“Millennium is the reign of the Saints,” said Foster, somewhat doubtfully.
“Say it is the reign of the Sages, my son,” answered Alasco; “or rather the reign of Wisdom itself.”
“I touched on the question with Master Holdforth last exercising night,” said Foster; “but he says your doctrine is heterodox, and a damnable and false exposition.”
“He is in the bonds of ignorance, my son,” answered Alasco, “and as yet burning bricks in Egypt; or, at best, wandering in the dry desert of Sinai. Thou didst ill to speak to such a man of such matters. I will, however, give thee proof, and that shortly, which I will defy that peevish divine to confute, though he should strive with me as the magicians strove with Moses before King Pharaoh. I will do projection in thy presence, my son,—in thy very presence—and thine eyes shall witness the truth.”
“Stick to that, learned sage,” said Varney, who at this moment entered the apartment; “if he refuse the testimony of thy tongue, yet how shall he deny that of his own eyes?”
“Varney!” said the adept—“Varney already returned! Hast thou—” he stopped short.
“Have I done mine errand, thou wouldst say?” replied Varney. “I have! And thou,” he added, showing more symptoms of interest than he had hitherto exhibited, “art thou sure thou hast poured forth neither more nor less than the just measure?”
“Ay,” replied the alchemist, “as sure as men can be in these nice proportions, for there is diversity of constitutions.”
“Nay, then,” said Varney, “I fear nothing. I know thou wilt not go a step farther to the devil than thou art justly considered for—thou wert paid to create illness, and wouldst esteem it thriftless prodigality to do murder at the same price. Come, let us each to our chamber we shall see the event to-morrow.”
“What didst thou do to make her swallow it?” said Foster, shuddering.
“Nothing,” answered Varney, “but looked on her with that aspect which governs madmen, women, and children. They told me in St. Luke’s Hospital that I have the right look for overpowering a refractory patient. The keepers made me their compliments on’t; so I know how to win my bread when my court-favour fails me.”
“And art thou not afraid,” said Foster, “lest the dose be disproportioned?”
“If so,” replied Varney, “she will but sleep the sounder, and the fear of that shall not break my rest. Good night, my masters.”
Anthony Foster groaned heavily, and lifted up his hands and eyes. The alchemist intimated his purpose to continue some experiment of high import during the greater part of the night, and the others separated to their places of repose.
Now God be good to me
in this wild pilgrimage!
All hope in human aid I cast behind me.
Oh, who would be a woman?—who that fool,
A weeping, pining, faithful, loving woman?
She hath hard measure still where she hopes kindest,
And all her bounties only make ingrates. Love’s pilgrimage.