
around, and make up your mind you'll never do so and so again? That's
me--at this moment. But the past I'm facing is a million times harder to
face than the average spree. It covers years and years. It's black as
pitch. I don't recall any white places. Everything that the law of man
forbids I've done, and everything that the law of God forbids. I won't
detail. It's enough that I know. Some wrongs I can put finger to and
right; others have gone their way out of reach, out of recovery. Maybe I
don't sound sorry enough? I tell you it takes every ounce of courage
I've got to remember my past, and face it. Was it all bone pressure? Am
I really changed? Am I accountable for what I did? Was it I that did
wicked things right and left, or was it somebody else that did 'em?
Another thing, is the change permanent? Am I a good man now, or am I
having some sort of a fit? Fetch me a hand-glass off the bureau,
Blizzard looked at himself in the mirror.
"Seems to me," he said, "I've changed. Seems to me I don't look so
much--like hell, as I did. What do you think?"
"I think, Blizzard," said Dr. Ferris, "that when you were run over as a
child you hurt your head. I think that even if I hadn't cut off your
legs you would have grown up an enemy of society. I think that up to the
time of your accident, and since you have come out of ether just now,
are the only two periods in your life when you have been sane, and
accountable for your actions. Between these two periods, as I see it,
you were insane--clever, shrewd--all that--but insane nevertheless. I
think this--I _know_ it. Even the expression of your face has changed.
You look like an honest man, a man to be trusted, an able man, a kind
man, the kind of man you were meant to be--a good man."
"You really think that?"
"It isn't what I think, after all; it's what _you_ feel. Do you wish to
be kind to people--friends with them? To do good?"
"That is the way I feel _now_. But, doctor--will it last?"
"It's got to last. Blizzard. And you've got to stop talking."
"But will they give me a chance? Lichtenstein could send me to the chair
if he wanted to."
"He won't do that. He will _understand_."
"I should like Miss Barbara to feel kindly toward me."
"She will. I hope that your mind has changed about her, too?"
"That," said Blizzard, "is between me and my conscience. Whatever I feel
toward her will never trouble her again."
With O'Hagan dead and Blizzard turned penitent, the bottom of course
fell clean out of the scheme to loot Maiden Lane and the Sub-Treasury.
But the work of Lichtenstein and his agents had not been in vain. Like
the man in the opera Lichtenstein had a little "list." The
lieutenant-governor soon retired into private life. He gave out that he
wished to devote the remainder of his life to philanthropic enterprises.
The police commissioner resigned, owing to ill health. Others who had
counted too many unhatched chicks went into bankruptcy. Some thousands
of discontents in the West who had been promised lucrative work in New
York, about January 15th, were advised to stick to their jobs, and to
keep their mouths shut. The two blind cripples who had delved for so
many years in Blizzard's cellars were brought up into the light and
cared for. Miss Marion O'Brien went home to England with an unusually
large pot of savings, and married a man who spent these and beat her
until she had thoroughly paid the penalty for all her little
dishonesties and treacheries. It was curious that all the little people
in the plot received tangible punishments, while the big people seemed
to go scot-free. Blizzard, for instance.
No sooner recovered from the operation on the back of his head than the
creature was up and doing. In straightening out his life and affairs he
displayed the energy of a steam-boiler under high pressure and a
His first act was to marry Rose; his second to let it be known
throughout the East Side that he was no longer marching in the forefront
of crime. This ultimatum started a procession of wrongdoers to Marrow
Lane. They came singly, in threes and fours, humble and afraid; men of
substance, gun-men, the athletic, the diseased, fat crooks, thin crooks,
saloon-keepers and policemen, Italians and Slavs, short noses and long
(many--many of them), two clergymen, two bankers, sharp-eyed children,
married women who were childless, unmarried women who weren't--and all
these came trembling and with but the one thought: "Is he going to tell
what he knows about us?"
