“I thought you were at the pest-house in Finsbury Fields,” said Leonard.
“I was taken there,” replied Blaize; “but the place was full, and they would not admit me, so I was sent to Saint Paul’s, where there was plenty of room. Yesterday I did pretty well, for I was in the great ward above, and one of the attendants obeyed my directions implicitly, and I am certain if they had been fully carried out, I should have got well. I will tell you what I did. As soon as I was placed on a pallet, and covered with blankets, I ordered a drink to be prepared of the inner bark of an ash-tree, green walnuts, scabious vervain, and saffron, boiled in two quarts of the strongest vinegar. Of this mixture I drank plentifully, and it soon produced a plentiful perspiration. I next had a hen—a live one, of course—stripped of the feathers, and brought to me. Its bill was held to the large blotch under my arm, and kept there till the fowl died from the noxious matter it drew forth. I next repeated the experiment with a pigeon, and derived the greatest benefit from it. The tumour had nearly subsided, and if I had been properly treated afterwards, I should now be in a fair way of recovery. But instead of nice strengthening chicken-broth, flavoured with succory and marigolds; or water-gruel, mixed with rosemary and winter-savory; or a panado, seasoned with verjuice or wood-sorrel; instead of swallowing large draughts of warm beer; or water boiled with carduus seeds; or a posset drink, made with sorrel, bugloss, and borage;—instead of these remedies, or any other, I was carried to this horrible place when I was asleep, and strapped to my pallet, as you perceive. Unloose me, if you can do nothing else.”
“That I will readily do,” replied Leonard; “but I must first procure a light.” With this, he groped his way among the close ranks of ponderous pillars, but though he proceeded with the utmost caution, he could not avoid coming in contact with the beds of some of the other patients, and disturbing them. At length he descried a glimmer of light issuing from a door which he knew to be that of the vestry, and which was standing slightly ajar. Opening it, he perceived a lamp burning on the table, and without stopping to look around him, seized it, and hurried back to the porter. Poor Blaize presented a lamentable, and yet grotesque appearance. His plump person was greatly reduced in bulk, and his round cheeks had become hollow and cadaverous. He was strapped, as he had stated, to the pallet, which in its turn was fastened to the adjoining pillar. A blanket was tightly swathed around him, and a large cloth was bound round his head in lieu of a nightcap. Leonard instantly set about releasing him, and had just unfastened the straps when he heard footsteps approaching, and looking up, perceived the stranger and Judith Malmayns advancing towards him.
THE SECOND PLAGUE-PIT.