For a little while he was prostrate, his heart seemed swept clean of all hope and feeling. Then his furious temper, the failing that, above every other, was his curse and bane, came to his aid and occupied it like the seven devils of Scripture, bringing in its train his re-awakened vanity, hatred, jealousy, and other maddening passions. It could not be true, there must be an explanation, and, of course, the explanation was that Foy had been so fortunate, or so cunning as to make advances to Elsa soon after she had swallowed the love philtre. Adrian, like most people in his day, was very superstitious and credulous. It never even occurred to him to doubt the almost universally accepted power and efficacy of this witch’s medicine, though even now he understood what a fool he was when, in his first outburst of rage, he told Elsa that he had trusted to such means to win her affections, instead of letting his own virtues and graces do their natural work.
Well, the mischief was done, the poison was swallowed, but—most poisons have their antidotes. Why was he lingering here? He must consult his friend, the Master, and at once.
Ten minutes later Adrian was at Black Meg’s house.
THE FRAY IN THE SHOT TOWER
The door was opened by Hague Simon, the bald-headed, great-paunched villain who lived with Black Meg. In answer to his visitor’s anxious inquiries the Butcher said, searching Adrian’s face with his pig-like eyes the while, that he could not tell for certain whether Meg was or was not at home. He rather thought that she was consulting the spirits with the Master, but they might have passed out without his knowing it, “for they had great gifts—great gifts,” and he wagged his fat head as he showed Adrian into the accustomed room.
It was an uncomfortable kind of chamber which, in some unexplained way, always gave Adrian the impression that people, or presences, were stirring in it whom he could not see. Also in this place there happened odd and unaccountable noises; creakings, and sighings which seemed to proceed from the walls and ceiling. Of course, such things were to be expected in a house where sojourned one of the great magicians of the day. Still he was not altogether sorry when the door opened and Black Meg entered, although some might have preferred the society of almost any ghost.