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most resolute glances into something a trifle less stern than they might have been.
The Province House, which had long
"If he had lived, Tabitha, we should never have stayed in the town; but now we must make the best of it."
"It's not so bad as it might be, dear," said Tabitha, with her oft-repeated consolation. "The lieutenant's not near so bad as some of them. Why, there's Mrs. Gray; her Anne was telling me the other day how a light-horseman got caught in the rain and brought his dirty beast right into her kitchen, and, not liking that, took him into the sit-been the residence or the town headquarters ting-room. Mrs. Gray heard the clatter, of the colonial governors appointed by the and called down to Anne to know what the Crown, was now occupied, since Governor matter was, when the fellow began to curse Gage's departure, by General Sir William and swear at her, and there he stayed till Howe, who added to his office, as General the rain stopped. And Mr. Gray an of the forces then quartered in Boston, the addresser too. If your good father had lived, somewhat shorn dignity of Governor of the he'd never have signed an address." Massachusetts. His proclamations read as authoritatively as if they were not, when sent outside of Boston, torn up for cartridges with which to charge the muskets that peppered his sentries. Within the town he held supreme sway, though his military discipline needed often to be strained severely to meet the flagrant cases of disobedience and disorder among his soldiers, who pillaged the houses of the defenseless families, and used much ingenuity in annoying and insulting the poor patriots who were shut up with them in an unwilling bondage. Upon the top of the cupola that surmounted the Province House stood Deacon Drowne's copper Indian always making ready to shoot, and perhaps the General, climbing into the cupola to get a fair view of his surroundings, may sometimes have been oppressed with the uneasy suspicion that his own military attitude was grotesquely like that of the figure perched over his head. Be this as it may, he was surrounded by those who would be little likely to disturb him with much irony or contempt. His brother officers were in the same boat with himself, and such state as he bore was enlarged socially by the presence of rich and arrogant Tory families that had always stood near the Governor, or had now, under the pressure of circumstances, crowded into town from the neighboring country, and were loud in their profession of loyalty to King and Parliament, and in contempt of the miserable malcontents who had audaciously set up the standard of rebellion against the royal authority.
She went to the window and peered out into the darkness. Far across the water she could see the camp lights at Lechmere Point. Every night she stood and looked, and looked, as if she might be the first to detect some movement. This night, as she stood there, she heard a window raised near by. Her forehead was pressed against the window pane, and she heard the voice of her military guest singing at his open window. It was a rich, powerful voice, and though she could not catch many words, and dared not betray herself by opening her own sash, she made out that he was singing a Christmas carol. The stars were shining brightly, and a few lights were faintly glimmering in houses about her; her thoughts flew to the scene at Bethlehem. Then she heard the dull sound of a distant gun; the step of the patrol beat the walk below her. It was not altogether good-will among men nor peace on earth. The sound of Lieutenant Page's voice ceased, but his window did not fall, and she fancied him sitting by it, watching the night as she watched it. There was a stir in the room, and she turned back to find her mother moving uneasily. She smoothed the pillow, and gave those few touches to the bed-clothes which seem to have, under the skillful hand of a girl, a charm to restore sleep to the sleepless.
"Good-night, Tabitha," said she; "I do not think mother is waking; if she does, and needs anything, you know I can call you."
"Miss Hope," said trusty Mrs. Cudworth, as she left the room, "I'm much mistaken if we don't hear from our boys within twentyfour hours," and Mrs. Cudworth's prophecy,
though it had been made with great regularity for a good many weeks, had in it so much confidence to-night that her young mistress was almost ready to accept it as having some mysterious ground, for she knew that no human intelligence fortified Mrs. Cudworth.
