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Title: In colonial days
Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Language: English
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                            IN COLONIAL DAYS


[Illustration:

  “Several Personages descending towards the Door”
]




[Illustration]

                                  _In
                                Colonial
                                 Days_


                                  _By_

                         _NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE_


                         _L. C. PAGE & COMPANY_

                                _Boston_

                              _PUBLISHERS_




[Illustration: Copyright, 1896, by JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY Copyright,
1906, by L. C. PAGE & COMPANY (Incorporated)]

                         _Copyright, 1896, by_

                         JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY

                         _Copyright, 1906, by_

                          L. C. PAGE & COMPANY

                             (Incorporated)

                                           Third Impression, March, 1911

------------------------------------------------------------------------




[Illustration: List of Illustrations by Frank T. Merrill.]




                             ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    PAGE

 “Several Personages descending towards the Door” (_color
   plate_)                                                _Frontispiece_

 COPYRIGHT                                                            iv

 LADY READING                                                       viii

 HOWE’S MASQUERADE (_Half-title_)                                     ix

 YE OLD PROVINCE HOUSE                                                 x

 INITIAL                                                               1

 THE INDIAN                                                            2

 “THE STORY OF EACH BLUE TILE”                                         3

 “GAGE MAY HAVE BEHELD HIS DISASTROUS VICTORY”                         5

 THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN                                                 6

 THE BALCONY                                                           7

 “ONE OF THESE WORTHIES—A TALL, LANK FIGURE”                          10

 COLONEL JOLIFFE AND GRANDDAUGHTER                                    12

 “PLEASE YOUR HONOR, THE FAULT IS NONE OF MINE”                       15

 “A STOUT MAN, DRESSED IN RICH AND COURTLY ATTIRE”                    18

 “THE SHAPE OF GAGE, AS TRUE AS IN A LOOKING-GLASS”                   22

 “A TALL MAN, BOOTED AND WRAPPED IN A MILITARY CLOAK”                 23

 “HE RECOILED SEVERAL STEPS FROM THE FIGURE” (_color
   plate_)                                                   _facing_ 24

 “A STAGE DRIVER SAT AT ONE OF THE WINDOWS READING A
   PENNY PAPER”                                                       27

 EDWARD RANDOLPH’S PORTRAIT (_Half-title_)                            29

 YE YOUNG CAPTAINE OF YE CASTLE TELLS YE STORY OF YE
   PICTURE                                                            35

 “SOME OF THESE FABLES ARE REALLY AWFUL” (_color plate_)     _facing_ 38

 ALICE BECKONED TO THE PICTURE                                        41

 “THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SELECTMEN WAS ADDRESSING TO THE
   LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR A LONG AND SOLEMN PROTEST” (_color
   plate_)                                                   _facing_ 42

 “SHE SNATCHED AWAY THE SABLE CURTAIN”                                45

 “_Choking with the Blood of the Boston Massacre_”                    47

 _Lady Eleanore’s Mantle_ (_Half-title_)                              51

 YE BEAUTEOUS LADY ELEANORE COMETH TO BOSTON                          57

 “A PALE YOUNG MAN ... PROSTRATED HIMSELF BESIDE THE
   COACH” (_color plate_)                                    _facing_ 59

 GOVERNOR SHUTE DESCENDED THE FLIGHT OF STEPS                         60

 A GATHERING OF RANK, WEALTH, AND BEAUTY                              63

 “I PRAY YOU TAKE ONE SIP OF THIS HOLY WINE”                          67

 “KEEP MY IMAGE IN YOUR REMEMBRANCE”                                  71

 “THE COMMUNICATION COULD BE OF NO AGREEABLE IMPORT”                  73

 “YOUNG MAN, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?”                                   77

 “WHAT THING ART THOU?”                                               80

 “THAT NIGHT A PROCESSION PASSED BY TORCHLIGHT” (_color
   plate_)                                                   _facing_ 81

 OLD ESTHER DUDLEY (_Half-title_)                                     83

 “HEAVEN’S CAUSE AND THE KING’S ARE ONE”                              89

 “TAKE THIS KEY AND KEEP IT SAFE”                                     92

 “A FEW OF THE STANCH, THOUGH CRESTFALLEN OLD TORIES”                 95

 THE KING OF ENGLAND’S BIRTHDAY                                       99

 “RECEIVE MY TRUST” (_color plate_)                         _facing_ 101

 FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH                                                 104

[Illustration]

[Illustration: HOWE’S MASQUERADE.]

[Illustration: Yͤ Province House.]




                            IN COLONIAL DAYS




                                   I.
                           HOWE’S MASQUERADE.


[Illustration: One]

One afternoon, last summer, while walking along Washington Street, my
eye was attracted by a signboard protruding over a narrow archway nearly
opposite the Old South Church. The sign represented the front of a
stately edifice, which was designated as the “OLD PROVINCE HOUSE, kept
by Thomas Waite.” I was glad to be thus reminded of a purpose, long
entertained, of visiting and rambling over the mansion of the old royal
governors of Massachusetts; and entering the arched passage, which
penetrated through the middle of a brick row of shops, a few steps
transported me from the busy heart of modern Boston into a small and
secluded courtyard. One side of this space was occupied by the square
front of the Province House, three stories high, and surmounted by a
cupola, on the top of which a gilded Indian was discernible with his bow
bent and his arrow on the string, as if aiming at the weathercock on the
spire of the Old South. The figure has kept this attitude for seventy
years or more, ever since good Deacon Drowne, a cunning carver of wood,
first stationed him on his long sentinel’s watch over the city.

[Illustration]

The Province House is constructed of brick, which seems recently to have
been overlaid with a coat of light-colored paint. A flight of red
freestone steps, fenced in by a balustrade of curiously wrought iron,
ascends from the courtyard to the spacious porch, over which is a
balcony, with an iron balustrade of similar pattern and workmanship to
that beneath. These letters and figures—16 P.S. 79—are wrought into the
iron-work of the balcony, and probably express the date of the edifice,
with the initials of its founder’s name. A wide door with double leaves
admitted me into the hall or entry, on the right of which is the
entrance to the bar-room.

[Illustration:

  “The story of each blue tile”
]

It was in this apartment, I presume, that the ancient governors held
their levees, with vice-regal pomp, surrounded by the military men, the
councillors, the judges, and other officers of the crown, while all the
loyalty of the province thronged to do them honor. But the room, in its
present condition, cannot boast even of faded magnificence. The panelled
wainscot is covered with dingy paint, and acquires a duskier hue from
the deep shadow into which the Province House is thrown by the brick
block that shuts it in from Washington Street. A ray of sunshine never
visits this apartment any more than the glare of the festal torches
which have been extinguished from the era of the Revolution. The most
venerable and ornamental object is a chimney-piece set round with Dutch
tiles of blue-figured china, representing scenes from Scripture; and,
for aught I know, the lady of Pownall or Bernard may have sat beside
this fireplace, and told her children the story of each blue tile. A bar
in modern style, well replenished with decanters, bottles, cigar-boxes,
and network bags of lemons, and provided with a beer-pump and a
soda-fount, extends along one side of the room. At my entrance, an
elderly person was smacking his lips, with a zest which satisfied me
that the cellars of the Province House still hold good liquor, though
doubtless of other vintages than were quaffed by the old governors.
After sipping a glass of port sangaree, prepared by the skilful hands of
Mr. Thomas Waite, I besought that worthy successor and representative of
so many historic personages to conduct me over their time-honored
mansion.

[Illustration]

He readily complied; but, to confess the truth, I was forced to draw
strenuously upon my imagination, in order to find aught that was
interesting in a house which, without its historic associations, would
have seemed merely such a tavern as is usually favored by the custom of
decent city boarders and old-fashioned country gentlemen. The chambers,
which were probably spacious in former times, are now cut up by
partitions, and subdivided into little nooks, each affording scanty room
for the narrow bed and chair and dressing-table of a single lodger. The
great staircase, however, may be termed, without much hyperbole, a
feature of grandeur and magnificence. It winds through the midst of the
house by flights of broad steps, each flight terminating in a square
landing-place, whence the ascent is continued towards the cupola. A
carved balustrade, freshly painted in the lower stories, but growing
dingier as we ascend, borders the staircase with its quaintly twisted
and intertwined pillars, from top to bottom. Up these stairs the
military boots, or perchance the gouty shoes, of many a governor have
trodden, as the wearers mounted to the cupola, which afforded them so
wide a view over their metropolis and the surrounding country. The
cupola is an octagon, with several windows, and a door opening upon the
roof. From this station, as I pleased myself with imagining, Gage may
have beheld his disastrous victory on Bunker Hill (unless one of the
tri-mountains intervened), and Howe have marked the approaches of
Washington’s besieging army; although the buildings, since erected in
the vicinity, have shut out almost every object, save the steeple of the
Old South, which seems almost within arm’s-length. Descending from the
cupola, I paused in the garret to observe the ponderous white-oak
framework, so much more massive than the frames of modern houses, and
thereby resembling an antique skeleton. The brick walls, the materials
of which were imported from Holland, and the timbers of the mansion, are
still as sound as ever; but the floors and other interior parts being
greatly decayed, it is contemplated to gut the whole, and build a new
house within the ancient frame and brick work. Among other
inconveniences of the present edifice, mine host mentioned that any jar
or motion was apt to shake down the dust of ages out of the ceiling of
one chamber upon the floor of that beneath it.

[Illustration]

We stepped forth from the great front window into the balcony, where, in
old times, it was doubtless the custom of the king’s representative to
show himself to a loyal populace, requiting their huzzas and tossed-up
hats with stately bendings of his dignified person. In those days, the
front of the Province House looked upon the street; and the whole site
now occupied by the brick range of stores, as well as the present
courtyard, was laid out in grass-plats, overshadowed by trees and
bordered by a wrought-iron fence. Now, the old aristocratic edifice
hides its time-worn visage behind an upstart modern building. At one of
the back windows I observed some pretty tailoresses, sewing, and
chatting, and laughing, with now and then a careless glance towards the
balcony. Descending thence, we again entered the bar-room, where the
elderly gentleman above mentioned, the smack of whose lips had spoken so
favorably for Mr. Waite’s good liquor, was still lounging in his chair.
He seemed to be, if not a lodger, at least a familiar visitor of the
house, who might be supposed to have his regular score at the bar, his
summer seat at the open window, and his prescriptive corner at the
winter’s fireside. Being of a sociable aspect, I ventured to address him
with a remark, calculated to draw forth his historical reminiscences, if
any such were in his mind; and it gratified me to discover, that,
between memory and tradition, the old gentleman was really possessed of
some very pleasant gossip about the Province House. The portion of his
talk which chiefly interested me was the outline of the following
legend. He professed to have received it at one or two removes from an
eye-witness; but this derivation, together with the lapse of time, must
have afforded opportunities for many variations of the narrative; so
that despairing of literal and absolute truth, I have not scrupled to
make such further changes as seemed conducive to the reader’s profit and
delight.

[Illustration]


At one of the entertainments given at the Province House, during the
latter part of the siege of Boston, there passed a scene which has never
yet been satisfactorily explained. The officers of the British army, and
the loyal gentry of the province, most of whom were collected within the
beleaguered town, had been invited to a masked ball; for it was the
policy of Sir William Howe to hide the distress and danger of the
period, and the desperate aspect of the siege, under an ostentation of
festivity. The spectacle of this evening, if the oldest members of the
provincial court circle might be believed, was the most gay and gorgeous
affair that had occurred in the annals of the government. The
brilliantly lighted apartments were thronged with figures that seemed to
have stepped from the dark canvas of historic portraits, or to have
flitted forth from the magic pages of romance, or at least to have flown
hither from one of the London theatres, without a change of garments.
Steeled knights of the Conquest, bearded statesmen of Queen Elizabeth,
and high-ruffled ladies of her court, were mingled with characters of
comedy, such as a party-colored Merry Andrew, jingling his cap and
bells; a Falstaff, almost as provocative of laughter as his prototype;
and a Don Quixote, with a bean-pole for a lance and a potlid for a
shield.

