And so it came about that he knelt in the graying dawn of the Christmas morning, with his soul in thick darkness, lifting the prayer that in some form has shaped itself in all the ages on lips of trembling: “O God, if there be a God, have mercy on my soul, if I have a soul!”
THE BUBBLE, REPUTATION
It was not until late in the afternoon of Christmas Day that Ardea was able to slip away from her guests long enough to run over to apprise herself of the condition of things at the Gordon house.
Tom opened the door for her, and he made her come to the fire before he would answer her questions. Even then he sat glowering at the cheerful blaze as if he had forgotten her presence; and she was womanly enough, or amiable enough, to let him take his own time. When he began, it was seemingly at a great distance from matters present and pressing.
“Say, Ardea; do you believe in miracles?” he asked abruptly.
It was a large question to be answered offhand, but she broke the back of it with a simple, “Yes.”
“How do you account for them? Did God make His laws so they could be taken apart and put together again when some little human ant loses its way on a grass stalk or drops its grain of sugar?”
“I don’t know,” she confessed frankly. “I am not sure that I ever tried to account for them; I suppose I have swallowed them whole, as you say I have swallowed my religion.”
“Well, you believe in them, anyway,” he said, “and that makes it easier to hit what I’m aiming at. Do you reckon they stopped short in the Apostles’ time?”
“I don’t know that, either,” she admitted.
“You ought to know it, if you’re consistent,” he said, bluntly dogmatic. “Any answer to any prayer would be a miracle.”
“Would it? I never happened to think of it that way.”
“It certainly would. You chop a tree in two and it falls; that’s cause and effect. If you ask God to make it stand up after it’s cut in two, and it does stand, that’s a miracle.”
“You are the queerest boy,” she commented. “I ran over here just for a minute to ask how your mother is, and you won’t tell me.”
“I’m coming to that,” he rejoined gravely. “But I wanted to get this other thing straightened out first. Now tell me this: did you pray for my mother last night, like you said you would?”
Once again he was offending the guardian of the inner shrines, and her heightened color was not all the reflection of the ruddy firelight.
“You can be so barbarously personal when you try, Tom,” she protested. And then she added: “But I did.”
“Well, the miracle was wrought. Early this morning mother came to herself and asked for something to eat. Doctor Williams has been here, and now he tells us all the things he wouldn’t tell us before. It was some little clot in one of the veins or arteries of the brain, and nine times out of ten there is no hope.”