Ten days had passed, bringing with them many changes. The snow was gone, and the warm, balmy airs of springtime had brought the buds upon the trees almost to leaf. It seemed indeed a new land, and one now full of charm and delight—the desolate, straggling hamlet, once so barren, frozen and hopeless looking, was now a quaint, alluring little village nestling picturesquely in its hollow, framed in green fields and majestic woods. Quiet, restful, peaceful it was—like a dream place, untroubled. Upon the farms about men plowed their furrows, calling to each other and to their horses; in the homes the doors and windows were thrown hospitably wide to the sweet, fresh, vernal airs, and the thrifty housewives were busy at their cleaning.

And there had been other changes, too. The ten days had found Madison more and more a constant visitor, and finally a most intimate one, at the Patriarch's cottage—while to the circle in the hotel office his voice no longer rose in even feeble protest, he was one of them. And, perhaps most vital change of all, the Patriarch was nearly blind—so nearly blind that conversation now was limited to but little more than a single word at a time upon the slate.

It was morning, in the Patriarch's sitting-room, and Madison was seated in his usual place beside the table facing the other. For upwards of an hour, it had taken him that long, he had been engaged, having decided that the time was ripe, in telling the Patriarch that his grand-niece had been found and that now it was only necessary to write and ask her to come to Needley.

The Patriarch's fine old face was aglow with pleasure as he finally understood. Letter writing was beyond him now, a thing of the past, so upon the slate he scrawled:

"You write."

Madison shook his head; and again with gentle patience explained that perhaps it would be better if the letter came from some one holding an official position in the village, rather than from one who, even in an abstract way, would be unknown to her—the postmaster, for instance.

And the Patriarch, patting Madison's sleeve gratefully, agreed.

Out in the garden behind the cottage, where for the first time in sixty seasons the work must be done by other hands, Hiram Higgins, the volunteer for the moment, was busy at his "spell."

Madison stepped to the door and called him in.

"Mr. Higgins," he said, "the Patriarch has just told me that he has a grand-niece living in New York, and he wants you to write to her and ask her to come to him."

"Be that so!" exclaimed Mr. Higgins, gazing earnestly at the Patriarch. "Well, 'tain't no surprise to me—always calc'lated he must have folks somewheres. An' I'm right glad now he needs 'em he's made up his mind to have 'em come. Wants me to write, does he?"

"He can't write any more himself," said Madison. "He seems to think that you, as the postmaster, as well as the town police official, are the proper person to do it—and I quite agree with him."

"So I be," declared Mr. Higgins importantly. "I'll write it on the town paper, an' comin' from the postmaster there won't be no doubt in her mind that it's any of them bunco games or the lurin' of young women away such as I've read about, for I reckon perhaps she ain't never heerd of him before—never knew him to write a letter, an' I calc'late to see most everything that goes out."

Mr. Higgins picked up the slate and wrote the word "grand-niece?" upon it in enormous characters; then, amplifying his interrogation by many gestures of his hands, deft from long practice, he held the slate up to the Patriarch.

The Patriarch nodded, and Hiram Higgins nodded back encouragingly.

"Where be her address?" Mr. Higgins inquired of Madison.

Madison stepped to the bookshelves out of view of the Patriarch around the fireplace, but in full view of Mr. Higgins, and, reaching down the Bible from the topmost shelf, extracted from inside its cover the aged, yellow slip of paper that he had deposited there when he had entered the cottage that morning, and on which was inscribed Helena's name and address in a stiff, old-fashioned, angular hand resembling the Patriarch's—an effect that Madison had stayed up half the night to produce.

"I guess this must be it," he said. "He said it was here—we'll make sure though"—and he handed it to the Patriarch.

Long and painfully the Patriarch studied it, anxiously deciphering the words that he had never seen before, anxious to know all and whatever this might tell him about his niece—then again he nodded his head and expressed his gratitude by, patting Madison's sleeve.

Madison's smile modestly disavowed any thanks, as he passed the slip to Mr. Higgins.

"Reckon that be it," Mr. Higgins agreed. "An' now, I guess I'll go right back to town an' write it—I allow that the sooner we get her down here the better. Folks'll be glad to hear this—the women folks was figurin' on takin' spells an' helpin' out in the house same as the men in the garden—'pears now there won't be no need of it."

Madison accompanied Mr. Higgins outside and helped him to harness up.