Before the entrance way on old Marlborough street a guard was pacing back and forth, as Lieutenant Page entered the grounds on Christmas afternoon and passed up the flagged walk to the red stone steps that led to the broad, stately portal. He ascended the
steps and was ushered up the great staircase
that occupied the center of the house, and, by its noble proportions, and its studied carvings, was so prominent an architectural feature. Removing his outer wraps and flicking a speck or two from his handsome uniform, he descended to the grand reception-room, with its paneled wainscot and tapestry hangings. Here was the General, receiving his guests, who had already begun to assemble. Officers of the army and of the navy were there, though Admiral Graves was conspicuous by his absence. He had received General Howe's invitation, but had found means to excuse himself, for the two commanders were not on very good terms, and the Admiral was daily expecting the arrival of his successor, Admiral Shuldham. The Tory families were well represented, and the brilliant uniforms of the officers gave additional brilliancy to the rich dress of the ladies by whom they stood.
Lieutenant Page presented his respects to the General, and was followed a moment afterward by Lord Percy, who joined him by the window where the lieutenant had taken his stand.
"I had small hopes of seeing you, Edward," said the Earl, smiling significantly. "There are stories that a Puritan dinner in Salem street would have more attractions for you than a Christmas feast here."
The lieutenant colored as he replied: "I trust I am too good a soldier, my Lord, to disobey the order of my General, whether it comes by an orderly or on gilt-edged paper."
"Well, why could you not have whispered to the General the name of one other guest whom he might invite? I, for one, should have liked well to see the fair Hope that has anchored your heart, if we are to believe all that is said."
"Is it quite wise to believe all that is said?" asked the lieutenant, with some impatience in his tone, for it seemed as if Lord Percy had touched Miss Deland when he gave her name without a title. "If so, I could fancy there might be some hard feeling between some of the ladies here present, between Miss Byles, for instance, and Miss Edson."
"Well said," laughed the Earl, "and you shall have the opportunity to see what one thinks of the other; for you are assigned to Miss Edson for dinner, and I propose to conduct you to your post. First, I will get Miss Edson's permission," and he stepped gayly over to a young and highly dressed girl who stood by the side of her somewhat
flaming mother. Page could see that his advance threw the girl into a flutter which changed into an ill-concealed annoyance, when the Earl had fulfilled his errand; but, as due permission had been given, the lieutenant was shortly engaged in saying such polite things as he could invent to his somewhat distraite companion and her mother.
"His Lordship never looks so well as when in his gay humor," said he.
"Indeed," said Madam Edson," I should like to have received him at our countryseat. We could have shown him how country gentlemen live here."
Now, mamma, you know you detest the country. I'm sure I'm glad we're in Boston. I was dying to come, and now that those low rebels have gone, and we have the house to ourselves, I'm sure it's delightful. Don't you think so, Lieutenant Page ?"
"A soldier is apt to be impatient, when in garrison," said he, "but he might be in worse places than Boston during a winter."
"Oh, it would be frightfully dull if the officers were not here. Mamma, Lord Percy is actually going to take out Miss Byles. Do you play in the new farce, Lieutenant Page?"
"General Burgoyne's? No. I confess, I do not think it in very good taste for us to turn the blockade into ridicule. We could better afford to do it if we had broken it."
"Oh, it will be immensely witty, and I'm sure we needn't stay here if we don't want to, but General Howe has some great plan, I am very certain; indeed, Lord Percy as much as told me so, and I suppose it will not be very long before all those wretched men take to their heels. They know how to do that. Discretion is the better part of their valor."
"And this is the girl I am to spend the afternoon with," said the lieutenant to himself, as his mind reverted to Miss Deland. His companion was handsome rather than beautiful, with a rich complexion and dark hair that was made blacker still by the gleaming of the white powder profusely sprinkled over it; but her voice was like a peacock's, and by no means rendered more endurable by what issued upon it. Just then the sound of music was heard.
"The band of the Twenty-seventh Regiment," exclaimed Miss Edson. "Lord Percy told me it was to play. Isn't it divine?"
