Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/58

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with the excitement of the scene or its tedium; and while, for an instant, she was unconscious of voices, laughter, and music, a young man stole forward, and knelt down at her feet. He bore a salver in his hand, on which was a chased silver goblet, filled to the brim with wine, which he offered as reverentially as to a crowned queen, or rather with the awful devotion of a priest doing sacrifice to his idol. Conscious that some one touched her robe, Lady Eleanore started, and unclosed her eyes upon the pale, wild features and disheveled hair of Jervase Helwyse.

'Why do you haunt me thus?' said she, in a languid tone, but with a kindlier feeling than she ordinarily permitted herself to express. 'They tell me that I have done you harm.'

'Heaven knows if that be so,' replied the young man solemnly. 'But, Lady Eleanore, in requital of that harm, if such there be, and for your own earthly and heavenly welfare, I pray you to take one sip of this holy wine, and then to pass the goblet round among the guests. And this shall be a symbol that you have not sought to withdraw yourself from the chain of human sympathies—which whoso would shake off must keep company with fallen angels.'

'Where has this mad fellow stolen that sacramental vessel?' exclaimed the Episcopal clergyman.

This question drew the notice of the guests to the silver cup, which was recognised as appertaining to the communion plate of the Old South Church; and, for aught that could be known, it was brimming over with the consecrated wine.

'Perhaps it is poisoned,' half whispered the Governor's secretary.