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

“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 engaging fashion.

“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 read it.”

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 arrested?  You’re—­”

“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.  It seems—­”

“Names—­did he give names?”

“Yes—­unbelievable 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.

XLVII

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?”

“No.”

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 and 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.

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