This is Part 5 in a weekly serial. You can begin at Part 1 here.
They know he’s here. The trunk that came this morning was full of ashes from his house – from the very estate you served in, Cecil. They burned the bed he was birthed on. The mariners know he’s here, they see it from their ships, and they think he’s causing the plague that consumes the continent. Thousands upon thousands dead that he could cure if he’d go out there, and then they’d know what we’ve turned into a way of life. It is worse than an affront to keep him on this wretched island. We’re squandering him.
We need only to tell him something, and his heart will bring him to his feet. So why not tell him we found the Arab? Ruth and Hansel found an Arab hanged for heresy. It could be him. And your Young Master’s been practicing so long in cemeteries. Let him go raise his personal Lazarus and ask his identity. After that, we’ll never have to deal with these ships or assassins again.
This isn’t my notion. None of these are words original to my mouth; this is everyone’s notion, but yours, and the crone with her printing press. Everyone thinks we ought to spur him into manhood, save you, and that little gardener, and your Young Master himself, who only believes such because he’s so obsessed with these arcane books, so possessed of his own origin that he ignores his destiny. This is his time. A plague is the perfect time for the man who is the cure.
I attest this of sound mind, for once I was mad and fretted over the sensations of an arm that had long left me to gangrene. Your Young Master took my ghostly limb and ghostly anxiety, but if you shut him up in this little safe isle any longer, he’ll never know all the limbs that are truly at his command. You’re raising a bull to be ignorant of his horns, a lion ignorant of his voice. There are eight ships in the bay, and they’ve brought cannons, Cecil. They brought the trunk of ashes. They haven’t thrown a dead mariner overboard in a week; they circle to find the safe distance from your Young Master’s reach. Do you want to wait to find out the reach of their arms?
So let us tell him we found his Arab, and get him into the world. You can go to him this morning, speak one sentence, and he’ll believe you, because you’re the one he grew up trusting. Or, so help me, I will lock you in a cellar and find another way to convince him.
We need lions, and they need the cure.