The two women passed inside the cottage, Mrs. Thornton holding out her hand again to the little lad; while Holmes and his wife followed hesitantly, awed. In the rear, Thornton grasped Madison's arm suddenly.

"I never saw such a beautiful face," he whispered tensely. "It's wonderful."

"Yes," assented Madison. "But everything here seems full of a rare, strange beauty, a hallowed something—it lifts one beyond material things. You feel it—a great, calm solemnity all about you."

He closed the door softly behind him.

Mrs. Thornton's eyes swept questioningly, anxiously and a little timidly about the plain, simple, quiet room; and then she spoke, her voice unconsciously hushed:

"He—he is not here?"

Helena shook her head, as she led Mrs. Thornton to a chair.

"Not now," she said in a low voice. "The strain of this afternoon has left him very weary and very tired—much has gone out of him in response to the faith he felt but could not see."

"But he knows?" said Mrs. Thornton eagerly, reaching for Helena's hand. "He knows?"

"Yes," Helena replied quietly, "he knows. He always knows." She nodded gravely to the others. "Please sit down," she said.

Madison quietly took the chair nearest the table; Thornton one a little in front of Madison and nearer his wife and Helena, who were close by the big, open fireplace; the two Holmes sat down on the edges of chairs a little behind Madison; while young Holmes knelt, his arms in Mrs. Thornton's lap, his head turned a little sideways, his chin cupped in one hand, as he stared breathlessly around him.

It was the boy who broke the momentary silence.

"Ain't that other fellow here, neither—the fellow that was worse'n me?" he whispered.

Helena leaned toward him.

"Yes; he is here," she answered, smiling sweetly. "He is with the Patriarch." She lifted her head to include the others in her words. "It is very wonderful, his gratitude. He will not leave the Patriarch—he says he will not leave him ever, that all he has to give for the debt he owes is the life that the Patriarch gave back to him, and he will listen to nothing but that he should devote that life to the Patriarch's service."

"I'd like to, too," said young Holmes, with a quick flush on his face. "Can I, miss—can I?"

"Perhaps," said Helena gently. "Who knows what there may be that you can do?"

"Dear boy," said Mrs. Thornton, stroking the lad's head. She looked quickly at Helena. "We, too, are grateful, more than there are words to tell, and we, too, would like to show our gratitude. We are rich and money—"

"Money!" the word came in shocked, hurt interruption from Helena, as a signal flashed from Madison's eyes. "The Patriarch does not do these things for money—it would be a bitter grief to him to be misjudged in that way, even in thought. It is the love in his heart for the suffering ones, and his power goes out to all who ask it freely, with no thought of recompense or gain, and his joy and happiness is the joy and happiness of others."

"And right off the bat too!" said Madison admiringly to himself. "Now, wouldn't that get you! Say, could you beat it—could you beat it!"

"Oh, I did not mean that," said Mrs. Thornton almost piteously. "Please, please do not think so, for I know so well that money in a personal sense could have no place here, that it would indeed be sacrilege. It is in quite another way—Robert, Mr. Madison, you explain what we would like to do."

It was Madison who explained.

"It is Mrs. Thornton's idea, Miss Vail," he said earnestly; "and it is one that I know will realize the Patriarch's dearest wish—to extend his sphere of helpfulness to others, to reach out to all who are stricken and have faith to come. I remember his writing that on the slate, which he used for conversation before his sight was completely taken from him. I remember the words as though they were before me now: 'I have dreamed often of a wider field, of reaching out to help the thousands beyond this little town—it would be wondrous joy.'"

"Yes?" said Helena in a suppressed voice.

"In a way," Madison went on gravely, "his dream is already realized. What has happened here this afternoon will in a few hours be known to the whole civilized world, and there will be no room for incredulity or doubt—on whatever ground people see fit to base their belief, they must still believe; and, believing, they will come here in ever increasing numbers—but this little village is totally inadequate to accommodate them. At first, yes, as I said to Mrs. Thornton; but afterwards—no. Mrs. Thornton's idea, Mr. Thornton's idea and my own, if I may say so, is to build and endow a great sanatorium that, in consonance with the Patriarch's ideals, shall be free to all—and we feel that the money for this purpose will come gladly and spontaneously, as it so appropriately should come, from those who find joy and peace and health again at the Patriarch's hands."

Helena half rose from her chair, as she stole a veiled glance at Madison.

"It would be wonderful," she said, with a little catch in her voice. "And he—it would be the one thing in the world for him. But—but it would take a great deal of money."

"Yes," said Madison slowly; "at least half a million."

Thornton turned toward Madison.

"As much as that?" he asked tentatively.

"I should say so," replied Madison thoughtfully. "You see, it's the endowment after all that is the most important. Say that the building and equipment cost only a hundred thousand, that would only leave an income, from the other four hundred thousand at six per cent., of twenty-four thousand dollars—not enough in itself even, but it would be augmented of course by the contributions that would still go on."