[Illustration]

But the broadest merriment was excited by a group of figures
ridiculously dressed in old regimentals, which seemed to have been
purchased at a military rag fair, or pilfered from some receptacle of
the cast-off clothes of both the French and British armies. Portions of
their attire had probably been worn at the siege of Louisburg, and the
coats of most recent cut might have been rent and tattered by sword,
ball, or bayonet, as long ago as Wolfe’s victory. One of these
worthies—a tall, lank figure, brandishing a rusty sword of immense
longitude—purporting to be no less a personage than General George
Washington; and the other principal officers of the American army, such
as Gates, Lee, Putnam, Schuyler, Ward, and Heath, were represented by
similar scarecrows. An interview in the mock-heroic style, between the
rebel warriors and the British commander-in-chief, was received with
immense applause, which came loudest of all from the loyalists of the
colony. There was one of the guests, however, who stood apart, eying
these antics sternly and scornfully, at once with a frown and a bitter
smile.

It was an old man, formerly of high station and great repute in the
province, and who had been a very famous soldier in his day. Some
surprise had been expressed, that a person of Colonel Joliffe’s known
Whig principles, though now too old to take an active part in the
contest, should have remained in Boston during the siege, and especially
that he should consent to show himself in the mansion of Sir William
Howe. But thither he had come, with a fair granddaughter under his arm;
and there, amid all the mirth and buffoonery, stood this stern old
figure, the best sustained character in the masquerade, because so well
representing the antique spirit of his native land. The other guests
affirmed that Colonel Joliffe’s black puritanical scowl threw a shadow
round about him; although, in spite of his sombre influence, their
gayety continued to blaze higher, like (an ominous comparison) the
flickering brilliancy of a lamp which has but a little while to burn.
Eleven strokes, full half an hour ago, had pealed from the clock of the
Old South, when a rumor was circulated among the company that some new
spectacle or pageant was about to be exhibited, which should put a
fitting close to the splendid festivities of the night.

[Illustration]

“What new jest has your Excellency in hand?” asked the Rev. Mather
Byles, whose Presbyterian scruples had not kept him from the
entertainment. “Trust me, sir, I have already laughed more than beseems
my cloth, at your Homeric confabulation with yonder ragamuffin general
of the rebels. One other such fit of merriment, and I must throw off my
clerical wig and band.”

“Not so, good Dr. Byles,” answered Sir William Howe; “if mirth were a
crime, you had never gained your doctorate in divinity. As to this new
foolery, I know no more about it than yourself; perhaps not so much.
Honestly now, Doctor, have you not stirred up the sober brains of some
of your countrymen to enact a scene in our masquerade?”

“Perhaps,” slyly remarked the granddaughter of Colonel Joliffe, whose
high spirit had been stung by many taunts against New England,—“perhaps
we are to have a mask of allegorical figures. Victory, with trophies
from Lexington and Bunker Hill,—Plenty, with her overflowing horn, to
typify the present abundance in this good town,—and Glory, with a wreath
for his Excellency’s brow.”

Sir William Howe smiled at words which he would have answered with one
of his darkest frowns, had they been uttered by lips that wore a beard.
He was spared the necessity of a retort, by a singular interruption. A
sound of music was heard without the house, as if proceeding from a full
band of military instruments stationed in the street, playing, not such
a festal strain as was suited to the occasion, but a slow funeral march.
The drums appeared to be muffled, and the trumpets poured forth a
wailing breath, which at once hushed the merriment of the auditors,
filling all with wonder and some with apprehension. The idea occurred to
many, that either the funeral procession of some great personage had
halted in front of the Province House, or that a corpse, in a
velvet-covered and gorgeously decorated coffin, was about to be borne
from the portal. After listening a moment, Sir William Howe called, in a
stern voice, to the leader of the musicians, who had hitherto enlivened
the entertainment with gay and lightsome melodies. The man was
drum-major to one of the British regiments.

“Dighton,” demanded the general, “what means this foolery? Bid your band
silence that dead march; or, by my word, they shall have sufficient
cause for their lugubrious strains! Silence it, sirrah!”

“Please your Honor,” answered the drum-major, whose rubicund visage had
lost all its color, “the fault is none of mine. I and my band are all
here together; and I question whether there be a man of us that could
play that march without book. I never heard it but once before, and that
was at the funeral of his late Majesty, King George the Second.”

“Well, well!” said Sir William Howe, recovering his composure; “it is
the prelude to some masquerading antic. Let it pass.”

A figure now presented itself, but, among the many fantastic masks that
were dispersed through the apartments, none could tell precisely from
whence it came. It was a man in an old-fashioned dress of black serge,
and having the aspect of a steward, or principal domestic in the
household of a nobleman, or great English landholder. This figure
advanced to the outer door of the mansion, and throwing both its leaves
wide open, withdrew a little to one side and looked back towards the
grand staircase, as if expecting some person to descend. At the same
time, the music in the street sounded a loud and doleful summons. The
eyes of Sir William Howe and his guests being directed to the staircase,
there appeared, on the uppermost landing-place that was discernible from
the bottom, several personages descending towards the door. The foremost
was a man of stern visage, wearing a steeple-crowned hat and a skullcap
beneath it; a dark cloak, and huge wrinkled boots that came half-way up
his legs. Under his arm was a rolled-up banner, which seemed to be the
banner of England, but strangely rent and torn; he had a sword in his
right hand, and grasped a Bible in his left. The next figure was of
milder aspect, yet full of dignity, wearing a broad ruff, over which
descended a beard, a gown of wrought velvet, and a doublet and hose of
black satin. He carried a roll of manuscript in his hand. Close behind
these two came a young man of very striking countenance and demeanor,
with deep thought and contemplation on his brow, and perhaps a flash of
enthusiasm in his eye. His garb, like that of his predecessors, was of
an antique fashion, and there was a stain of blood upon his ruff. In the
same group with these were three or four others, all men of dignity and
evident command, and bearing themselves like personages who were
accustomed to the gaze of the multitude. It was the idea of the
beholders, that these figures went to join the mysterious funeral that
had halted in front of the Province House; yet that supposition seemed
to be contradicted by the air of triumph with which they waved their
hands, as they crossed the threshold and vanished through the portal.

[Illustration:

  “Please your honor.”

  “The fault is none of mine.”
]

“In the Devil’s name, what is this?” muttered Sir William Howe to a
gentleman beside him; “a procession of the regicide judges of King
Charles the martyr?”

“These,” said Colonel Joliffe, breaking silence almost for the first
time that evening,—“these, if I interpret them aright, are the Puritan
governors,—the rulers of the old, original democracy of Massachusetts.
Endicott, with the banner from which he had torn the symbol of
subjection, and Winthrop, and Sir Henry Vane, and Dudley, Haynes,
Bellingham, and Leverett.”

“Why had that young man a stain of blood upon his ruff?” asked Miss
Joliffe.

“Because, in after years,” answered her grandfather, “he laid down the
wisest head in England upon the block, for the principles of liberty.”

“Will not your Excellency order out the guard?” whispered Lord Percy,
who, with other British officers, had now assembled round the general.
“There may be a plot under this mummery.”

[Illustration]

“Tush! we have nothing to fear,” carelessly replied Sir William Howe.
“There can be no worse treason in the matter than a jest, and that
somewhat of the dullest. Even were it a sharp and bitter one, our best
policy would be to laugh it off. See, here come more of these gentry.”

Another group of characters had now partly descended the staircase. The
first was a venerable and white-bearded patriarch, who cautiously felt
his way downward with a staff. Treading hastily behind him, and
stretching forth his gauntleted hand as if to grasp the old man’s
shoulder, came a tall, soldierlike figure, equipped with a plumed cap of
steel, a bright breastplate, and a long sword, which rattled against the
stairs. Next was seen a stout man, dressed in rich and courtly attire,
but not of courtly demeanor; his gait had the swinging motion of a
seaman’s walk; and chancing to stumble on the staircase, he suddenly
grew wrathful, and was heard to mutter an oath. He was followed by a
noble-looking personage in a curled wig, such as are represented in the
portraits of Queen Anne’s time and earlier; and the breast of his coat
was decorated with an embroidered star. While advancing to the door, he
bowed to the right hand and to the left, in a very gracious and
insinuating style; but as he crossed the threshold, unlike the early
Puritan governors, he seemed to wring his hands with sorrow.

“Prithee, play the part of a chorus, good Dr. Byles,” said Sir William
Howe. “What worthies are these?”

“If it please your Excellency, they lived somewhat before my day,”
answered the Doctor; “but doubtless our friend, the Colonel, has been
hand-in-glove with them.”

“Their living faces I never looked upon,” said Colonel Joliffe, gravely;
“although I have spoken face to face with many rulers of this land, and
shall greet yet another with an old man’s blessing, ere I die. But we
talk of these figures. I take the venerable patriarch to be Bradstreet,
the last of the Puritans, who was governor at ninety, or thereabouts.
The next is Sir Edmund Andros, a tyrant, as any New England schoolboy
will tell you; and therefore the people cast him down from his high seat
into a dungeon. Then comes Sir William Phipps, shepherd, cooper,
sea-captain, and governor: may many of his countrymen rise as high, from
as low an origin! Lastly, you saw the gracious Earl of Bellamont, who
ruled us under King William.”

“But what is the meaning of it all?” asked Lord Percy.

“Now, were I a rebel,” said Miss Joliffe, half aloud, “I might fancy
that the ghosts of these ancient governors had been summoned to form the
funeral procession of royal authority in New England.”

Several other figures were now seen at the turn of the staircase. The
one in advance had a thoughtful, anxious, and somewhat crafty expression
of face; and in spite of his loftiness of manner, which was evidently
the result both of an ambitious spirit and of long continuance in high
stations, he seemed not incapable of cringing to a greater than himself.
A few steps behind came an officer in a scarlet and embroidered uniform,
cut in a fashion old enough to have been worn by the Duke of
Marlborough. His nose had a rubicund tinge, which, together with the
twinkle of his eye, might have marked him as a lover of the wine-cup and
good-fellowship; notwithstanding which tokens, he appeared ill at ease,
and often glanced around him, as if apprehensive of some secret
mischief. Next came a portly gentleman, wearing a coat of shaggy cloth,
lined with silken velvet; he had sense, shrewdness, and humor in his
face, and a folio volume under his arm; but his aspect was that of a man
vexed and tormented beyond all patience and harassed almost to death. He
went hastily down, and was followed by a dignified person, dressed in a
purple velvet suit, with very rich embroidery; his demeanor would have
possessed much stateliness, only that a grievous fit of the gout
compelled him to hobble from stair to stair, with contortions of face
and body. When Dr. Byles beheld this figure on the staircase, he
shivered as with an ague, but continued to watch him steadfastly, until
the gouty gentleman had reached the threshold, made a gesture of anguish
and despair, and vanished into the outer gloom, whither the funeral
music summoned him.

“Governor Belcher!—my old patron!—in his very shape and dress!” gasped
Dr. Byles. “This is an awful mockery!”

“A tedious foolery, rather,” said Sir William Howe, with an air of
indifference. “But who were the three that preceded him?”

“Governor Dudley, a cunning politician,—yet his craft once brought him
to a prison,” replied Colonel Joliffe; “Governor Shute, formerly a
colonel under Marlborough, and whom the people frightened out of the
province; and learned Governor Burnet, whom the Legislature tormented
into a mortal fever.”

“Methinks they were miserable men, these royal governors of
Massachusetts,” observed Miss Joliffe. “Heavens, how dim the light
grows!”

It was certainly a fact that the large lamp which illuminated the
staircase now burned dim and dusky: so that several figures, which
passed hastily down the stairs and went forth from the porch, appeared
rather like shadows than persons of fleshly substance. Sir William Howe
and his guests stood at the doors of the contiguous apartments, watching
the progress of this singular pageant, with various emotions of anger,
contempt, or half-acknowledged fear, but still with an anxious
curiosity. The shapes, which now seemed hastening to join the mysterious
procession, were recognized rather by striking peculiarities of dress,
or broad characteristics of manner, than by any perceptible resemblance
of features to their prototypes. Their faces, indeed, were invariably
kept in deep shadow. But Dr. Byles, and other gentlemen who had long
been familiar with the successive rulers of the province, were heard to
whisper the names of Shirley, of Pownall, of Sir Francis Bernard, and of
the well-remembered Hutchinson; thereby confessing that the actors,
whoever they might be, in this spectral march of governors, had
succeeded in putting on some distant portraiture of the real personages.
As they vanished from the door, still did these shadows toss their arms
into the gloom of night, with a dread expression of woe. Following the
mimic representative of Hutchinson came a military figure, holding
before his face the cocked hat which he had taken from his powdered
head; but his epaulets and other insignia of rank were those of a
general officer; and something in his mien reminded the beholders of one
who had recently been master of the Province House, and chief of all the
land.

[Illustration]

“The shape of Gage, as true as in a looking-glass!” exclaimed Lord
Percy, turning pale.

