“Blount believes,” said his comrade, laughing, “the devil woo’d Eve in rhyme, and that the mystic meaning of the Tree of Knowledge refers solely to the art of clashing rhymes and meting out hexameters.” [See Note 4. Sir Walter Raleigh.]
At this moment the Earl’s chamberlain entered, and informed Tressilian that his lord required to speak with him.
He found Lord Sussex dressed, but unbraced, and lying on his couch, and was shocked at the alteration disease had made in his person. The Earl received him with the most friendly cordiality, and inquired into the state of his courtship. Tressilian evaded his inquiries for a moment, and turning his discourse on the Earl’s own health, he discovered, to his surprise, that the symptoms of his disorder corresponded minutely with those which Wayland had predicated concerning it. He hesitated not, therefore, to communicate to Sussex the whole history of his attendant, and the pretensions he set up to cure the disorder under which he laboured. The Earl listened with incredulous attention until the name of Demetrius was mentioned, and then suddenly called to his secretary to bring him a certain casket which contained papers of importance. “Take out from thence,” he said, “the declaration of the rascal cook whom we had under examination, and look heedfully if the name of Demetrius be not there mentioned.”
The secretary turned to the passage at once, and read, “And said declarant, being examined, saith, That he remembers having made the sauce to the said sturgeon-fish, after eating of which the said noble Lord was taken ill; and he put the usual ingredients and condiments therein, namely—”
“Pass over his trash,” said the Earl, “and see whether he had not been supplied with his materials by a herbalist called Demetrius.”
“It is even so,” answered the secretary. “And he adds, he has not since seen the said Demetrius.”
“This accords with thy fellow’s story, Tressilian,” said the Earl; “call him hither.”
On being summoned to the Earl’s presence, Wayland Smith told his former tale with firmness and consistency.
“It may be,” said the Earl, “thou art sent by those who have begun this work, to end it for them; but bethink, if I miscarry under thy medicine, it may go hard with thee.”
“That were severe measure,” said Wayland, “since the issue of medicine, and the end of life, are in God’s disposal. But I will stand the risk. I have not lived so long under ground to be afraid of a grave.”
“Nay, if thou be’st so confident,” said the Earl of Sussex, “I will take the risk too, for the learned can do nothing for me. Tell me how this medicine is to be taken.”
“That will I do presently,” said Wayland; “but allow me to condition that, since I incur all the risk of this treatment, no other physician shall be permitted to interfere with it.”
“That is but fair,” replied the Earl; “and now prepare your drug.”