Ah me! the flower and blossom of your house,
The wind hath blown away to other towers.
Joanna Baillie’s Family Legend.
The ancient seat of Lidcote Hall was situated near the village of the same name, and adjoined the wild and extensive forest of Exmoor, plentifully stocked with game, in which some ancient rights belonging to the Robsart family entitled Sir Hugh to pursue his favourite amusement of the chase. The old mansion was a low, venerable building, occupying a considerable space of ground, which was surrounded by a deep moat. The approach and drawbridge were defended by an octagonal tower, of ancient brickwork, but so clothed with ivy and other creepers that it was difficult to discover of what materials it was constructed. The angles of this tower were each decorated with a turret, whimsically various in form and in size, and, therefore, very unlike the monotonous stone pepperboxes which, in modern Gothic architecture, are employed for the same purpose. One of these turrets was square, and occupied as a clock-house. But the clock was now standing still; a circumstance peculiarly striking to Tressilian, because the good old knight, among other harmless peculiarities, had a fidgety anxiety about the exact measurement of time, very common to those who have a great deal of that commodity to dispose of, and find it lie heavy upon their hands — just as we see shopkeepers amuse themselves with taking an exact account of their stock at the time there is least demand for it.
The entrance to the courtyard of the old mansion lay through an archway, surmounted by the foresaid tower; but the drawbridge was down, and one leaf of the iron-studded folding-doors stood carelessly open. Tressilian hastily rode over the drawbridge, entered the court, and began to call loudly on the domestics by their names. For some time he was only answered by the echoes and the howling of the hounds, whose kennel lay at no great distance from the mansion, and was surrounded by the same moat. At length Will Badger, the old and favourite attendant of the knight, who acted alike as squire of his body and superintendent of his sports, made his appearance. The stout, weather-beaten forester showed great signs of joy when he recognized Tressilian.
“Lord love you,” he said, “Master Edmund, be it thou in flesh and fell? Then thou mayest do some good on Sir Hugh, for it passes the wit of man — that is, of mine own, and the curate’s, and Master Mumblazen’s — to do aught wi’un.”
“Is Sir Hugh then worse since I went away, Will?” demanded Tressilian.
“For worse in body — no; he is much better,” replied the domestic; “but he is clean mazed as it were — eats and drinks as he was wont — but sleeps not, or rather wakes not, for he is ever in a sort of twilight, that is neither sleeping nor waking. Dame Swineford thought it was like the dead palsy. But no, no, dame, said I, it is the heart, it is the heart.”
“Can ye not stir his mind to any pastimes?” said Tressilian.
“He is clean and quite off his sports,” said Will Badger; “hath neither touched backgammon or shovel-board, nor looked on the big book of harrowtry wi’ Master Mumblazen. I let the clock run down, thinking the missing the bell might somewhat move him — for you know, Master Edmund, he was particular in counting time — but he never said a word on’t, so I may e’en set the old chime a-towling again. I made bold to tread on Bungay’s tail too, and you know what a round rating that would ha’ cost me once a-day; but he minded the poor tyke’s whine no more than a madge howlet whooping down the chimney — so the case is beyond me.”
“Thou shalt tell me the rest within doors, Will. Meanwhile, let this person be ta’en to the buttery, and used with respect. He is a man of art.”
“White art or black art, I would,” said Will Badger, “that he had any art which could help us. — Here, Tom Butler, look to the man of art; — and see that he steals none of thy spoons, lad,” he added in a whisper to the butler, who showed himself at a low window, “I have known as honest a faced fellow have art enough to do that.”
He then ushered Tressilian into a low parlour, and went, at his desire, to see in what state his master was, lest the sudden return of his darling pupil and proposed son-inlaw should affect him too strongly. He returned immediately, and said that Sir Hugh was dozing in his elbow-chair, but that Master Mumblazen would acquaint Master Tressilian the instant he awaked.
“But it is chance if he knows you,” said the huntsman, “for he has forgotten the name of every hound in the pack. I thought, about a week since, he had gotten a favourable turn. ‘Saddle me old Sorrel,’ said he suddenly, after he had taken his usual night-draught out of the great silver grace-cup, ‘and take the hounds to Mount Hazelhurst tomorrow.’ Glad men were we all, and out we had him in the morning, and he rode to cover as usual, with never a word spoken but that the wind was south, and the scent would lie. But ere we had uncoupled’the hounds, he began to stare round him, like a man that wakes suddenly out of a dream — turns bridle, and walks back to Hall again, and leaves us to hunt at leisure by ourselves, if we listed.”
