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

“Then I made up things—­just to keep the others from knowing I wasn’t playing fair.  I wanted to put that off as long as I could.  Anything I really found out—­like your first talk with O’Hagan—­I just kept to myself.  I know I lied to you the first day.  But I’m not lying now.”

The legless man smiled tolerantly.  “Why did you keep on trying to find out things—­if you didn’t mean to use them?”

“Because I wanted to know all about you, what you were doing, what your interests were.  I thought I could be more useful to you that way.”

“It’s a good thing for you, Rose,” said Blizzard, “that I guessed all this.  If I hadn’t you wouldn’t be alive now.  And so, now that you’ve gotten to know me pretty well, there’s something about me, is there, that’s knocked your ambitions galley-west?”

“I had friends that trusted me,” she said, “and I’ve played double with them.  And now I’ve got only you.”

“Tell me one thing,” and Blizzard asked the question with some eagerness, “what particular quality of mine got you to feeling this way about me?”

“I guess it’s every quality now,” said Rose, “but it started with me the first time I heard you play, and knew that, whatever you’d been and done, and were planning to do, you had a soul above it all.  And I knew that if your soul had ever had a fair chance you’d have been more like a god than a man.”

“Well, well,” said Blizzard after a long silence, “perhaps.  Who knows!  And so it was the music that changed your heart?  Well, why not?  Nobody makes better music—­unless it’s Hofman.”

The idea of appealing to the heart of quite another girl through his music filled the legless man with a wild hoping.  Why not?  If he could play himself clean out of hell whenever he pleased, why not another?  He would not tell her the possibilities of nobility that yet remained in him.  He would play them to her.

“Rose,” he said, “you’re the best pedaller I ever had.  You’ve got music in you.  We’ll practise up and give a concert.  I’ll ask some nobs in.  We’ll turn the piano so that seeing how the pedalling is done won’t distract their attention from the music.  But they won’t hear our music, Rose.  It will be better than that.  They shall roll in it, bathe in it, see heaven!”

“That’s what I saw.”

Blizzard’s agate eyes glinted with a strange light.  It was as if the beast in him was fighting with the God.  But gradually all mercifulness, all-pity, went out, and the fires which remained were not good to see.

He kissed her and she kissed him back.

XX

Feeling that she had been working too hard, being in much distress about Harry West, and in some for herself, and learning that Wilmot Allen was to be of the party, Barbara told Blizzard, at the end of his sitting on Friday, that he need not come Saturday, as she was going to spend the week-end with the Bruces at Meadowbrook.

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