“Jamie! Jamie!” cried Mabel, springing up and gazing at me, as if she thought I had gone mad.
Then there was an unwelcome shuffling of feet in the hall, the door was opened, and the professor entered with the doctor.
“Papa, papa!” exclaimed Mabel, turning to her father. “Do you know what Jamie says? He says he saw a gnome last night in the gorge, and that—”
“Yes, I did!” cried I, excitedly, and sprang up to seize my hat. “If nobody will believe me, I needn’t stay here any longer. And if you doubt what I have been saying, I can show you—”
“My dear sir,” said the doctor.
“My dear boy,” chimed in the professor, and seized me round the waist to prevent me from escaping.
“My dear Jamie,” implored Mabel, while the tears started to her eyes, “do keep quiet, do!”
The doctor and the professor now forced me back upon the sofa, and I had once more to resign myself to my fate.
“A most singular hallucination,” said the professor, turning his round, good-natured face to the doctor. “A moment ago he observed that I was not a parrot, which necessarily must have been suggested by a previous hallucination that I was a parrot.”
The doctor shook his head and looked grave.
“Possibly a very serious case,” said he, “a case of ——,” and he gave it a long Latin name, which I failed to catch. “It is well that I was called in time. We may still succeed in mastering the disease.”
“Too much study?” suggested the professor. “Restless ambition? Night labor—severe application?”
The doctor nodded and tried to look wise. Mabel burst into tears, and I myself, seeing her distress, could hardly refrain from weeping. And still I could not help thinking that it was very sweet to see Mabel’s tears flowing for my sake.
The doctor now sat down and wrote a number of curiously abbreviated Latin words for a prescription, and handed it to the professor, who folded it up and put it into his pocket-book.
Half an hour later, I lay in a soft bed with snowy-white curtains, in a cozy little room upstairs. The shades had been pulled down before the windows, a number of medicine bottles stood on a chair at my bedside, and I began to feel quite like an invalid—and all because I had said (what nobody could deny) that the professor was not a parrot.
I soon learned that the easiest way to recover my liberty was to offer no resistance, and to say nothing more about the gnome and the spectacles. Mabel came and sat by my bedside for a few hours every afternoon, and her father visited me regularly three times a day, felt my pulse and gave me a short lecture on moderation in study, on the evil effects of ambition, and on the dangerous tendencies of modern speculation.