Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/66

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TWICE-TOLD TALES.

she has wrought? Thus man doth ever to his tyrants! Approach, then! Madness, as I have noted, has that good efficacy, that it will guard you from contagion—and perchance its own cure may be found in yonder chamber.'

Ascending another flight of stairs, he threw open a door, and signed to Jervase Helwyse that he should enter. The poor lunatic, it seems probable, had cherished a delusion that his haughty mistress sat in state, unharmed herself by the pestilential influence, which, as by enchantment, she scattered round about her. He dreamed, no doubt, that her beauty was not dimmed, but brightened into superhuman splendor. With such anticipations, he stole reverentially to the door at which the physician stood, but paused upon the threshold, gazing fearfully into the gloom of the darkened chamber.

'Where is the Lady Eleanore?' whispered he.

'Call her,' replied the physician.

'Lady Eleanore! Princess! Queen of Death!' cried Jervase Helwyse, advancing three steps into the chamber. 'She is not here! There, on yonder table, I behold the sparkle of a diamond which once she wore upon her bosom. There'—and he shuddered—'there hangs her mantle, on which a dead woman embroidered a spell of dreadful potency. But where is the Lady Eleanore?'

Something stirred within the silken curtains of a canopied bed; and a low moan was uttered, which, listening intently, Jervase Helwyse began to distinguish as a woman's voice, complaining dolefully of thirst, He fancied, even, that he recognised its tones.