I was walking up and down again very softly, when the door into the Bedchamber was noiselessly pulled open, and Mr. Chiffinch came down the stairs. That dreadful look of tightness and pain was gone from his face: he was almost smiling. He nodded at me, very cheerful.
“He is better. The King’s Majesty is much better,” he whispered. Then his face twitched with emotion; and I saw that he was very near crying. I was not far from it myself.
How the hours of that day went by I scarcely know at all. I went back to dine in my lodgings, and to counter-order all preparations for my going on the morrow, so soon as I knew that His Majesty was out of any immediate danger; for I could not find it in my heart to leave town until he was altogether recovered. In the afternoon, before going back to inquire how he was, I walked a good while in the court and the Privy Garden, though the day was very raw and cold.
Whitehall had been put as in a state of siege from the first moment that the King’s illness was known. The gates were closed to all but those who had lodgings in the Palace, and those who were allowed special entry by His Royal Highness. The sentries everywhere were greatly augmented; both horse and foot were placed at every entrance; and the greatest strictness was observed that no letter should pass out either to His Grace of Monmouth or to the Prince of Orange: even M. Barillon had but permission to send one letter to the French King as to His Majesty’s state. All this was to hinder any rising or invasion that might be made either within or without the kingdom. I was in the court when the couriers rode out with despatches to the Lords Lieutenant of the Counties with advices as to what to do should His Majesty die; and I was there too when the deputies came from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen and Lieutenants of the City to inquire for the King and to assure His Royal Highness of their loyalty and support. This was of the greatest satisfaction to the Duke; for I suppose that he did not feel very secure.
A little before supper I went round to Mr. Chiffinch’s; and, by the greatest good fortune found him on the point of returning to His Majesty’s lodgings. He gave me an excellent account as we went together.
“The physicians declare,” said he, “that His Majesty is out of danger: and bath permitted the Duke to tell the foreign ministers so. They have had another consultation on him; and have prescribed God knows what! Cowslip and Sal of Ammoniac, sneezing mixtures, plasters for his feet; and he is to have broth and ale to his supper. They are determined to catch hold of his disorder somehow, if not by one thing then by another. To tell the truth I think they know not at all what is the matter with him. They have taken near thirty ounces of blood from him too, to-day. If the King were not a giant for health he would have died of his remedies, I think!”