He was not. Some he bullied a little, for habit is strong; some he
treated with laughter and irony, some with wit, and some with kindness
and deep understanding. He might have been an able shepherd going to
work on a hopelessly numerous black and ramshackle flock of sheep. He
couldn't expect to make model citizens out of all his old heelers; he
couldn't expect to turn more than fifty per cent of his two clergymen
into the paths of righteousness. But with the young criminals he took
much pains, giving money where it would do good, and advice whether it
would do good or not. Among the first to come to him was Kid Shannon.
"Now look a-here," said the Kid, "I bin good and bad by turns till I
don't know which side is top side. But this minute I'm good--d'you get
me? If you want to jail me you kin do it, nobody easier; but don't do
it! You was always a bigger man than me, and when you led I
followed--for a real man had rather follow a strong bad man than a good
slob any day. You out of the lead, I got nothing to follow but me own
wishes, and they're all to the good these days."
"A woman?" said Blizzard sternly.
"She ain't a woman yet," said the Kid, "and she ain't a kid--she's about
half-past girl o'clock, and she thinks there's no better man in the
United States than always truly yours, Kid Shannon. I got a good saloon
business, and nothing crooked on hand but what's past and done with, and
I looks to you to give a fellow a chance. Do I get it? Jail ain't goin'
to help me, and it would break her. Look here, sport: I _want_ to
"Kid," said Blizzard, "no man that _wants_ to be good need be afraid of
me. You'd have been a good boy always--if it hadn't been for me. _I_
know that as well as you. I've got the past all written down in my head.
I can't rub it out. But any man that's got the nerve can put new writing
across and across the old, until the old can't be read, or if it could
would read like a joke. You can tell whomsoever it concerns to do well
and fear nothing. At first I thought to tell Lichtenstein every first
and last thing that I knew about this city, and he tried to make me
tell. We had a meeting, Old Abe and I did. I was always afraid of the
little Jew, Kid. Well, face to face, I wasn't. He talked, and I talked.
And I was the stronger. He lets me go scot-free, and I don't tell
anything. If others get you for what you've done, it can't be helped.
But none of you'll be got through me. The past is buried; but if in the
future any of you fellows start anything, and I hear of it--look out"
Kid Shannon wriggled uncomfortably. "Say," he said, "what changed you?"
"I'm not changed," said Blizzard; "according to Dr. Ferris I'm just
acting natural. I was a good boy. I had a fracture of the skull. The
bone pressed on my gray matter and made me a bad man. I'll tell you a
funny thing: _I can't beat the box any more!_ I had a go at it the other
day, the missus all ready to work the pedals, and Lord help me there was
no more music in my head or my fingers than there is in the liver of a
frog. It was the same when I was a two-legged little kid--no music."
"Are you going to close the old diggings?"
Blizzard shook his head. "Yes and no. I'm going to pull down the old
rookery; and I'm going to put up in its place a model factory."
"Hats and maybe other things. I'm going to show New York how to run a
sweatshop--you wait and see--the most wages and the least sweat--and the
girls happier and safer than in their own homes. The missus and I were
planning to bolt to a new place and begin life all over. That was
foolish. I'd always feel like a coward. Don't forget that old friends
meditating new crimes will be welcome at the office--advice always given
away, money sometimes and sometimes help. Pass the word around--and when
you and Miss Half-past Girl send out your cards don't forget me and Mrs.
Blizzard in Marrow Lane."
He leaned forward, his eyes very bright and mischievous.
"Kid," he said, "artistically and dramatically, it's a pity."
"What's a pity?"
"That we didn't loot Maiden Lane before we got religion. If there was
any hitch in the plan, I don't know what it was. And, Lord, I _was_ so
set on the whole thing--not because I wanted the loot, but to see if it
could be done. Some of you always said it couldn't--said there was a
joker in the pack. Well, we'll never know now. And here's Mrs. O'Farrall
come to pass the time of day--Good-by, Kid, so-long, pass the word
around. Good luck--love and best wishes to Half-past! Mrs. O'Farrall,
your kitchen extends under the sidewalk; the more negotiable of your
delicatessen are cooked on city property."
