The Penalty eBook

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

“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.

“O’Brien?”

“Yes, O’Brien.”

[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.

XL

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 penalty.  Lichtenstein.”

“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 dressing-table.”

Marion, very red in the face, lurched out of the room.

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The Penalty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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