None of these amazing phenomena struck him as at all interesting. Indeed, nothing struck him as worth noting. Not even the display of myriad shooting stars. It all seemed quite natural, and it all lasted for the merest breath of time.
Through the universe of varicolored lights and explosions, he was aware of a woman’s cry. And, somehow, this pierced the mist of his senses, and found its way to his heart. But only for an instant.
Then, instead of tumbling to earth, he felt himself sinking down, uncountable miles, through a cool darkness. The dark was comforting, after all that bothersome display of lights.
And, while he was still falling, he drifted into a dead sleep.
THE MOCKING BIRD
After centuries of unconsciousness, Gavin Brice began to return, bit by bit, to his senses.
The first thing he knew was that the myriad shooting stars in his head had changed somehow into a myriad shooting pains. He was in torment. And he was deathly sick.
His trained brain forced itself to a semblance of sanity, and he found himself piecing together vaguely the things that had happened to him. He could remember seeing Milo Standish strolling toward the veranda in the shaft of light from the window, then the black figure which detached itself from the shrubbery and sprang on the unheeding man, and his own attempt to turn aside the arm that wielded the knife.
But everything else was a blank.
Meanwhile, the countless shooting pains were merging into one intolerable ache. Brice had no desire to stir or even to open his eyes. The very thought of motion was abhorrent. The mere effort at thinking was painful. So he lay still.
Presently, he was aware of something that touched his head. And he wondered why the touch did not add to his hurt, but was soothing. Even a finger’s weight might have been expected to jar his battered skull.
But there was no jar to this touch. Rather was it cooling and of infinite comfort. And now he realized that it had been continuing for some time.
Again he roused his rebellious brain to action, and knew at last what the soothing touch must be. Some one was bathing his forehead with cool water. Some one with a lightly magnetic touch. Some one whose fingers held healing in their soft tips.
And, just above him, he could hear quick, light breathing, breathing that was almost a sob. His unseen nurse was taking her job not only seriously but compassionately. That was evident. It did not jibe with Gavin’s slight experience with trained nurses. Wherefore, it puzzled him.
But, perplexity seemed to hurt his brain as much as did the effort to piece together the shattered fragments of memory. So he forbore to follow that train of thought. And, again, he strove to banish mentality and to sink back into the merciful senselessness from which youth and an iron-and-whalebone constitution were fighting to rouse him.