Thornton nodded his head.

"That is so," he agreed; "but there is the time to consider—it would take a long time to raise that amount."

"No," said Madison. "A few months at the outside. Thornton"—he reached out and laid his hand impressively on the other's sleeve—we are not dealing with ordinary things here—we have witnessed this afternoon a sight that should teach us that. Here, in this very room, beside us now, your wife, that little boy, is evidence of power beyond anything we have ever known before. Have we not that same power to count on still? It would be an ingrate heart indeed that, owing all, returned nothing."

"Yes," murmured Mrs. Thornton. "Mr. Madison is right. I know it, I feel it—the money will come faster than we have any idea of."

Madison smiled at her quietly.

"It will come," he said. "People will give their money, their jewels, anything, and give joyfully—and until the amount in hand is large enough to warrant beginning operations, Miss Vail naturally will be its guardian."

"I?" said Helena hesitatingly. "I—I am only a girl, I would not know what to do."

"You would not have to do anything, Miss Vail," Madison informed her reassuringly. "When the time comes for advice, the making of plans and the carrying of them out, the brightest minds in this country will be offered freely and voluntarily, you will see."

"And meanwhile," inquired Thornton—he had been studying Helena's profile intently, "would you propose keeping the contributions here?"

"Of course!" said Madison. "And not only here, but openly displayed as an added incentive for others to give—if added incentive be needed. Here, for instance"—he rose as he spoke, went to the mantel over the fireplace and lifted down a quaint, japanned box, fashioned in the shape of a little chest, which he placed upon the table. "And here, too"—he crossed to the bookshelves in the alcove, and took down a very old, flexible-covered book. "Once," he said, "the Patriarch showed me this. It was a blank book originally, half of it is blank still; but in the front, in the Patriarch's own writing, is an essay he wrote in the years gone by on 'The Power of Faith'—what could be more fitting than that the remaining pages should be filled with a record of the contributions to that faith?" He laid the book on the table beside the little chest, and sat down again. "There is no display, no ornamentation, no attempt at anything of that kind—it is simplicity, those things serving which are first at hand—as it seems to me it should be—those who give record their names and gifts in this book—the little chest to hold the gifts is open, free to the inspection of all."

"But is that wise?" demurred Thornton. "So large a sum of money as must accumulate to be left openly about? Would it not be a temptation to some to steal? Might it not even endanger Miss Vail and the Patriarch himself—subject them, indeed, to attack?"

"I get your idea," said Madison to himself—while he gazed at Thornton in pained surprise; "but there'll never be more than the day's catch in the box at a time, though of course you don't know that. You see, we'll empty it every night, and start it off fresh every morning, with a trinket or two put back for bait. I'm glad you mentioned it though, it's a little detail I mustn't forget to speak to the Flopper about." But aloud he said, and there was a sort of shocked awe in his voice: "Steal—here! In this sacred place! No man would dare—the most hardened criminal would draw back. Why do even we who sit here speak as we have been speaking with hushed and lowered voices?—that very sense of a presence unseen around us, that hovers over us, is a mightier safeguard than the strongest bolts and locks, than the steel-barred vaults of any bank. It would seem indeed to profane our own faith even to entertain such an idea—to me this place is a solemn shrine, and there is only purity and faith and stillness here, the dwelling place of a power as compassionate as it is mighty."

Madison stopped abruptly—and a silence fell. Each seemed busy with their own thoughts. About them was quiet, stillness, peace—twilight was falling, and a soft, mellow light was in the room.

"No one would dare"—the words came from Mrs. Thornton in almost breathless corroboration, almost of their own accord it seemed, as though heavy upon her lay the solemnity of her surroundings.

Madison's hand went to his pocket—slowly he drew out his check-book and laid it upon the table.

"I am not a rich man"—his voice was very low, very earnest—"but I feel that this is something deeper, grander, bigger than anything the world perhaps has ever known before; something higher and above one's own self; it seems as though here were the chrysalis that, once developed to its perfect state, would sweep pain and sorrow from suffering humanity; it is as though a new, glad era had dawned for all mankind. I am glad to give and humbly proud to have a part in this." He took out his fountain pen, opened the check-book, and began to write.

Thornton leaned forward a little, watching him.

Silence fell again—there was no sound save the almost inaudible scratching of Madison's pen. Upon Mrs. Thornton's face was a happy, radiant smile; Helena's face was impassive, but in the dark eyes lurked a puzzled light; the two Holmes sat awkwardly, still upon the edges of their chairs, gazing at their son across the room, incredulously, as though they still could not believe—and occasionally Mrs. Holmes wiped her eyes.

Madison's pen moved on: "Pay to the order of Miss Helena Vail the sum of ten thousand dollars." He carefully inscribed the amount in numerals in the lower left-hand corner. "Honest," he confided to himself, as he signed the check, "I feel so philanthropic I could almost make myself believe I had this money in the bank." He tore the check from its stub, and, standing up, handed it to Helena. "I am not a rich man, Miss Vail, as I said," he smiled gravely, "but I can give this, and I give it with great joy in my heart."

