The Penalty eBook

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

A young man took off his hat and held it in his hands until she had passed.  He had been watching her and Wilmot, and incidentally the legless man, for the last ten minutes.  He hoped that she would look up and speak to him, but her mind was given singly to sorrow.  And she went through the station to the street without knowing if it was crowded or deserted.  Harry West’s sad eyes followed her until she was out of sight.  Then with a sort of wrench he turned once more to observe the actions of the legless man.  This one, however, having said cheerful good-bys to the sulky and heartsick Wilmot, and having at the same time noted the obtrusive nearness of the secret-service agent, had made swift use of his crutches and stumps and was at the moment climbing into a waiting taxicab.

Whatever West’s opinion may have been, Blizzard was making a sufficiently innocent disposition of time.  He had prevented an elopement, perhaps.  And he was on his way to a prominent florist to fill his cab with flowers for the evening’s entertainment.

He was in a curiously shy and nervous state of mind.  There was perhaps no man living whose hands were more nearly at home upon the key-board of a piano, or whose mind was more disdainful of other people’s opinions.  But of the fact that he was suffering from incipient stage fright there could be no doubt whatever.  Would this inoculate his playing, keep the soul out of it?  Or worse, would it cause him to strike wrong notes, and even to forget whole passages, so that his guests, and of course Barbara, would go away in the impression that they had heard a boastful person make an ass of himself?  He was almost minded to begin his concert with an imitation of a virtuoso suffering from stage fright.  If there was going to be laughter, let it be thought that he was not the irresponsible cause of it, but the deliberate and responsible.  What should he play?  Violent things to get his hands in and his courage up, and then Chopin?  Let Chopin speak up on his behalf to Barbara; tell her how he had suffered; how you must not judge him until you understood the suffering; how there was still in him a soul that looked up from the depths, and aspired to beautiful things?  Yes, let Chopin speak to her, plead with her, reason with her, show her, lead her.

He descended from the cab, and entered the florist’s.

XXIV

Barbara paid Blizzard the compliment of inviting only people who were really fond of music to hear him play.  The Braces, Adrian Savage, Blythe the architect, young Morton Haddon, and Barbara herself, composed the party.  They dined on a roof, and then, occupying two taxicabs, started for Marrow Lane in the highest spirits.  But the East Side had its way with them, and they reached their destination in a serious mood, ashamed, perhaps, of being rich and fortunate, unhappy at feeling themselves envied and hated.  Bruce, Adrian Savage,

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The Penalty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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