While Wayland obeyed the Earl’s commands, his servants, by the artist’s direction, undressed their master, and placed him in bed.
“I warn you,” he said, “that the first operation of this medicine will be to produce a heavy sleep, during which time the chamber must be kept undisturbed, as the consequences may otherwise he fatal. I myself will watch by the Earl with any of the gentlemen of his chamber.”
“Let all leave the room, save Stanley and this good fellow,” said the Earl.
“And saving me also,” said Tressilian. “I too am deeply interested in the effects of this potion.”
“Be it so, good friend,” said the Earl. “And now for our experiment; but first call my secretary and chamberlain.”
“Bear witness,” he continued, when these officers arrived—“bear witness for me, gentlemen, that our honourable friend Tressilian is in no way responsible for the effects which this medicine may produce upon me, the taking it being my own free action and choice, in regard I believe it to be a remedy which God has furnished me by unexpected means to recover me of my present malady. Commend me to my noble and princely Mistress; and say that I live and die her true servant, and wish to all about her throne the same singleness of heart and will to serve her, with more ability to do so than hath been assigned to poor Thomas Ratcliffe.”
He then folded his hands, and seemed for a second or two absorbed in mental devotion, then took the potion in his hand, and, pausing, regarded Wayland with a look that seemed designed to penetrate his very soul, but which caused no anxiety or hesitation in the countenance or manner of the artist.
“Here is nothing to be feared,” said Sussex to Tressilian, and swallowed the medicine without further hesitation.
“I am now to pray your lordship,” said Wayland, “to dispose yourself to rest as commodiously as you can; and of you, gentlemen, to remain as still and mute as if you waited at your mother’s deathbed.”
The chamberlain and secretary then withdrew, giving orders that all doors should be bolted, and all noise in the house strictly prohibited. Several gentlemen were voluntary watchers in the hall, but none remained in the chamber of the sick Earl, save his groom of the chamber, the artist, and Tressilian.—Wayland Smith’s predictions were speedily accomplished, and a sleep fell upon the Earl, so deep and sound that they who watched his bedside began to fear that, in his weakened state, he might pass away without awakening from his lethargy. Wayland Smith himself appeared anxious, and felt the temples of the Earl slightly, from time to time, attending particularly to the state of his respiration, which was full and deep, but at the same time easy and uninterrupted.
You loggerheaded and
What, no attendance, no regard, no duty?
Where is the foolish knave I sent before?
—Taming of the shrew.