Now it did so happen that these resolves, earnest and sincere but somewhat vague, were soon put to the test; and, as often occurs, what he was called on to do first was that which he would rather have done last. Thus it was: about five o'clock in the afternoon Jane Hardie opened her eyes and looked about her.
It was a moment of intense anxiety. They all made signals, but held their breath. She smiled at sight of Mr. Hardie, and said, "Papa! dear papa!"
There was great joy: silent on the part of Mrs. Dodd and Julia; but Mr. Hardie, who saw in this a good omen, Heaven recognising his penitence, burst out: "She knows me; she speaks; she will live. How good God is! Yes, my darling child, it is your own father. You will be brave and get well, for my sake."
Jane did not seem to pay much heed to these words: she looked straight before her like one occupied with her own thought, and said distinctly and solemnly, "Papa--send for Alfred."
It fell on all three like a clap of thunder, those gentle but decided tones, those simple natural words.
Julia's eyes flashed into her mother's, and then sought the ground directly.
Mr. Hardie was the one to speak "Why for him, dear? Those who love you best are all here."
"For Heaven's sake, don't thwart her, sir," said the doctor, in alarm. "This is no time to refuse her anything in your power. Sometimes the very expectation of a beloved person coming keeps them alive; stimulates the powers."