“Why don’t we all calm down and have a drink?”
“That’s a great idea. I’ll pour.” Jonson stomped over to the table and filled two goblets with sack. He kept one and gave the other to Drayton. “Perhaps a drink will refresh your memory about the manuscripts, William,” Drayton suggested. “I can water it down for you, the way you like it.”
“I’m not allowed to drink spirits. It’s against doctor’s orders.” “Nonsense, it’s the perfect cure,” Jonson said. “Here’s how it works. After I leave, you’ll feel better, won’t you?” “Yes.”
“But I’m not leaving until you tell me where the manuscripts are. Ergo, if you can’t remember where they are when you don’t drink, you’ll probably recall where they are if you do drink.”
“You’re trying to confuse me,” Shaxper said warily. “No, I’m not. There’s some science in it.”
“Then how come my son-in-law the doctor didn’t suggest it?” “Doctors don’t know everything.”
“My son-in-law does. He keeps his medical journals in Latin.” “Probably to cover up his mistakes,” Jonson muttered. “What’s that? Speak up. I didn’t hear you.”
“Doctors don’t know everything,” Drayton repeated, somewhat louder.
“That’s right. They don’t,” Shaxper said thoughtfully. “They like to think they do, but they don’t.”
“A little watered-down sack can’t possibly hurt you,” Drayton said.
“It’ll get rid of the pain,” Jonson added. “It’ll make me go away.” “In that case, fetch me a drink. What harm could it do? I’m half-blind, I can’t taste anything, I have no teeth and I’m partially deaf. I know you don’t mean me any harm, Michael. Go ahead. Water down my drink. Perhaps it will sharpen my memory.”
Drayton walked over to the table and began blending the sack with water. Jonson came up behind him.
“Trade goblets with me,” he whispered. “What?”
“Trade goblets with me. You heard him say he has no sense of taste. Give him my drink and he’ll never know it’s not diluted. Believe me, I want to get out of here with those plays just as much as he wants to see me go.”
“Do you think it’ll work?”
“We’ve got to try it, before that shrew comes downstairs and spoils everything.”
Drayton handed the potent drink to Shaxper. He and Jonson watched as the impostor drained his goblet with surprising speed.
“Ah, that’s very comforting,” he sighed. “Could I have some more?” “Certainly. It’s wonderful to see you so relaxed, William.”
“I haven’t felt this way in years.” “Now let’s discuss the manuscripts.”
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