"I understand we are to have some concerts given by it, under Mr. Morgan's direction," said the lieutenant, suddenly, recalling
a paragraph he had read in Madam Draper's "News Letter."
"Yes; Lord Percy told me so," said the beauty, whose eyes at this moment were roaming after that officer, as he led Miss Byles into the dining-hall, preceded by General Howe, who attended Madam Oliver, the wife of the Lieutenant-Governor. Page and Miss Edson took their place in the company moving into the hall, and were assigned seats not far from the head of the table, which was richly laid and splendid with damask and silver. They found themselves in the immediate neighborhood of Lord Percy and Miss Byles, of William Brattle, and Colonel Gilbert, while Miss Edson's father was near by, together with ladies of the Vassall and Paddock families, with all of whom Lieutenant Page had acquaintance. The guests had their seats, and Sir William Howe, rising in his place, bade them welcome to a Christmas dinner in the Province House.
"I am very happy," said the soldier, "in having the honor of receiving at His Majesty's table this company of loyal gentlemen, and of the ladies who make loyalty an easy and gracious duty. I should be glad if I could set before you a more bountiful feast; but if you mess with soldiers you must look for soldiers' fare. I am at least able to offer you an English plum-porridge, without which no Christmas is complete; but, before we pay our respects to the dish, I will call on the Rev. Dr. Caner to say grace."
Grace was said, and the dinner was formally open; but the guests were obliged to confess to themselves in strict secrecy that the splendor of the service had to go far toward compensating for the meagerness of the fare. Simple Mr. Edson spoke frankly the feeling of those around him, when he turned to William Brattle and said:
"I don't know why a good wild turkey would not be a good Christmas dish as well as fit for Thanksgiving."
"You may well say that," said General Brattle, rolling his eyes disconsolately. "It makes a very comfortable lining, Edson, to one's paunch. If General Howe knew our country better, I think he would have sent for one of those birds."
"A mandamus councillor would have been a good person to send," growled Timothy Ruggles.
"Did you ever taste of a famous English plum-porridge?" asked Lieutenant Page of his companion.
"No," said she, "it must be perfectly delicious; so different from these coarse Yankee dishes. I adore English things."
"A good bit of English plum-porridge would not be so bad," said the lieutenant, "and here comes the dish, properly set forth."
It was borne into the room in state and placed upon the table in a huge punch-bowl, steaming, and giving all the appearance of genuineness; but Madam Oliver, who made the first acquaintance with it, was observed to treat it quite as if it were some rare and choice viand, only to be taken in infinitesimal quantities. The General's brow clouded as he also tasted of the national dish, and the guests, whose curiosity had been excited, each received a portion, but eyed it with some suspicion.
"The man from Norwich could have ate this, I suppose," said Brattle. "I could tell the General what the trouble is, Page. His cook has not used brown bread at all, but moldy wheat bread, and his beef is old and stringy."
"I'm afraid the man from Fairfax made this pudding, then," laughed the lieutenant. "Flour is not so plenty, I am told, in Boston, as it will be; but the raisins are good. Miss Edson, does this come up to your fancy of an English plum-porridge ?" he whispered to the lady beside him.
"Î think I should come to like it,” said
"It wants Yankee sauce," said Ruggles. "Sir William ought to send another just like this with his compliments to Washington," said Brattle.
"We'll send our porridge from the cannon's mouth," said Colonel Gilbert," before long. As soon as the new troops arrive we shall be ready to make those Yankees eat humble pie. It makes me laugh to think how they will show their heels when we quit this town. We shall quit it on the Cambridge side."
"It is strange," said Edson mildly, "that the people show so little respect for law and the officers of the law. It used not to be so, and I am almost persuaded that some madness had possessed them, and that their eyes will be opened in time to the foolishness of their course. I would gladly aid in an honest reconciliation."
