“To the north of the viridarium,” replied the lady, “there are two rooms at your service.”
“Not there!” cried the leech. “I must have rooms with plenty of fresh air, looking out upon the river.”
“There are none but the handsome rooms in the visitor’s quarters, where my husband’s niece has hers, Sick persons of the family have often lain there, but for such humble folk—you understand?”
“No—I am deaf,” replied the physician.
“Oh, I know that,” laughed Neforis. “But those rooms are really just refurnished for exalted guests.”
“It would be hard to find any more exalted than such as these, sick unto death,” replied Philippus. “They are nearer to God in Heaven than you are; to your advantage I believe. Here, you people! Carry these poor souls up to the guests’ rooms.”
“It is impossible, impossible, impossible!” cried Orion, jumping up from his writing-table. He thought of what he had done as a misfortune, and not as a crime; he himself hardly knew how it had all come about. Yes, there must be demons, evil, spiteful demons—and it was they who had led him to so mad a deed.
Yesterday evening, after the buying of the hanging, he had yielded to his mother’s request that he should escort the widow Susannah home. At her house he had met her husband’s brother, a jovial old fellow named Chrysippus; and when the conversation turned on the tapestry, and the Mukaukas’ purpose of dedicating this work of art with all the gems worked into it, to the Church, the old man had clasped his hands, fully sharing Orion’s disapproval, and had exclaimed laughing “What, you the son, and is not even a part of the precious stones to fall to your share? Why Katharina? Just a little diamond, a tiny opal might well add to the earthly happiness of the young, though the old must lay up treasure in heaven.—Do not be a fool! The Church’s maw is full enough, and really a mouthful is your due.”
And then they drank a good deal of fine wine, till at last the older man had accompanied Orion home, to stretch his limbs in the cool night air. A litter was carried behind him for him to return in, and all the way he had continued to persuade the youth to induce his father not to fling the whole treasure into the jaws of the Church, but to spare him a few stones at least for a more pleasing use. They had laughed over it a good deal, and Orion in his heart had thought Chrysippus very right, and had remembered Heliodora, and her love of large, handsome gems, and the keepsake he owed her. But that neither his father nor his mother would remove a single stone, and that the whole hanging would be dedicated, was beyond a doubt; at the same time, some of this superfluous splendor was in fact his due as their son, and a prettier gift to Heliodora than the large emerald could not be imagined. Yes—and she should have it! How delighted she would be! He even thought of the chief idea for the verses to accompany the gift.