The Penalty eBook

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

“I got to see the Head, Miss Barbara.  I got to ask him.”

“Who is the head, Bubbles?”

“I’d tell you in a minute, Miss Barbara, only we’re all swore to tell no one.  But what he says goes with me.  It’s got to be that way, else we’d never get nowhere.”

XXXVII

Mr. Abe Lichtenstein looked up from a mass of writing.  “So,” he smiled, “you got your few days off?”

“Mr. Lichtenstein,” said Bubbles, his eyes big, his voice trembling, “an awful thing has happened.”

“You can tell me nothing bad but I can tell you something worse.  What has happened?”

“The old un is my father!”

“Yes,” said Lichtenstein, “I have thought of that.  You are sure?”

“I’m sure enough not to want to have anything more to do with huntin’ him.  But that’s for you to say.  I do what you say.”

“I won’t ask you to go on,” said Lichtenstein; “but you’re still with us, Bubbles?  You’re still for cleaning up the dirty house and making it fit for human beings to live in?”

“Yes, sir.”

“As far as your father’s concerned you’ll be neutral.”

“Meaning I won’t do nothing against him, nor for him?”

The red-headed Jew nodded.  “You won’t do like Rose?”

“Rose?”

Lichtenstein’s face became very cold and grim.  “She’s gone over to him body and soul.  Bubbles, and heart and mind.  For weeks she’s fooled us with nonsense—­stuff they’ve made up together.  Worse, she’s broken every oath she ever swore.  Our strength was secrecy.  Well, your father knows the name of every agent in our society.  Oh, he’s got it all out of her!  Everything!”

“Does he know that you are—­”

“Yes, confound him, he does.  And my life is about as safe in this city as that of the average cat in the Italian quarter.  My life isn’t the important thing.  It’s what I’ve got in my head—­cold facts.  See all this stuff?  That’s what’s in my head going down on paper for the first time.  It’s to guide the man that takes my place—­to help him over some of the hard places—­three hundred sheets of it already, and only a week since I began.”

“Rose!” exclaimed Bubbles.

“There was none better—­none smarter—­till she fell in love—­fell in love!”

“Does he know I’m one of us, Mr. Lichtenstein?”

“Why, yes.  I suppose she’ll have given even the children away.”  Mr. Lichtenstein’s eye roamed over the suite of rich rooms with their elaborate gambling-paraphernalia.  “Not much doing,” he smiled, “since Rose went over.  The tip’s out that I’m wanted.  Nobody drops in for a quiet game.  Bubbles, you tell people when you’re a man and I’m gone, that I wasn’t only a gambler.  Tell ’em I took money from people who had plenty but wouldn’t take the trouble to do right with it, and tell ’em I used that money to do right—­to help make dirty things clean.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Penalty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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