"I am cured, Robert! Robert! Robert! See, I too am cured! Oh, Robert, what wondrous joy!"—Mrs. Thornton had left her wheel-chair and was standing beside her husband, standing alone, unaided for the first time in many months.

"Naida!"—it was a hoarse cry from Thornton. Then his hand passed heavily across his face as though to force his brain to coherent action, to lift the spell of what seemed a wild phantasm in all around him. "Naida!"—he sought now to control his voice—"Naida, get back into your chair again."

She laughed—a little hysterically—but in the laugh too was the uplift of a soul enraptured.

"But I am cured, Robert. See, dear, can't you understand?" She shook his arm. "See—I am cured. I can walk just as I could before I was ill. Oh, Robert, Robert! See! See!"—she went from him, walking a little, running a little—and laughing in a low, rippling, glorious laugh that was like the music of silver chimes ringing out in glad acclaim.

He stared at her, both hands now to his temples; then he turned to look strangely at the empty chair—but it was not empty. Miss Harvey, the nurse, on her knees, had flung herself across it and, with buried head, was sobbing unrestrainedly.

And now upon the lawn was a scene indescribable. The long line was broken. Men and women ran hither and thither, for the most part aimlessly, as though in some strange state of coma where the mind refused its functions. They talked and cried and shouted at each other in frenzy without knowing what they said—some with tears raining down their faces, others with blank countenances, no sign of emotion upon them other than in their wild, dilated eyes. Here and there they rushed without volition, their throat-noises rising above them, floating through the still air in a sound that no ear had ever heard before, weird, terrifying, without license, beyond control. Like mad creatures rushing against each other in the dark they were, stupified by a sight that was no mortal sight, a sight that blinded them mentally because it was no human sight.

Faith? Faith is a matter of degree, is it not?

Or is it at its full in power and efficacy at moments when hysteria in paroxysm is at its height? Who shall define faith? Who shall say what it is, and who shall place its limitations upon it?

Out in the center of the lawn young Holmes was in his mother's arms, the father pathetically trying to wrap both mother and child in his own. Around them, attracted in that strange uncertain way, the crowd constantly grew larger. Further out again, Helena was leading the Patriarch toward the cottage, the Flopper close behind her—the Patriarch walking with a slow tread, his head still turned a little in that listening attitude—and at a distance followed a straggling crowd. Then the cottage door was shut—and Helena, the Patriarch and the Flopper disappeared from view.

A dozen yards from the wheel-chair stood Madison, riveted to the spot, motionless save for a nervous twitching of the lips, his eyes, now upon the invalid who walked about, now on the little lad who had thrown away his crutch. Some one plucked at his sleeve, but Madison gave no heed—again his arm was pulled, and he turned to look into Pale Face Harry's face. The other's countenance was gray, the eyes full of a shrinking, terrified light.

"Doc, for God's sake, Doc, what's it mean?" whispered Pale Face Harry shakily, moistening his dry lips with his tongue. "Doc, this ain't no bunk—there's something in it."

The words seemed to rouse Madison—to leadership. He stared at Pale Face Harry for a moment, then a grim smile flickered across his face.

"Something in it!" he repeated with an ironic laugh—and suddenly grabbed Pale Face Harry's arm and shook him. "There's so much in it that I'm drunk with it, crazy with it—but I'm trying to make myself believe it isn't too good to be true. Get that? Get a grip on that, and hang on. Don't lose your nerve, Harry!"

"I guess I ain't much worse than you," mumbled Pale Face Harry. "You're whiter than a sheet."

"You're right," admitted Madison frankly. "I'm queer, but I'm coming around. Helena seems to be the only one who never lost her grip—she's got the Patriarch and the Flopper out of the way and under cover. Brace up, Harry—what I thought we'd get in the Roost that night is counterfeit money to what'll come from this." His eyes fastened on a figure that, separating itself from the group around young Holmes, now dashed frantically, hatless, and with dishevelled hair to Mr. and Mrs. Thornton. "Who's that, Harry? He came down on the train with you—know him?"

"He's only some newspaper guy or other," answered Pale Face Harry mechanically, his eyes still roving wildly over the scene around him.

