Basil burst among the solemn gathering, if you'll excuse the expression, like a cat among pigeons. He seized a shovel from the sexton and placed the blade against the join of coffin and lid, wrenching it open by main force. Inside lay not the small wrinkled body of the old grandmouse we had seen the night before, but the limp form of the missing young lady!
"Is she gone, Dawson? Is there a spark left? Surely we are not too late!"
I bent over her, paw to her throat, and it seemed a pulse still beat there beneath her delicate fur, but it was weak, and I could detect no breath. "Quickly, help me get her out of that coffin."
Basil gripped her footpaws, I her shoulders, and between us we brought her gently to the grass. Behind me someone squeaked imprecations upon us, but Inspector Vole and his men kept them back. I knelt at her head, bringing both her paws up towards me, forcing her lungs to more fully inflate. A count of four, and I lowered them again, pressing both her arms to her chest to aid in the exhalation. For long minutes, I counted the breaths, but chloroform and her suffocating ordeal had pushed her body to the brink what it could bear.
"Basil, come, take her wrists. It is a count of four, sixteen breaths per minute."
I reached for my bag, thankfully unmolested where I had dropped it in removing the coffin lid, and quickly removed a syringe. The third bottle from the left was ether, and from that I filled the syringe, grateful that my paws remained steady as I measured and tapped it free of fatal air bubbles. The injection performed, I pressed my fingers once more beneath her jawbone, and, two breaths later, was rewarded with a faint increase and steadying of her pulse.
"There is still hope, she may be coming back to us." I resumed charge of the artificial respiration, conscious of Basil's eyes on me.
Sweat beaded in my fur, and the minutes stretched onward. I'm afraid I may have snapped at Inspector Vole, but Basil was quick to draw him away.
At the last, however, her whiskers twitched, and my small mirror held before her mouth clouded over, and she breathed again on her own.
"Basil! We've done it, she's pulling out of her faint!" I sat back on my heels, feeling the slump of relief all the way down my tail.
Basil's hand was a reassuring support at my shoulder. "You've done it, old boy. This success is entirely yours."