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The Penalty Part 51

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Wilmot put back his head and laughed aloud. "That," said he, "is precisely the sort of advice that I used to give you."

Barbara blushed. "I'd like to forget that such a man ever came into my life in any way."

"You can't forget it, dear. You asked him in. You _would_ do it. And now you can never forget. And that's one of the penalties you have to pay for going against the people who love you most."

"Well," said she, "I'm willing to keep on paying--if the right people will keep on loving. Anyway, philanthropy--good works--are none of my business. My business, sir, is to make you a home. And with the exception of one person that I know about positively, the rest of the world can go hang."

[Ill.u.s.tration: "And when you think," said she, "that some women spend the best years of their lives making _statues_!"]

"That statement," said Wilmot, "sounds very pagan and profane to me and also very, very beautiful. But, who, may I ask, is this _other_ person?" His brows gathered a little jealously.

"This other person," said Barbara quietly, "is at the present moment a total stranger to us,"

Then she leaned forward until her head was on his breast. And she gave a little sigh which was fifty per cent comfort, and fifty per cent courage. She could hear his heart beating like a trip-hammer. Had he burst into immortal eloquence, his words would have been of less consequence in her ear.

"And when you think," said she, "that some women spend the best years of their lives making _statues_!"

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