“You tell a heavy tale, Will,” replied Tressilian; “but God must help us — there is no aid in man.”
“Then you bring us no news of young Mistress Amy? But what need I ask — your brow tells the story. Ever I hoped that if any man could or would track her, it must be you. All’s over and lost now. But if ever I have that Varney within reach of a flight-shot, I will bestow a forked shaft on him; and that I swear by salt and bread.”
As he spoke, the door opened, and Master Mumblazen appeared — a withered, thin, elderly gentleman, with a cheek like a winter apple, and his grey hair partly concealed by a small, high hat, shaped like a cone, or rather like such a strawberry-basket as London fruiterers exhibit at their windows. He was too sententious a person to waste words on mere salutation; so, having welcomed Tressilian with a nod and a shake of the hand, he beckoned him to follow to Sir Hugh’s great chamber, which the good knight usually inhabited. Will Badger followed, unasked, anxious to see whether his master would be relieved from his state of apathy by the arrival of Tressilian.
In a long, low parlour, amply furnished with implements of the chase, and with silvan trophies, by a massive stone chimney, over which hung a sword and suit of armour somewhat obscured by neglect, sat Sir Hugh Robsart of Lidcote, a man of large size, which had been only kept within moderate compass by the constant use of violent exercise, It seemed to Tressilian that the lethargy, under which his old friend appeared to labour, had, even during his few weeks’ absence, added bulk to his person — at least it had obviously diminished the vivacity of his eye, which, as they entered, first followed Master Mumblazen slowly to a large oaken desk, on which a ponderous volume lay open, and then rested, as if in uncertainty, on the stranger who had entered along with him. The curate, a grey-headed clergyman, who had been a confessor in the days of Queen Mary, sat with a book in his hand in another recess in the apartment. He, too, signed a mournful greeting to Tressilian, and laid his book aside, to watch the effect his appearance should produce on the afflicted old man.
As Tressilian, his own eyes filling fast with tears, approached more and more nearly to the father of his betrothed bride, Sir Hugh’s intelligence seemed to revive. He sighed heavily, as one who awakens from a state of stupor; a slight convulsion passed over his features; he opened his arms without speaking a word, and, as Tressilian threw himself into them, he folded him to his bosom.
“There is something left to live for yet,” were the first words he uttered; and while he spoke, he gave vent to his feelings in a paroxysm of weeping, the tears chasing each other down his sunburnt cheeks and long white beard.
“I ne’er thought to have thanked God to see my master weep,” said Will Badger; “but now I do, though I am like to weep for company.”
“I will ask thee no questions,” said the old knight; “no questions — none, Edmund. Thou hast not found her — or so found her, that she were better lost.”
Tressilian was unable to reply otherwise than by putting his hands before his face.
“It is enough — it is enough. But do not thou weep for her, Edmund. I have cause to weep, for she was my daughter; thou hast cause to rejoice, that she did not become thy wife. — Great God! thou knowest best what is good for us. It was my nightly prayer that I should see Amy and Edmund wedded — had it been granted, it had now been gall added to bitterness.”
“Be comforted, my friend,” said the curate, addressing Sir Hugh, “it cannot be that the daughter of all our hopes and affections is the vile creature you would bespeak her.”
“Oh, no,” replied Sir Hugh impatiently, “I were wrong to name broadly the base thing she is become — there is some new court name for it, I warrant me. It is honour enough for the daughter of an old Devonshire clown to be the leman of a gay courtier — of Varney too — of Varney, whose grandsire was relieved by my father, when his fortune was broken, at the battle of — the battle of — where Richard was slain — out on my memory! — and I warrant none of you will help me —”
“The battle of Bosworth,” said Master Mumblazen —“stricken between Richard Crookback and Henry Tudor, grandsire of the Queen that now is, Primo Henrici Septimi; and in the year one thousand four hundred and eighty-five, Post Christum Natum.”
“Ay, even so,” said the old knight; “every child knows it. But my poor head forgets all it should remember, and remembers only what it would most willingly forget. My brain has been at fault, Tressilian, almost ever since thou hast been away, and even yet it hunts counter.”
“Your worship,” said the good clergyman, “had better retire to your apartment, and try to sleep for a little space. The physician left a composing draught; and our Great Physician has commanded us to use earthly means, that we may be strengthened to sustain the trials He sends us.”
