The next morning Blizzard was fifteen
minutes late to his appointment with Barbara.
He had sat up all night with O’Hagan, talking
energetically, and for once in his life he felt tired.
To this feeling was added the fear almost
ridiculous under the circumstances that
Barbara would scold him for being late. Unscrupulous
brute that he was, his infatuation for her was humanizing
him. And in the whole world he dreaded nothing
so much, at this time, as a look of displeasure in
a girl’s face.
He had left off the threadbare clothes
in which he usually went begging, and had attired
himself in clean linen and immaculate gray broadcloth.
His face was exquisitely shaved; his nails trimmed
and clean. And there hung about him a faint odor
of violets. In short, the male of the species
had begun to change his plumage, as is customary in
the spring of the year.
His mouth full of apology, he hurried
up the stairs to the studio, only to find that Barbara
herself had not yet arrived. Upon the seat of
the chair in which he always posed, the legless man
perceived an envelope addressed to himself. This
contained a short note:
DEAR MR. BLIZZARD:
I can’t be at
the studio till eleven. Please find somewhere
about you the kindness
to wait, or at least to come again at
that time. You
will greatly oblige,
Blizzard read his note three times;
it was very friendly. The “Yours sincerely”
touched his imagination. Especially the “Yours.”
“Yours,” he said, “mine,”
and with a sudden idiocy of passion he crushed the
note to his lips. And then, as if with remorse
at having been rough with a helpless thing, he smoothed
out the crumpled sheet, and placed it, together with
its envelope, in that pocket which was nearest to his
heart. Then he seated himself on the edge of the
model’s platform, laid his crutches aside, closed
his eyes, and for perhaps five minutes slept, motionless
as a statue, except that now and then his ears twitched.
At the end of five minutes, he waked, greatly refreshed,
and ready, if the need should arise, to sit up the
whole of the following night.
There was a sound of a man’s
steps mounting the stairs. And then a brisk knocking
on the studio door.
“Come in,” said Blizzard.
Dr. Ferris entered, hesitated, and then closed the
door behind him.
“You’ll pardon me,” said Blizzard
coolly, “if I don’t get up?”
said Dr. Ferris, and in his handsome eyes was a look
of pain and pity.
“It isn’t easy for me
to get up,” Blizzard continued in the same cool,
emotionless voice, “you can see for yourself.
I can’t spring to my feet like other
men. Do you know who I am?”
“Yes,” said Dr. Ferris,
“I’m afraid I do. But they told me
the name of the man who has been posing for Miss Ferris
was Blizzard. Your name ”
“My name,” said Blizzard, “is forgotten.”
Dr. Ferris bowed gravely. “Quite so, Mr.
Blizzard,” he said.
“Miss Barbara,” said Blizzard,
watching closely the effect upon the older man of
the familiarity, “will not be here till eleven.
And as you and I cannot possibly have anything pleasant
to say to each other, and as you, although the older
man, are far better off than I am for means of locomotion,
and as even thinking of you has something the
effect upon my stomach that mustard and warm water
would have ”
“If you have any mercy in your
heart,” said Dr. Ferris, his mouth distorted
with emotion, “don’t talk to me that way.
What made a hell of your life has made a hell of mine.”
The look of cold hatred in Blizzard’s
face changed at once to curiosity. “Really?”
he said; “you mean that?”
“It is the truth.”
Blizzard considered, and then shook
his head. “No,” he said, “it
couldn’t be the same. It may have stretched
you on the hot grid now and then, but between times
of remorse you’ve had long, long stretches of
success and happiness. I haven’t. I
have burned in hell fires from that day to this.”
“I told you on that day,”
said the surgeon, “that if there was ever anything
under heaven that I could do for you, I would do it.
You’ve never called upon me for anything money or
“I’ve not forgotten,”
said Blizzard, “and some day I may hold you to
your word. Right here and now I will ask something
of you an absolutely truthful answer to
a question. Do you hate me?”
Dr. Ferris turned the question over
in his conscience, and presently said: “I
am sorry. Yes.”
“Thank you,” said Blizzard,
who was not in the least disturbed. “I’ve
often wondered, and even, putting a hypothetical case,
thrashed the matter out with my friends. You
would hate me. It’s thoroughly human.
With me, for instance I feel non-committal
about a man. I decide to injure him. I do
so. And then I hate him. Now, if you have
any message for Miss Barbara or perhaps
you came to see the bust. I will call Bubbles.
He and Miss Barbara are the only persons allowed to
touch the cloths. I think she’d let me
uncover the thing, but, as you and I know so well,
I am not tall enough.”
“My business with my daughter,”
said Dr. Ferris, “concerned you.”
Blizzard chuckled. “Her
friends,” said he, “have been at you to
interfere. They have persuaded you that her model
should be persona non grata in the best studios.
They have, in short, begged you to take me by the
scruff of the neck and kick me out into the gutter
where I belong. Well, kick me. You know
as well as I do, that I can’t kick back.”
“You hurt me very much,”
said Dr. Ferris simply, “if that is any pleasure
“It is,” said Blizzard.
“What your intuition has told
you,” continued Barbara’s father, “is
the truth. I had made up my mind to interfere.”
“Well, why should you?”
“I have heard terrible things about you, Mr.
“That I have done things which
the world regards as terrible is true,” returned
the legless man imperturbably. “What of
it? Haven’t you?”
Dr. Ferris turned away and slowly
paced the length of the studio and back. “I
owe you,” he then said, “anything you choose
to ask. But that is not the whole of my obligation
to this world as I see it.”
