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2.2.4 The House Beautiful (cont.)

From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 2, Step 4.5.

When he had left her, Prudence said, Did I not tell thee that Mr Brisk would soon forsake thee? yea, he will rise up an ill report of thee; for, notwithstanding his pretence to religion, and his seeming love to Mercy, yet Mercy and he are of tempers so different that I believe they will never come together.

Mercy: I might have had husbands before now, though I spoke not of it to any; but they were such as did not like my conditions, though never did any of them find fault with my person. So they and I could not agree.

Prudence: Mercy in our days is but little set by any further than as to its name: the practice which is set forth by thy conditions, there are but few that can abide.

Mercy: Well, said Mercy, if nobody will have me, I will die unmarried, or my conditions shall be to me as a husband: for I cannot change my nature; and to have one who lies cross to me in this, that I purpose never to admit of as long as I live. I had a sister named Bountiful, that was married to one of these churls, but he and she could never agree; but because my sister was resolved to do as she had begun, that is, to show kindness to the poor, therefore her husband first cried her down at the cross, and then turned her out of his doors.

Prudence: And yet he was a professor, I warrant you?

Mercy: Yes, such a one as he was, and of such as he the world is now full: but I am for none of them all.

Now Matthew, the eldest son of Christiana, fell sick, and his sickness was sore upon him, for he was much pained in his bowels, so that he was with it at times pulled, as it were, both ends together. There dwelt also not far from thence one Mr Skill, an ancient and well-approved physician. So Christiana desired it, and entered the room, and had a little observed the boy, he concluded that he was sick of the gripes. Then he said to his mother, What diet has Matthew of late fed upon? Diet! said Christiana, nothing but what is wholesome. The physician answered, This boy has been tampering with something that lies in his stomach undigested, and that will not away without means. And I tell you he must be purged, or else he will die.

Samuel: Then said Samuel, Mother, what was that which my brother did gather up and eat as soon as we were come from the gate that is at the head of this way? You know that there was an orchard on the left hand, on the other side of the wall, and some of the trees hung over the wall, and my brother did pluck and eat.

Christina: True, my child, said Christiana, he did take thereof, and did eat: naughty boy as he was, I chid him, and yet he would eat thereof.

Skill: I knew he had eaten something that was not wholesome food; and that food, to wit, that fruit, is even the most hurtful of all. It is the fruit of Beelzebub's orchard. I do marvel that none did warn you of it; many have died thereof.

Christina: Then Christiana began to cry; and she said, Oh, naughty boy! and Oh, careless mother! what shall I do for my son?

Skill: Come, do not be too much dejected; the boy may do well again, but he must purge and vomit.

Christina: Pray, sir, try the utmost of your skill with him, whatever it costs.

Skill: Nay, I hope I shall be reasonable. So he made him a purge, but it was too weak; it was said it was made of the blood of a goat, the ashes of a heifer, and some of the juice of hyssop (Heb. 9:13,19; 10:1-4). When Mr Skill had seen that that purge was too weak, he made one to the purpose. It was made ex carne et sanguine Christi (John 6:54-57; Heb. 9:14); (you know physicians give strange medicines to their patients:) and it was made into pills, with a promise or two, and a proportionable quantity of salt (Mark 9:49. Now, he was to take them three at a time, fasting, in half a quarter of a pint of the tears of repentance. (Zech. 12:10).

When this potion was prepared, and brought to the boy, he was loth to take it, though torn with the gripes as if he should be pulled in pieces. Come, come, said the physician, you must take it. It goes against my stomach, said the boy. I must have you take it, said his mother. I shall vomit it up again, said the boy. Pray, sir, said Christiana to Mr Skill, how does it taste? It has no ill taste, said the doctor; and with that she touched one of the pills with the tip of her tongue. Oh, Matthew, said she, this potion is sweeter than honey. If thou lovest thy mother, if thou lovest thy brothers, if thou lovest Mercy, if thou lovest thy life, take it.

So, with much ado, after a short prayer for the blessing of God upon it, he took it, and it wrought kindly with him. It caused him to purge; it caused him to sleep, and to rest quietly; it put him into a fine heat and breathing sweat, and did quite rid him of his gripes. So in a little time he got up, and walked about with a staff, and would go from room to room, and talk with Prudence, Piety, and Charity, of his distemper, and how he was healed.

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