"And 'twill be me ruin to have it found out. What I came for--"
"Was to find out what I'm going to do about it. Well, the law that
you're breaking isn't hurting the city a bit, Mrs. O'Farrall--I wish I
could say the same for your biscuits. If you're reported, come to me and
I'll see you through. How's Morgan the day?"
"The same as to-morrow, thank ye kindly--dhrunk and philanderin'."
"I'll send him a pledge to sign with my compliments, Mrs. O'Farrall, and
a good job at the same time."
"He'll never sign the pledge."
"Not if I ask him to, Mrs. O'Farrall, ask him on bended knee?"
Mrs. O'Farrall looked frightened, apoplectic, and confused. Blizzard
lifted his heavy eyebrows, then a smile began to brighten his face.
"Mrs. O'Farrall," said he, "blessings on your old red face! For just
this minute for the first time since I lost them, the fact that I have
no knees to bend escaped me. Your religion teaches you that the Lord is
good to the repentant sinner. Madam, he is!" And then he began to call
in a loud voice:
"Rose--Rose, run down a minute. I clean forgot that I hadn't any legs."
She came, fresh, young, and lovely. What if she had played the
traitor--thrown her cap over the wind-mills? These things are not
serious matters to her sex--when the men they love are kind. And then
Lichtenstein had forgiven her, and pretended to box her ears--and then
she had had enough tragedy and jealousy crowded into a few months to
atone for greater crimes and lapses than hers.
"I understand," said Blizzard sternly, "that when you learned I was your
father, you refused to proceed further against me."
"Yes, sir," said Bubbles.
"You did wrong! Always do your duty. It was your duty to send me to the
chair, if you could. A fine father I'd been to you--and to Harry--and a
good honest man I was to your mother! My boy, I'm face to face with the
penalty that I have to pay--you. I know all about you, Bubbles, from
Lichtenstein, from Dr. Ferris, from Wilmot Allen and--and others. And
you're a good boy. I drove your mother crazy, I let you drift into the
streets--to sink, I thought, and perish; but you're a good boy. I gave
you no education, but you have picked up reading and writing and God
knows what else. Once I was going to wring your neck. I didn't. That's
the only favor you ever had at my hands. You'll grow up to be a good
man--a fine, clever, understanding man. And it won't be because of me,
it will be in spite of me. This is the hardest thing I have to face.
You've come now to pay a duty call. Well, my boy, I'm obliged. But I
wish to Heaven I had some hold on your affection, some way of getting a
hold. Bubbles, what can I do to make you like me?"
Bubbles wriggled with awful discomfort, but said nothing.
"Is it because of your mother that you can't ever like me?"
Bubbles drew a long breath as if for a deep dive. His voice shook. "She
lives in a bug-house," he said; "you drove her into it. Dr. Ferris says
you were crazy yourself and nothing you ever done ought to be held
against you. He says, and Miss Barbara, she says, that I ought to try to
like you and feel kind to you. And--and I thought it was my duty to come
and tell you that I just can't."
He was only a little boy, and the delivery of these plain truths to a
man he had always held in deadly dread unmanned him. He gave one short,
wailing, whimpering sob, and then bit his lips until he had himself in a
sort of control.
"That's all right, Bubbles," said the legless man after a pause. "It
hits hard, but it's all right. And whether you said it or not, it was
coming to me, and I knew it. Do you mind if I send you books and things
now and then? There was a book I had when I was a boy. I'd like you to
have it. Don't know what reminds me of it--unless it's you. It's the
story of a Frenchman, Bayard--they called him the chevalier _sans peur
et sans reproche_. That's French. The book tells what it means. You
better go now. I'm talking against time. I haven't got the same control
of my nerves I used to have. I'm all broken up, my boy. But you're dead
right--dead right. I say so, and I think so. You're to go to
boarding-school. That's good. They won't teach _you_ any evil."
