When, late that night, I entered my bedroom again, how I blessed the lucky accident of
my six hours' sleep, after a night's watching at Mr. Keller's bedside!
If I had spoken to Doctor Dormann as I had positively resolved to speak, he would,
beyond all doubt, have forbidden the employment of Madame Fontaine's remedy; Mr.
Keller would have died; and the innocent woman who had saved his life would have been
suspected, perhaps even tried, on a charge of murdering him. I really trembled when I
looked back on the terrible consequences which must have followed, if I had succeeded
that morning in keeping myself awake.
The next day, the doses of the wonderful medicine were renewed at the regular intervals;
and the prescribed vegetable diet was carefully administered. On the day after, the patient
was so far advanced on the way to recovery, that the stopper of the dark-blue bottle was
permanently secured again under its leather guard. Mr. Engelman told me that nearly two
doses of it were still left at the bottom. He also mentioned, on my asking to look at it
again, that the widow had relieved him of the care of the bottle, and had carefully locked
it up in her own room.
Late on this day also, the patient being well-enough to leave his bed and to occupy the
armchair in his room, the inevitable disclosure took place; and Madame Fontaine stood
revealed in the character of the Good Samaritan who had saved Mr. Keller's life.
By Doctor Dormann's advice, those persons only were permitted to enter the bedroom
whose presence was absolutely necessary. Besides Madame Fontaine and the doctor
himself, Mr. Engelman and Minna were the other witnesses of the scene. Mr. Engelman
had his claim to be present as an old friend; and Minna was to be made useful, at her
mother's suggestion, as a means of gently preparing Mr. Keller's mind for the revelation
that was to come. Under these circumstances, I can only describe what took place, by
repeating the little narrative with which Minna favored me, after she had left the room.
"We arranged that I should wait downstairs," she said, "until I heard the bedroom bell
ring--and then I myself was to take up Mr. Keller's dinner of lentils and cream, and put it
on his table without saying a word."
"Exactly like a servant!" I exclaimed.
Gentle sweet-tempered Minna answered my foolish interruption with her customary
simplicity and good sense.
"Why not?" she asked. "Fritz's father may one day be my father; and I am happy to be of
the smallest use to him, whenever he wants me. Well, when I went in, I found him in his
chair, with the light let into the room, and with plenty of pillows to support him. Mr.
Engelman and the doctor were on either side of him; and poor dear mamma was standing
back in a corner behind the bed, where he could not see her. He looked up at me, when I
came in with my tray. 'Who's this?' he asked of Mr. Engelman--'is she a new servant?'