“True, true, old friend,” said Sir Hugh; “and we will bear our trials manfully — we have lost but a woman. — See, Tressilian,”— he drew from his bosom a long ringlet of glossy hair — “see this lock! I tell thee, Edmund, the very night she disappeared, when she bid me good even, as she was wont, she hung about my neck, and fondled me more than usual; and I, like an old fool, held her by this lock, until she took her scissors, severed it, and left it in my hand — as all I was ever to see more of her!”
Tressilian was unable to reply, well judging what a complication of feelings must have crossed the bosom of the unhappy fugitive at that cruel moment. The clergyman was about to speak, but Sir Hugh interrupted him.
“I know what you would say, Master Curate — After all, it is but a lock of woman’s tresses; and by woman, shame, and sin, and death came into an innocent world. — And learned Master Mumblazen, too, can say scholarly things of their inferiority.”
“C’est L’Homme,” said Master Mumblazen, “qui se bast, et qui conseille.”
“True,” said Sir Hugh, “and we will bear us, therefore, like men who have both mettle and wisdom in us. — Tressilian, thou art as welcome as if thou hadst brought better news. But we have spoken too long dry-lipped. — Amy, fill a cup of wine to Edmund, and another to me.” Then instantly recollecting that he called upon her who could not hear, he shook his head, and said to the clergyman, “This grief is to my bewildered mind what the church of Lidcote is to our park: we may lose ourselves among the briers and thickets for a little space, but from the end of each avenue we see the old grey steeple and the grave of my forefathers. I would I were to travel that road tomorrow!”
Tressilian and the curate joined in urging the exhausted old man to lay himself to rest, and at length prevailed. Tressilian remained by his pillow till he saw that slumber at length sunk down on him, and then returned to consult with the curate what steps should be adopted in these unhappy circumstances.
They could not exclude from these deliberations Master Michael Mumblazen; and they admitted him the more readily, that besides what hopes they entertained from his sagacity, they knew him to be so great a friend to taciturnity, that there was no doubt of his keeping counsel. He was an old bachelor, of good family, but small fortune, and distantly related to the House of Robsart; in virtue of which connection, Lidcote Hall had been honoured with his residence for the last twenty years. His company was agreeable to Sir Hugh, chiefly on account of his profound learning, which, though it only related to heraldry and genealogy, with such scraps of history as connected themselves with these subjects, was precisely of a kind to captivate the good old knight; besides the convenience which he found in having a friend to appeal to when his own memory, as frequently happened, proved infirm and played him false concerning names and dates, which, and all similar deficiencies, Master Michael Mumblazen supplied with due brevity and discretion. And, indeed, in matters concerning the modern world, he often gave, in his enigmatical and heraldic phrase, advice which was well worth attending to, or, in Will Badger’s language, started the game while others beat the bush.
“We have had an unhappy time of it with the good knight, Master Edmund,” said the curate. “I have not suffered so much since I was torn away from my beloved flock, and compelled to abandon them to the Romish wolves.”
“That was in tertio mariae,” said Master Mumblazen.
“In the name of Heaven,” continued the curate, “tell us, has your time been better spent than ours, or have you any news of that unhappy maiden, who, being for so many years the principal joy of this broken-down house, is now proved our greatest unhappiness? Have you not at least discovered her place of residence?”
“I have,” replied Tressilian. “Know you Cumnor Place, near Oxford?”
“Surely,” said the clergyman; “it was a house of removal for the monks of Abingdon.”
“Whose arms,” said Master Michael, “I have seen over a stone chimney in the hall — a cross patonce betwixt four martlets.”
“There,” said Tressilian, “this unhappy maiden resides, in company with the villain Varney. But for a strange mishap, my sword had revenged all our injuries, as well as hers, on his worthless head.”
“Thank God, that kept thine hand from blood-guiltiness, rash young man!” answered the curate. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it. It were better study to free her from the villain’s nets of infamy.”
“They are called, in heraldry, Laquei Amoris, or Lacs d’Amour,” said Mumblazen.
“It is in that I require your aid, my friends,” said Tressilian. “I am resolved to accuse this villain, at the very foot of the throne, of falsehood, seduction, and breach of hospitable laws. The Queen shall hear me, though the Earl of Leicester, the villain’s patron, stood at her right hand.”
“Her Grace,” said the curate, “hath set a comely example of continence to her subjects, and will doubtless do justice on this inhospitable robber. But wert thou not better apply to the Earl of Leicester, in the first place, for justice on his servant? If he grants it, thou dost save the risk of making thyself a powerful adversary, which will certainly chance if, in the first instance, you accuse his master of the horse and prime favourite before the Queen.”
