“Seems to me,” he said, “I’ve changed. Seems to me I don’t look so much—like hell, as I did. What do you think?”
“I think, Blizzard,” said Dr. Ferris, “that when you were run over as a child you hurt your head. I think that even if I hadn’t cut off your legs you would have grown up an enemy of society. I think that up to the time of your accident, and since you have come out of ether just now, are the only two periods in your life when you have been sane, and accountable for your actions. Between these two periods, as I see it, you were insane—clever, shrewd—all that—but insane nevertheless. I think this—I know it. Even the expression of your face has changed. You look like an honest man, a man to be trusted, an able man, a kind man, the kind of man you were meant to be—a good man.”
“You really think that?”
“It isn’t what I think, after all; it’s what you feel. Do you wish to be kind to people—friends with them? To do good?”
“That is the way I feel now. But, doctor—will it last?”
“It’s got to last. Blizzard. And you’ve got to stop talking.”
“But will they give me a chance? Lichtenstein could send me to the chair if he wanted to.”
“He won’t do that. He will understand.”
“I should like Miss Barbara to feel kindly toward me.”
“She will. I hope that your mind has changed about her, too?”
“That,” said Blizzard, “is between me and my conscience. Whatever I feel toward her will never trouble her again.”
With O’Hagan dead and Blizzard turned penitent, the bottom of course fell clean out of the scheme to loot Maiden Lane and the Sub-Treasury. But the work of Lichtenstein and his agents had not been in vain. Like the man in the opera Lichtenstein had a little “list.” The lieutenant-governor soon retired into private life. He gave out that he wished to devote the remainder of his life to philanthropic enterprises. The police commissioner resigned, owing to ill health. Others who had counted too many unhatched chicks went into bankruptcy. Some thousands of discontents in the West who had been promised lucrative work in New York, about January 15th, were advised to stick to their jobs, and to keep their mouths shut. The two blind cripples who had delved for so many years in Blizzard’s cellars were brought up into the light and cared for. Miss Marion O’Brien went home to England with an unusually large pot of savings, and married a man who spent these and beat her until she had thoroughly paid the penalty for all her little dishonesties and treacheries. It was curious that all the little people in the plot received tangible punishments, while the big people seemed to go scot-free. Blizzard, for instance.
No sooner recovered from the operation on the back of his head than the creature was up and doing. In straightening out his life and affairs he displayed the energy of a steam-boiler under high pressure and a colossal cheerfulness.