Again the spasm crossed the Flopper’s face, a shuddering, muscular contortion—and from the shoulder rose his head.
Inward drew the ends of the line of paroxysm-stricken people—not far, not near to that hallowed group for something held them back; but inward gradually until the line, no longer straight, was half a circle, crescent shaped. Louder came that harrowing medley of sounds, its component parts voicing the uttermost depths of the soul of each separate individual man and woman there—some moaned in terror; some prayed, mumbling, still upon their knees; some laughed hoarsely, wildly, their senses for the moment gone; and some were dumb; and some shrieked their prayers in frenzy. Louder it grew—the end had come—that deformed thing stood erect, a perfect man—he turned his face toward them—he stretched out his arms—and they answered him with their wails, their sobs, their moans, their cries—they answered him in their terror, in their shaken senses, clutching at each other again—answered him from their knees, their voices hoarse—answered him with trembling lips and tongues that would not move.
And then suddenly, as though riven where they stood and kneeled and crouched, all movement ceased—and every heart stood still as ringing clear above all else, shocking all else to stunned, petrified silence, there came a cry—a cry in a young voice. It rang again and again, trembling with glad, new life, vibrant, a cry that seemed to thrill with chords of happiness and ecstasy immeasurable. Again it came, again, exultant, pulsing with a mighty joy—young Holmes had flung his crutch from him, and, with outstretched arms, was running toward the Patriarch across the lawn.
For an instant more that stunned, awed silence held. All eyes were riveted and fixed upon the scene—none looked at Madison—if any had they would have seen that his face had gone an ivory white.
“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.