“Oh, do you think he can make me speak?” she wrote eagerly.
“I don’t know, Kilmeny. I hope that he can, and I know he will do all that mortal skill can do. If he can remove your defect will you promise to marry me, dearest?”
She nodded. The grave little motion had the solemnity of a sacred promise.
“Yes,” she wrote, “when I can speak like other women I will marry you.”
CHAPTER XVI. DAVID BAKER’S OPINION
The next week David Baker came to Lindsay. He arrived in the afternoon when Eric was in school. When the latter came home he found that David had, in the space of an hour, captured Mrs. Williamson’s heart, wormed himself into the good graces of Timothy, and become hail-fellow-well-met with old Robert. But he looked curiously at Eric when the two young men found themselves alone in the upstairs room.
“Now, Eric, I want to know what all this is about. What scrape have you got into? You write me a letter, entreating me in the name of friendship to come to you at once. Accordingly I come post haste. You seem to be in excellent health yourself. Explain why you have inveigled me hither.”
“I want you to do me a service which only you can do, David,” said Eric quietly. “I didn’t care to go into the details by letter. I have met in Lindsay a young girl whom I have learned to love. I have asked her to marry me, but, although she cares for me, she refuses to do so because she is dumb. I wish you to examine her and find out the cause of her defect, and if it can be cured. She can hear perfectly and all her other faculties are entirely normal. In order that you may better understand the case I must tell you the main facts of her history.”
This Eric proceeded to do. David Baker listened with grave attention, his eyes fastened on his friend’s face. He did not betray the surprise and dismay he felt at learning that Eric had fallen in love with a dumb girl of doubtful antecedents; and the strange case enlisted his professional interest. When he had heard the whole story he thrust his hands into his pockets and strode up and down the room several times in silence. Finally he halted before Eric.
“So you have done what I foreboded all along you would do—left your common sense behind you when you went courting.”
“If I did,” said Eric quietly, “I took with me something better and nobler than common sense.”
David shrugged his shoulders.
“You’ll have hard work to convince me of that, Eric.”
“No, it will not be difficult at all. I have one argument that will convince you speedily—and that is Kilmeny Gordon herself. But we will not discuss the matter of my wisdom or lack of it just now. What I want to know is this—what do you think of the case as I have stated it to you?”
David frowned thoughtfully.
“I hardly know what to think. It is very curious and unusual, but it is not totally unprecedented. There have been cases on record where pre-natal influences have produced a like result. I cannot just now remember whether any were ever cured. Well, I’ll see if anything can be done for this girl. I cannot express any further opinion until I have examined her.”