“No, surely,” cried Miss Joliffe, laughing hysterically; “it could not
be Gage, or Sir William would have greeted his old comrade in arms!
Perhaps he will not suffer the next to pass unchallenged.”

“Of that be assured, young lady,” answered Sir William Howe, fixing his
eyes, with a very marked expression, upon the immovable visage of her
grandfather. “I have long enough delayed to pay the ceremonies of a host
to these departing guests. The next that takes his leave shall receive
due courtesy.”

[Illustration]

A wild and dreary burst of music came through the open door. It seemed
as if the procession, which had been gradually filling up its ranks,
were now about to move, and that this loud peal of the wailing trumpets,
and roll of the muffled drums, were a call to some loiterer to make
haste. Many eyes, by an irresistible impulse, were turned upon Sir
William Howe, as if it were he whom the dreary music summoned to the
funeral of departed power.

“See!—here comes the last!” whispered Miss Joliffe, pointing her
tremulous finger to the staircase.

A figure had come into view as if descending the stairs; although so
dusky was the region whence it emerged, some of the spectators fancied
that they had seen this human shape suddenly moulding itself amid the
gloom. Downward the figure came, with a stately and martial tread, and
reaching the lowest stair was observed to be a tall man, booted and
wrapped in a military cloak, which was drawn up around the face so as to
meet the flapped brim of a laced hat. The features, therefore, were
completely hidden. But the British officers deemed that they had seen
that military cloak before, and even recognized the frayed embroidery on
the collar, as well as the gilded scabbard of a sword which protruded
from the folds of the cloak, and glittered in a vivid gleam of light.
Apart from these trifling particulars, there were characteristics of
gait and bearing which impelled the wondering guests to glance from the
shrouded figure to Sir William Howe, as if to satisfy themselves that
their host had not suddenly vanished from the midst of them.

With a dark flush of wrath upon his brow, they saw the general draw his
sword and advance to meet the figure in the cloak before the latter had
stepped one pace upon the floor.

“Villain, unmuffle yourself!” cried he. “You pass no farther!”

The figure, without blenching a hair’s-breadth from the sword which was
pointed at his breast, made a solemn pause and lowered the cape of the
cloak from about his face, yet not sufficiently for the spectators to
catch a glimpse at it. But Sir William Howe had evidently seen enough.
The sternness of his countenance gave place to a look of wild amazement,
if not horror, while he recoiled several steps from the figure, and let
fall his sword upon the floor. The martial shape again drew the cloak
about his features and passed on; but reaching the threshold, with his
back towards the spectators, he was seen to stamp his foot and shake his
clinched hands in the air. It was afterwards affirmed that Sir William
Howe had repeated that self-same gesture of rage and sorrow, when, for
the last time, and as the last royal governor, he passed through the
portal of the Province House.

[Illustration:

  “He recoiled Several Steps from the Figure.”
]

“Hark!—the procession moves,” said Miss Joliffe.

The music was dying away along the street, and its dismal strains were
mingled with the knell of midnight from the steeple of the Old South,
and with the roar of artillery, which announced that the beleaguering
army of Washington had intrenched itself upon a nearer height than
before. As the deep boom of the cannon smote upon his ear, Colonel
Joliffe raised himself to the full height of his aged form, and smiled
sternly on the British general.

“Would your Excellency inquire further into the mystery of the pageant?”
said he.

“Take care of your gray head!” cried Sir William Howe, fiercely, though
with a quivering lip. “It has stood too long on a traitor’s shoulders!”

“You must make haste to chop it off, then,” calmly replied the Colonel;
“for a few hours longer, and not all the power of Sir William Howe, nor
of his master, shall cause one of these gray hairs to fall. The empire
of Britain, in this ancient province, is at its last gasp to-night;
almost while I speak it is a dead corpse; and methinks the shadows of
the old governors are fit mourners at its funeral!”

With these words Colonel Joliffe threw on his cloak, and, drawing his
granddaughter’s arm within his own, retired from the last festival that
a British ruler ever held in the old province of Massachusetts Bay. It
was supposed that the Colonel and the young lady possessed some secret
intelligence in regard to the mysterious pageant of that night. However
this might be, such knowledge has never become general. The actors in
the scene have vanished into deeper obscurity than even that wild Indian
band who scattered the cargoes of the tea-ships on the waves, and gained
a place in history, yet left no names. But superstition, among other
legends of this mansion, repeats the wondrous tale, that on the
anniversary night of Britain’s discomfiture, the ghosts of the ancient
governors of Massachusetts still glide through the portal of the
Province House. And last of all comes a figure shrouded in a military
cloak, tossing his clinched hands into the air, and stamping his
iron-shod boots upon the broad freestone steps with a semblance of
feverish despair, but without the sound of a foot-tramp.


When the truth-telling accents of the elderly gentleman were hushed, I
drew a long breath and looked round the room, striving, with the best
energy of my imagination, to throw a tinge of romance and historic
grandeur over the realities of the scene. But my nostrils snuffed up a
scent of cigar-smoke, clouds of which the narrator had emitted by way of
visible emblem, I suppose, of the nebulous obscurity of his tale.
Moreover, my gorgeous fantasies were wofully disturbed by the rattling
of the spoon in a tumbler of whiskey punch, which Mr. Thomas Waite was
mingling for a customer. Nor did it add to the picturesque appearance of
the panelled walls, that the slate of the Brookline stage was suspended
against them, instead of the armorial escutcheon of some far-descended
governor. A stage driver sat at one of the windows, reading a penny
paper of the day,—the “Boston Times,”—and presenting a figure which
could nowise be brought into any picture of “Times in Boston,” seventy
or a hundred years ago. On the window-seat lay a bundle, neatly done up
in brown paper, the direction of which I had the idle curiosity to read.
“Miss SUSAN HUGGINS, at the PROVINCE HOUSE.” A pretty chambermaid, no
doubt. In truth, it is desperately hard work, when we attempt to throw
the spell of hoar antiquity over localities with which the living world,
and the day that is passing over us, have aught to do. Yet, as I glanced
at the stately staircase, down which the procession of the old governors
had descended, and as I emerged through the venerable portal, whence
their figures had preceded me, it gladdened me to be conscious of a
thrill of awe. Then diving through the narrow archway, a few strides
transported me into the densest throng of Washington Street.

[Illustration:

  A stage driver sat at one of the windows reading a penny paper
]

[Illustration: EDWARD RANDOLPH’S PORTRAIT]




                                  II.
                      EDWARD RANDOLPH’S PORTRAIT.


The old legendary guest of the Province House abode in my remembrance
from midsummer till January. One idle evening last winter, confident
that he would be found in the snuggest corner of the bar-room, I
resolved to pay him another visit, hoping to deserve well of my country
by snatching from oblivion some else unheard-of fact of history. The
night was chill and raw, and rendered boisterous by almost a gale of
wind, which whistled along Washington Street, causing the gaslights to
flare and flicker within the lamps. As I hurried onward, my fancy was
busy with a comparison between the present aspect of the street, and
that which it probably wore when the British governors inhabited the
mansion whither I was now going. Brick edifices in those times were few,
till a succession of destructive fires had swept, and swept again, the
wooden dwellings and warehouses from the most populous quarters of the
town. The buildings stood insulated and independent, not, as now,
merging their separate existences into connected ranges, with a front of
tiresome identity, but each possessing features of its own, as if the
owner’s individual taste had shaped it, and the whole presenting a
picturesque irregularity, the absence of which is hardly compensated by
any beauties of our modern architecture. Such a scene, dimly vanishing
from the eye by the ray of here and there a tallow candle, glimmering
through the small panes of scattered windows, would form a sombre
contrast to the street as I beheld it, with the gaslights blazing from
corner to corner, flaming within the shops, and throwing a noonday
brightness through the huge plates of glass.

But the black, lowering sky, as I turned my eyes upward,
wore, doubtless, the same visage as when it frowned upon the
ante-Revolutionary New-Englanders. The wintry blast had the same shriek
that was familiar to their ears. The Old South Church, too, still
pointed its antique spire into the darkness, and was lost between earth
and heaven; and, as I passed, its clock, which had warned so many
generations how transitory was their lifetime, spoke heavily and slow
the same unregarded moral to myself. “Only seven o’clock,” thought I.
“My old friend’s legends will scarcely kill the hours ’twixt this and
bedtime.”

Passing through the narrow arch, I crossed the courtyard, the confined
precincts of which were made visible by a lantern over the portal of the
Province House. On entering the bar-room, I found, as I expected, the
old tradition-monger seated by a special good fire of anthracite,
compelling clouds of smoke from a corpulent cigar. He recognized me with
evident pleasure; for my rare properties as a patient listener
invariably made me a favorite with elderly gentlemen and ladies of
narrative propensities. Drawing a chair to the fire, I desired mine host
to favor us with a glass apiece of whiskey punch, which was speedily
prepared, steaming hot, with a slice of lemon at the bottom, a dark red
stratum of port wine upon the surface, and a sprinkling of nutmeg strewn
over all. As we touched our glasses together, my legendary friend made
himself known to me as Mr. Bela Tiffany; and I rejoiced at the oddity of
the name, because it gave his image and character a sort of
individuality in my conception. The old gentleman’s draught acted as a
solvent upon his memory, so that it overflowed with tales, traditions,
anecdotes of famous dead people, and traits of ancient manners, some of
which were childish as a nurse’s lullaby, while others might have been
worth the notice of the grave historian. Nothing impressed me more than
a story of a black mysterious picture, which used to hang in one of the
chambers of the Province House, directly above the room where we were
now sitting. The following is as correct a version of the fact as the
reader would be likely to obtain from any other source, although,
assuredly, it has a tinge of romance approaching to the marvellous.


In one of the apartments of the Province House there was long
preserved an ancient picture, the frame of which was as black as
ebony, and the canvas itself so dark with age, damp, and smoke, that
not a touch of the painter’s art could be discerned. Time had thrown
an impenetrable veil over it, and left to tradition and fable and
conjecture to say what had once been there portrayed. During the rule
of many successive governors it had hung, by prescriptive and
undisputed right, over the mantel-piece of the same chamber; and it
still kept its place when Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson assumed the
administration of the province, on the departure of Sir Francis
Bernard.

The Lieutenant-Governor sat, one afternoon, resting his head against the
carved back of his stately armchair, and gazing up thoughtfully at the
void blackness of the picture. It was scarcely a time for such inactive
musing, when affairs of the deepest moment required the ruler’s
decision; for, within that very hour, Hutchinson had received
intelligence of the arrival of a British fleet, bringing three regiments
from Halifax to overawe the insubordination of the people. These troops
awaited his permission to occupy the fortress of Castle William and the
town itself. Yet, instead of affixing his signature to an official
order, there sat the Lieutenant-Governor, so carefully scrutinizing the
black waste of canvas that his demeanor attracted the notice of two
young persons who attended him. One, wearing a military dress of buff,
was his kinsman, Francis Lincoln, the Provincial Captain of Castle
William; the other, who sat on a low stool beside his chair, was Alice
Vane, his favorite niece.

She was clad entirely in white, a pale, ethereal creature, who, though a
native of New England, had been educated abroad, and seemed not merely a
stranger from another clime, but almost a being from another world. For
several years, until left an orphan, she had dwelt with her father in
sunny Italy, and there had acquired a taste and enthusiasm for sculpture
and painting, which she found few opportunities of gratifying in the
undecorated dwellings of the colonial gentry. It was said that the early
productions of her own pencil exhibited no inferior genius, though,
perhaps, the rude atmosphere of New England had cramped her hand and
dimmed the glowing colors of her fancy. But, observing her uncle’s
steadfast gaze, which appeared to search through the mist of years to
discover the subject of the picture, her curiosity was excited.

“Is it known, my dear uncle,” inquired she, “what this old picture once
represented? Possibly, could it be made visible, it might prove a
masterpiece of some great artist; else, why has it so long held such a
conspicuous place?”

[Illustration:

  y^e young captaine of y^e castle tells y^e story of y^e picture.
]

As her uncle, contrary to his usual custom (for he was as attentive to
all the humors and caprices of Alice as if she had been his own
best-beloved child), did not immediately reply, the young captain of
Castle William took that office upon himself.

“This dark old square of canvas, my fair cousin,” said he, “has been an
heirloom in the Province House from time immemorial. As to the painter,
I can tell you nothing; but, if half the stories told of it be true, not
one of the great Italian masters has ever produced so marvellous a piece
of work as that before you.”

