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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about The Penalty.

The superintendent’s eyes fell before the glare in those of the employee, and he murmured something about “necessary experiment—­had to be done.”

XXXVI

“There’s no room for doubt in my mind,” said Dr. Ferris.  “The coincidence of the birthmarks, most unusual in shape and texture, the poor woman’s behavior at sight of a man who at first glance appeared to be without legs—­”

“Yes,” said Barbara, “but I go more on a certain expression that Bubbles sometimes has and that makes him look like his father.  You see, I’ve done both their heads, and studied them closer than anybody else.”

“Do you suppose the boy knows?”

She shook her head.  “I think not.  He’s too—­too decent.  If he thought that Blizzard was his father, he wouldn’t say the things that I have heard him say about him.  He’s the most loyal child.”

“Do you suppose Blizzard knows?”

“Why, of course.  A man could hardly have a son without knowing him—­especially a man who lives with his ears to the ground and his mind in touch with everything in the city.”

Dr. Ferris smiled a little.  “Well,” he said, “shall we tell Bubbles?”

“Why should we?  I shouldn’t like to be told out of a clear sky that I had such and such a father.  It doesn’t seem in the least necessary.”

But before the day was out Barbara thought best to tell Bubbles.  He came to her, with a slightly important air, which he did his best to conceal, and said that he wished to go to the city for a few days, on business.

“Sure the business isn’t free untrammelled smoking?”

Bubbles was offended.  “If I hadn’t given you my word,” he said, “you might think that.  I told you when we came that I might have to go back any time on business.  I got to go.  Honest, Miss Barbara.”

“Well, that settles it, Bubbles.  But don’t you think as long as I’m trying to give you some of the things you’ve missed, that you might take me a little more into your confidence?”

She maintained a discreet and serious countenance, although she wished very much to laugh.

The boy studied her face gravely with grave eyes.  “The ABC of my business,” he said presently, “is knowing who to trust.  I know you won’t blab, Miss Barbara, ’r else I wouldn’t tell you.  There’s a society in New York City for putting down grafts and crimes.  There’s a rich man back of it.  And there’s more kinds o’ people working for it than you’d guess in a year.  There’s even policemen workin’ for it—­”

“But it’s their business to put down crime.”

Bubbles shook his head sadly.  “The chief business of the society is to put down police graft in crime,” he said.  “But there’s heaps o’ side businesses.  Harry West, he’s one of us.  He’s way high up.  I’m way low down.  But when I’m called to do what I can, I got to do it.  There’s one member younger’n me.  And there’s Fifth Avenue swells belongs, and waiters, and druggists, and bootblacks, and men in hardware stores, and barkeepers—­”

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