With the rest our tourists hasten toward the young hero. A form flies past them with wild eyes and disheveled hair; a form that pounces upon the little chap still crying in fright, and presses him convulsively to her breast.
That is the mother of the child.
They rush to the spot, some to congratulate the youth who slew the dog, others to gaze upon the horrible spectacle the animal presents as he lies there devoid of life.
Lady Ruth comes with the rest, and upon her fair face and in her sunny eyes can be seen a warmth of keenest admiration, such as poor Blunt failed to receive when he leaned far over the dizzy precipice to secure the flower Miss Caprice desired.
“Oh, doctor, how noble of you! I shall never forgive myself for the foolish blunder I made. See! these people look upon you as a hero, for you risked your life for a child of Malta. I am proud to be known as your friend.”
Her looks as well as her words are enough to send any man into the seventh heaven of delight.
John Craig is very white; a set look is upon his face, but he smiles a little.
“I am glad the little fellow was not touched.”
“And you?” she gasps, a sudden fear arising.
He slowly unwinds the coat which was thrust into the mad dog’s mouth, and then rolls up his shirt-sleeve, to disclose to her horrified eyes the blue imprint of two fangs in the muscular part of his forearm.
Saved by fire.
She looks up into his eyes; there is a set expression to be seen there, but his face is no whiter than before, although it must be a terrible shock to any man to see the imprint of a mad dog’s teeth in the flesh of his arm.
“Oh, it has happened, the worst that could come about! What will you do, doctor?”
He is a man of medicine, and he knows full well what such a wound means.
“There is only one thing to be done. Excuse me for a minute or two, Lady Ruth.”
He springs away from her side, and, turning with surprise, she sees him dart into the smithy of a worker in iron, just down the road a bit.
“Let us follow him!” says Philander.
“Poor, poor boy!” remarks Aunt Gwen.
“Oh, aunt! do you believe he will go mad?” gasps the younger lady, in a trembling voice.
“I am afraid; I’ve known of cases that happened like this. One thing’s in his favor.”
“He wasn’t bit in the face, or on the hand.”
“How does that matter?” demands Sharpe.
She gives him a look of scorn.
Then, ignoring her spouse, she says, as if continuing her speech to Lady Ruth:
“The dog’s teeth went through several thicknesses of woolen cloth before entering the skin. The fabric very probably absorbed the poison. A rattlesnake’s fangs are a different thing; they cut through the cloth and the poison is then injected from the hollow teeth or fangs.”