He did not offer his hand, and the boy was glad.
"Well, good-by," he said uneasily, reached the door, turned, and came
back a little way. "Wish you good luck," he said.
Blizzard lowered his formidable head almost reverently. "Thank you," he
Poor Bubbles, he began to whistle before he was out of the building; it
wasn't from heartlessness, it was from pure discomfort and remorse.
Anyway, his father heard the shrill piping--and he sat and looked
straight ahead of him, and his face was as that of Satan fallen--fallen,
and hell fires licked into the marrow of his bones.
So Rose found him, and flung herself upon his breast with a cry of
yearning, and his heavy sorrowed head nestled closer and closer to hers,
and he burst suddenly into a great storm of weeping.
But the legless man was not one who easily or often gave way to grief.
He retained all of that will-power which had made him so potent for
evil, and he used it now to force cheerfulness out of discouragement and
sorrow. Just what he proposed to do with his life is difficult to
expose, for his plans kept changing, as almost all plans do, in the
His remodelled factory will serve for an example. It began as a place in
which the East Side maiden could earn enough money to keep body and soul
together without scotching either. Still keeping to this idea, Blizzard
kept brightening conditions, and letting in light--figuratively and
actually. And he proved that short hours, high pay, and worth-while
profits may be made to keep company. It all depends on how much
willingness and efficiency are crowded into the short hours. Employment
in Blizzard's factory became a distinction, like membership in an
exclusive club, and carried with it so many privileges of comfort and
self-respect that the employees couldn't very well help being efficient.
Blizzard's office, where he held the threads of many enterprises, became
a sort of clearing-house for East Side troubles. He kept free certain
hours during which, sitting for all the world like a judge, he listened
to private affairs, and sympathizing, scolding, wheedling, and even
bullying, he gave advice, gave money, found work, brought about
reconciliations, and turned hundreds of erring feet into the straight
and narrow path. He preached, and very eloquently, the gospel of
common-sense. For every crisis in people's lives, he seemed to remember
a parallel. And his knowledge, especially of criminalities and the
workings of crooked minds, seemed very marvellous to those who sought
him out. And he was an easy man to speak truth to, for there were very
few wicked things that he had not done himself. It is easier to confess
theft to a thief than to a man of virtue, and the resulting advice may
very well be just the same.
His energy and activity were endless. "It's just as hard work," he told
Rose, "to do good in the world as to do evil. I haven't changed my
methods, only my conditions and ideals. You've got to get the confidence
of the people you're working for, and to get that you've got to know
more about them than they know about themselves. To know that a man has
murdered, gives you power over that man; to know that another man has
done something fine and manly, gives you a hold on that man. Real men
are ashamed of having two things found out about them--their secret bad
actions, and their secret good actions. Men who do good for the sake of
notoriety aren't real men."
"I know who's a real man," said Rose.
He regarded her with much tenderness and amusement. "Rose," he said,
"there's one thing I'm keen to know."
"Will you give an honest answer?"
"Well then, do you like me as much as you did when I used to maltreat
you and bully you and threaten you? Or do you like me more, or do you
like me less?"
"It's just the same," she said, "only that then I was unhappy all the
time, and now all the time I'm happy."
"Were you unhappy because I wasn't kind?"
She laughed that idea to scorn. "I was unhappy because you liked
somebody else more than me."
The amusement went out of Blizzard's face; the tenderness remained.
There was one thing that he was determined to do with his life, and that
was to make Rose a good husband. And he was very fond of her, and she
could make him laugh, but it wasn't going to be very easy, as long as
the image of another girl persisted in haunting him.
