“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.