“High time!” exclaimed Barbara. “I’ll just get into my apron.” She went into the next room and closed the door.
“Your innocents abroad,” said the legless man, “wasn’t a success.” His face was a jeer.
“Barbara,” said her father when they had finished dinner, “I made a threat this morning, and I’m going to keep it. If you have no especial objection, will you come into the library?”
Her face was radiant; he had been praising her work for the tenth time. “It sounds,” she said, “as if I was going to be whipped. That wasn’t what you threatened to do, was it?”
“No,” said he. “I’m to be punished. I’m going to tell you about a mistake of judgment I once made. But not as a warning, or a moral lesson—merely, my dear, that you and I may learn to know each other better. First, though, I want to talk to you about your model.”
“He’s rather fascinating, don’t you think?”
“He is very clever,” said her father, “and when he chooses he can talk very well. He proved that this morning. To me, personally, he is most repugnant, but I admit that when he once launched out, I listened as a school-boy listens to stories of treasure and pirates. He’s lived and observed and suffered. There is no doubt about that. But I shall be greatly relieved to hear that your bust is finished. I don’t like the idea of such a man being in the same block with you. I hope that you will not feel inspired to do another head of him.”
“He’s a splendid model,” said Barbara. “Of course this morning he didn’t keep still—and he did talk. But then I wasn’t really working; When I wish he keeps almost as still as the clay I work with.”
“Doesn’t looking at him ever give you—oh, a disagreeable creepy feeling?”
“Not any more. I’m so used to him now. No, I feel a genuine friendliness for him,”
“I thought,” said her father, “that to you artists, models were absolutely impersonal—just planes and angles and—what was it you used to say?”
Barbara flushed slightly, remembering a former and very disagreeable conversation. “Your memory is much too good,” she said.
Dr. Ferris frowned, “I’m not trying to interfere,” he said; “you’re old enough to know what’s best for you, but if I could instil in you a proper distaste for your friend, Mr. Blizzard, I should be delighted. Beauty and the beast do not go well together.”
“Please" said Barbara, “don’t bother your head about me. When the bust is finished, you and I go abroad for to look, for to see, for to learn. That’s agreed. We shall not invite Mr. Blizzard to go with us, and all will be well. There’s my hand on it!”
She laughed rosily, and they shook hands.
“Until recently,” said Dr. Ferris, “I have taken, as you know, very little interest in your career as a sculptor. Haven’t you thought that rather an unnatural attitude?”