Helena took the check, glanced at it, gasped a little, lifted her eyes, an instant's mocking glint in them, and veiled them quickly with her long lashes.

"No"—Madison's hand, palm up, went out protestingly—"no, do not thank me—it is little enough." He sat down again, drew the Patriarch's blank book toward him, and, on the line beneath the one where the Patriarch had ended his essay with the words, "such is the power of faith," wrote his name and set down the amount of his contribution after it.

"Ten thousand dollars!"—it was Mrs. Thornton speaking, as she took the check from Helena. She turned quickly to her husband. "Robert, have you your check-book here?"

Thornton shook his head.

"No, dear," he said. "I'm afraid I haven't."

"Well, it doesn't matter," said Mrs. Thornton brightly. "You can use one of Mr. Madison's checks and write the name of your own bank on it—you've often done that, you know."

"A suggestion," said Madison to himself, "for which I thank you, Mrs. Thornton—it sounds so much less crude coming from you than from me." But aloud he said courteously, "Take my pen, Mr. Thornton."

"Thank you," said Thornton, as Madison placed it in his hand.

Mrs. Thornton and her husband had their heads together now, and were whispering—Thornton with his eyes on Helena, who sat with lowered head, twirling Madison's check in her hands. Then Thornton drew the check-book toward him, scratched out the printed name of the bank that it bore, wrote in another, and went on filling out the check.

"Eeny-meeny-miny-mo," said Madison to himself. "The suspense is awful. How much does he raise the ante? Next to the miracle, this is the first real thrill I've had—I feel like an elevator starting down quick."

As Madison had done, Thornton tore out the check and handed it to Helena. Helena stared at it, lifted her eyes to Thornton, flushed—and looked down at the check again.

"Fifty thousand," she murmured breathlessly.

"Splendid!" cried Madison enthusiastically, rising from his chair and pushing the newly established record of contributions toward Thornton. "Splendid! There's sixty thousand of the five hundred already. Splendid!"

Young Holmes ran toward his parents.

"I want to give too, dad," he whispered. "I want to give too."

"Reckon so," said Holmes, getting up heavily. "Reckon so—an' I was a-goin' to. I ain't got much though," he added timorously, as his hand went into his pocket.

There was a little exclamation from Helena, and she moved a step forward as though to interpose. Madison looked at her quickly—and quietly stepped around the table, placing himself between her and Holmes; and, facing Holmes, leaned over the table from the far side toward the other.

"It's not the amount, Holmes," he said kindly. "In the broad, true sense the amount counts for nothing—all cannot give the same."

"Yes," said Holmes. "Reckon that's the way I feel." He counted the bills in his hand, and dropped them into the little japanned box; then scrawled his name in the book beneath Thornton's, adding the amount—eight dollars.

Madison looked around the group benignantly.

"I think they should know out there what we have done," he said, pointing toward the lawn. "Let us go and tell them, not in any set speech, but just simply—each of us speaking to a few—the few will tell others. Shall we go?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Thornton. "Yes; let us tell them." She turned to Helena and kissed her. "Try and come often to see me, dear—we shall be here now for a little while at least. Is it asking too much? Robert will bring you back and forth from the village. And perhaps, if I may, I will come out here to see you—may I?"

"I shall be very glad to do as my wife suggests," said Thornton, holding out his hand. "You will come, Miss Vail?"

"You are very good, both of you," Helena answered simply. She raised her eyes to Thornton—her hand was still in his. "Yes, I will try to come."

"Oh, break away!" muttered Madison impatiently—but silently. He stepped to the door and opened it. "Will you lead the way, Mrs. Thornton?" he said calmly.

Thornton and his wife passed out; and the Holmes, with clumsy, earnest words upon their lips to Helena, followed. Madison hung back—then stepped quickly to Helena.

"Tear up that check of mine so small you can't find the pieces, Helena," he said hurriedly; "and send Thornton's right off to any old bank you like in New York. Endorse it, and write them a note saying you wish to open an account. Enclose your signature, and tell them to mail back the bank-book, a check-book, deposit slips and all that. They'll know by the newspapers that Thornton's subscribed fifty thousand before they get the check, and they'll feel honored to be your depository. Do it to-night, understand?"

"Yes," said Helena, nodding her head. "I'll see to it all right." Then, a little perturbed: "But those poor Holmes and their eight dollars, Doc, I—"

"Now don't be greedy, Helena," said Madison cheerfully. "You mustn't expect everybody to hand out ten and fifty thousand, just because Thornton and I did—try and appreciate the little things of life too."

"Oh!" exclaimed Helena angrily. "Doc Madison, I'd like to—"

"Yes, all right, of course," interrupted Madison, grinning. "Good-by, that's all—I'm off—see, they're waiting for me"—and leaving Helena with an outraged little flush upon her cheek, he hurried through the door after the others.

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