Captain Lincoln proceeded to relate some of the strange fables and
fantasies, which, as it was impossible to refute them by ocular
demonstration, had grown to be articles of popular belief, in reference
to this old picture. One of the wildest and at the same time the best
accredited accounts stated it to be an original and authentic portrait
of the Evil One, taken at a witch meeting near Salem; and that its
strong and terrible resemblance had been confirmed by several of the
confessing wizards and witches, at their trial, in open court. It was
likewise affirmed that a familiar spirit, or demon, abode behind the
blackness of the picture, and had shown himself, at seasons of public
calamity, to more than one of the royal governors. Shirley, for
instance, had beheld this ominous apparition, on the eve of General
Abercrombie’s shameful and bloody defeat under the walls of Ticonderoga.
Many of the servants of the Province House had caught glimpses of a
visage frowning down upon them, at morning or evening twilight, or in
the depths of night, while raking up the fire that glimmered on the
hearth beneath; although, if any were bold enough to hold a torch before
the picture, it would appear as black and undistinguishable as ever. The
oldest inhabitant of Boston recollected that his father, in whose days
the portrait had not wholly faded out of sight, had once looked upon it,
but would never suffer himself to be questioned as to the face which was
there represented. In connection with such stories, it was remarkable
that over the top of the frame there were some ragged remnants of black
silk, indicating that a veil had formerly hung down before the picture,
until the duskiness of time had so effectually concealed it. But, after
all, it was the most singular part of the affair that so many of the
pompous governors of Massachusetts had allowed the obliterated picture
to remain in the state chamber of the Province House.

“Some of these fables are really awful,” observed Alice Vane, who had
occasionally shuddered, as well as smiled, while her cousin spoke. “It
would be almost worth while to wipe away the black surface of the
canvas, since the original picture can hardly be so formidable as those
which fancy paints instead of it.”

“But would it be possible,” inquired her cousin, “to restore this dark
picture to its pristine hues?”

“Such arts are known in Italy,” said Alice.

The Lieutenant-Governor had roused himself from his abstracted mood, and
listened with a smile to the conversation of his young relatives. Yet
his voice had something peculiar in its tones, when he undertook the
explanation of the mystery.

“I am sorry, Alice, to destroy your faith in the legends of which you
are so fond,” remarked he; “but my antiquarian researches have long
since made me acquainted with the subject of this picture,—if picture it
can be called,—which is no more visible, nor ever will be, than the face
of the long-buried man whom it once represented. It was the portrait of
Edward Randolph, the founder of this house, a person famous in the
history of New England.”

[Illustration:

  “Some of these fables are really awful”
]

“Of that Edward Randolph,” exclaimed Captain Lincoln, “who obtained the
repeal of the first provincial charter, under which our forefathers had
enjoyed almost democratic privileges! He that was styled the arch-enemy
of New England, and whose memory is still held in detestation, as the
destroyer of our liberties!”

“It was the same Randolph,” answered Hutchinson, moving uneasily in his
chair. “It was his lot to taste the bitterness of popular odium.”

“Our annals tell us,” continued the Captain of Castle William, “that the
curse of the people followed this Randolph where he went, and wrought
evil in all the subsequent events of his life, and that its effect was
seen likewise in the manner of his death. They say, too, that the inward
misery of that curse worked itself outward, and was visible on the
wretched man’s countenance, making it too horrible to be looked upon. If
so, and if this picture truly represented his aspect, it was in mercy
that the cloud of blackness has gathered over it.”

“These traditions are folly to one who has proved, as I have, how little
of historic truth lies at the bottom,” said the Lieutenant-Governor. “As
regards the life and character of Edward Randolph, too implicit credence
has been given to Dr. Cotton Mather, who—I must say it, though some of
his blood runs in my veins—has filled our early history with old women’s
tales, as fanciful and extravagant as those of Greece or Rome.”

“And yet,” whispered Alice Vane, “may not such fables have a moral? And,
methinks, if the visage of this portrait be so dreadful, it is not
without a cause that it has hung so long in a chamber of the Province
House. When the rulers feel themselves irresponsible, it were well that
they should be reminded of the awful weight of a people’s curse.”

The Lieutenant-Governor started, and gazed for a moment at his niece, as
if her girlish fantasies had struck upon some feeling in his own breast,
which all his policy or principles could not entirely subdue. He knew,
indeed, that Alice, in spite of her foreign education, retained the
native sympathies of a New England girl.

“Peace, silly child,” cried he, at last, more harshly than he had ever
before addressed the gentle Alice. “The rebuke of a king is more to be
dreaded than the clamor of a wild, misguided multitude. Captain Lincoln,
it is decided. The fortress of Castle William must be occupied by the
royal troops. The two remaining regiments shall be billeted in the town,
or encamped upon the Common. It is time, after years of tumult, and
almost rebellion, that his Majesty’s government should have a wall of
strength about it.”

“Trust, sir,—trust yet awhile to the loyalty of the people,” said
Captain Lincoln; “nor teach them that they can ever be on other terms
with British soldiers than those of brotherhood, as when they fought
side by side through the French war. Do not convert the streets of your
native town into a camp. Think twice before you give up old Castle
William, the key of the province, into other keeping than that of
true-born New-Englanders.”

“Young man, it is decided,” repeated Hutchinson, rising from his chair.
“A British officer will be in attendance this evening to receive the
necessary instructions for the disposal of the troops. Your presence
also will be required. Till then, farewell.”

[Illustration:

  Alice beckoned to the picture.
]

With these words the Lieutenant-Governor hastily left the room, while
Alice and her cousin more slowly followed, whispering together, and once
pausing to glance back at the mysterious picture. The Captain of Castle
William fancied that the girl’s air and mien were such as might have
belonged to one of those spirits of fable—fairies, or creatures of a
more antique mythology—who sometimes mingled their agency with mortal
affairs, half in caprice, yet with a sensibility to human weal or woe.
As he held the door for her to pass, Alice beckoned to the picture and
smiled.

“Come forth, dark and evil shape!” cried she. “It is thine hour!”

In the evening, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson sat in the same chamber
where the foregoing scene had occurred, surrounded by several persons
whose various interests had summoned them together. There were the
Selectmen of Boston, plain, patriarchal fathers of the people, excellent
representatives of the old puritanical founders, whose sombre strength
had stamped so deep an impress upon the New England character.
Contrasting with these were one or two members of Council, richly
dressed in the white wigs, the embroidered waistcoats, and other
magnificence of the time, and making a somewhat ostentatious display of
courtier-like ceremonial. In attendance, likewise, was a major of the
British army, awaiting the Lieutenant-Governor’s orders for the landing
of the troops, which still remained on board the transports. The Captain
of Castle William stood beside Hutchinson’s chair, with folded arms,
glancing rather haughtily at the British officer, by whom he was soon to
be superseded in his command. On a table, in the centre of the chamber,
stood a branched silver candlestick, throwing down the glow of half a
dozen wax lights upon a paper, apparently ready for the
Lieutenant-Governor’s signature.

Partly shrouded in the voluminous folds of one of the window-curtains,
which fell from the ceiling to the floor, was seen the white drapery of
a lady’s robe. It may appear strange that Alice Vane should have been
there, at such a time; but there was something so childlike, so wayward,
in her singular character, so apart from ordinary rules, that her
presence did not surprise the few who noticed it. Meantime, the chairman
of the Selectmen was addressing to the Lieutenant-Governor a long and
solemn protest against the reception of the British troops into the
town.

“And if your Honor,” concluded this excellent but somewhat prosy
gentleman, “shall see fit to persist in bringing these mercenary
sworders and musketeers into our quiet streets, not on our heads be the
responsibility. Think, sir, while there is yet time, that if one drop of
blood be shed, that blood shall be an eternal stain upon your Honor’s
memory. You, sir, have written, with an able pen, the deeds of our
forefathers. The more to be desired is it, therefore, that yourself
should deserve honorable mention, as a true patriot and upright ruler,
when your own doings shall be written down in history.”

[Illustration:

  “The Chairman of the Selectmen was addressing to the
    Lieutenant-Governor a Long and Solemn Protest”
]

“I am not insensible, my good sir, to the natural desire to stand well
in the annals of my country,” replied Hutchinson, controlling his
impatience into courtesy, “nor know I any better method of attaining
that end than by withstanding the merely temporary spirit of mischief,
which, with your pardon, seems to have infected elder men than myself.
Would you have me wait till the mob shall sack the Province House, as
they did my private mansion? Trust me, sir, the time may come when you
will be glad to flee for protection to the king’s banner, the raising of
which is now so distasteful to you.”

“Yes,” said the British major, who was impatiently expecting the
Lieutenant-Governor’s orders. “The demagogues of this province have
raised the devil, and cannot lay him again. We will exorcise him, in
God’s name and the king’s.”

“If you meddle with the devil, take care of his claws!” answered the
Captain of Castle William, stirred by the taunt against his countrymen.

“Craving your pardon, young sir,” said the venerable Selectman, “let not
an evil spirit enter into your words. We will strive against the
oppressor with prayer and fasting, as our forefathers would have done.
Like them, moreover, we will submit to whatever lot a wise Providence
may send us,—always, after our own best exertions to amend it.”

“And there peep forth the devil’s claws!” muttered Hutchinson, who well
understood the nature of Puritan submission. “This matter shall be
expedited forthwith. When there shall be a sentinel at every corner, and
a court of guard before the town-house, a loyal gentleman may venture to
walk abroad. What to me is the outcry of a mob, in this remote province
of the realm? The King is my master, and England is my country! Upheld
by their armed strength, I set my foot upon the rabble, and defy them!”

He snatched a pen, and was about to affix his signature to the paper
that lay on the table, when the Captain of Castle William placed his
hand upon his shoulder. The freedom of the action, so contrary to the
ceremonious respect which was then considered due to rank and dignity,
awakened general surprise, and in none more than in the
Lieutenant-Governor himself. Looking angrily up, he perceived that his
young relative was pointing his finger to the opposite wall.
Hutchinson’s eye followed the signal; and he saw, what had hitherto been
unobserved, that a black silk curtain was suspended before the
mysterious picture, so as completely to conceal it. His thoughts
immediately recurred to the scene of the preceding afternoon; and, in
his surprise, confused by indistinct emotions, yet sensible that his
niece must have had an agency in this phenomenon, he called loudly upon
her.

“Alice!—come hither, Alice!”

No sooner had he spoken than Alice Vane glided from her station, and,
pressing one hand across her eyes, with the other snatched away the
sable curtain that concealed the portrait. An exclamation of surprise
burst from every beholder; but the Lieutenant-Governor’s voice had a
tone of horror.

“By Heaven,” said he, in a low, inward murmur, speaking rather to
himself than to those around him, “if the spirit of Edward Randolph were
to appear among us from the place of torment, he could not wear more of
the terrors of hell upon his face!”

[Illustration:

  She snatched away the sable curtain.
]

“For some wise end,” said the aged Selectman solemnly, “hath Providence
scattered away the mist of years that had so long hid this dreadful
effigy. Until this hour no living man hath seen what we behold!”

Within the antique frame, which so recently had enclosed a sable waste
of canvas, now appeared a visible picture, still dark, indeed, in its
hues and shadings, but thrown forward in strong relief. It was a
half-length figure of a gentleman in a rich but very old-fashioned dress
of embroidered velvet, with a broad ruff and a beard, and wearing a hat,
the brim of which overshadowed his forehead. Beneath this cloud the eyes
had a peculiar glare which was almost life-like. The whole portrait
started so distinctly out of the background that it had the effect of a
person looking down from the wall at the astonished and awestricken
spectators. The expression of the face, if any words can convey an idea
of it, was that of a wretch detected in some hideous guilt, and exposed
to the bitter hatred and laughter and withering scorn of a vast
surrounding multitude. There was the struggle of defiance, beaten down
and overwhelmed by the crushing weight of ignominy. The torture of the
soul had come forth upon the countenance. It seemed as if the picture,
while hidden behind the cloud of immemorial years, had been all the time
acquiring an intenser depth and darkness of expression, till now it
gloomed forth again, and threw its evil omen over the present hour.
Such, if the wild legend may be credited, was the portrait of Edward
Randolph, as he appeared when a people’s curse had wrought its influence
upon his nature.

“’Twould drive me mad,—that awful face!” said Hutchinson, who seemed
fascinated by the contemplation of it.

“Be warned, then!” whispered Alice. “He trampled on a people’s rights.
Behold his punishment,—and avoid a crime like his!”

