“Then,” said Blizzard, sliding to the floor, “I go to set Miss Ferris free.”
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, and shadowed.
“I’ve seen that man,” she said. “I was writing notes in the summer-house. He—”
“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 his hand.
One glance at the superscription, and Barbara ripped open the envelope. She read the note and her brows contracted with pain. “Read that, father.”
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 venture.