By the wheel-chair, Mrs. Thornton, her husband and Doc Madison were in earnest conversation—and around them was a mass of people. The crowd had divided into two, or, rather, was constantly coming and going between two points—young Holmes and Mrs. Thornton—and still the hysteria was upon men and women, still that wavering, moanlike sound floated over the lawn.

"I am stunned and stupified," Madison was saying, and his hand trembled visibly in its outflung gesture. "I am not, I am afraid, a man of deep sensibilities, but I cannot help feeling that I have been permitted, been chosen even, to witness this sight, a sight that will stay with me till I die, for some great, ulterior purpose. It's as though this place were hallowed, set apart; that here, if only one has faith, that man's miraculous power is boundless—that I should help someway. I—I'm afraid I don't explain myself well."

"I know what you mean," Mrs. Thornton returned eagerly. "It is what I was saying to my husband—to make this place known, to help to bring suffering people here."

Madison nodded silently.

"And if you, who have no personal cause for gratitude, feel like that, how much more should we who—who—oh, there are no words to tell it—my heart is too full"—Mrs. Thornton smiled through tears. "Robert, you said you would do anything."

"Yes, dear," Thornton answered gravely. "But what? We cannot do things in a moment. If money—"

Madison shook his head.

"It's beyond money," he said. "Money is only a secondary consideration. It's the needs of the place that are paramount. It's not so much the bringing of people here—they will hear of what has taken place and will come of their own accord, they will flock here in numbers as time goes on. But then—what? What can be done with them in this little village? For a time perhaps they could be accommodated—but after that they must be turned away."

"Turned away!" exclaimed Mrs. Thornton, in a hurt cry. "Turned away from hope—to bitterness and misery again! No, no, they must not I Why"—she grasped her husband's arm agitatedly—"why couldn't we buy land and put little houses upon it where they could stay?"

Madison leaned suddenly toward her.

"I believe you've hit on the idea, Mrs. Thornton," he said excitedly. "Why not? It would be the finest thing that was ever done in the world. But why not go further—this should not be a private enterprise with the burden on the few." He turned abruptly to Mr. Thornton. "What a monument from grateful hearts, what a tribute to that saintly soul a huge sanatorium, built and properly endowed, would be! And it is feasible—purely from the voluntary contributions of those who come here and have money—free as the air to the poor who are sick—free to all, for that matter—no one asked to give—but the poorest would gladly lay down their mites."

"Yes—oh, yes!" cried Mrs. Thornton raptly.

"Yes," admitted Mr. Thornton thoughtfully; "that might be done."

"There is no doubt of it," asserted Madison enthusiastically. "It needs but the initiative on the part of some one, on our part, and the rest will take care of itself. But we must, of course, have the endorsement of the Patriarch—why not go to the cottage now, at once, and talk it over?"

"Can we see him?" asked Mrs. Thornton wistfully. "Oh, I would like to kneel at his feet and pour out my gratitude. But see how all these people go no nearer than that row of trees, as though love or fear or reverence kept them from going further, as though it were almost forbidden, holy ground, as though they were held back by an invisible barrier in spite of themselves."

"True," said Madison; "and I sense that very thing myself—all men must sense it after what has taken place, all must feel the presence of a power too majestic, too full of awe for the mind to grasp. This faith"—he threw out his hands in an impotent gesture—"we can only accept it unquestioningly, as a mighty thing, an actual, living, existent thing, even if we cannot fully understand. But I feel that with what we have in mind we have a right to go there now—and we should take that little lad who was cured as well—and his parents, they should come too."

"And shall we see him?" Mrs. Thornton asked again tensely.

"Why, I do not know," Madison replied; "but at least we shall see his niece, Miss Vail, and it is with her in any case that we would have to discuss the plan, for the Patriarch, you know, is deaf and dumb and blind."

"You know them, don't you?" Thornton inquired.

Madison smiled, a little strangely, a little deprecatingly.

"If one can speak of 'knowing' such as they—yes," he answered. "When I came two weeks ago, the Patriarch was not wholly blind, and he was very kind to me. I learned to love the gentle soul of the man, and in a way, skeptical though I was, I felt his power—but I never realized until this afternoon how stupendous, how immeasurable it was."

"Let us go to the cottage, then," said Thornton. "Naida, dear, let me help you; it is quite a little distance and—"

She put out her hands in a happy, intimate way to hold him off.

"You can't realize it, Robert, can you? That dear, practical business head of yours makes it even harder for you than it is for me—and I can hardly realize it myself. But I am cured, dear, and I'm well and strong, and I don't need any help—why, Robert, I am going to help you now, instead of always being a source of worry and anxiety to you. Come, let us go."

"If you will walk slowly," suggested Madison, "I'll speak to the little Holmes boy and his parents, and bring them with us."

