THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 16: MORGAN LE FAY
Poor child! he slumped to the floor, twisted his silken limbs in
one great straining contortion of pain, and was dead. Out of the
old king was wrung an involuntary "O-h!" of compassion. The look
he got, made him cut it suddenly short and not put any more hyphens
in it. Sir Uwaine, at a sign from his mother, went to the anteroom
and called some servants, and meanwhile madame went rippling sweetly
along with her talk.
I saw that she was a good housekeeper, for while she talked she
kept a corner of her eye on the servants to see that they made
no balks in handling the body and getting it out; when they came
with fresh clean towels, she sent back for the other kind; and
when they had finished wiping the floor and were going, she indicated
a crimson fleck the size of a tear which their duller eyes had
overlooked. It was plain to me that La Cote Male Taile had failed
to see the mistress of the house. Often, how louder and clearer
than any tongue, does dumb circumstantial evidence speak.
Morgan le Fay rippled along as musically as ever. Marvelous woman.
And what a glance she had: when it fell in reproof upon those
servants, they shrunk and quailed as timid people do when the
lightning flashes out of a cloud. I could have got the habit
myself. It was the same with that poor old Brer Uriens; he was
always on the ragged edge of apprehension; she could not even turn
toward him but he winced.
In the midst of the talk I let drop a complimentary word about
King Arthur, forgetting for the moment how this woman hated her
brother. That one little compliment was enough. She clouded up
like storm; she called for her guards, and said:
"Hale me these varlets to the dungeons."
That struck cold on my ears, for her dungeons had a reputation.
Nothing occurred to me to say--or do. But not so with Sandy.
As the guard laid a hand upon me, she piped up with the tranquilest
confidence, and said:
"God's wounds, dost thou covet destruction, thou maniac? It is