Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/59

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53
LADY ELEANORE'S MANTLE.

'Pour it down the villain's throat!' cried the Virginian, fiercely.

'Turn him out of the house!' cried Captain Langford, seizing Jervase Helwyse so roughly by the shoulder that the sacramental cup was overturned, and its contents sprinkled upon Lady Eleanore's mantle. 'Whether knave, fool, or Bedlamite, it is intolerable that the fellow should go at large.'

'Pray, gentlemen, do my poor admirer no harm,' said Lady Eleanore, with a faint and weary smile. 'Take him out of my sight, if such be your pleasure; for I can find in my heart to do nothing but laugh at him—whereas, in all decency and conscience, it would become me to weep for the mischief I have wrought!'

But while the bystanders were attempting to lead away the unfortunate young man, he broke from them, and with a wild, impassioned earnestness, offered a new and equally strange petition to Lady Eleanore. It was no other than that she should throw off the mantle, which, while he pressed the silver cup of wine upon her, she had drawn more closely around her form, so as almost to shroud herself within it.

'Cast it from you!' exclaimed Jervase Helwyse, clasping his hands in an agony of entreaty. 'It may not yet be too late! Give the accursed garment to the flames!'

But Lady Eleanore, with a laugh of scorn, drew the rich folds of the embroidered mantle over her head, in such a fashion as to give a completely new aspect to her beautiful face, which—half-hidden, half-revealed—seemed to belong to some being of mysterious character and purposes.