When Wilmot Allen left Blizzard's house, he went direct to a
barber-shop, where he remained for three hundred years. During this
period, he lost his beard and thereby regained his self-respect. It took
him a hundred years to reach the Grand Central, and a thousand more to
get from there to Clovelly.
"I got your telegram," said Barbara.
"When?" he asked anxiously.
She broke into a sudden smile. "Oh," she said, "about fourteen hundred
"Barbara," he said, "that's a miracle! If you'd said thirteen hundred or
fifteen hundred it would have been guessing, but fourteen hundred is the
exact time that has passed since I telegraphed."
"Have you had breakfast?"
"No," he said, "I didn't have time."
They strolled through the familiar house, talking nonsense. They were
almost too glad to see each other, for there was now no longer any
question of Barbara making up her mind. It had been made up for her, and
Wilmot knew this somehow without being told. But when had the definite
change come?--that change which made her caring for Wilmot different
from all her other carings? She could not say.
He had dreaded telling her about Harry West's death. And when he had
done so he watched her grave face with appealing eyes. Presently she
smiled a little.
"I'm _not_ heartless," she said, "but I'm going to keep on forgetting
all the times when there was anybody but you. I expect most girls do a
lot of shilly-shallying before they are sure of themselves."
"And you are really sure of yourself?"
"Yes, Wilmot, if I'm sure of you."
"The first thing," he said, "is to look into these mining properties
we've fallen heir to. West wasn't the kind of man to be easily fooled;
at the same time I myself have learned something about mines."
"For instance?" Her face was very mischievous.
"Well," he said, "for instance, I have learned that there are mines
_and_ mines. And you know, Barbs dear, I'm not eligible yet. I owe
money, I haven't made good at anything, and I've got to--first of all.
"Are you going to sit right there and tell me that we're not to be
married until you've paid your debts and made a fortune? Where do I come
in? What life have I to lead except yours? If you are in debt, so am I.
If you've got to dig holes in the ground, so have I. Whatever has got to
be done, we've got to do it together. So much is clear. Of course it
would be _easier_ for you!"
A little later he asked her what she was going to do with her head of
"Nothing," she said. "If it is good enough, it will survive these
troubled times. If it isn't, somebody will break it up."
"Are you through with art?"
"What have I to do with art?" she said. "I'm in love. I used to think
that women ought to have professions and all. But there's only one thing
that a woman can do supremely well--and that's to make a home for a man.
That will take all that she has in her of art and heart and ambition and
delicacy. Of course if a girl is denied the opportunity of making a
home, she can paint and sculp and thump the piano and get her name in
the papers. What I want to know is--when do _we_ start West?"
"You've offered to take me just as I am, with all my encumbrances, and
to help me fight things through to a good finish. And I think that is
pure folly on your part. But there's going to be no more folly on mine.
I'm going to be a fool. Barbs--come here!"
He held out his arms, and she threw herself into them.
"Is to-morrow too soon, Barbs?"
"We could hardly arrange things sooner, but to my mind to-morrow is not
nearly soon enough."
"What will your father say?"
"Why, if he's the father I think he is he'll bless us and wish us good
luck. There'll be an awful lot to do. Hadn't we better jump into a car,
run over to Greenwich, and get married? That will be just so much off
The young Allens began their new life by plunging themselves still
deeper in debt. Their honeymoon was very short. They spent it on Long
Island Sound in a yacht which Wilmot borrowed over the telephone, just
before they left Clovelly to be married. On the sixth day they went
West. In Salt Lake City they foregathered with a mining engineer to whom
Wilmot had secured letters. This one fell in love with Barbara, closed
his office and went with them into the hills for ten days. They came out
of the hills with brown faces and sparkling eyes. The engineer opened
his office and dictated his report of their mines to his stenographer.
During this work of enthusiasm he occasionally sighed, and the
stenographer knit her brows.
"Now then," said the engineer to Wilmot and Barbara, "if my name is any
good in New York, you can raise all the money you need on that document.