“My mind revolts from your counsel,” said Tressilian. “I cannot brook to plead my noble patron’s cause the unhappy Amy’s cause — before any one save my lawful Sovereign. Leicester, thou wilt say, is noble. Be it so; he is but a subject like ourselves, and I will not carry my plaint to him, if I can do better. Still, I will think on what thou hast said; but I must have your assistance to persuade the good Sir Hugh to make me his commissioner and fiduciary in this matter, for it is in his name I must speak, and not in my own. Since she is so far changed as to dote upon this empty profligate courtier, he shall at least do her the justice which is yet in his power.”
“Better she died caelebs and sine prole,” said Mumblazen, with more animation than he usually expressed, “than part, per pale, the noble coat of Robsart with that of such a miscreant!”
“If it be your object, as I cannot question,” said the clergyman, “to save, as much as is yet possible, the credit of this unhappy young woman, I repeat, you should apply, in the first instance, to the Earl of Leicester. He is as absolute in his household as the Queen in her kingdom, and if he expresses to Varney that such is his pleasure, her honour will not stand so publicly committed.”
“You are right, you are right!” said Tressilian eagerly, “and I thank you for pointing out what I overlooked in my haste. I little thought ever to have besought grace of Leicester; but I could kneel to the proud Dudley, if doing so could remove one shade of shame from this unhappy damsel. You will assist me then to procure the necessary powers from Sir Hugh Robsart?”
The curate assured him of his assistance, and the herald nodded assent.
“You must hold yourselves also in readiness to testify, in case you are called upon, the openhearted hospitality which our good patron exercised towards this deceitful traitor, and the solicitude with which he laboured to seduce his unhappy daughter.”
“At first,” said the clergyman, “she did not, as it seemed to me, much affect his company; but latterly I saw them often together.”
“Seiant in the parlour,” said Michael Mumblazen, “and passant in the garden.”
“I once came on them by chance,” said the priest, “in the South wood, in a spring evening. Varney was muffled in a russet cloak, so that I saw not his face. They separated hastily, as they heard me rustle amongst the leaves; and I observed she turned her head and looked long after him.”
“With neck reguardant,” said the herald. “And on the day of her flight, and that was on Saint Austen’s Eve, I saw Varney’s groom, attired in his liveries, hold his master’s horse and Mistress Amy’s palfrey, bridled and saddled proper, behind the wall of the churchyard,”
“And now is she found mewed up in his secret place of retirement,” said Tressilian. “The villain is taken in the manner, and I well wish he may deny his crime, that I may thrust conviction down his false throat! But I must prepare for my journey. Do you, gentlemen, dispose my patron to grant me such powers as are needful to act in his name.”
So saying, Tressilian left the room.
“He is too hot,” said the curate; “and I pray to God that He may grant him the patience to deal with Varney as is fitting.”
“Patience and Varney,” said Mumblazen, “is worse heraldry than metal upon metal. He is more false than a siren, more rapacious than a griffin, more poisonous than a wyvern, and more cruel than a lion rampant.”
“Yet I doubt much,” said the curate, “whether we can with propriety ask from Sir Hugh Robsart, being in his present condition, any deed deputing his paternal right in Mistress Amy to whomsoever —”
“Your reverence need not doubt that,” said Will Badger, who entered as he spoke, “for I will lay my life he is another man when he wakes than he has been these thirty days past.”
“Ay, Will,” said the curate, “hast thou then so much confidence in Doctor Diddleum’s draught?”
“Not a whit,” said Will, “because master ne’er tasted a drop on’t, seeing it was emptied out by the housemaid. But here’s a gentleman, who came attending on Master Tressilian, has given Sir Hugh a draught that is worth twenty of yon un. I have spoken cunningly with him, and a better farrier or one who hath a more just notion of horse and dog ailment I have never seen; and such a one would never be unjust to a Christian man.”
“A farrier! you saucy groom — and by whose authority, pray?” said the curate, rising in surprise and indignation; “or who will be warrant for this new physician?”
“For authority, an it like your reverence, he had mine; and for warrant, I trust I have not been five-and-twenty years in this house without having right to warrant the giving of a draught to beast or body — I who can gie a drench, and a ball, and bleed, or blister, if need, to my very self.”