“You will oblige me,”
said Blizzard, “by spitting out the moral homily
into which you are trying to get your teeth. It
is very simple. I do not wish to be sent away.
I ask you not to send me. If your statement that
you owe me anything I choose to ask amounts to two
pins’ worth, I think that I shall continue to
pose for your daughter as long as she needs me.”
“Oh, I’m quite helpless,”
said Dr. Ferris; “I realize that.”
“Spoken like a man,” said
Blizzard. “And to show that my nature isn’t
entirely cruel, I’ll tell you for your comfort
that in Miss Barbara’s presence the bad man
is a very decent sort. We are almost friends,
Doctor, she and I. She talks to me as if I were her
equal. As for me, in this studio I have learned
the habit of innocent thought. Only yesterday
I took pleasure in the idea that in the world there
are birds, and flowers, and green fields.”
The beggar’s eyes glittered
with a sardonic look. He watched the surgeon
as a tiger might watch a stag. There was quite
a long silence. Dr. Ferris broke it.
“For God’s sake,”
he said with great energy, “tell me one truth.
Is it part of your scheme of life to revenge yourself
on me through my daughter?”
Blizzard raised a soothing hand.
“Dr. Ferris,” he said, “what would
cause you suffering would cause her suffering.
So, you see, I am tied hand and Pardon
me! I shouldn’t now think of hurting you
through her unless it might be for her own happiness.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Then you don’t understand
the hearts of women. Then you know nothing of
the heights to which even fallen men can raise their
“What are you telling me?”
“Very little very much. Perhaps
I love your daughter.”
Horror and loathing swept into the
surgeon’s eyes, but he controlled himself.
“Mr. Blizzard,” said he presently, “I
find it hard to take you seriously. Are you
joking? Whether you are or not, the thing is a
joke. If you really care for my daughter, I am
very, very sorry for you. I can’t say more.
If nothing worse threatens her than the possibility
of her heart being touched by you, there is no need
for me to be anxious about her. As for telling
her the truth about you and me, why not?”
“You tell her.”
“I will. To-night”
“Won’t you be playing into my hands?”
“No,” said the surgeon curtly, “she
has too much common-sense.”
“But you won’t tell her
what I’ve said?” The beggar was suddenly
“No,” and Dr. Ferris smiled, “I
may safely leave that to you.”
“Damnation,” cried Blizzard, “you
are laughing at me.”
Dr. Ferris’s face became serious
at once. “God forbid that!” he said.
“If you have spoken sincerely I feel only sorrow
for you and pity more sorrow and pity for
you even than I ever felt before.”
the beggar, and his ears twitched. “She’s
“I shall wait,” said Dr.
Ferris, “and take her uptown, when she has finished
“Well,” said Blizzard,
with a kind of humorous resignation, “I’d
kick you out if I could; but I can’t.”
And he added: “You haven’t got an
extra pair of legs about you, have you?”
“Why!” said Barbara when
she saw her father. “Art is looking
up. You in a studio!”
Secretly his presence pleased her
immensely. She had always hoped that some day
he would take enough interest in her work to come to
see it uninvited. And she now felt that this
had happened. And she thanked Blizzard with sincerity
for having waited.
“Mr. Blizzard and I,”
she told her father, “are doing a bust.
And whatever anybody else thinks, we think it’s
an affair of great importance. Mr. Blizzard even
gives me his time and his judgment for nothing.”
“Well,” Dr. Ferris smiled,
“I am willing to give you the latter, on the
same terms. May I see what you’ve done?”
Barbara removed the cloths from the
bust, and so life-like and tragic was the face which
suddenly confronted him that Dr. Ferris, instead of
stepping forward to examine it closely, stepped backward
as if he had been struck. And then:
“My dear,” he said gravely, “the
He looked from the bust to his daughter,
and felt as if he was meeting some very gifted and
important person for the first time. Barbara
laughed for sheer pleasure.
“What do you think of it?”
“I will buy it as it stands,” said her
father, “on your own terms.”
“If you think it’s good
now,” said Blizzard quietly, “wait till
“If I had done it,” said Dr. Ferris, “I
wouldn’t dare touch it.”
“Yes, you would,” said
Barbara, “if you knew that you could make it
better. It’s still a beginning.”
“When do you expect to finish?”
“I’m going to keep on
working until I know that I’ve done the best
I can. We may be months on it.”
Blizzard smiled secretly, and Dr.
Ferris managed to conceal his annoyance.
“I wish, my dear,” he
said, “that I had taken you more seriously in
the beginning. But it is not too late to get
some advantage by studying in Paris and Rome.”
“I don’t believe it’s
ever too late for that,” said Barbara, “and
of course I’ve always been crazy for the chance,
but knowing how you felt ”
“Say the word,” said her
father, “and you shall go to-morrow.”
Blizzard’s face was like stone;
he felt that his high hopes were on a more precarious
footing than ever. If she had the whim, Barbara
would go abroad, far beyond the reach of even his
“You could finish your bust
any time,” said Dr. Ferris persuasively.
But Barbara shook her head with complete
decision. “A bird in the hand,” she
said, “is worth two in the bush. And I
hope I’m wrong but I have the conviction
that this head is going to be the best thing I shall
ever do. I can look at it quite impersonally,
because half the time it seems to model itself. I
think it’s going to be good. If it is good,
it will be one of those lucky series of accidents
that sometimes happen to undeserving but lucky people.”
Dr. Ferris sighed inwardly, but the
expression of his face did not change. “Do
you mind if I stay?” he asked. “I
think it’s time I knew what you look like when
you are at work, don’t you?”
“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.