If you can't, telegraph, and I can raise it here."
"But," said Barbara, growing very practical, "if the money can be raised
here, why blow in two car-fares _and_ a drawing-room from here to New
York and back?"
[Illustration: The engineer made generous terms across the dinner-table]
"Why," the engineer stammered a little, "I thought you'd have lots and
lots of friends that you'd want to let in on the ground floor. But if
you haven't, and if my money is as good as another's--you see, it's
a grand property--I'm not above longing for an interest in it myself."
"I can't deny," said Wilmot, who had been worrying himself dreadfully
about finding the means, "that this looks like easy money to me."
The engineer made generous terms across the dinner-table, and the young
Allens borrowed his money from him.
"I suppose," said the engineer hopefully, "that you'll run out from time
to time to see how things are getting on?"
"Run out?" exclaimed Barbara; "we are going to live with the proposition
until it goes through or under. Aren't we, Wilmot?"
"I hoped you'd feel that way about it, Barbs."
"You _knew_ I would."
At first they lived in a tent, and then in a series of large wooden
boxes that they called first "The House" and then "Home." Machinery
began to come into the camp in the wake of long strings of mules walking
two and two. Upon the report of their special consulting engineer the
nearest transcontinental railroad began to lay metals across the desert,
to the mines. One day came strangers with picks and shovels, and the
next day came more. And these began to scratch among the sage-brush and
to explode sticks of dynamite against the faces of hills. Claims were
staked; shanties built; a hotel with saloon attached, all of shining tin
and tar paper, arose in the night. The first thing Barbara knew Wilmot
began to talk of a stretch of sage-brush as Main Street. And the same
day she heard a man with red beard speak of the little town as "Allen."
One night a man was shot dead among the sage-bushes of Main Street. Six
hours later Wilmot came in on a horse covered with lather. There was a
stern, but not unhappy, look in his eyes.
"Well?" she asked.
"He showed fight," said Wilmot; "and we had to pot him."
"Would you care? We shook hands on keeping all details secret. I think
the town of Allen will be run orderly in the future. And by the way,
have I such a thing as a clean shirt?"
"You will have," said Barbara, "when the things dry."
"Yes, it had to come to it. There are only two women in town, and the
other isn't fit to wash your shirts, dear."
"Let me see your hands."
He examined them critically, then kissed them uncritically.
"They don't look like a washer-woman's hands yet," he said.
"No," she said, "not yet. But please say they look less and less like a
[Illustration: "You will," said Barbara, "when the things dry"]
"Barbara," he said, "they look more and more like a dear's. But tell
me, aren't you getting bored with it--missing New York things and
all and all?"
"No," she said stoutly, "I'm not. I'm useful here in some ways. And I
was about as useful there as--as all the other people. I'm not even
worried about the mines."
"Neither am I. But development's a great deal slower than I thought.
We've still plenty of money. And the moment we begin to ship ore, we'll
have plenty of credit which is just as useful. No! I'm not worried.
We're going to be rich, and we're going to live in a palace."
"And then what?"
"That _is_ worrying me. What do people do when the striving's over, and
the sixteen hours a day hard work? What _do_ they do? Oh, Barbs, we know
lots of such people, and we must find out exactly what they do, and--do
something else. Living as we are living has its drawbacks; but it's not
a place to hurry over."
"It's a good way to live," said Barbara. "If you've got sense enough to
know that it's good while it's going on. People who speak of the good
old days, or who are always looking forward to better days, are usually
unhappy. All the time I've been washing your clothes and mine this
morning I kept saying, 'Now this is really _good_--this is really worth
while,' and once when I got the better of an ink-spot, my heart began to
beat as if I'd just finished some immortal work."
