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rather to convey thy messages through the thumb-hole of the latch ? Seest thou not that I am engaged in sore and perplexing travail of spirit, and am not in the mood for thy brainless intrusions ? Go to the scullery, wench, and study better how to deport thyself for the future!'
'Marry, master,' she replied, and indeed I would keep to the scullery all my days, for all the coming hither; but one below, in a red cloak, will not depart till he has word with your reverence.
Dr. Dee sprang to his feet in a rage. 'Satan seize the girl !' he cried, (whereat she, treinbling, cowered before him, glancing in terror from crocodile to skeleton,) 'Satan seize the girl! Have I not told thee scores of times, that after the eleventh hour of the morning no mortal presence, save only a messenger from Majesty itself, must cross this threshold ? Have I not to study, dolt and stupid that thou art, and still to search and labor for the gold that keeps us ? Even now, when you entered, I was busy with a matter, whose corolarium
* Ah! that's it, master,' cried the girl ; “the stranger said to me, “Tell thy master that one comes to him on business of moment concerning his own welfare, and that of the matter or event whose corolarium he is now studying!'
“Said he so, wench ?' cried the Doctor, a gleam of rare joy and hope glancing from his eyes ; 'said he so ? 'T is well! 't is well! Show him hither quickly! Even yet, О baleful fortune !'he continued, when she had left the room; even yet will I outwit thee, and grasp the sceptre that has fled before. me, spectre-like, for more than fifty years ! Gold ! gold ! 0 potent spirit of gold! O mighty power! O god of all gods!'
He paused, and a placid calm, like a mask, fell over his features as a heavy step was heard ascending the stair.
A moment after, the door was swung noiselessly open, and a tall and ungainly man stepped across the threshold. His
meagre and angural person, and his dress - extravagant in color and arrangement, even for that day -- gave him an outré and startling appearance. Over his shoulders was flung a scarlet cloak, beneath which appea doublet of dark green and a pair of 'orangetawny' hose ; on his shoes were two of the immense scarlet shoe-roses affected at that period, and stuck at one side of his hat was a cock's feather, dyed red. He wore a pointed red beard, (trimmed after the manner seen in portraits of Shakspeare,) and at his side hung a slender cut-and-thrust rapier. This strange figure paused just inside the door, and stood in respectful and stiff silence.
Dr. Dee greeted his visitor with a gesture, half-invitation to enter, halfquestion as to the meaning of the intrusion.
Still the stranger stood, erect and stiff, his heels close together and his entire person upright and apparently immovable as a post.
Then the Doctor spoke. That was a strange message of thine!'
'Stranger things, your reverence, may follow the message. You had need of me, and lo! I am here.'
*Take thy hat from off thy head,' said the Doctor, and tell me the purpose of thy visit.'
The visitor removed his hat, disclosing stiff and bristling red hair, that stood upright from all points of his head. Then he said, still displaying a becoming though awkward respect : ‘My name, may it please your reverence, is but an humble one — I am known among men as Bartholomew Hickman. As for my business, I claim to possess the powers of a seer, and, since Master Kelly has left your service, I fear you have been but poorly served therein. Give me but a glass equal to that wherein Řelly looked, and I agree
and promise to equal him in interpreting to you from the invisible powers of the air and the earth.'
'Thou speakest boldly,' said the Doctor. “My glass has not, nor ever had its match; not even Cornelius Agrippa possessed such an one.
It is the same glass now as when Kelly saw such marvels therein; and only that the constellations are against me, I should have no need of other seer than these eyes of mine. Ah! it is a great and most wonderful stone. None but good angels can enter therein. But thou shalt have sight of it, and we will test this power of thine.'
He drew his chair toward a table in the centre of the apartment, whereon rested a solid ebony cabinet. Taking from his bosom a small key of gold attached to a chain of silver, he fell to muttering many prayers as he solemnly turned it in the lock. Within lay a finely-carved casket of ivory, which, being opened, displayed a large and beautifully clear crystal of the shape of an egg, in whose heart there seemed to burn and glow a self-generated and self-contained light, floating rapidly here and there in restless but graceful pulsations. Upon this marvellous stone, which he did not venture to touch, the alchemist gazed with rapt and reverential aspect.
