* * * * *
Half an hour later—(in the meantime no one had come in to me, and I could only walk up and down and listen as well as I could)—I heard again the murmur of voices in the lobby, and steps coming swiftly down from the private closet. Again I was in time at the door to see who it was that went by; and it was the Duke of York, with my Lord Ailesbury who had gone to fetch him from St. James’. He went by me so near that I could hear his quick breathing from his run upstairs; and he had come in such a hurry that he had only one shoe on, and on the other foot a slipper. He went very near at a run up the lobby, and up a step or two, and into the great antechamber and so round to the Bedchamber; and I presently heard him enter it. Indeed I was very favourably placed for observing all that went on.
* * * * *
It was about eleven o’clock, as I suppose, when I first heard His Majesty’s voice; and the relief of it to me was extraordinary.
I had ventured up the stair or two that led from this room into the Bedchamber, and had, very delicately, opened the door a crack so as to hear more plainly; but I dared not look through for fear that I should be seen.
For a long while I had heard nothing but whispers; and once the yapping of a little dog, very sharp and startling, but the noise was stifled almost immediately, and the dog, I suppose, taken out at the other door. Once or twice too had come the sudden chiming of all the clocks that were in the Bedchamber.
I heard first a great groan from the bed, to which by now they had moved him from the chair, and then Ailesbury’s name spoken in a very broken voice. (My own heart beat so loud when I heard that, that I could scarce listen to what followed.)
“Yes, Sir,” came Ailesbury’s voice; and then a broken murmur again. (He was thanking him, I heard afterwards from Mr. Chiffinch, for his affection to him, and for having caused him to be bled so promptly by Mr. King, and for having sent Chiffinch to him to bring him back from his private closet.)
Presently he grew stronger; and I could hear what he said.
“I went there,” he said, “for the King’s Drops.... I felt very ailing when I rose.... I walked about there; but felt no better. I nearly fell from giddiness as I came down again.”
He spoke very slowly, but strongly enough; and he gave a great sigh at the end.
Presently he spoke again.
“Why, brother,” he said. “So there you are.”
I heard the Duke’s voice answer him, but so brokenly and confusedly that I could hear no words.
“No, no,” said His Majesty, “I do very well now.”
* * * * *
I came down the stairs again, shaking all over. I cannot say how affected I was to hear his voice again; and I think there could scarce be a man in the place any less affected. He was a man who compelled love in an extraordinary fashion. I felt that if he died I could bear no more at all.