The Lieutenant-Governor actually trembled for an instant; but, exerting
his energy,—which was not, however, his most characteristic feature,—he
strove to shake off the spell of Randolph’s countenance.

“Girl!” cried he, laughing bitterly, as he turned to Alice, “have you
brought hither your painter’s art,—your Italian spirit of intrigue,—your
tricks of stage effect,—and think to influence the councils of rulers
and the affairs of nations by such shallow contrivances? See here!”

“Stay yet awhile,” said the Selectman, as Hutchinson again snatched the
pen; “for if ever mortal man received a warning from a tormented soul,
your Honor is that man!”

“Away!” answered Hutchinson fiercely. “Though yonder senseless picture
cried, ‘Forbear!’ it should not move me!”

Casting a scowl of defiance at the pictured face (which seemed, at that
moment, to intensify the horror of its miserable and wicked look), he
scrawled on the paper, in characters that betokened it a deed of
desperation, the name of Thomas Hutchinson. Then, it is said, he
shuddered, as if that signature had granted away his salvation.

[Illustration]

“It is done,” said he; and placed his hand upon his brow.

“May Heaven forgive the deed,” said the soft, sad accents of Alice Vane,
like the voice of a good spirit flitting away.

When morning came there was a stifled whisper through the household, and
spreading thence about the town, that the dark, mysterious picture had
started from the wall, and spoken face to face with Lieutenant-Governor
Hutchinson. If such a miracle had been wrought, however, no traces of it
remained behind; for within the antique frame nothing could be
discerned, save the impenetrable cloud which had covered the canvas
since the memory of man. If the figure had, indeed, stepped forth, it
had fled back, spirit-like, at the day-dawn, and hidden itself behind a
century’s obscurity. The truth probably was that Alice Vane’s secret for
restoring the hues of the picture had merely effected a temporary
renovation. But those who, in that brief interval, had beheld the awful
visage of Edward Randolph, desired no second glance, and ever afterwards
trembled at the recollection of the scene, as if an evil spirit had
appeared visibly among them. And as for Hutchinson, when, far over the
ocean, his dying hour drew on, he gasped for breath, and complained that
he was choking with the blood of the Boston massacre; and Francis
Lincoln, the former Captain of Castle William, who was standing at his
bedside, perceived a likeness in his frenzied look to that of Edward
Randolph. Did his broken spirit feel, at that dread hour, the tremendous
burden of a people’s curse?


At the conclusion of this miraculous legend, I inquired of mine host
whether the picture still remained in the chamber over our heads; but
Mr. Tiffany informed me that it had long since been removed, and was
supposed to be hidden in some out-of-the-way corner of the New England
Museum. Perchance some curious antiquary may light upon it there, and,
with the assistance of Mr. Howorth, the picture-cleaner, may supply a
not unnecessary proof of the authenticity of the facts here set down.
During the progress of the story a storm had been gathering abroad, and
raging and rattling so loudly in the upper regions of the Province
House, that it seemed as if all the old governors and great men were
running riot above stairs, while Mr. Bela Tiffany babbled of them below.
In the course of generations, when many people have lived and died in an
ancient house, the whistling of the wind through its crannies, and the
creaking of its beams and rafters, become strangely like the tones of
the human voice, or thundering laughter, or heavy footsteps treading the
deserted chambers. It is as if the echoes of half a century were
revived. Such were the ghostly sounds that roared and murmured in our
ears, when I took leave of the circle round the fireside of the Province
House, and, plunging down the doorsteps, fought my way homeward against
a drifting snow-storm.

[Illustration: LADYE ELEANORES MANTLE]




                                  III.
                        LADY ELEANORE’S MANTLE.


Mine excellent friend, the landlord of the Province House, was pleased,
the other evening, to invite Mr. Tiffany and myself to an oyster-supper.
This slight mark of respect and gratitude, as he handsomely observed,
was far less than the ingenious tale-teller, and I, the humble
note-taker of his narratives, had fairly earned, by the public notice
which our joint lucubrations had attracted to his establishment. Many a
cigar had been smoked within his premises,—many a glass of wine, or more
potent aqua vitæ, had been quaffed,—many a dinner had been eaten by
curious strangers, who, save for the fortunate conjunction of Mr.
Tiffany and me, would never have ventured through that darksome avenue
which gives access to the historic precincts of the Province House. In
short, if any credit be due to the courteous assurances of Mr. Thomas
Waite, we had brought his forgotten mansion almost as effectually into
public view as if we had thrown down the vulgar range of shoeshops and
dry-goods stores which hides its aristocratic front from Washington
Street. It may be unadvisable, however, to speak too loudly of the
increased custom of the house, lest Mr. Waite should find it difficult
to renew the lease on so favorable terms as heretofore.

Being thus welcomed as benefactors, neither Mr. Tiffany nor myself felt
any scruple in doing full justice to the good things that were set
before us. If the feast were less magnificent than those same panelled
walls had witnessed in a bygone century,—if mine host presided with
somewhat less of state than might have befitted a successor of the royal
governors,—if the guests made a less imposing show than the bewigged and
powdered and embroidered dignitaries who erst banqueted at the
gubernatorial table, and now sleep within their armorial tombs on Copp’s
Hill or round King’s Chapel,—yet never, I may boldly say, did a more
comfortable little party assemble in the Province House, from Queen
Anne’s days to the Revolution. The occasion was rendered more
interesting by the presence of a venerable personage, whose own actual
reminiscences went back to the epoch of Gage and Howe, and even supplied
him with a doubtful anecdote or two of Hutchinson. He was one of that
small, and now all but extinguished class, whose attachment to royalty,
and to the colonial institutions and customs that were connected with
it, had never yielded to the democratic heresies of after times. The
young queen of Britain has not a more loyal subject in her realm—perhaps
not one who would kneel before her throne with such reverential
love—than this old grandsire, whose head has whitened beneath the mild
sway of the Republic, which still, in his mellower moments, he terms a
usurpation. Yet prejudices so obstinate have not made him an ungentle or
impracticable companion. If the truth must be told, the life of the aged
loyalist has been of such a scrambling and unsettled character,—he has
had so little choice of friends, and been so often destitute of
any,—that I doubt whether he would refuse a cup of kindness with either
Oliver Cromwell or John Hancock; to say nothing of any democrat now upon
the stage. In another paper of this series, I may, perhaps, give the
reader a closer glimpse of his portrait.

Our host, in due season, uncorked a bottle of Madeira of such exquisite
perfume and desirable flavor that he surely must have discovered it in
an ancient bin, down deep beneath the deepest cellar, where some jolly
old butler stored away the Governor’s choicest wine, and forgot to
reveal the secret on his death-bed. Peace to his red-nosed ghost, and a
libation to his memory! This precious liquor was imbibed by Mr. Tiffany
with peculiar zest; and, after sipping the third glass, it was his
pleasure to give us one of the oddest legends which he had yet raked
from the storehouse where he keeps such matters. With some suitable
adornments from my own fancy, it ran pretty much as follows.


Not long after Colonel Shute had assumed the government of Massachusetts
Bay, now nearly a hundred and twenty years ago, a young lady of rank and
fortune arrived from England, to claim his protection as her guardian.
He was her distant relative, but the nearest who had survived the
gradual extinction of her family; so that no more eligible shelter could
be found for the rich and high-born Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe than within
the Province House of a transatlantic colony. The consort of Governor
Shute, moreover, had been as a mother to her childhood, and was now
anxious to receive her, in the hope that a beautiful young woman would
be exposed to infinitely less peril from the primitive society of New
England than amid the artifices and corruptions of a court. If either
the Governor or his lady had especially consulted their own comfort,
they would probably have sought to devolve the responsibility on other
hands; since, with some noble and splendid traits of character, Lady
Eleanore was remarkable for a harsh, unyielding pride, a haughty
consciousness of her hereditary and personal advantages, which made her
almost incapable of control. Judging from many traditionary anecdotes,
this peculiar temper was hardly less than a monomania; or, if the acts
which it inspired were those of a sane person, it seemed due from
Providence that pride so sinful should be followed by as severe a
retribution. That tinge of the marvellous which is thrown over so many
of these half-forgotten legends has probably imparted an additional
wildness to the strange story of Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe.

The ship in which she came passenger had arrived at Newport, whence Lady
Eleanore was conveyed to Boston in the Governor’s coach, attended by a
small escort of gentlemen on horseback. The ponderous equipage, with its
four black horses, attracted much notice as it rumbled through Cornhill,
surrounded by the prancing steeds of half a dozen cavaliers, with swords
dangling to their stirrups and pistols at their holsters. Through the
large glass windows of the coach, as it rolled along, the people could
discern the figure of Lady Eleanore, strangely combining an almost
queenly stateliness with the grace and beauty of a maiden in her teens.
A singular tale had gone abroad among the ladies of the province, that
their fair rival was indebted for much of the irresistible charm of her
appearance to a certain article of dress,—an embroidered mantle,—which
had been wrought by the most skilful artist in London, and possessed
even magical properties of adornment. On the present occasion, however,
she owed nothing to the witchery of dress, being clad in a riding-habit
of velvet, which would have appeared stiff and ungraceful on any other
form.

[Illustration:

  Y^e beauteous Ladye Eleanore cometh to Boston—
]

[Illustration:

  “A Pale Young Man ... prostrated himself beside the Coach”
]

The coachman reined in his four black steeds, and the whole cavalcade
came to a pause in front of the contorted iron balustrade that fenced
the Province House from the public street. It was an awkward coincidence
that the bell of the Old South was just then tolling for a funeral; so
that, instead of a gladsome peal, with which it was customary to
announce the arrival of distinguished strangers, Lady Eleanore
Rochcliffe was ushered by a doleful clang, as if calamity had come
embodied in her beautiful person.

“A very great disrespect!” exclaimed Captain Langford, an English
officer, who had recently brought despatches to Governor Shute. “The
funeral should have been deferred, lest Lady Eleanore’s spirits be
affected by such a dismal welcome.”

“With your pardon, sir,” replied Dr. Clarke, a physician, and a famous
champion of the popular party, “whatever the heralds may pretend, a dead
beggar must have precedence of a living queen. King Death confers high
privileges.”

These remarks were interchanged while the speakers waited a passage
through the crowd, which had gathered on each side of the gateway,
leaving an open avenue to the portal of the Province House. A black
slave in livery now leaped from behind the coach, and threw open the
door; while at the same moment Governor Shute descended the flight of
steps from his mansion, to assist Lady Eleanore in alighting. But the
Governor’s stately approach was anticipated in a manner that excited
general astonishment. A pale young man, with his black hair all in
disorder, rushed from the throng, and prostrated himself beside the
coach, thus offering his person as a footstool for Lady Eleanore
Rochcliffe to tread upon. She held back an instant; yet with an
expression as if doubting whether the young man were worthy to bear the
weight of her footstep, rather than dissatisfied to receive such awful
reverence from a fellow-mortal.

[Illustration:

  Governor Shute descended the flight of steps.
]

“Up, sir,” said the Governor sternly, at the same time lifting his cane
over the intruder. “What means the Bedlamite by this freak?”

“Nay,” answered Lady Eleanore playfully, but with more scorn than pity
in her tone, “your Excellency shall not strike him. When men seek only
to be trampled upon, it were a pity to deny them a favor so easily
granted—and so well deserved.”

Then, though as lightly as a sunbeam on a cloud, she placed her foot
upon the cowering form, and extended her hand to meet that of the
Governor. There was a brief interval, during which Lady Eleanore
retained this attitude; and never, surely, was there an apter emblem of
aristocracy and hereditary pride trampling on human sympathies and the
kindred of nature than these two figures presented at that moment. Yet
the spectators were so smitten with her beauty, and so essential did
pride seem to the existence of such a creature, that they gave a
simultaneous acclamation of applause.

“Who is this insolent young fellow?” inquired Captain Langford, who
still remained beside Dr. Clarke. “If he be in his senses, his
impertinence demands the bastinado. If mad, Lady Eleanore should be
secured from further inconvenience, by his confinement.”

“His name is Jervase Helwyse,” answered the Doctor; “a youth of no birth
or fortune, or other advantages, save the mind and soul that nature gave
him; and, being secretary to our colonial agent in London, it was his
misfortune to meet this Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe. He loved her,—and her
scorn has driven him mad.”

“He was mad so to aspire,” observed the English officer.

“It may be so,” said Dr. Clarke, frowning as he spoke. “But I tell you,
sir, I could well-nigh doubt the justice of the heaven above us, if no
signal humiliation overtake this lady, who now treads so haughtily into
yonder mansion. She seeks to place herself above the sympathies of our
common nature, which envelops all human souls. See, if that nature do
not assert its claim over her in some mode that shall bring her level
with the lowest!”