Bartholomew moved near, stooping and crouching as he approached, till he stood beside the Doctor's chair. “It is, indeed,' he said, “a treasure beyond all price.'
• That it is so, thou may'st well say,' answered the Doctor. 'It came from a source whence no small gifts came, and, by the power of the blessed angels, and especially of my guardian spirit Madini, we will work wonders yet!'
The Doctor spread upon the table a velvet covering, heavy and black like a pall, which fell in not ungraceful folds to the floor. Upon the centre of this pall he laid a cushion of red silk, and upon the cushion placed the ivory casket containing the crystal. A crucifix of ebony, the agonized FIGURE upon the cross being of exquisitely-carved ivory, riveted by golden nails through the hands and feet, he set behind the cushion, and heavy silver candle-sticks at either side, the waxen tapers therein giving forth a delicious perfume as they burned. Immediately in front of the cushion he laid a psalter, open at the Service for the Dead.
Then, with many genuflections, he bent low before the crucifix and crystal, invoking the aid of the good angels, and praying that all evil things might thence depart and hold themselves forever aloof; also, that no doubt or deception should be practised upon him, but that he might truly learn of the mighty secrets intrusted as yet to few favored mortals, particularly as to the
hat now op
compounding of the true powder of projection, by whose use the basest metals should readily be transmuted to the purest gold. And if this were not to be vouchsafed unto him, might he, at least — unworthy seeker as he was — be permitted to learn some hidden mystery, whereby the penury pressed him should be chased away forever, and his old age have, at leasts some small flavor of the hope and promise of his youth. In all his praying, earnest as it was, he mingled not a little blasphemy, and the old pride of his heart shone out here and there vividly.
After he had made an end of his invocation, there was perfect silence in the chamber for the space of half-an-hour. Then he glanced expectantly toward Bartholomew.
The seer, rigid and stiff in all his movements, arose and cast aside his red cloak. Then he, too, knelt before the crystal, muttering much jargon in some unknown tongue, mingled occasionally with scraps of barbarous Latin.
Presently his head sank upon the table, so that his eyes were brought in close proximity with the stone, and he threw a white napkin over the upper part of his person and the casket.
Then, after a little, Dee queried in a shaking whisper : What seest thou ?'
• All is black as night!' The voice of the seer was as the voice of a dead man, speaking unhumanly from some hidden grave.
“Seest thou no cloud, no waving and undulating curtain ?' 'I see naught save a thick blackness that one might cut with his hanger!' ' And now!' cried Dee, suddenly rising, seest thou nothing now ?' 'Soft! I see a faint glimmer, like the rising sun, pale and cold, in the east.
I see a golden curtain, rich with embroidery and heavy with many gems. It begins to part in the centre.
Two rosy hands, more lovely than ever was face of mortal woman, draw it gently apart and gather up the folds at each side.
Far in the distance appeareth a white cloud, as a curdly vapor, wreathing itself like unto fleecy, knotted serpents about a pillar of burning brass; but I see no creature.
The beautiful hands that drew apart the curtain have disappeared.
I hear a voice!'
Mark well the words, and repeat them steadily and truly!'
Dr. Dee drew near, tablets in hand, to set down whatever might be revealed. 'The voice speaks plainly and I hear these words :
All things are at hand,
The time is short!'
The beautiful hands have cleft the brazen pillar asunder and the cloud is dispelled.
From the cloven pillar advanceth a maiden whose face I may not look upon for the fierceness of its burning beauty. I note only that she seemeth to float forward, rather than to walk, and that the golden glory of her hair covereth and enwrappeth her as with a
garment. Her pink feet palpitate 'twixt heaven and earth, and she steppeth not upon the ground like mortal maiden. Let limners slay themselves, and workers in stone and ivory go mad, for never hath mortal brain conceived, nor mortal hand wrought such loveliness of color or such delicious outlines !'
'It is Madini,' quoth Dee; speak to her.' She will not answer me.'
'I will then address her in person,' and the Doctor turned anxiously and awe-fully toward the stone. • Art thou Madini who hast appeared to me aforetime?'
'She answereth ‘Yes' quoth the seer; 'but her voice is faint and hardly to be distinguished. It is like the soft breathing of an eolian harp, and scarcely admitteth of translation into harsh English.'
