Then all went black.
Lane’s return to consciousness was an awakening into what seemed as unreal and unbelievable as any of his morbid dreams.
But he knew that his mind was clear. It did not take him a moment to realize from the feel of his body and the fact that he could not lift his hand that he had been prostrate a long time.
The room he lay in was strange to him. It had a neatness and cleanliness that spoke of a woman’s care. It had two small windows, one of which was open. Sunshine flooded in, and the twitter of swallows and hum of bees filled the air outside. Lane could scarcely believe his senses. A warm fragrance floated in. Spring! What struck Lane then most singularly was the fact of the silence. There were no city sounds. This was not the Iden home. Presently he heard soft footfalls downstairs, and a low voice, as of some one humming a tune. What then had happened?
As if in answer to his query there came from below a sound of heavy footfalls on a porch, the opening and closing of a door, a man’s cheery voice, and then steps on the stairs. The door opened and Doctor Bronson entered.
“Hello, Doc,” said Lane, in a very faint voice.
“Well, you son of a gun!” ejaculated the doctor, in delight. Then he called down the stairs. “Mel, come up here quick.”
Then came a low cry and a flying patter of light feet. Mel ran past the doctor into the room. To Lane she seemed to have grown along with the enchantments his old memories had invoked. With parted lips, eager-eyed, she flashed a look from Lane to Doctor Bronson and back again. Then she fell upon her knees by the bed.
“Do you know me?” she asked, her voice tremulous.
“Sure. You’re the wife—of a poor sick soldier—Daren Lane.”
“Oh, Doctor, he has come to,” cried Mel, in rapture.
“Fine. I’ve been expecting it every day,” said Doctor Bronson, rubbing his hands. “Now, Daren, you can listen all you want. But don’t try to talk. You’ve really been improving ever since we got you out here to the country. For a while I was worried about your mind. Lately, though, you showed signs of rationality. And now all’s O.K. In a few days we’ll have you sitting up.”
Doctor Bronson’s prophecy was more than fulfilled. From the hour of Lane’s return to consciousness, he made rapid improvement. Most of the time he slept and, upon awakening, he seemed to feel stronger. Lane had been ill often during the last eighteen months, but after this illness there was a difference, inasmuch as he began to make surprising strides toward recovery. Doctor Bronson was nonplussed, and elated. Mel seemed mute in her gratitude. Lane could have told them the reason for his improvement, but it was a secret he hid in his heart.
In less than a week he was up, walking round his little room, peering out of the windows.