“Never!” cried Captain Langford indignantly; “neither in life, nor when
they lay her with her ancestors.”

Not many days afterwards the Governor gave a ball in honor of Lady
Eleanore Rochcliffe. The principal gentry of the colony received
invitations, which were distributed to their residences, far and near,
by messengers on horseback, bearing missives sealed with all the
formality of official despatches. In obedience to the summons, there was
a general gathering of rank, wealth, and beauty; and the wide door of
the Province House had seldom given admittance to more numerous and
honorable guests than on the evening of Lady Eleanore’s ball. Without
much extravagance of eulogy, the spectacle might even be termed
splendid; for, according to the fashion of the times, the ladies shone
in rich silks and satins, outspread over wide-projecting hoops; and the
gentlemen glittered in gold embroidery, laid unsparingly upon the
purple, or scarlet, or sky-blue velvet, which was the material of their
coats and waistcoats. The latter article of dress was of great
importance, since it enveloped the wearer’s body nearly to the knees,
and was perhaps bedizened with the amount of his whole year’s income, in
golden flowers and foliage. The altered taste of the present day—a taste
symbolic of a deep change in the whole system of society—would look upon
almost any of those gorgeous figures as ridiculous; although that
evening the guests sought their reflections in the pier-glasses, and
rejoiced to catch their own glitter amid the glittering crowd. What a
pity that one of the stately mirrors has not preserved a picture of the
scene, which, by the very traits that were so transitory, might have
taught us much that would be worth knowing and remembering.

Would, at least, that either painter or mirror could convey to us some
faint idea of a garment, already noticed in this legend,—the Lady
Eleanore’s embroidered mantle,—which the gossips whispered was invested
with magic properties, so as to lend a new and untried grace to her
figure each time that she put it on! Idle fancy as it is, this
mysterious mantle has thrown an awe around my image of her, partly from
its fabled virtues, and partly because it was the handiwork of a dying
woman, and, perchance, owed the fantastic grace of its conception to the
delirium of approaching death.

[Illustration:

  A gathering of rank, wealth and beauty
]

After the ceremonial greetings had been paid, Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe
stood apart from the mob of guests, insulating herself within a small
and distinguished circle, to whom she accorded a more cordial favor than
to the general throng. The waxen torches threw their radiance vividly
over the scene, bringing out its brilliant points in strong relief; but
she gazed carelessly, and with now and then an expression of weariness
or scorn, tempered with such feminine grace that her auditors scarcely
perceived the moral deformity of which it was the utterance. She beheld
the spectacle, not with vulgar ridicule, as disdaining to be pleased
with the provincial mockery of a court festival, but with the deeper
scorn of one whose spirit held itself too high to participate in the
enjoyment of other human souls. Whether or no the recollections of those
who saw her that evening were influenced by the strange events with
which she was subsequently connected, so it was that her figure ever
after recurred to them as marked by something wild and unnatural;
although, at the time, the general whisper was of her exceeding beauty,
and of the indescribable charm which her mantle threw around her. Some
close observers, indeed, detected a feverish flush and alternate
paleness of countenance, with a corresponding flow and revulsion of
spirits, and once or twice a painful and helpless betrayal of lassitude,
as if she were on the point of sinking to the ground. Then, with a
nervous shudder, she seemed to arouse her energies, and threw some
bright and playful, yet half-wicked sarcasm into the conversation. There
was so strange a characteristic in her manners and sentiments that it
astonished every right-minded listener; till, looking in her face, a
lurking and incomprehensible glance and smile perplexed them with doubts
both as to her seriousness and sanity. Gradually, Lady Eleanore
Rochcliffe’s circle grew smaller, till only four gentlemen remained in
it. These were Captain Langford, the English officer before mentioned; a
Virginian planter, who had come to Massachusetts on some political
errand; a young Episcopal clergyman, the grandson of a British Earl;
and, lastly, the private secretary of Governor Shute, whose
obsequiousness had won a sort of tolerance from Lady Eleanore.

At different periods of the evening the liveried servants of the
Province House passed among the guests, bearing huge trays of
refreshments, and French and Spanish wines. Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe,
who refused to wet her beautiful lips even with a bubble of champagne,
had sunk back into a large damask chair, apparently overwearied either
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 dishevelled 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.”

[Illustration:

  “I pray you take one sip of this holy wine.”
]

“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
recognized 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.

“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.

“Farewell, Jervase Helwyse!” said she. “Keep my image in your
remembrance, as you behold it now.”

“Alas, lady!” he replied, in a tone no longer wild, but sad as a funeral
bell. “We must meet shortly, when your face may wear another aspect, and
that shall be the image that must abide within me.”

He made no more resistance to the violent efforts of the gentlemen and
servants, who almost dragged him out of the apartment, and dismissed him
roughly from the iron gate of the Province House. Captain Langford, who
had been very active in this affair, was returning to the presence of
Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe, when he encountered the physician, Dr. Clarke,
with whom he had held some casual talk on the day of her arrival. The
Doctor stood apart, separated from Lady Eleanore by the width of the
room, but eying her with such keen sagacity that Captain Langford
involuntarily gave him credit for the discovery of some deep secret.

[Illustration:

  Keep my image in your remembrance
]

“You appear to be smitten, after all, with the charms of this queenly
maiden,” said he, hoping thus to draw forth the physician’s hidden
knowledge.

[Illustration:

  The communication could be of no agreeable import.
]

“God forbid!” answered Dr. Clarke, with a grave smile; “and if you be
wise, you will put up the same prayer for yourself. Woe to those who
shall be smitten by this beautiful Lady Eleanore! But yonder stands the
Governor, and I have a word or two for his private ear. Good night!”

He accordingly advanced to Governor Shute, and addressed him in so low a
tone that none of the bystanders could catch a word of what he said;
although the sudden change of his Excellency’s hitherto cheerful visage
betokened that the communication could be of no agreeable import. A very
few moments afterwards, it was announced to the guests that an
unforeseen circumstance rendered it necessary to put a premature close
to the festival.

The ball at the Province House supplied a topic of conversation for the
colonial metropolis for some days after its occurrence, and might still
longer have been the general theme, only that a subject of
all-engrossing interest thrust it, for a time, from the public
recollection. This was the appearance of a dreadful epidemic, which in
that age, and long before and afterwards, was wont to slay its hundreds
and thousands on both sides of the Atlantic. On the occasion of which we
speak, it was distinguished by a peculiar virulence, insomuch that it
has left its traces—its pit-marks, to use an appropriate figure—on the
history of the country, the affairs of which were thrown into confusion
by its ravages. At first, unlike its ordinary course, the disease seemed
to confine itself to the higher circles of society, selecting its
victims from among the proud, the well-born, and the wealthy; entering
unabashed into stately chambers, and lying down with the slumberers in
silken beds. Some of the most distinguished guests of the Province
House—even those whom the haughty Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe had deemed
not unworthy of her favor—were stricken by this fatal scourge. It was
noticed, with an ungenerous bitterness of feeling, that the four
gentlemen—the Virginian, the British officer, the young clergyman, and
the Governor’s secretary—who had been her most devoted attendants on the
evening of the ball, were the foremost on whom the plague-stroke fell.
But the disease, pursuing its onward progress, soon ceased to be
exclusively a prerogative of aristocracy. Its red brand was no longer
conferred like a noble’s star, or an order of knighthood. It threaded
its way through the narrow and crooked streets, and entered the low,
mean, darksome dwellings, and laid its hand of death upon the artisans
and laboring classes of the town. It compelled rich and poor to feel
themselves brethren, then; and stalking to and fro across the Three
Hills, with a fierceness which made it almost a new pestilence, there
was that mighty conqueror—that scourge and horror of our forefathers—the
Small-Pox!

We cannot estimate the affright which this plague inspired of yore, by
contemplating it as the fangless monster of the present day. We must
remember, rather, with what awe we watched the gigantic footsteps of the
Asiatic cholera, striding from shore to shore of the Atlantic, and
marching like destiny upon cities far remote, which flight had already
half depopulated. There is no other fear so horrible and unhumanizing as
that which makes man dread to breathe Heaven’s vital air, lest it be
poison, or to grasp the hand of a brother or friend, lest the gripe of
the pestilence should clutch him. Such was the dismay that now followed
in the track of the disease, or ran before it throughout the town.
Graves were hastily dug, and the pestilential relics as hastily covered,
because the dead were enemies of the living, and strove to draw them
headlong, as it were, into their own dismal pit. The public councils
were suspended, as if mortal wisdom might relinquish its devices, now
that an unearthly usurper had found his way into the ruler’s mansion.
Had an enemy’s fleet been hovering on the coast, or his armies trampling
on our soil, the people would probably have committed their defence to
that same direful conqueror who had wrought their own calamity, and
would permit no interference with his sway. This conqueror had a symbol
of his triumphs. It was a bloodred flag, that fluttered in the tainted
air over the door of every dwelling into which the Small-Pox had
entered.

Such a banner was long since waving over the portal of the Province
House; for thence, as was proved by tracking its footsteps back, had all
this dreadful mischief issued. It had been traced back to a lady’s
luxurious chamber,—to the proudest of the proud,—to her that was so
delicate, and hardly owned herself of earthly mould,—to the haughty one,
who took her stand above human sympathies,—to Lady Eleanore! There
remained no room for doubt that the contagion had lurked in that
gorgeous mantle, which threw so strange a grace around her at the
festival. Its fantastic splendor had been conceived in the delirious
brain of a woman on her death-bed, and was the last toil of her
stiffening fingers, which had interwoven fate and misery with its golden
threads. This dark tale, whispered at first, was now bruited far and
wide. The people raved against the Lady Eleanore, and cried out that her
pride and scorn had evoked a fiend, and that, between them both, this
monstrous evil had been born. At times, their rage and despair took the
semblance of grinning mirth; and whenever the red flag of the pestilence
was hoisted over another and yet another door, they clapped their hands
and shouted through the streets in bitter mockery, “Behold a new triumph
for the Lady Eleanore!”

One day, in the midst of these dismal times, a wild figure approached
the portal of the Province House, and, folding his arms, stood
contemplating the scarlet banner, which a passing breeze shook fitfully,
as if to fling abroad the contagion that it typified. At length,
climbing one of the pillars by means of the iron balustrade, he took
down the flag, and entered the mansion, waving it above his head. At the
foot of the staircase he met the Governor, booted and spurred, with his
cloak drawn around him, evidently on the point of setting forth upon a
journey.

“Wretched lunatic, what do you seek here?” exclaimed Shute, extending
his cane to guard himself from contact. “There is nothing here but
Death. Back,—or you will meet him!”

“Death will not touch me, the banner-bearer of the pestilence!” cried
Jervase Helwyse, shaking the red flag aloft. “Death and the Pestilence,
who wears the aspect of the Lady Eleanore, will walk through the streets
to-night, and I must march before them with this banner!”

[Illustration:

  “Young man, what is your purpose?”
]

“Why do I waste words on the fellow?” muttered the Governor, drawing his
cloak across his mouth. “What matters his miserable life, when none of
us are sure of twelve hours’ breath? On, fool, to your own destruction!”

He made way for Jervase Helwyse, who immediately ascended the staircase,
but, on the first landing-place, was arrested by the firm grasp of a
hand upon his shoulder. Looking fiercely up, with a madman’s impulse to
struggle with and rend asunder his opponent, he found himself powerless
beneath a calm, stern eye, which possessed the mysterious property of
quelling frenzy at its height. The person whom he had now encountered
was the physician, Dr. Clarke, the duties of whose sad profession had
led him to the Province House, where he was an infrequent guest in more
prosperous times.

“Young man, what is your purpose?” demanded he.

“I seek the Lady Eleanore,” answered Jervase Helwyse submissively.

“All have fled from her,” said the physician. “Why do you seek her now?
I tell you, youth, her nurse fell death-stricken on the threshold of
that fatal chamber. Know ye not that never came such a curse to our
shores as this lovely Lady Eleanore?—that her breath has filled the air
with poison?—that she has shaken pestilence and death upon the land,
from the folds of her accursed mantle?”

“Let me look upon her!” rejoined the mad youth more wildly. “Let me
behold her, in her awful beauty, clad in the regal garments of the
pestilence! She and Death sit on a throne together. Let me kneel down
before them!”

