The Penalty eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about The Penalty.
shocked almost out of his wits.  He had left only the good sense and the good manners not to make a scene.  He beat instead a quiet, if substantial, retreat, and put off the hour of reckoning.  His daughter was soiled in his eyes, and when she explained to him that a naked man was not a naked man to her, but a “stunning” assemblage of planes, angles, curves, lights, and shadows, he could not understand.  And they quarrelled as furiously as it is possible for well-bred persons to quarrel.  He commanded.  She denied his right to command.  He threatened.  She denied his right first to create a life, and then to spoil it.  He advanced the duty of children to parents, and she the duty of parents to children.  Finally Barbara, thoroughly incensed at having her mind and her ambition held so cheap, flung out with:  “Have you never made a mistake of judgment?” And was astounded to see her father wither, you may say, and all in an instant show the first tremors she had ever seen in him of age and a life of immense strain and responsibility.  From that moment the activity of his opposition waned.  She knew that her will had conquered, and the knowledge distressed her so that she burst into tears.

“My dear,” said her father, “I once made a very terrible mistake of judgment.  There isn’t a day of my life altogether free from remorse and regret.  I have given you money and position.  It isn’t enough, it seems.  My dear, take the benefit of the doubt into the bargain.  If I am making another terrible mistake, you must bear at least a portion of the responsibility.”

It is curious, or perhaps only natural, that Barbara was at the moment more interested to know what her father’s great mistake of judgment had been than in the fact that her ambition had won his tolerance and consent, if not his approval and support.  If she had asked him then and there, for he was still greatly moved, he might have told her, but reticence caught the question by the wings, and the moment passed.

And they resumed together their life of punctilious thoughtfulness and good manners.  Dr. Ferris continued to cut up famous bodies for famous fees, while Barbara continued to do what she could to reproduce the bodies of more humble persons, for no reward greater than the voice of her teacher with his variously intonated; “Go to eet, Mees Barbara! go to eet.”


It was a discouraged but resolute Barbara who stepped forth from her father’s house that bright morning in May and passed rather than walked down the quiet upper stretches of Fifth Avenue.  That she might fail in art, and make a mess of her life generally, sometimes occurred to her.  And it was a thought which immeasurably distressed her.  It would be too dreadful a humiliation to crawl back into the place which she had so confidently quitted for a better; to be pointed out as a distinguished amateur who had not succeeded as a professional; and to take up once more the rounds of dinners, dances, and sports which serve so well to keep the purposeless young and ignorant.

Project Gutenberg
The Penalty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook