It was the first time he had spoken since Eric and Kilmeny had rushed in, hand in hand, like two children intoxicated with joy and wonder, and gasped out their story together to him and Janet.
“Oh, no, it is very wonderful, but it is not a miracle,” said Eric. “David told me it might happen. I had no hope that it would. He could explain it all to you if he were here.”
Thomas Gordon shook his head. “I doubt if he could, Master—he, or any one else. It is near enough to a miracle for me. Let us thank God reverently and humbly that he has seen fit to remove his curse from the innocent. Your doctors may explain it as they like, lad, but I’m thinking they won’t get much nearer to it than that. It is awesome, that is what it is. Janet, woman, I feel as if I were in a dream. Can Kilmeny really speak?”
“Indeed I can, Uncle,” said Kilmeny, with a rapturous glance at Eric. “Oh, I don’t know how it came to me—I felt that I must speak—and I did. And it is so easy now—it seems to me as if I could always have done it.”
She spoke naturally and easily. The only difficulty which she seemed to experience was in the proper modulation of her voice. Occasionally she pitched it too high—again, too low. But it was evident that she would soon acquire perfect control of it. It was a beautiful voice—very clear and soft and musical.
“Oh, I am so glad that the first word I said was your name, dearest,” she murmured to Eric.
“What about Neil?” asked Thomas Gordon gravely, rousing himself with an effort from his abstraction of wonder. “What are we to do with him when he returns? In one way this is a sad business.”
Eric had almost forgotten about Neil in his overwhelming amazement and joy. The realization of his escape from sudden and violent death had not yet had any opportunity to take possession of his thoughts.
“We must forgive him, Mr. Gordon. I know how I should feel towards a man who took Kilmeny from me. It was an evil impulse to which he gave way in his suffering—and think of the good which has resulted from it.”
“That is true, Master, but it does not alter the terrible fact that the boy had murder in his heart,—that he would have killed you. An over-ruling Providence has saved him from the actual commission of the crime and brought good out of evil; but he is guilty in thought and purpose. And we have cared for him and instructed him as our own—with all his faults we have loved him! It is a hard thing, and I do not see what we are to do. We cannot act as if nothing had happened. We can never trust him again.”
But Neil Gordon solved the problem himself. When Eric returned that night he found old Robert Williamson in the pantry regaling himself with a lunch of bread and cheese after a trip to the station. Timothy sat on the dresser in black velvet state and gravely addressed himself to the disposal of various tid-bits that came his way.