"Reconciliation, indeed!" snarled Ruggles. "It will come when a few of the ringleaders like Sam Adams and John Hancock have been put beyond the point where they can beg His Majesty's pardon. For
my part, I shouldn't object to seeing a Knox roasted whole for a Christmas dinner." The guests did not for a moment see the coarse joke, until Miss Edson tittered.
"That was one of Dr. Byles's jokes," said she to the lieutenant. "They say Mr. Knox has been made an officer in the rebel army."
"He boasted he would come back to Boston at the head of artillery," said Gilbert. "Let him come to-morrow, if he wants to be in season to bid in his books and jewsharps. I see Loring is to hold an auction sale at his store to-morrow."
The talk went on in a desultory manner round the table, but there was not much heart in it. In truth, it was rather a sorry dinner upon which to base much joviality. The service was rich and elegant, the wines were good; but as Lord Percy whispered to Miss Byles, the plum-porridge, upon which the General had staked all, was strong enough to stand a siege, with all their knives and forks pointed toward it. Toasts were presented and speeches made, a song or two sung, but the ceremony of the dinner was too painfully a substitute for the dinner itself, and nothing, perhaps, served more to produce a general depression than the reflection, which passed through every one's mind, that if the General could produce no more substantial feast, it was going hard with the town at large.
"I am afraid the Masons will have rather a scanty feast Wednesday, now that we have ate our Christmas dinner," said Lord Percy to Page, as the company rose from the table and passed out into the hall. The couples moved through the broad passages and up the grand staircase, some even venturing into the cupola, and tried to make out the camp lights in the dark December night. The ladies peered curiously into the offices of the General and his aids, which were thrown open, and the house, gayly lighted, began to give back some of the cheer of which the dismal dinner had robbed the guests.
The lieutenant had cheerfully relinquished the handsome Miss Edson to Lord Percy, and now strolled about among the different groups, with no more settled purpose than to avoid the persons most distasteful to him. Of a frank nature, he was a favorite among the officers and the town's people, but with his frankness he had a sensitiveness which made him equally careful to keep aloof from what was disagreeable, and to conceal his annoyance if caught unaware. To-day he
felt singularly restless and ill at ease in the company with which he consorted. He avoided one and another, until, in one of his evasions, he came full upon the Reverend Dr. Caner.
"Well, Lieutenant," said the minister, "do you not think this a reasonably fair copy of an English Christmas?”
Perhaps as good a copy as Boston is of London."
"Then you are one of the discontented ones, eh, that would like Boston better if you saw it at a distance?"
"I cannot say that I have any great fault to find with Boston, but I confess to being in no merry-making mood to-night; I suppose it is the soldier in me that chafes at the forced confinement here. Though for that matter, if the soldier ever had his way, I am not sure but what is left of the man in me would pull back quite as stiffly."
"Then you do not breathe out fire and slaughter against the men yonder, the other side of the water?"
"I confess that this idle life has set me thinking, and made me more ready to see the dispute from the other side. To tell the truth, the manner in which the American party has acted has shaken my confidence in the common view that is taken of them. Men do not sacrifice what these Bostonians have sacrificed, for a mere petulant, lawless self-will."
"But are there not sacrifices made by the loyalists too? I speak as one who has elected to stand by the king and the law, and I think my position is not altogether an enviable one."
"I own that I see among the loyalists those who have deliberately chosen, on principle, to abide by the old order of things, and I honor them; but, Dr. Caner, is not the town itself a standing witness to the sincerity of the great body of its inhabitants, who chose rather to suffer the loss of property and to be banished, than to yield principles which had made the town what it is ?"
