The old patient folded her thin, blue-veined hands tightly for a moment, and twisted them spasmodically together; then suddenly she fixed her sharp, gray eyes anxiously on the young man’s face, and he saw that she was deeply moved, for her lower lip was twitching.

“I have always felt that you are the one young man whom I could trust—absolutely trust,” she said, falteringly. “Physicians are supposed to keep certain matters to themselves, anyway, but even aside from that, Wynn, it is hard to keep from speaking to you in a familiar way, having seen you grow up from babyhood right under my eyes, so I hope you will forgive me if—”

“Oh, I wouldn’t have you quit calling me that for the world!” Dearing flushed deeply and laughed. “I haven’t grown a full beard yet to make me look older and wiser than I am, as many young sawbones do. I hope I’ll always be simply Wynn Dearing to you, Mrs. Barry.”

She looked as admiringly and as proudly as a mother might at the strong, smooth-shaved face, with its merry eyes of brown, firm chin and mouth, and shock of thick, dark hair, and at the tall, muscular frame and limbs in the neatly cut suit of brown.

“Yes, I can trust you,” she muttered, her voice growing husky, “and it seems to me if I don’t confide in some one, I may as well give up.”

“Why, what is the matter, Mrs. Barry?” Dearing inquired, now quite grave.

“Oh, it is about Dora!” The old woman sighed. “Wynn, I may as well confess it. My sickness is partly due to worry over her. It is not because she is unwell either. It is something else. I am afraid she has some—some secret trouble. You must not show that you suspect anything—that would never do; but all is not as it should be with her. Naturally she has as happy a disposition as any girl I ever knew. Her art pupils adore her, and up to quite recently she used to laugh and joke with them constantly; but she has altered—strangely altered. I catch her sitting by herself at times with the saddest, most woebegone expression on her face. When I try to worm it out of her, she attempts to laugh it off; but she can’t keep up the pretense, and it is not long before she begins to droop again. Her room is there, you see; and as the partition is thin, I often wake up in the dead of night and hear her cautiously tiptoeing over the floor—first to the window and then back to her bed, as though she were unable to sleep.”

“That is bad,” Dearing said, sympathetically, as Mrs. Barry paused and, covering her wrinkled face with her hands, remained silent for a moment.

earthly right to do such a thing, but I thought, you see, that it might help me decide whether I am right in something I fear. Is it true that—that your uncle has forbidden Fred Walton to visit your sister Margaret?”