Now the same Frank, but yet an entirely different Frank, sat beside him, and held his hand, and looked lovingly down into his face. Each of them had saved the other’s life, and their love for each other was greater than that of brothers. Mark had been told of how Frank had gone down into the “sink hole” after him, and stayed there in the cold, rushing water while he was drawn to the top, but he could remember nothing of it. He only remembered the star, and of praying that he might live to see the sunlight.
How happy they all were when the invalid took his first walk out-of-doors, leaning on Frank, and stopping many times to rest. The air was heavy with the scent of myriads of flowers, and the very birds seemed glad to see him, and sang their loudest and sweetest to welcome him.
After this he improved in strength rapidly, and was soon able to ride as far as the mill, and to float on the river in the canoe, with Frank to paddle it; but still his parents were very anxious about him. He was not their merry, light-hearted Mark of old. He never laughed now, but seemed always to be oppressed with some great dread. His white face wore a frightened look, and he would sit for hours with his mother as she sewed, saying little, but gazing wistfully at her, as though fearful that in some way he might lose her or be taken from her.
All this troubled his parents greatly, and many a consultation did they have as to what they should do for their boy. They decided that he needed an entire change of scene and occupation, but just how to obtain these for him they could not plan.
One day Mrs. Elmer sat down and wrote a long letter to her uncle, Christopher Bangs, telling him of their trouble, and asking him what they should do. To this letter came the following answer:
“Bangor, Maine, May 5, 188-.
“Dear Niece Ellen,—You did exactly the right thing, as you always do, in writing to me about Grandneph. Mark. Of course he needs a change of scene after spending a whole night hundreds of feet underground, fighting alligators, and naturally having a fever afterwards. Who wouldn’t? I would myself. A good thing’s good for a while, but there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing, no matter how good it is, and I rather guess Grandneph. Mark has had too much of Floridy, and it’ll do him good to leave it for a while. So just you bundle him up and send him along to me for a change. Tell him his old Grandunk Christmas has got some important business for him to look after, and can’t possibly get on without him more than a week or two longer. I shall expect a letter by return mail saying he has started.
“Give Grandunk Christmas’s love to Grandniece Ruth, and with respects to your husband, believe me to be, most truly, as ever,
Your affectionate uncle,
“P.S.—Don’t mind the expense. Send the boy C.O.D. I’ll settle all bills. C.B.”