“There’s no room for doubt
in my mind,” said Dr. Ferris. “The
coincidence of the birthmarks, most unusual in shape
and texture, the poor woman’s behavior at sight
of a man who at first glance appeared to be without
“Yes,” said Barbara, “but
I go more on a certain expression that Bubbles sometimes
has and that makes him look like his father. You
see, I’ve done both their heads, and studied
them closer than anybody else.”
“Do you suppose the boy knows?”
She shook her head. “I
think not. He’s too too decent.
If he thought that Blizzard was his father, he wouldn’t
say the things that I have heard him say about him.
He’s the most loyal child.”
“Do you suppose Blizzard knows?”
“Why, of course. A man
could hardly have a son without knowing him especially
a man who lives with his ears to the ground and his
mind in touch with everything in the city.”
Dr. Ferris smiled a little. “Well,”
he said, “shall we tell Bubbles?”
“Why should we? I shouldn’t
like to be told out of a clear sky that I had such
and such a father. It doesn’t seem in the
But before the day was out Barbara
thought best to tell Bubbles. He came to her,
with a slightly important air, which he did his best
to conceal, and said that he wished to go to the city
for a few days, on business.
“Sure the business isn’t free untrammelled
Bubbles was offended. “If
I hadn’t given you my word,” he said, “you
might think that. I told you when we came that
I might have to go back any time on business.
I got to go. Honest, Miss Barbara.”
“Well, that settles it, Bubbles.
But don’t you think as long as I’m trying
to give you some of the things you’ve missed,
that you might take me a little more into your confidence?”
She maintained a discreet and serious
countenance, although she wished very much to laugh.
The boy studied her face gravely with
grave eyes. “The ABC of my business,”
he said presently, “is knowing who to trust.
I know you won’t blab, Miss Barbara, ’r
else I wouldn’t tell you. There’s
a society in New York City for putting down grafts
and crimes. There’s a rich man back of
it. And there’s more kinds o’ people
working for it than you’d guess in a year.
There’s even policemen workin’ for it ”
“But it’s their business to put down crime.”
Bubbles shook his head sadly.
“The chief business of the society is to put
down police graft in crime,” he said. “But
there’s heaps o’ side businesses.
Harry West, he’s one of us. He’s way
high up. I’m way low down. But when
I’m called to do what I can, I got to do it.
There’s one member younger’n me.
And there’s Fifth Avenue swells belongs, and
waiters, and druggists, and bootblacks, and men in
hardware stores, and barkeepers ”
“What sort of work do you have to do?”
“To go places and find out things.”
“Why, then you’re a detective, Bubbles.”
A look of contempt swept into the
child’s face. “Detectives is in business,”
he said, “for what they can get out of it.
We’re in it because the house we live in is
dirty and full of rats, and we want to make it clean.”
The boy had raised his voice a little,
and Barbara found herself thrilling to it.
“But, Bubbles,” she objected,
“you can’t go to school and college and
keep up this work at the same time.”
“If I get education,”
said Bubbles, “it’s so’s to be fitter
for the work when I come out. But I can’t
give the work up till the job I’m on is finished.
It wouldn’t be square.”
“Can you tell me the job?”
“I’m one o’ them that’s helpin’
to get the old un where he’s wanted.”
“What old one?”
Barbara was very much taken aback. “The
man I made the bust of?”
“We can send him to the chair
any time. But what’s the use? He knows
things that we got to know before we pass him up.”
“But, Bubbles, how can you help?”
“Oh, I’m little.
I can get into little places. They wouldn’t
want me if I weren’t of use.”
“But I don’t like the idea of your running
down Blizzard, Bubbles.”
“Why not, Miss Barbara?
There’s no one in the city that’s needed
as much as him.”
“Aside from that, Bubbles I’m
willing to grant that there’s a reason
why I think you should have nothing to do with running
“It’s got to be an awful
good one, Miss Barbara not just good to
you, and maybe to me, but to men higher up.”
“I think it would be good enough
for the very highest up, Bubbles. Will you take
my word for it?”
“Yes, Miss Barbara. But
they won’t take my word for your word.”
“No,” she said, “of course not.”
She considered for a few moments.
Then she said: “Bubbles, I’m going
to tell you my reason. I hope I’m not doing
wrong. It’s a serious thing for me to tell
you and for you to know. There is very little
doubt but that Blizzard is your father.”
“Say that again, please,” said Bubbles.
“Blizzard is probably your father.”
Bubbles took the news very coolly.
His eyes sparkled; but he made no exclamations of
surprise or chagrin. Instead he said: “That
accounts for it.”
“Accounts for what?”
“Oncet he caught me in his house.
He said the next time he’d skin me alive.
If I hadn’t been his son he’d a skun me
that time. Do you get me, Miss Barbara?
He’s my father, sure. But ”
Now chagrin, wonder, and perplexity were written in
Bubbles’s face. “Why,” he said,
“it makes everything different. He never
done anything for me; but if he’s my father ”
“You can’t very well spy
on him, can you, Bubbles? You’ve got to
stand aside and leave all that to others.”
“I got to see the Head, Miss Barbara. I
got to ask him.”
“Who is the head, Bubbles?”
“I’d tell you in a minute,
Miss Barbara, only we’re all swore to tell no
one. But what he says goes with me. It’s
got to be that way, else we’d never get nowhere.”