They were much amused with Bubbles, who came out to them for the
Christmas vacation. The short fall term had already stamped him with the
better ear-marks of the great New England boarding-schools. He was quite
a superior person, rather prone to quotes just as if they had been facts
out of the gospel, the sayings of Mr. This and Mr. That. And he used
superior words, and spoke of various Kings of England as if he had
_always_ known that such persons existed. He had in addition a
smattering of Latin, his pride in which he strove in vain to conceal.
And most of all he considered the school-boy captain of the foot-ball
team a creature, on the whole, wiser and more knowing even than Abe
But by the time he had been a week in camp he was himself again. And by
the time he returned to school he had forgotten the ablative singular
They thought best to tell him that he would have plenty of money some
day. In view of this would he persist in being a secret service agent?
He thought so. He wasn't sure. The service needed money often and always
service. Had he seen his father? Yes, and he told them about the
"And," said Bubbles, "he sent me a box Thanks-giving, There was a cold
turkey and caramels and guava jelly and ginger-snaps, and walnut meats
and seedless raisins, and, and as Mr. Tompkins says, it doesn't do to be
_too_ hard on a man."
[Illustration: They were much amused with Bubbles, who came out to
them for Christmas vacation]
Spring came. Their mine made its first shipments of ore and was no
longer a paper success. The balance-sheet for the first month after
shipments had begun made Wilmot whistle. He couldn't believe the
figures, and worked till late into the night, trying to find some
dreadful error. Finding none, finding that with the help of others he
had really made good at last, the rough life began to lose its savor. If
he still owed money it could be but for a short time. He was free as
air--free to do what he pleased--almost to spend what he pleased.
"Barbs," he said, the next morning, "the mine's no good; we've got to
tackle something else."
"What do you mean, no good? Why, you said--"
"I know what I said. The mine is a success. Aside from what your father
has, you're a rich woman. And I'm a rich man. And that's the difficulty.
There's no use working our hearts out over a thing that's a definite
success--is there? No fun in it. We've got to look round for something
else. Now we are always going to have money--that's certain. What are we
going to do with it? Think of something hard--something worth while."
"Oh," she said, "I can't--can you?"
"No," he said almost angrily, "I can't. And that's the rotten side of
money. That's the stumbling-block for everybody who succeeds in
collecting a lot of it. The distribution is infinitely harder than the
collecting. I think we'd better pull up stakes, go back to New York, and
"I'd like to have a talk with Blizzard."
Barbara's eyebrows went high with surprise.
"Why not? Your father writes that the man is doing more good right in
New York City where it's most needed than any six philanthropists the
place ever owned. Maybe he's got something really big in view, and maybe
he'll let us in on the ground floor."
"Well," said Barbara, "considering everything, I shouldn't care to have
much to do with him."
Wilmot put back his head and laughed aloud. "That," said he, "is
precisely the sort of advice that I used to give you."
Barbara blushed. "I'd like to forget that such a man ever came into my
life in any way."
"You can't forget it, dear. You asked him in. You _would_ do it. And now
you can never forget. And that's one of the penalties you have to pay
for going against the people who love you most."
"Well," said she, "I'm willing to keep on paying--if the right people
will keep on loving. Anyway, philanthropy--good works--are none of my
business. My business, sir, is to make you a home. And with the
exception of one person that I know about positively, the rest of the
world can go hang."
[Illustration: "And when you think," said she, "that some women spend
the best years of their lives making _statues_!"]
"That statement," said Wilmot, "sounds very pagan and profane to me
and also very, very beautiful. But, who, may I ask, is this _other_
person?" His brows gathered a little jealously.
"This other person," said Barbara quietly, "is at the present moment a
total stranger to us,"
Then she leaned forward until her head was on his breast. And she gave a
little sigh which was fifty per cent comfort, and fifty per cent
courage. She could hear his heart beating like a trip-hammer. Had he
burst into immortal eloquence, his words would have been of less
consequence in her ear.
"And when you think," said she, "that some women spend the best years of
their lives making _statues_!"
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