'I would thou shouldst solve me three things,' continued Dee, still addressing the glass: ‘Firstly, whereto shall I direct my journey, and how cause it to prosper ? Secondly, I would speedily be instructed in that great and potent mystery, the powder of projection. Thirdly, how may I find the treasure that has been shown to me, three several times, in a dream ?'
“She answereth : ‘Firstly, with respect to the country, make thine own choice, and thou shalt be directed in it for thy good. Secondly' - but hold ! she ceaseth to speak, and displayeth before me a roll of parchment, whereon, in the unknown tongue, is written what I will read :
"The most noble and divine MAGISTER ; the beginning, the continuation and the end of life. Watch well, and gather him so at the highest; for in one hour he ascendeth or descendeth for the purpose.
"Take common Audcal, purge and work it by Rlodur, of four diverse digestions, continuing the last digestion for four times four days, in one and a swift proportion, until it be Dlasod, fixed, a most red and luminous body, the image of resurrection. Take, also, Lulo of Red Roxtan, and work him through four fiery degrees, until thou hast his Audcal, and then gather him. Then double every degree of your Rlodur, and, by the law of mixture and conjunction, work them diligently together. Notwithstanding, backward through every degree, multiply the lower and last Rlodur, his due office finished by one degree more than the highest. So doth it become Darr, the thing thou seekest, a most holy, just, dignified, glorious and red Dlasod.
“See thou take the season, and get her while it is yet time. If ye let the harvest pass, ye shall desire to gather, and shall not be able.”'
'Ah!' sighed Dee, 'methinks I have heard something similar to that before. If I only knew what Dlasod and his Audcal may be; or even if I had knowledge of the Lulo of Red Roxtan, but men are but mortal, and these things pass my understanding !'
"Be thankful,' saith Madini, 'that thou hast received so much!”
Dr. Dee bowed low his head, and returned, with what grace he might, suitable thanks. “Now for the third question,' he said.
The seer was silent for some moments, and then his voice, if possible, more hollow and dead-alive than before, was again heard repeating the words of the Spirit of the Crystal :
6 Long, long since hidden, in the dark,
By one now sleeping, stiff and stark,
It lieth safe in Aldport Park.'' ' But who hid this great treasure, O peerless angel !' cried Dee, that no one hath discovered it?'
"By Sir James STANLEY, long ago,
As all earth spirits truly know,
The golden treasure was laid low.'' 'Sir James Stanley,' quoth the Doctor, “ah! truly have I heard marvellous tales of him, aforetime. Hidden by Sir James Stanley. That beareth a reasonable aspect; but I would inquire, O chaste Madini ! how and in what manner the treasure is to be got at?'
• The end of time comes on amain,
And he who would the treasure gain,
Must seek with care and search with pain.'' "Ah! me, most potent spirit !' cried the Doctor, the time ? the hour? the combination ?'
“When, at the noon-tide of the night,
The red cock croweth, dig with might;
The treasure, then, is just in sight!” "O mighty power!' cried the distracted Doctor, ‘have patience, and bear with me.
Great are thy revelations ; great and most wonderful, but too subtle for the infirmities of this mortal body and these mortal senses. Speak, I pray thee, rather in plain English than in these vague rhymes of thine; and if it pleases thee to riddle me no riddles, but rather to give me such commands as may best suit thee, in a simple and direct manner, the better shall I be enabled to understand thy directions, and obey thy behests.'
“The spirit,' said the voice of Bartholomew, 'veileth its face, as though in anger.
Now I see more clearly - the burning beauty of the face being hidden
the glorious tints and outlines of this heavenly maiden. Now a cloud gathered between me and the vision.
Now 'O guardian spirit and good angel!' burst from Dee's lips, as he threw himself forward upon his kness before the crystal, 'depart not from thy servant in anger, but remember the labor and study of a life-time, and give me yet some clue to the labyrinth of thy counsels. Bear with the weakness of an old man, and desert him not !' "The cloud disperseth.
A mild and benignant light, warm but not burning, beams from the figure, and the lips move again. Madini says:
"The treasure is guarded well. It lieth where many roots and trees do hinder the gathering. The time is short, but thou must not despair.
“Nine, with twice seven, northerly, and Acer shall disappear. The mystical number enfolding itself; this shall be added to its own toward the rising
Then turn half round, and note well thy right foot. What thou seest, gather, and it shall lead thee to perfection."