“Poor youth!” said Dr. Clarke; and, moved by a deep sense of human
weakness, a smile of caustic humor curled his lip even then. “Wilt thou
still worship the destroyer, and surround her image with fantasies the
more magnificent, the more evil 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 recognized its tones.

“My throat!—my throat is scorched,” murmured the voice. “A drop of
water!”

“What thing art thou?” said the brain-stricken youth, drawing near the
bed and tearing asunder its curtains. “Whose voice hast thou stolen for
thy murmurs and miserable petitions, as if Lady Eleanore could be
conscious of mortal infirmity? Fie! Heap of diseased mortality, why
lurkest thou in my lady’s chamber?”

“O Jervase Helwyse,” said the voice,—and, as it spoke, the figure
contorted itself, struggling to hide its blasted face,—“look not now on
the woman you once loved! The curse of Heaven hath stricken me, because
I would not call man my brother, nor woman sister. I wrapped myself in
PRIDE as in a MANTLE, and scorned the sympathies of nature; and
therefore has nature made this wretched body the medium of a dreadful
sympathy. You are avenged,—they are all avenged,—nature is avenged,—for
I am Eleanore Rochcliffe!”

The malice of his mental disease, the bitterness lurking at the bottom
of his heart, mad as he was, for a blighted and ruined life, and love
that had been paid with cruel scorn, awoke within the breast of Jervase
Helwyse. He shook his finger at the wretched girl, and the chamber
echoed, the curtains of the bed were shaken, with his outburst of insane
merriment.

[Illustration:

  “What thing art thou?”
]

“Another triumph for the Lady Eleanore!” he cried. “All have been her
victims! Who so worthy to be the final victim as herself?”

[Illustration:

  “That Night a Procession passed by Torchlight”
]

Impelled by some new fantasy of his crazed intellect, he snatched the
fatal mantle and rushed from the chamber and the house. That night, a
procession passed, by torchlight, through the streets, bearing in the
midst the figure of a woman, enveloped with a richly embroidered mantle;
while in advance stalked Jervase Helwyse, waving the red flag of the
pestilence. Arriving opposite the Province House, the mob burned the
effigy, and a strong wind came and swept away the ashes. It was said
that, from that very hour, the pestilence abated, as if its sway had
some mysterious connection, from the first plague-stroke to the last,
with Lady Eleanore’s Mantle. A remarkable uncertainty broods over that
unhappy lady’s fate. There is a belief, however, that, in a certain
chamber of this mansion, a female form may sometimes be duskily
discerned, shrinking into the darkest corner, and muffling her face
within an embroidered mantle. Supposing the legend true, can this be
other than the once proud Lady Eleanore?


Mine host, and the old loyalist, and I bestowed no little warmth of
applause upon this narrative, in which we had all been deeply
interested; for the reader can scarcely conceive how unspeakably the
effect of such a tale is heightened when, as in the present case, we may
repose perfect confidence in the veracity of him who tells it. For my
own part, knowing how scrupulous is Mr. Tiffany to settle the foundation
of his facts, I could not have believed him one whit the more faithfully
had he professed himself an eye-witness of the doings and sufferings of
poor Lady Eleanore. Some sceptics, it is true, might demand documentary
evidence, or even require him to produce the embroidered mantle,
forgetting that—Heaven be praised—it was consumed to ashes. But now the
old loyalist, whose blood was warmed by the good cheer, began to talk,
in his turn, about the traditions of the Province House, and hinted that
he, if it were agreeable, might add a few reminiscences to our legendary
stock. Mr. Tiffany, having no cause to dread a rival, immediately
besought him to favor us with a specimen; my own entreaties, of course,
were urged to the same effect; and our venerable guest, well pleased to
find willing auditors, awaited only the return of Mr. Thomas Waite, who
had been summoned forth to provide accommodations for several new
arrivals. Perchance the public—but be this as its own caprice and ours
shall settle the matter—may read the result in another Tale of the
Province House.

[Illustration: Old Esther Dudley.]




                                  IV.
                           OLD ESTHER DUDLEY.


Our host having resumed the chair, he, as well as Mr. Tiffany and
myself, expressed much eagerness to be made acquainted with the story to
which the loyalist had alluded. That venerable man first of all saw fit
to moisten his throat with another glass of wine, and then, turning his
face towards our coal fire, looked steadfastly for a few moments into
the depths of its cheerful glow. Finally, he poured forth a great
fluency of speech. The generous liquid that he had imbibed, while it
warmed his age-chilled blood, likewise took off the chill from his heart
and mind, and gave him an energy to think and feel, which we could
hardly have expected to find beneath the snows of fourscore winters. His
feelings, indeed, appeared to me more excitable than those of a younger
man; or, at least, the same degree of feeling manifested itself by more
visible effects than if his judgment and will had possessed the potency
of meridian life. At the pathetic passages of his narrative, he readily
melted into tears. When a breath of indignation swept across his spirit,
the blood flushed his withered visage even to the roots of his white
hair; and he shook his clinched fist at the trio of peaceful auditors,
seeming to fancy enemies in those who felt very kindly towards the
desolate old soul. But ever and anon, sometimes in the midst of his most
earnest talk, this ancient person’s intellect would wander vaguely,
losing its hold of the matter in hand, and groping for it amid misty
shadows. Then would he cackle forth a feeble laugh, and express a doubt
whether his wits—for by that phrase it pleased our ancient friend to
signify his mental powers—were not getting a little the worse for wear.

Under these disadvantages, the old loyalist’s story required more
revision to render it fit for the public eye than those of the series
which have preceded it; nor should it be concealed that the sentiment
and tone of the affair may have undergone some slight, or perchance more
than slight metamorphosis, in its transmission to the reader through the
medium of a thoroughgoing democrat. The tale itself is a mere sketch,
with no involution of plot, nor any great interest of events, yet
possessing, if I have rehearsed it aright, that pensive influence over
the mind, which the shadow of the old Province House flings upon the
loiterer in its courtyard.


The hour had come—the hour of defeat and humiliation—when Sir William
Howe was to pass over the threshold of the Province House, and embark,
with no such triumphal ceremonies as he once promised himself, on board
the British fleet. He bade his servants and military attendants go
before him, and lingered a moment in the loneliness of the mansion, to
quell the fierce emotions that struggled in his bosom as with a
death-throb. Preferable, then, would he have deemed his fate had a
warrior’s death left him a claim to the narrow territory of a grave,
within the soil which the king had given him to defend. With an ominous
perception that, as his departing footsteps echoed adown the staircase,
the sway of Britain was passing forever from New England, he smote his
clinched hand on his brow, and cursed the destiny that had flung the
shame of a dismembered empire upon him.

“Would to God,” cried he, hardly repressing his tears of rage, “that the
rebels were even now at the doorstep! A blood-stain upon the floor
should then bear testimony that the last British ruler was faithful to
his trust.”

The tremulous voice of a woman replied to his exclamation.

“Heaven’s cause and the King’s are one,” it said. “Go forth, Sir William
Howe, and trust in Heaven to bring back a royal governor in triumph.”

Subduing at once the passion to which he had yielded only in the faith
that it was unwitnessed, Sir William Howe became conscious that an aged
woman, leaning on a gold-headed staff, was standing betwixt him and the
door. It was old Esther Dudley, who had dwelt almost immemorial years in
this mansion, until her presence seemed as inseparable from it as the
recollections of its history. She was the daughter of an ancient and
once eminent family, which had fallen into poverty and decay, and left
its last descendant no resource save the bounty of the king, nor any
shelter except within the walls of the Province House. An office in the
household, with merely nominal duties, had been assigned to her as a
pretext for the payment of a small pension, the greater part of which
she expended in adorning herself with an antique magnificence of attire.
The claims of Esther Dudley’s gentle blood were acknowledged by all the
successive governors; and they treated her with the punctilious courtesy
which it was her foible to demand, not always with success, from a
neglectful world. The only actual share which she assumed in the
business of the mansion was to glide through its passages and public
chambers, late at night, to see that the servants had dropped no fire
from their flaring torches, nor left embers crackling and blazing on the
hearths. Perhaps it was this invariable custom of walking her rounds in
the hush of midnight that caused the superstition of the times to invest
the old woman with attributes of awe and mystery; fabling that she had
entered the portal of the Province House, none knew whence, in the train
of the first royal governor, and that it was her fate to dwell there
till the last should have departed. But Sir William Howe, if he ever
heard this legend, had forgotten it.

“Mistress Dudley, why are you loitering here?” asked he, with some
severity of tone. “It is my pleasure to be the last in this mansion of
the king.”

“Not so, if it please your Excellency,” answered the time-stricken
woman. “This roof has sheltered me long. I will not pass from it until
they bear me to the tomb of my forefathers. What other shelter is there
for old Esther Dudley, save the Province House or the grave?”

“Now Heaven forgive me!” said Sir William Howe to himself. “I was about
to leave this wretched old creature to starve or beg. Take this, good
Mistress Dudley,” he added, putting a purse into her hands. “King
George’s head on these golden guineas is sterling yet, and will continue
so, I warrant you, even should the rebels crown John Hancock their king.
That purse will buy a better shelter than the Province House can now
afford.”

“While the burden of life remains upon me, I will have no other shelter
than this roof,” persisted Esther Dudley, striking her staff upon the
floor, with a gesture that expressed immovable resolve. “And when your
Excellency returns in triumph, I will totter into the porch to welcome
you.”

[Illustration:

  “Heaven’s cause and the King’s are one”
]

“My poor old friend!” answered the British General; and all his manly
and martial pride could no longer restrain a gush of bitter tears. “This
is an evil hour for you and me. The province which the king intrusted to
my charge is lost. I go hence in misfortune—perchance in disgrace—to
return no more. And you, whose present being is incorporated with the
past,—who have seen governor after governor, in stately pageantry,
ascend these steps,—whose whole life has been an observance of majestic
ceremonies, and a worship of the king,—how will you endure the change?
Come with us! Bid farewell to a land that has shaken off its allegiance,
and live still under a royal government, at Halifax.”

“Never, never!” said the pertinacious old dame. “Here will I abide; and
King George shall still have one true subject in his disloyal province.”

“Beshrew the old fool!” muttered Sir William Howe, growing impatient of
her obstinacy, and ashamed of the emotion into which he had been
betrayed. “She is the very moral of old-fashioned prejudice, and could
exist nowhere but in this musty edifice. Well, then, Mistress Dudley,
since you will needs tarry, I give the Province House in charge to you.
Take this key, and keep it safe until myself, or some other royal
governor, shall demand it of you.”

Smiling bitterly at himself and her, he took the heavy key of the
Province House, and, delivering it into the old lady’s hands, drew his
cloak around him for departure. As the General glanced back at Esther
Dudley’s antique figure, he deemed her well fitted for such a charge, as
being so perfect a representative of the decayed past,—of an age gone
by, with its manners, opinions, faith, and feelings, all fallen into
oblivion or scorn,—of what had once been a reality, but was now merely a
vision of faded magnificence. Then Sir William Howe strode forth,
smiting his clinched hands together, in the fierce anguish of his
spirit; and old Esther Dudley was left to keep watch in the lonely
Province House, dwelling there with memory; and if Hope ever seemed to
flit around her, still it was Memory in disguise.

[Illustration:

  Take this key and keep it safe—
]

The total change of affairs that ensued on the departure of the British
troops did not drive the venerable lady from her stronghold. There was
not, for many years afterwards, a governor of Massachusetts; and the
magistrates, who had charge of such matters, saw no objection to Esther
Dudley’s residence in the Province House, especially as they must
otherwise have paid a hireling for taking care of the premises, which
with her was a labor of love. And so they left her, the undisturbed
mistress of the old historic edifice. Many and strange were the fables
which the gossips whispered about her, in all the chimney-corners of the
town. Among the time-worn articles of furniture that had been left in
the mansion, there was a tall, antique mirror, which was well worthy of
a tale by itself, and perhaps may hereafter be the theme of one. The
gold of its heavily wrought frame was tarnished, and its surface so
blurred that the old woman’s figure, whenever she paused before it,
looked indistinct and ghost-like. But it was the general belief that
Esther could cause the governors of the overthrown dynasty, with the
beautiful ladies who had once adorned their festivals, the Indian chiefs
who had come up to the Province House to hold council or swear
allegiance, the grim provincial warriors, the severe clergymen,—in
short, all the pageantry of gone days,—all the figures that ever swept
across the broad plate of glass in former times,—she could cause the
whole to re-appear, and people the inner world of the mirror with
shadows of old life. Such legends as these, together with the
singularity of her isolated existence, her age, and the infirmity that
each added winter flung upon her, made Mistress Dudley the object both
of fear and pity; and it was partly the result of either sentiment that,
amid all the angry license of the times, neither wrong nor insult ever
fell upon her unprotected head. Indeed, there was so much haughtiness in
her demeanor towards intruders, among whom she reckoned all persons
acting under the new authorities, that it was really an affair of no
small nerve to look her in the face. And to do the people justice, stern
republicans as they had now become, they were well content that the old
gentlewoman, in her hoop petticoat and faded embroidery, should still
haunt the palace of ruined pride and overthrown power, the symbol of a
departed system, embodying a history in her person. So Esther Dudley
dwelt, year after year, in the Province House, still reverencing all
that others had flung aside, still faithful to her king, who, so long as
the venerable dame yet held her post, might be said to retain one true
subject in New England, and one spot of the empire that had been wrested
from him.