"Look here, Mr. Madison," said Hiram Higgins, as he made ready to go and climbed into the democrat, "would you allow that the Patriarch's goin' blind was goin' to interfere any with his power of curin' folks? It'll be a powerful blow to the town if it does."

"Why, of course not!" said Madison decisively. "Certainly not! Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if it enhanced his power—it's purely mental, you know. They say that the loss of any one or more of the senses generally tends to make the others only the more acute—it's the—er—law of compensation."

"Glad to hear you say so," said Mr. Higgins, with a sigh of relief, "'cause I got another letter to write 'sides this one for the Patriarch. It come last night, an' I was figurin' on speakin' to you about it." Mr. Higgins dropped the reins on the dashboard, and dove into first one pocket and then another. "Shucks!" said he disgustedly. "Now if I ain't gone an' left it to home after all. But I dunno as it makes much difference. It was from a fellow up your way by the name of Michael Coogan, an' was addressed to the postmaster. 'Pears he read a piece in the papers about the Patriarch which he sent along with the letter. Allows he's been ailin' quite a spell, though he don't say what's the matter with him, an' wants to know if what's in that piece is all gospel truth, 'cause if 'tis he's comin' down. That's why I'm right glad to have heerd you say what you just said. Bein' postmaster an' writin' 'fficially, I got to be conscientious and pretty partic'lar."

"Yes, of course—naturally," said Madison. "And what are you going to say to him?" "Why," returned Mr. Higgins, "there ain't no trouble about it now. Goin' to tell him that if the Patriarch can't help him there ain't nobody on earth can—thought of mentionin' your name, too."

"By all means," assented Madison cordially. "I feel like a new man since I've come here. I only wish more people knew about the Patriarch—it makes your heart ache to think of the suffering and sickness that people endure so hopelessly when there isn't any need of it."

"Yes, so it do," said Mr. Higgins. He picked up the reins. "So it do," he said heartily.

Madison watched the democrat as it started off behind the ambling horse—watched with a sort of fascination at the inebriate, sideways stagger of the wheels, a sort of wonder that the rear ones didn't shut up like a jack-knife under the body of the vehicle and the democrat promptly sit down on its tail-board; then, smiling, he walked back into the cottage. The Patriarch was still sitting in the armchair beside the table. Madison halted before the other.

"Well," said he confidentially to the Patriarch, "that's settled and I don't mind admitting that it's a load off my mind. I hate to think of what we'd have done without Hiram Higgins—in fact, it distresses me to think of it. Let us think of something else. Day after to-morrow Helena'll be along. Helena is the one and only—but you'll find that out for yourself. I don't mind telling you though that she wears a number two shoe, and you can guess the rest without any help from me. Then a day or so later the Flopper and Pale Face Harry'll be along—you'll enjoy them—things aren't going to be a bit slow from now on. I expect the Flopper will bring some friends with him, too, so's to make a nice little house-party—I wrote him about it, and—" Madison stopped abruptly.

The Patriarch, evidently catching a movement of Madison's lips, was gesticulating violently toward his ears, while he smiled half tolerantly, half protestingly.

Madison nodded quickly and smiled deprecatingly in return.

"By Jove!" he said apologetically. "I always keep forgetting that you can't hear. I was suggesting that perhaps you might like to go for a walk—Mr. Higgins says it's a fine day." Madison picked up the slate and in huge letters that sprawled from one end of the slate to the other wrote the word: "WALK?"

The Patriarch rose from his chair with a pleased expression, and Madison helped him solicitously to the door.

They passed out into the sunshine and headed for the beach—the Patriarch, erect and strong, guiding himself with his hand on Madison's arm.

Reaching the beach, the Patriarch paused and turned his face toward the ocean, while he drew in great breaths of the invigorating air—and Madison involuntarily stepped a little aside to look at the other critically, as one might seek a vantage ground from which to view a picture in all its variant lights and shades. Against the crested, breaking surf, the fume-sprayed ledges of rock, the Patriarch stood out a majestic, almost saintly figure—tall, stately, grand with the true grandeur of simplicity, simple in dress, simple in attitude and mien, patience, sweetness and trust illumining his face, his silver-crowned head thrown back.

"I can shut my eyes," said Madison softly, "and see the Flopper being cured right now—and the Flopper couldn't help it if he wanted to!"

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