But the poison had been spilled on Barbara’s evening. For three hours she had not once thought of the man whom twelve hours ago she had really wanted to marry. And her heart meanwhile had warmed and expanded toward one who at best was a prodigiously successful crook and rascal, and she was ashamed. But for all that neither the warmth nor the triumphant sense of influence and conquest went out of her heart. And later, when Mrs. Bruce said: “I really think we ought to go,” Barbara, outwardly all sweetness and agreement, was inwardly annoyed. She wanted very much to stay, for she knew that the moment she was alone her conscience would give her no peace, and that she would make resolutions which she would not, judging from past experiences, be able to keep. She would resolve to abandon her bust of Blizzard, resolve never to see the creature again, since it seemed that he had in him power upon her emotions—dangerous power.
“Do we work to-morrow, Miss Ferris?”
The words, “No, I’m afraid not to-morrow,” rose to her lips. The words, “Please, at the usual time,” came out.
And she felt as if his will, not her own, had caused her to say those words. Her heart gave a sudden leap of fear.
Barbara knew very well that she was doing wrong. Summer had descended, blazing, upon the city. Without exception her friends had gone to the country. Her father had gone to Colorado upon an errand of which for the present he chose to make a mystery. She made a habit of lunching at the Colony Club, and occasionally saw some friend or other who had run into town for a face massage, a hair wave, a gown, or a hat. But the afternoons and evenings hung very heavily upon her hands. So that she got to living in and for her mornings at the studio. With the appearance of Blizzard, clean, thoughtful, and forceful, her feelings of loneliness and depression vanished. If her vitality was at low ebb, his was not. The heat appeared to brace him, and he had the faculty of communicating something of his own energy, so that it was not until she had finished working and dismissed him that she was sensible of fatigue and discouragement.
The man was on his best behavior. He could not but realize that he had established an influence over her; that she was beginning to take him at his own estimate of himself, and to believe in his pretended aspirations. And while he credited her with no affection for himself, he had the presumption to imagine that his maimed condition and his low station in life no longer made the slightest difference to her, and that finally her friendliness would turn into a warmer feeling. But if not, he had but to wait until the maturity of his plans should throw the city into chaos, when she would be at his mercy.