The counsellors of the house of Robsart thought it meet to carry this information instantly to Tressilian, who as speedily summoned before him Wayland Smith, and demanded of him (in private, however) by what authority he had ventured to administer any medicine to Sir Hugh Robsart?
“Why,” replied the artist, “your worship cannot but remember that I told you I had made more progress into my master’s — I mean the learned Doctor Doboobie’s — mystery than he was willing to own; and indeed half of his quarrel and malice against me was that, besides that I got something too deep into his secrets, several discerning persons, and particularly a buxom young widow of Abingdon, preferred my prescriptions to his.”
“None of thy buffoonery, sir,” said Tressilian sternly. “If thou hast trifled with us — much more, if thou hast done aught that may prejudice Sir Hugh Robsart’s health, thou shalt find thy grave at the bottom of a tin-mine.”
“I know too little of the great Arcanum to convert the ore to gold,” said Wayland firmly. “But truce to your apprehensions, Master Tressilian. I understood the good knight’s case from what Master William Badger told me; and I hope I am able enough to administer a poor dose of mandragora, which, with the sleep that must needs follow, is all that Sir Hugh Robsart requires to settle his distraught brains.”
“I trust thou dealest fairly with me, Wayland?” said Tressilian.
“Most fairly and honestly, as the event shall show,” replied the artist. “What would it avail me to harm the poor old man for whom you are interested? — you, to whom I owe it that Gaffer Pinniewinks is not even now rending my flesh and sinews with his accursed pincers, and probing every mole in my body with his sharpened awl (a murrain on the hands which forged it!) in order to find out the witch’s mark? — I trust to yoke myself as a humble follower to your worship’s train, and I only wish to have my faith judged of by the result of the good knight’s slumbers.”
Wayland Smith was right in his prognostication. The sedative draught which his skill had prepared, and Will Badger’s confidence had administered, was attended with the most beneficial effects. The patient’s sleep was long and healthful, and the poor old knight awoke, humbled indeed in thought and weak in frame, yet a much better judge of whatever was subjected to his intellect than he had been for some time past. He resisted for a while the proposal made by his friends that Tressilian should undertake a journey to court, to attempt the recovery of his daughter, and the redress of her wrongs, in so far as they might yet be repaired. “Let her go,” he said; “she is but a hawk that goes down the wind; I would not bestow even a whistle to reclaim her.” But though he for some time maintained this argument, he was at length convinced it was his duty to take the part to which natural affection inclined him, and consent that such efforts as could yet be made should be used by Tressilian in behalf of his daughter. He subscribed, therefore, a warrant of attorney, such as the curate’s skill enabled him to draw up; for in those simple days the clergy were often the advisers of their flock in law as well as in gospel.
All matters were prepared for Tressilian’s second departure, within twenty-four hours after he had returned to Lidcote Hall; but one material circumstance had been forgotten, which was first called to the remembrance of Tressilian by Master Mumblazen. “You are going to court, Master Tressilian,” said he; “you will please remember that your blazonry must be Argent and Or — no other tinctures will pass current.” The remark was equally just and embarrassing. To prosecute a suit at court, ready money was as indispensable even in the golden days of Elizabeth as at any succeeding period; and it was a commodity little at the command of the inhabitants of Lidcote Hall. Tressilian was himself poor; the revenues of good Sir Hugh Robsart were consumed, and even anticipated, in his hospitable mode of living; and it was finally necessary that the herald who started the doubt should himself solve it. Master Michael Mumblazen did so by producing a bag of money, containing nearly three hundred pounds in gold and silver of various coinage, the savings of twenty years, which he now, without speaking a syllable upon the subject, dedicated to the service of the patron whose shelter and protection had given him the means of making this little hoard. Tressilian accepted it without affecting a moment’s hesitation, and a mutual grasp of the hand was all that passed betwixt them, to express the pleasure which the one felt in dedicating his all to such a purpose, and that which the other received from finding so material an obstacle to the success of his journey so suddenly removed, and in a manner so unexpected.
While Tressilian was making preparations for his departure early the ensuing morning, Wayland Smith desired to speak with him, and, expressing his hope that he had been pleased with the operation of his medicine in behalf of Sir Hugh Robsart, added his desire to accompany him to court. This was indeed what Tressilian himself had several times thought of; for the shrewdness, alertness of understanding, and variety of resource which this fellow had exhibited during the time they had travelled together, had made him sensible that his assistance might be of importance. But then Wayland was in danger from the grasp of law; and of this Tressilian reminded him, mentioning something, at the same time, of the pincers of Pinniewinks and the warrant of Master Justice Blindas. Wayland Smith laughed both to scorn.