"You speak earnestly, Page," said Dr. Caner, smiling, "but you speak, pardon me, as a young man led away by the enthusiasm of youth for a fine, large-sounding phrase. Perhaps my training and my office make me cautious, but I have learned to look with suspicion upon these philosophic utterances. As I look back upon the political history of this colony, I think I see plainly how the separatism, the individualism of the early settlers that made them
impatient of our English Church, has steadily acted upon their political sentiments, until now they will not be satisfied with anything short of exclusive self-government. The whole principle is wrong in state, wrong in church, and I cannot separate my loyalty to the church from my loyalty to the crown. I believe in the organic union of the two. If I saw my way to a separation of the two in this country, and an independent existence of the church, I might look on the impending conflict differently; but I do not, and with me there is no choice left. If the colonies break away from the mother country, the church will be reduced so as to lead only a lingering life; the great body of the disaffected is opposed to the church, and, once in power, will strip it of all dignity and place; so I cast in my lot with England. If the rebels, in their madness, carry the day, I shall go back to England, and I do not think I should do amiss if I carried with me, to save from desecration, the sacred vessels and robes of the church."
"It would hardly be becoming in me to argue with you on such a question, Dr. Caner," said the young man, "but I can't help thinking that the church has within itself a principle of life not dependent upon the action of the colonies or of the king's troops, or of the king himself. Might it not be, if the present dispute should end in the separation of the colonies and their establishment under a separate government, that the church would be freed from the suspicion under which it now rests of being a creature of the state?"
"No, no," said Dr. Caner warmly, "the church is always on the side of order and good government, and it is idle to expect anything but lawlessness from these schismatics."
At this point the band began playing a minuet, and there was an evident disposition of the company toward the great hall. Dr. Caner, whom professional etiquette forbade to remain, hastily left his companion to pay his respects to General Howe and Governor Oliver and lady, while Lieutenant Page, in no mood for dancing, strayed from the company and ascended the great staircase to the cupola. His eye followed the line of houses to the barracks at the corner of Prince and Salem streets, and thence to the little house which held the key to his roving mind. He wondered what Hope Deland was doing; how her Christmas evening was passed. He blushed alone there as he said the name to himself; he heard the sound of music below
and murmurs of laughter and talk. How would she look moving about with her stately, maidenly grace? He could hardly picture her to himself in the rich robes of Miss Edson; yet her grace and dignity, as he had seen her in her small house, seemed to make Miss Edson's dress tawdry and vulgar, and to place Miss Edson beyond the pale of his interest and concern.
So it was that, turning away, he descended the staircase, and, entering again the throng, threaded his way to General Howe and pleaded some excuse, he hardly knew what, for so early a withdrawal. He wrapped himself in his cloak and walked through the nearly deserted streets to his lodging. Patrols marched up and down, and he passed knots of officers and gentlemen, more or less noisy from such Christmas cheer as they had rejoiced in. As he entered Salem street, the figure of an old woman heavily muffled was before him, and he recognized by her gait the dame Abigail Nixon, who was a frequent visitor of Mrs. Cudworth's, and thus familiar to his sight. She was bending her steps now in the direction of his quarters, and he came up with her just as she stopped at the door, and, without lifting the knocker, tapped gently upon the wood.
"That knock will answer for me too, Mrs. Nixon," said the lieutenant.
She started, and turned upon him.
"Is it you, young sir? You have come to the house of mourning."
Before he could ask more, the door was opened by Tabitha.
"Come in," said she in a low voice. "What has happened?" asked the lieutenant, entering the kitchen.
"Madam Deland is dead."
The lieutenant had thrown open his cloak. "Is Dr. Rand here? Has he been sent for?" he asked, preparing to go out again.
"Yes, he has been here, and Dr. Eliot also. The Lord knows neither of them can do anything for the dead; perhaps they can help the living, poor child."
"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord taketh me up," said Mrs. Nixon, warming her old bones at the fire.
"She died this afternoon about three o'clock," continued Mrs. Cudworth. "Miss Hope was with her, and called me suddenly. It was over in a moment. She was a good woman, Lieutenant, and what that poor child will do now I don't know. Oh, if your Gage and your Howe had never set foot in Boston we shouldn't lack for friends and neighbors now who would care for that young