The Penalty eBook

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

He rose, smiling imperturbably, and laid the pistol in her lap.

“At least,” she said, “show me how it works.”

He explained the mechanism clearly and with patience, not once, but several times.  “Point it,” he said, “as you would point your finger, and keep pulling the trigger until the enemy drops.”

“One every two hours,” Barbara commented, “until relieved.”

“May you never need it,” said Wilmot, earnestly.

“I never shall,” said Barbara.  “Must I really keep it?”

“Yes.”

“But you,” she exclaimed, “you will be quite unprotected all the way from here to the nearest shop where such things are sold.”

“I shall be armed again,” he smiled, “before I am threatened.  Indeed, to know that you are armed has heartened me immensely.  What are you doing this afternoon?”

“I don’t know,” she answered with provoking submissiveness; “you haven’t told me.”

“It’s just possible,” he said, “that the turf courts at the Westchester Country Club have been opened.  I might telephone and find out.  Then we could collect some clothes, jump into a taxi, and go out and open the season.”

“You can’t afford taxis, Wilmot.  And you never let anybody else pay for anything.”

“Oh,” he pleaded, “I can afford a taxi this once, believe me.”

“In that case,” said Barbara, “I surrender.”

“If you only would, Barbs.”

“’Phone if you are going to, and don’t be always slipping sentiment into a business proposition,” She affected to look very stern and business-like.

“I shall engage the magic taxi,” he affirmed.

“The what?”

“Don’t you know?  There’s a magic taxi in the city—­just one.  You get in, you give your order, and lo and behold, rivers and seas are crossed, countries and continents, until finally you fetch up in the place where you would be, and when you look at the meter you find that it hasn’t registered as much as a penny.”

“Time,” said Barbara, “flies even faster than a magic taxicab.  So if you are going to ’phone—­”

“Is there no drop of sentiment in that exquisite shell which the world knows as Barbara Ferris?  Didn’t any man ever mean anything to you, Barbs?”

She flushed slightly, for there had come into her thoughts quite unbidden the image of a certain young man in workman’s clothes, kneeling at a door, and removing an old japanned iron lock.  She shook her head firmly, and smiled up at him insultingly.

“Men, Wilmot,” she said, “are nothing to me but planes, angles, curves, masses, lights, and shadows.  They are either suited to sculpture or they aren’t.”

Wilmot laughed, and while he was busy with the telephone, Barbara tried to think of the secret-service agent in cold terms of planes, curves, masses, etc., and found that she couldn’t.  Which discovery annoyed and perplexed her.

XI

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The Penalty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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