“Send up the messenger instantly, Will Badger,” said Tressilian; and as the man entered the room, he exclaimed, “Ah, Stevens, is it you? how does my good lord?”
“Ill, Master Tressilian,” was the messenger’s reply, “and having therefore the more need of good friends around him.”
“But what is my lord’s malady?” said Tressilian anxiously; “I heard nothing of his being ill.”
“I know not, sir,” replied the man; “he is very ill at ease. The leeches are at a stand, and many of his household suspect foul practice-witchcraft, or worse.”
“What are the symptoms?” said Wayland Smith, stepping forward hastily.
“Anan?” said the messenger, not comprehending his meaning.
“What does he ail?” said Wayland; “where lies his disease?”
The man looked at Tressilian, as if to know whether he should answer these inquiries from a stranger, and receiving a sign in the affirmative, he hastily enumerated gradual loss of strength, nocturnal perspiration, and loss of appetite, faintness, etc.
“Joined,” said Wayland, “to a gnawing pain in the stomach, and a low fever?”
“Even so,” said the messenger, somewhat surprised.
“I know how the disease is caused,” said the artist, “and I know the cause. Your master has eaten of the manna of Saint Nicholas. I know the cure too—my master shall not say I studied in his laboratory for nothing.”
“How mean you?” said Tressilian, frowning; “we speak of one of the first nobles of England. Bethink you, this is no subject for buffoonery.”
“God forbid!” said Wayland Smith. “I say that I know this disease, and can cure him. Remember what I did for Sir Hugh Robsart.”
“We will set forth instantly,” said Tressilian. “God calls us.”
Accordingly, hastily mentioning this new motive for his instant departure, though without alluding to either the suspicions of Stevens, or the assurances of Wayland Smith, he took the kindest leave of Sir Hugh and the family at Lidcote Hall, who accompanied him with prayers and blessings, and, attended by Wayland and the Earl of Sussex’s domestic, travelled with the utmost speed towards London.
Ay, I know you have
Vitriol, sal-tartre, argaile, alkaly,
Cinoper: I know all.—This fellow, Captain,
Will come in time to be a great distiller,
And give a say (I will not say directly,
But very near) at the philosopher’s stone. The alchemist.