"Oh, is that all!" ejaculated Madison with a little gasp. "I've already exhausted my thanks to Santa Claus and here he comes with another package done up in dinky pink paper tied with baby ribbon—and the gold platter it's on goes with it!"

"What d'ye mean?" asked Pale Face Harry heavily.

The newspaper man, the instinct of his calling now rising paramount to all else, had left the Thorntons and was tearing for the wagon track on his way to the station and the telegraph office like one possessed.

"By to-morrow morning," said Madison softly, "the missionaries will be explaining this to the Esquimaux at Oo-lou-lou, the near-invalids in California will be packing their trunks, likewise those in the languid shade of the Florida palms; they'll be listing it on the stock exchange in New York, and the breath of Eden will waft itself o'er plain and valley until—" he stopped suddenly, as Mrs. Thornton's voice reached him.

"I am going to walk back, Robert."

"Yes; but, Naida," Thornton protested, "you're not strong enough yet."

"Don't you understand?" she cried, half laughing, half sobbing. "There is no 'yet'—I am cured, dear—all cured. I'm well and strong. Try to understand, Robert—oh, I'm so happy, so—so thankful. I know it's miraculous, that it's almost impossible to believe—but try to understand."

"I am trying to," said Thornton numbly, watching her as she moved about. "And it seems as though I were in a dream—that this isn't real—that you're not real."

"It's not a dream," she said. "Oh, I'm so strong again. Why, Robert, it would be just as absurd for me to be wheeled back in that chair as for you to be—and besides I have no right to do that now. It would be a sacrilege, profaning the gratitude in my heart—I am cured and these poor people here must see that I am cured—Robert, we must leave that wheel-chair here that others, poor sufferers who will come now, will see and believe and be cured too. And, Robert, in some way, I do not know just how, we who are rich must do something to help people to get here."

"Naida," said Thornton, his voice low, shaken, "I feel as though I were in another world. I have seen what I can hardly make myself believe that I have seen. I can't explain—I am speaking, but my very voice seems strange to me. I feel as you do about helping others—how could I feel otherwise? What we could do I do not know as yet, either—but I will do anything. I was a scoffing fool—and you were cured before my eyes—a boy was cured—and that other, deformed as no creature was ever deformed before, was cured"—Thornton's lips quivered, and he hid his face in his hands.

"While the iron is hot—strike," murmured Madison. He gazed a moment longer at the group—Mrs. Thornton's hand was on her husband's shoulder now—then his eyes roved over the frenzied scenes still being enacted everywhere upon the lawn. "I wonder?" he muttered. The frown on his forehead cleared suddenly. "Of course!" said he to Pale Face Harry. "It's a cinch—it's as good as done!"

Pale Face Harry stared at him queerly.

"No, Harry," smiled Madison, "my pulse is quite normal now, thank you. Listen. This is where we call the first showdown on cold hands—and the dealer slips himself an ace." He drew a key from his pocket and put it in Pale Face Harry's hand. "That's the key of the small trunk in my room at the hotel—front room, right hand side of the hall. There's a check-book in the tray—and I'll give you twenty minutes to get back here with it. You'll find me somewhere around here, but you needn't let the whole earth in on the presentation—see? Now beat it!"

As Pale Face Harry hurried away, Madison, seemingly as aimless, as hysterical as the hundreds about him, moved here and there, but unostentatiously he kept nearing the upper end of the lawn, and, finally, hidden by the woodshed at the further end of the cottage, he slipped quickly around to the rear. Here the garden stretched almost to the edge of the sandy beach—not a soul was in sight—and the beat of the surf deadened the sound from the front lawn to little more than a low, indistinct murmur.

Quickly now, Madison stepped to where one of the old-fashioned windows, that swung inward from the center like double doors, was open, and, reaching in his hand, tapped sharply twice in succession with his knuckles on the pane. The sill was not quite on a level with his shoulders and he could see inside—it was Helena's room, and the door to the hall was open. Again he knocked. Came then the sound of footsteps—and from the hall the Flopper's face peered cautiously around the jamb of the door.

"Tell Helena to come here," called Madison softly.

The Flopper turned his head, called obediently, and in a dazed sort of way came himself to the window. His face was haggard, and he shivered as he licked his lips.

"I pulled de stunt," said the Flopper in a croaking voice, "but de kid—Doc—did youse see de kid? I got de shakes—it's like de whole of hell an' de other place was loose, an' Helena's gone batty, an'—pipe her, dere she is."

