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The Penalty   By: (1876-1953)

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Gouverneur Morris

Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy


[Illustration: "Are you in love with me now?" he asked wistfully]


If I should lose from my life that part of it of which you are a part, there would be but a skeleton left. Yet if you had played a larger part in my life I should have been so spoiled that there would be no living with me. And I'm spoiled enough, God knows!

In the Iliad you wrote for me, and I "drawed" for us both, 'twas Hector fixed Achilles. When I sat at your right hand and your sharp, swift knife went into the turkey, 'twas I that got the tit bits and the oyster. And all was right with the world then , I can tell you!

We have ridden together over old battlefields, and I have worn the epaulettes and the swords in the attic, and listened to tales of the great brother who died of the war, and whose bull terrier Jerry chased the cannon balls at Gettysburg. Oh, the cutlass captured from the Confederate ram, and the wooden canteen, and the Confederate money (in a frame)! I was the hunter that used to handle the Colt (with the ships engraved on the cylinder) that shot the buffalo from the rear platform of the train, and was stolen by a genuine thief. Is Jeff Davis's bible that he gave to the brother who with Major R. caused game chickens to fight for the edification of his captivity still in your upper bureau drawer?

Are the photographs that General Gilmore had taken of Charleston siege still in the bookcase with the glass doors? Or have they vanished like the child's footprint that I made for you when we were planting the the "plant," and I was going away?

Time has passed. Grand nephews are as young and hopeful as nephews used to be. I have written innumerable miserable grovelling tales. I dedicate this one to you; despairing at last of writing that masterpiece which should have been worthy of you.

But tell me this: Is there still a little corner of your heart that I may call mine? a corner into which no one else is allowed to put yes to put foot ? Oh, but I should be glad to know that!


BEDFORD, February, 1913.


"Are you in love with me now?" he asked wistfully (Frontispiece).

She wished that she might die, or, infinitely better, that she had 4 never been born.

She had on her work apron, but she was not working.

He praised, blamed, patronized, puffed his pipe, and dwelt with superiority on topics which are best left alone.

She took some coins from her purse and dropped them into the tin cup.

The young man knelt at the door by which he had entered and began to remove its ancient lock.

Harry, the workman, ... rose to his feet, and turned to Barbara with a certain quiet eagerness.

But Barbara and Wilmot Allen, well used to even larger and more stately rooms, chatted ... as two children.

She faced him, still scornful, but white now, and biting her lips.

In a few minutes Bubbles returned. "He's just sitting there with a hell of a face on him," he said, "and she's working like a dynamo".

Dr. Ferris frowned. "I'm not trying to interfere," he said. "You're old enough to know what's best for you".

"Some unknown person," said Barbara, "has formed the habit of sending me flowers".

In the dim light she looked wonderfully young and beautiful.

He turned with one foot on the sidewalk, and one in the cab.... "Here I wishes you salutations".

Wilmot Allen took her in to dinner, and looked much love at her, and talked much nonsense.

He saw her with the vase of jonquils in her hand ... and his stout heart failed him a little.

When Bubbles had trotted off, she dropped into her chair and cried.

The door opened, and Rose staggered into the room.

And in his soul the legless man was playing only for Barbara.

"'D afternoon, Mr. Lichtenstein," said Bubbles.

"I want me thumb bandaged".

She said in a small; surprised voice, "Why, it's finished".

In that instant the legless man overreached himself and fell heavily.

Barbara ... Continue reading book >>

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