I left her, and returned home: it was late. I went to bed, and having disclosed as much to Timothy as I could safely venture to do, I fell fast asleep, but her figure and her voice haunted me in my dreams. At one time, she appeared before me in her painted, enamelled face, and then the mask fell off, and I fell at her feet to worship her extreme beauty; then her beauty would vanish, and she would appear an image of loathsomeness and deformity, and I felt suffocated with the atmosphere impregnated with the smell of liquor. I would wake and compose myself again, glad to be rid of the horrid dream, but again would she appear, with a hydra’s tail, like Sin in Milton’s Paradise Lost, wind herself round me, her beautiful face gradually changing into that of a skeleton. I cried out with terror, and awoke to sleep no more, and effectually cured by my dream of the penchant which I felt towards Miss Aramathea Judd.
My prescriptions very
effective and palatable, but I lose my
patient—The feud equal to that of the Montagues and the
Capulets—Results different—Mercutio comes off unhurt.
The next day I sent Timothy to purchase some highly rectified white brandy, which I coloured with a blue tincture, and added to it a small proportion of the essence of cinnamon, to disguise the smell; a dozen large vials, carefully tied up and sealed, were despatched to her abode. She now seldom called unless it was early in the morning; I made repeated visits to her house to receive money, but no longer to make love. One day I requested permission to be present at their meeting, and to this she gave immediate consent; indeed we were on the most intimate terms, and when she perceived that I no longer attempted to play the fool, I was permitted to remain for hours with her in conversation. She had, as she told me she intended, re-enamelled and painted her face, but knowing what beauty was concealed underneath, I no longer felt any disgust.
Timothy was very much pleased at his share of this arrangement, as he seldom brought her the medicine without pocketing half-a-crown.
For two or three months every thing went on very satisfactorily; but one evening, Timothy, who had been sent with the basket of vials for Miss Judd’s assistance, returned in great consternation, informing me that the house was empty. He had inquired of the neighbours, and from the accounts given, which were very contradictory, it appeared that the rival prophetess had marched up at the head of her proselytes the evening before, had obtained entrance, and that a desperate contention had been the result. That the police had been called in, and all parties had been lodged in the watch-house; that the whole affair was being investigated by the magistrates, and that it was said that Miss Judd and all her coadjutors would be sent to the Penitentiary. This was quite enough to frighten two boys like us; for days afterwards we trembled when people came into the shop, expecting to be summoned and imprisoned. Gradually, however, our fears were dismissed, but I never from that time heard any thing more of Miss Aramathea Judd.