Mr. Neal moved to the door, with the letter in his hand. The German followed him
a few steps, opened his lips to plead for a longer delay, met the Scotchman's
inexorable eye, and drew back again in silence. The door closed and parted them,
without a word having passed on either side.
The doctor went back to the bed and whispered to the sinking man: "Let me call
him back; there is time to stop him yet!" It was useless. No answer came; nothing
showed that he heeded, or even heard. His eyes wandered from the child, rested
for a moment on his own struggling hand, and looked up entreatingly in the
compassionate face that bent over him. The doctor lifted the hand, paused,
followed the father's longing eyes back to the child, and, interpreting his last wish,
moved the hand gently toward the boy's head. The hand touched it, and trembled
violently. In another instant the trembling seized on the arm, and spread over the
whole upper part of the body. The face turned from pale to red, from red to
purple, from purple to pale again. Then the toiling hands lay still, and the shifting
color changed no more.
The window of the next room was open, when the doctor entered it from the death
chamber, with the child in his arms. He looked out as he passed by, and saw Mr.
Neal in the street below, slowly returning to the inn.
"Where is the letter?" he asked.
Three words sufficed for the Scotchman's answer.
"In the post."
THE END OF THE PROLOGUE.