Roger Comstock was peering down the stem of his clay pipe like a drunken astronomer drawing a bead on something. In this case the target was Robert Hooke, Fellow of the Royal Society, visible only barely (because of gloom and smoke) and sporadically (because of table-flitting patrons). Hooke had barricaded himself behind a miniature apothecary shop of bottles, purses, and flasks, and was mixing up his dinner: a compound of mercury, iron fillings, flowers of sulfur, purgative waters from diverse springs, many of which were Lethal to Waterfowl; and extracts of several plants, including the rhubarb and the opium poppy. "He is still alive, I see," Roger mused. "If Hooke spent any more time lingering at Death's door, Satan himself would have the man ejected for vagrancy. Yet just as I am wondering whether I can make time for his funeral, I learn from Sources that he is campaigning like a French regiment through every whorehouse in Whitechapel."
Daniel could think of nothing to add.
-- Neal Stephenson, _Quicksilver_, bls. 659-60.