He moved away as he spoke—in the direction of a racking cough, that rose above the confused, murmuring, whispering, shaken voices on every hand; and in a little knot of people he was, for a moment, pressed close against Pale Face Harry.

"All right," whispered Pale Face Harry, "it's in your pocket now—but, say, no more runs like that for me, I'm all in. I thought sure I was cured myself—I hadn't coughed for—"

"Never mind about that now," said Madison rapidly. "I want the crowd kept away from the doors of the bank vault if they show any tendency to get too close, though I don't think that'll happen—they're too numbed and scared yet. But you know the game. Keep the awe going and the 'holy ground' signs up. Anybody that steps across that stretch between the trees and the cottage on and after the present date of writing does it with bowed head and his shoes off—get the idea?"

Pale Face Harry grinned.

"That's easy," he said. "Anything'd steer 'em now—they're like sheep. Leave it to me to keep the soft pedal on."

With a nod, Madison turned away, the tense expression on his face assumed again—and presently he was talking to Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, and patting the boy's head in a clumsy, overwrought way.

"I—I don't dar'st to go," said Mrs. Holmes, clutching wildly at the boy, still sobbing, still beyond control of herself.

"But Mrs. Thornton is going," said Madison gently, "and I know your gratitude is no less than hers—it couldn't be less with this little lad restored to you. I am sure you want to show it—don't you?"

"I think we'd orter go, ma," said Mr. Holmes uneasily.

The boy put his hand in Madison's.

"I want to go, mister," he choked. "Take me, mister, won't you?"

"Yes, I think we'd orter go," repeated Mr. Holmes. "Come along, ma," he said, taking his wife's arm.

It was a strange group—the Thorntons, rich, refined, to whom luxury was necessity; the Holmes, poor, uncultured, coarsely dressed; and Madison, who walked with set face, head lowered a little, his pace slowing perceptibly, humbly it seemed, the nearer he came to the cottage door. Neither Thornton, nor Holmes, nor Holmes' wife spoke. Mrs. Thornton's arm was flung around the boy's shoulder, and he kept looking up into her tearful face—there was a bond between them that, young as he was, held him in its thrall. Out across the lawn, dotted here and there, in knots and groups and little crowds, men and women stopped where they stood and watched, making no effort to follow—and some, at the renewed evidence of the miraculous, once more so vividly before their eyes, dropped again to their knees.

They reached the door, and Madison drew back a little and with the others waited silently after he had knocked. Then the door opened slowly, and Helena, slim and girlish in her simple white dress, appeared upon the threshold. Her great dark eyes travelled slowly from one to another, and then her face lighted with a gentle smile.

"Miss Vail," said Madison diffidently, "this is Mrs. Thornton and her husband, and the little lad, with his parents, who owes so much to the Patriarch, and they have come to—"

"To try and say a little of what is in their hearts"—Mrs. Thornton stepped impulsively forward and held out her hands to Helena—and then, breaking down suddenly, she began to sob, and the two were in each other's arms, Mrs. Thornton's head buried on Helena's shoulder, Helena's face lowered, her brown hair mingling with the gold of the other's, her arms about the frail form that shook convulsively.

Doc Madison shot a covert glance at the three behind him—Thornton, and Holmes, and Mrs. Holmes. Holmes, with downcast eyes, was shuffling awkwardly from foot to foot; Mrs. Holmes, her woman's instinct touched, was watching the scene with face aglow, her eyes moist anew; Thornton was staring fascinated at Helena, a sort of breathless, wondering admiration in his eyes.

Madison involuntarily followed Thornton's look; then stole a glance back at Thornton again—Thornton was still gazing intently at Helena.

"Say," observed Madison to himself, "the longer you live the more you learn, don't you? That's the kind of stuff Helena wears from now on, the clinging white with the bare throat effect and all that. Why, say, like that she's what the poets call radiantly divine—eh, what?"

Mrs. Thornton raised her head, and her hands creeping to Helena's face brushed the brown hair tenderly back from the white forehead.

"Oh, how good and sweet and pure you are!" she murmured brokenly.

A quick, sudden flush, passing to all but Madison as one of demure and startled modesty, swept in a crimson tide to Helena's face.

"You—you must not say that," she faltered, shaking her head. "I—you must not say that."

Mrs. Thornton smiled at her—and slipped her arm affectionately around Helena's waist.

"I could not help it, dear," she whispered. "It came spontaneously. And it makes me so happy to find you like this, and it makes it so much more a joy in doing what we have come to talk to you about."

"What you have come to talk to me about?"—Helena, steadying herself, repeated the words almost composedly.

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Thornton, an eagerness in her voice again. "But—may we come in? Is it—"

"All may come in here," Helena answered softly, "and"—her eyes met Thornton's fixed gaze and dropped quickly—"please come in," she ended abruptly.

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