And did she dwell there in utter loneliness? Rumor said, not so.
Whenever her chill and withered heart desired warmth, she was wont to
summon a black slave of Governor Shirley’s from the blurred mirror, and
send him in search of guests who had long ago been familiar in those
deserted chambers. Forth went the sable messenger, with the starlight or
the moonshine gleaming through him, and did his errand in the
burial-ground, knocking at the iron doors of tombs, or upon the marble
slabs that covered them, and whispering to those within, “My mistress,
old Esther Dudley, bids you to the Province House at midnight.” And
punctually as the clock of the Old South told twelve came the shadows of
the Olivers, the Hutchinsons, the Dudleys, all the grandees of a bygone
generation, gliding beneath the portal into the well-known mansion,
where Esther mingled with them as if she likewise were a shade. Without
vouching for the truth of such traditions, it is certain that Mistress
Dudley sometimes assembled a few of the stanch, though crestfallen old
Tories who had lingered in the rebel town during those days of wrath and
tribulation. Out of a cobwebbed bottle, containing liquor that a royal
governor might have smacked his lips over, they quaffed healths to the
king, and babbled treason to the Republic, feeling as if the protecting
shadow of the throne were still flung around them. But, draining the
last drops of their liquor, they stole timorously homeward, and answered
not again if the rude mob reviled them in the street.

[Illustration:

  A few of the stanch, though crestfallen, old Tories
]

Yet Esther Dudley’s most frequent and favored guests were the children
of the town. Towards them she was never stern. A kindly and loving
nature, hindered elsewhere from its free course by a thousand rocky
prejudices, lavished itself upon these little ones. By bribes of
gingerbread of her own making, stamped with a royal crown, she tempted
their sunny sportiveness beneath the gloomy portal of the Province
House, and would often beguile them to spend a whole play-day there,
sitting in a circle round the verge of her hoop petticoat, greedily
attentive to her stories of a dead world. And when these little boys and
girls stole forth again from the dark, mysterious mansion, they went
bewildered, full of old feelings that graver people had long ago
forgotten, rubbing their eyes at the world around them as if they had
gone astray into ancient times, and become children of the past. At
home, when their parents asked where they had loitered such a weary
while, and with whom they had been at play, the children would talk of
all the departed worthies of the province, as far back as Governor
Belcher, and the haughty dame of Sir William Phipps. It would seem as
though they had been sitting on the knees of these famous personages,
whom the grave had hidden for half a century, and had toyed with the
embroidery of their rich waistcoats, or roguishly pulled the long curls
of their flowing wigs. “But Governor Belcher has been dead this many a
year,” would the mother say to her little boy. “And did you really see
him at the Province House?” “Oh, yes, dear mother! yes!” the
half-dreaming child would answer. “But when old Esther had done speaking
about him he faded away out of his chair.” Thus, without affrighting her
little guests, she led them by the hand into the chambers of her own
desolate heart, and made childhood’s fancy discern the ghosts that
haunted there.

Living so continually in her own circle of ideas, and never regulating
her mind by a proper reference to present things, Esther Dudley appears
to have grown partially crazed. It was found that she had no right sense
of the progress and true state of the Revolutionary War, but held a
constant faith that the armies of Britain were victorious on every
field, and destined to be ultimately triumphant. Whenever the town
rejoiced for a battle won by Washington, or Gates, or Morgan, or Greene,
the news, in passing through the door of the Province House, as through
the ivory gate of dreams, became metamorphosed into a strange tale of
the prowess of Howe, Clinton, or Cornwallis. Sooner or later, it was her
invincible belief, the colonies would be prostrate at the footstool of
the king. Sometimes she seemed to take for granted that such was already
the case. On one occasion she startled the townspeople by a brilliant
illumination of the Province House, with candles at every pane of glass,
and a transparency of the king’s initials and a crown of light in the
great balcony window. The figure of the aged woman, in the most gorgeous
of her mildewed velvets and brocades, was seen passing from casement to
casement, until she paused before the balcony, and flourished a huge key
above her head. Her wrinkled visage actually gleamed with triumph, as if
the soul within her were a festal lamp.

“What means this blaze of light? What does old Esther’s joy portend?”
whispered a spectator. “It is frightful to see her gliding about the
chambers, and rejoicing there without a soul to bear her company.”

“It is as if she were making merry in a tomb,” said another.

[Illustration:

  The King of England’s birthday—
]

“Pshaw! It is no such mystery,” observed an old man, after some brief
exercise of memory. “Mistress Dudley is keeping jubilee for the King of
England’s birthday.” Then the people laughed aloud, and would have
thrown mud against the blazing transparency of the king’s crown and
initials, only that they pitied the poor old dame, who was so dismally
triumphant amid the wreck and ruin of the system to which she
appertained.

Oftentimes it was her custom to climb the weary staircase that wound
upward to the cupola, and thence strain her dimmed eyesight seaward and
countryward, watching for a British fleet, or for the march of a grand
procession, with the king’s banner floating over it. The passengers in
the street below would discern her anxious visage, and send up a shout,
“When the golden Indian on the Province House shall shoot his arrow, and
when the cock on the Old South spire shall crow, then look for a royal
governor again!”—for this had grown a byword through the town. And at
last, after long, long years, old Esther Dudley knew, or perchance she
only dreamed, that a royal governor was on the eve of returning to the
Province House, to receive the heavy key which Sir William Howe had
committed to her charge. Now it was the fact that intelligence bearing
some faint analogy to Esther’s version of it was current among the
townspeople. She set the mansion in the best order that her means
allowed, and, arraying herself in silks and tarnished gold, stood long
before the blurred mirror to admire her own magnificence. As she gazed,
the gray and withered lady moved her ashen lips, murmuring half aloud,
talking to shapes that she saw within the mirror, to shadows of her own
fantasies, to the household friends of memory, and bidding them rejoice
with her, and come forth to meet the governor. And, while absorbed in
this communion, Mistress Dudley heard the tramp of many footsteps in the
street, and, looking out at the window, beheld what she construed as the
royal governor’s arrival.

“O happy day! O blessed, blessed hour!” she exclaimed. “Let me but bid
him welcome within the portal, and my task in the Province House, and on
earth, is done!”

[Illustration:

  “Receive my Trust.”
]

Then with tottering feet, which age and tremulous joy caused to tread
amiss, she hurried down the grand staircase, her silks sweeping and
rustling as she went, so that the sound was as if a train of spectral
courtiers were thronging from the dim mirror. And Esther Dudley fancied
that, as soon as the wide door should be flung open, all the pomp and
splendor of bygone times would pace majestically into the Province
House, and the gilded tapestry of the past would be brightened by the
sunshine of the present. She turned the key,—withdrew it from the
lock,—unclosed the door,—and stepped across the threshold. Advancing up
the courtyard appeared a person of most dignified mien, with tokens, as
Esther interpreted them, of gentle blood, high rank, and long-accustomed
authority, even in his walk and every gesture. He was richly dressed,
but wore a gouty shoe, which, however, did not lessen the stateliness of
his gait. Around and behind him were people in plain civic dresses, and
two or three war-worn veterans, evidently officers of rank, arrayed in a
uniform of blue and buff. But Esther Dudley, firm in the belief that had
fastened its roots about her heart, beheld only the principal personage,
and never doubted that this was the long-looked-for governor, to whom
she was to surrender up her charge. As he approached, she involuntarily
sank down on her knees, and tremblingly held forth the heavy key.

“Receive my trust! take it quickly!” cried she; “for methinks Death is
striving to snatch away my triumph. But he comes too late. Thank Heaven
for this blessed hour! God save King George!”

“That, madam, is a strange prayer to be offered up at such a moment,”
replied the unknown guest of the Province House, and, courteously
removing his hat, he offered his arm to raise the aged woman. “Yet, in
reverence for your gray hairs and long-kept faith, Heaven forbid that
any here should say you nay. Over the realms which still acknowledge his
sceptre, God save King George!”

Esther Dudley started to her feet, and, hastily clutching back the key,
gazed with fearful earnestness at the stranger; and dimly and
doubtfully, as if suddenly awakened from a dream, her bewildered eyes
half recognized his face. Years ago, she had known him among the gentry
of the province. But the ban of the king had fallen upon him! How, then,
came the doomed victim here? Proscribed, excluded from mercy, the
monarch’s most dreaded and hated foe, this New England merchant had
stood triumphantly against a kingdom’s strength; and his foot now trod
upon humbled royalty, as he ascended the steps of the Province House,
the people’s chosen governor of Massachusetts.

“Wretch, wretch that I am!” muttered the old woman, with such a
heart-broken expression that the tears gushed from the stranger’s eyes.
“Have I bidden a traitor welcome? Come, Death! come quickly!”

“Alas, venerable lady!” said Governor Hancock, lending her his support
with all the reverence that a courtier would have shown to a queen.
“Your life has been prolonged until the world has changed around you.
You have treasured up all that time has rendered worthless,—the
principles, feelings, manners, modes of being and acting, which another
generation has flung aside,—and you are a symbol of the past. And I, and
these around me,—we represent a new race of men,—living no longer in the
past, scarcely in the present,—but projecting our lives forward into the
future. Ceasing to model ourselves on ancestral superstitions, it is our
faith and principle to press onward, onward! Yet,” continued he, turning
to his attendants, “let us reverence, for the last time, the stately and
gorgeous prejudices of the tottering Past!”

While the republican governor spoke, he had continued to support the
helpless form of Esther Dudley; her weight grew heavier against his arm;
but at last, with a sudden effort to free herself, the ancient woman
sank down beside one of the pillars of the portal. The key of the
Province House fell from her grasp, and clanked against the stone.

“I have been faithful unto death,” murmured she. “God save the king!”

“She hath done her office!” said Hancock solemnly. “We will follow her
reverently to the tomb of her ancestors; and then, my fellow-citizens,
onward,—onward! We are no longer children of the Past!”


As the old loyalist concluded his narrative, the enthusiasm which had
been fitfully flashing within his sunken eyes, and quivering across his
wrinkled visage, faded away, as if all the lingering fire of his soul
were extinguished. Just then, too, a lamp upon the mantel-piece threw
out a dying gleam, which vanished as speedily as it shot upward,
compelling our eyes to grope for one another’s features by the dim glow
of the hearth. With such a lingering fire, methought, with such a dying
gleam, had the glory of the ancient system vanished from the Province
House, when the spirit of old Esther Dudley took its flight. And now,
again, the clock of the Old South threw its voice of ages on the breeze,
knolling the hourly knell of the Past, crying out far and wide through
the multitudinous city, and filling our ears, as we sat in the dusky
chamber, with its reverberating depth of tone. In that same mansion,—in
that very chamber,—what a volume of history had been told off into
hours, by the same voice that was now trembling in the air. Many a
governor had heard those midnight accents, and longed to exchange his
stately cares for slumber. And as for mine host, and Mr. Bela Tiffany,
and the old loyalist, and me, we had babbled about dreams of the past,
until we almost fancied that the clock was still striking in a bygone
century. Neither of us would have wondered had a hoop-petticoated
phantom of Esther Dudley tottered into the chamber, walking her rounds
in the hush of midnight, as of yore, and motioned us to quench the
fading embers of the fire, and leave the historic precincts to herself
and her kindred shades. But, as no such vision was vouchsafed, I retired
unbidden, and would advise Mr. Tiffany to lay hold of another auditor,
being resolved not to show my face in the Province House for a good
while hence,—if ever.

[Illustration:

  Faithful unto death
]

------------------------------------------------------------------------




                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 2. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 4. Superscripts are denoted by a caret before a single superscript
      character or a series of superscripted characters enclosed in
      curly braces, e.g. M^r. or M^{ister}.



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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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