“See you, sir!” said he, “I have changed my garb from that of a farrier to a serving-man; but were it still as it was, look at my moustaches. They now hang down; I will but turn them up, and dye them with a tincture that I know of, and the devil would scarce know me again.”
He accompanied these words with the appropriate action, and in less than a minute, by setting up, his moustaches and his hair, he seemed a different person from him that had but now entered the room. Still, however, Tressilian hesitated to accept his services, and the artist became proportionably urgent.
“I owe you life and limb,” he said, “and I would fain pay a part of the debt, especially as I know from Will Badger on what dangerous service your worship is bound. I do not, indeed, pretend to be what is called a man of mettle, one of those ruffling tear-cats who maintain their master’s quarrel with sword and buckler. Nay, I am even one of those who hold the end of a feast better than the beginning of a fray. But I know that I can serve your worship better, in such quest as yours, than any of these sword-and-dagger men, and that my head will be worth an hundred of their hands.”
Tressilian still hesitated. He knew not much of this strange fellow, and was doubtful how far he could repose in him the confidence necessary to render him a useful attendant upon the present emergency. Ere he had come to a determination, the trampling of a horse was heard in the courtyard, and Master Mumblazen and Will Badger both entered hastily into Tressilian’s chamber, speaking almost at the same moment.
“Here is a serving-man on the bonniest grey tit I ever see’d in my life,” said Will Badger, who got the start —“having on his arm a silver cognizance, being a fire-drake holding in his mouth a brickbat, under a coronet of an Earl’s degree,” said Master Mumblazen, “and bearing a letter sealed of the same.”
Tressilian took the letter, which was addressed “To the worshipful Master Edmund Tressilian, our loving kinsman — These — ride, ride, ride — for thy life, for thy life, for thy life. “He then opened it, and found the following contents:—
“Master Tressilian, Our Good Friend and Cousin,
“We are at present so ill at ease, and otherwise so unhappily circumstanced, that we are desirous to have around us those of our friends on whose loving-kindness we can most especially repose confidence; amongst whom we hold our good Master Tressilian one of the foremost and nearest, both in good will and good ability. We therefore pray you, with your most convenient speed, to repair to our poor lodging, at Sayes Court, near Deptford, where we will treat further with you of matters which we deem it not fit to commit unto writing. And so we bid you heartily farewell, being your loving kinsman to command,
“Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex.”
“Send up the messenger instantly, Will Badger,” said Tressilian; and as the man entered the room, he exclaimed, “Ah, Stevens, is it you? how does my good lord?”
“Ill, Master Tressilian,” was the messenger’s reply, “and having therefore the more need of good friends around him.”
“But what is my lord’s malady?” said Tressilian anxiously; I heard nothing of his being ill.”
“I know not, sir,” replied the man; “he is very ill at ease. The leeches are at a stand, and many of his household suspect foul practice-witchcraft, or worse.”
“What are the symptoms?” said Wayland Smith, stepping forward hastily.
“Anan?” said the messenger, not comprehending his meaning.
“What does he ail?” said Wayland; “where lies his disease?”
The man looked at Tressilian, as if to know whether he should answer these inquiries from a stranger, and receiving a sign in the affirmative, he hastily enumerated gradual loss of strength, nocturnal perspiration, and loss of appetite, faintness, etc.
“Joined,” said Wayland, “to a gnawing pain in the stomach, and a low fever?”
“Even so,” said the messenger, somewhat surprised.
“I know how the disease is caused,” said the artist, “and I know the cause. Your master has eaten of the manna of Saint Nicholas. I know the cure too — my master shall not say I studied in his laboratory for nothing.”
“How mean you?” said Tressilian, frowning; “we speak of one of the first nobles of England. Bethink you, this is no subject for buffoonery.”
“God forbid!” said Wayland Smith. “I say that I know this disease, and can cure him. Remember what I did for Sir Hugh Robsart,”
“We will set forth instantly,” said Tressilian. “God calls us.”
Accordingly, hastily mentioning this new motive for his instant departure, though without alluding to either the suspicions of Stevens, or the assurances of Wayland Smith, he took the kindest leave of Sir Hugh and the family at Lidcote Hall, who accompanied him with prayers and blessings, and, attended by Wayland and the Earl of Sussex’s domestic, travelled with the utmost speed towards London.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13