Save for the moan of a little wind under the door and the regular and laboured ticking of the old grandfather clock in the far corner there was silence in the room. The moan became a wailing shriek as the rush of wind came with sudden force against the house, dying again and mumbling as though its anger had gone and left only misery. But the fiercer draught up the wide chimney breathed new fire into the flame-split logs, whose tawny energy had gone long since towards the stars: with a rustling tinkle the embers subsided and a wan flame hovered like the ghost of their former blaze; rising in silence, it seemed without heat and without light, it sank again, and the tock-tock-tockle-tack! of the clock impressed itself upon the pain-dulled mind of John Maddison, sitting so still and afraid in the deep arm-chair.
Then something that had been a vague shadow for a long, long time on the hearthrug, rose up, yawned, and shook itself. With a pad-pad of feet it came to John Maddison, and stared at him in the dimness. His master stroked the soft ears of the spaniel, whose eyes became more worshipping than ever. When John Maddison ceased his mechanical action, the cold moist nose of the dog Fidelis was rubbed against his hand solely as indicating grateful thanks, and not as would be done by a creature without pedigree in an endeavour to canvass for more pleasure. Then his tail thumped on the floor, for his beloved master, so silent and fearful, had whispered that he was dear old boy.