He was perfectly lucid now, and his voice natural. Dr. Selden, anticipating questions from him, answered them all; told him I had come to stay until he could go back to the old home with me, and of Mr. Hanson’s kind tender of hospitality to both Louis and myself, and settled every vexing question for the patient, who looked a world of thanks, and with “God be praised” on his lips passed again into unconsciousness, with Louis’ hand still passing over his head. I thought then if Louis should ask me to jump into the crater of Vesuvius for him I could do it out of sheer thankfulness; and I marvelled at him, the child of wealth and ease, only a boy in years, here in this miserable room a strong comforting man, seeming as perfectly at home as if always here. Then the thought of the artist came back to me and I leaned forward to ask Dr. Selden what it all meant.
“Why, little girl, your brother is a sculptor born. He has sat up nights working hard to accomplish his work, and has succeeded too well in his art, for unconsciously he has worn his nervous power threadbare. You will see one of his little pieces in Mr. Hanson’s library when you go down there. He has a friend here who—Ah!” said the doctor, turning at that very moment toward the slowly-opening door and grasping the hand of a tall stately man with dreamy eyes, who seemed to be looking the question, “May I come in.”
“Yes, yes; come in, professor,” whispered the doctor, and he introduced me to Hal’s teacher and friend, Wilmur Benton. Then offered him the only remaining chair.
The professor seated himself quietly, and raising his dreamy brown eyes said, “Will he live?”
The doctor smiled and bowed a positive “yes” as he said:
“The crisis is past, care and patience now.”
At this moment Hal awoke, and this time more naturally than before. He was quiet, looked upon us all with the clear light of reason in his eyes, and would have talked if it had been allowed. He wanted us all close to him, and smiled as he held tightly Louis’ hand in one of his, and with the other grasped that of Professor Benton, to lay both together in a silent introduction. I think Hal felt that Louis had saved his life, and he clung to his hand as a drowning man would to a life preserver. One sweet full hour passed over us, and the doctor made preparation to leave him, whispering to me:
“The young man you brought to your brother is giving him wonderful strength, and he must leave him only long enough to rest a little. The crisis is past and the victory won.”
And here began and ended a wonderful lesson in life.
A question and A problem.