Into the room came Helena, her face like chalk—all color gone from even her lips. She clutched at the window beside the Flopper for support.

"I'm frightened," she whispered. "We've gone too far—it's—it's—John Madison, I'm frightened."

Madison did not speak for a moment—Madison was a consummate leader. He looked, smiling reassuringly, from one to the other—and then leaned soothingly, confidentially, in over the sill.

"I know how you feel—felt just the same myself for a bit," said he quietly. "But now look here, you've got to pull yourselves together—there's nothing to be afraid of. It's natural enough. It's faith, Helena—and that's what we were banking on—only not quite so hard. That kid and Mrs. Thornton annexed the real brand, that's all—and when the genuine thing is on tap I cross my fingers and yell for faith—there's nothing to stop it. And that's the way it's got both of you too, eh? Well, that only makes our game the safer and the more certain, doesn't it? So, come on now, pull yourselves together."

"In de last act when I was gettin' me head into joint," mumbled the Flopper, "was when de kid yelled—I can hear it yet, an'—"

"Forget it!" Madison broke in a little sharply; then, tactfully, his voice full of unbounded admiration: "You're an artist, Flopper—a wonder. You pulled the greatest act that was ever on the boards, and you pulled it as no other man on earth could have pulled it. Flopper, you make me feel humble when I look at you."

"Swipe me!" said the Flopper, brightening. "D'ye mean it, Doc—honest?"

"Mean it!" ejaculated Madison. "You're the whole thing, Flopper—you win. Come on now, Helena, buck up—we've got another little act due in about fifteen minutes—don't let a lot of yowling rubes get your goat. Why, say, we've got the whole show on the stampede—and we've got to rush our luck."

"Sure!" said the Flopper. "Dat's de way to talk—leave it to de Doc every time—. I ain't feazed half de way I was."

"I'm all right," said Helena a little tremulously. "What is it we're to do?"

"Good!" said Madison, smiling at her approvingly. "That sounds better. Now listen—and listen hard. From this minute this cottage is the Shrine. Get that?—Shrine. You've got to keep the hush falling here, and keep it falling all the time—a sort of holy, hallowed silence, understand? Lay it on thick—make the crowd stand back—make the guy that comes in here feel as though he ought to come in on his knees and as if he'd be struck dead if he didn't. Get the slow music and the low lights working. And keep the Patriarch well back of the drop except when he's on for a turn. Get me? He's no side-show with a barker in front of the tent—don't forget that for a minute. The harder it is to see the Patriarch and the less he's seen, the bigger he plays up when he's on. He goes to no man under any conditions, and the only man or woman that gets to him is through faith and supplication, and a double order of it at that. Keep the solemn, breathless tap turned on all the time."

Helena looked at him with a strange little smile quivering on her lips.

"It's a good thing I've got a sense of humor," she said slowly, "or else I think I'd—I'd—"

"No, you wouldn't," said Madison cheerfully. "But time's flying. You're going to have visitors in a few minutes, and here's where the Patriarch gets tucked away out of sight behind the veil for a starter, leaving his presence hovering and throbbing all around in the air—you stay with him, Flopper, in a back room somewhere and hold his hand. Where is he now?"

"In his armchair in the sitting-room," said Helena. "And he's still listening in that queer way he did out on the lawn. I think he knows in a little way what's happened."

"That's good," said Madison; "it'll make him happy. Well, lead him gently into retirement. I guess that's all—now hurry."

"Who is it that's coming?" interposed Helena quickly, as Madison started away from the window.

Madison grinned.

"Some friends of the Hopper's. Mr. and Mrs. Thankoffering—you'll like them immensely, Helena. The lady walks quite well now, and—"

"Walks!" exclaimed the Flopper, who evidently had not assimilated Madison's previous reference to Mrs. Thornton. "De lady dat I come wid in de private car—walks?"

"Of course," said Madison pleasantly.

"Cured? All cured?" gasped the Flopper.

"Of course," said Madison again—complacently.

"Say," said the Flopper, "say, I'm goin' dippy. Another one de same as de kid, Doc?"

"Same as the kid, Flopper—faith."

"Swipe me!" said the Flopper helplessly.

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