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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 toudies to
the bed-clothes which seem to have, under
the skillful hand of a giri, a charm to restcne
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

** Miss Hope," said trusty Mrs. Cudworth,
as she left the room, ** I'm much mistaken if
we don't hear fix)m our boys within twenty-
four hours," and Mrs. Cudworth's prophecy,

though it had been made with great regu-
larity for a good many weeks, had in it so
mudi confidence to-night that her young mis-
tress was almost ready to accept it as having
some mysterious ground, for she knew that no
human intelligence fortified Mrs. Cudworth.

The Province House, which had long
been the residence or the town headquarters
of the colonial governors appointed by the
Crown, was now occupied, since Governor
Gage's departiu-e, by General Sir William
Howe, who added to his office, as General
of the •forces then quartered in Boston, the
somewhat shorn dignity of Governor of the
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 pep-
pered his sentries. Within the town beheld
supreme sway, though his military discipline
needed often to be strained severely to meet
the flagrant cases of disobedience and dis-
order among his soldiers, who pillaged the
houses of the defenseless families, and used
much ingenuity in annoying and insulting
the poor patnots who were shut up with
them in an unwilling bondage. Upon the
top of the cupola that surmounted the Prov-
ince 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 ths^t his own military atti-
tude was grotesquely like that of the figure
perched over his head. Be this as it may,
he was surrounded by those who would be
litde likely to disturb him with much irony
or contempt His brother oflicers were in
the same boat with himself, and such state
as he bore was enlarged socially by the pres-
ence of rich and arrogant Tory families that
had always stood near the Governor, or had
now, under the pressure of circumstances,
crowded into town firom the neighboring
cotmtry, 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 rebel-
lion against the royal authority.

Before the entrance way on old Marl-
borough 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 die broad, stately portaL He ascended the
steps and was ushered up the great staircase

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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 recep-
tion-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, Ed-
ward," said the Earl, smiling significantly.
" There are stories that a Puritan dinner m
Salem street would have more attractions
for yott 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

" 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 b said."

"Is it quite wise to believe all that is
said?" asked the lieutenant, yith some
impatience in his tone, for it seemed as if
Lord Percy had touched Miss Deland when
he gave ker name witfiout a title. " If so, I
could fancy there might be some hard feel-
ing between some of the ladies here present,
between Miss Byles, for instance, and Miss

" Well said," laughed the Earl, " and you
shall have the opportunity to sec 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 iU-concealed annoyance,
when the Earl had fulfilled his errand ; but,
as due permission had been given, the lieu-
tenant was shortiy engaged in saying such
polite things as he could invent to his some-
what 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 country-
seat We could have shown him how coun-
try gentlemen live here."

" Now, mamma, you know you detest the
country. I'm sure I'm glad we're in Bostoil.
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

" General Burgoyne's ? No. I confess, 1
do not think it in very good taste for us to
turn the blockade into ridicule. We could
better aflord 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

" And this is the girl I am to spend the
afternoon with," said the lieutenant to him-
self, 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 Regi-
ment," exclaimed Miss Edson. "Lord
Percy told me it was to play. Isn't it

" I understand we are to have some con-
certs given by it, under Mr. Morgan's direc-
tion," said the lieutenant, suddenly, recalling

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a paragraph he had read in Madam Dra-
per's " News Letter."

"Yes; Lord Perqr told me so," said
the beauty, whose eyes at this moment were
roaming after that officer, as he led Miss
Byles mto the dining-hall, preceded by
General Howe, who attended Madam OUver,
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 them-
selves in the immediate neighborhood of
Lord Percy and Miss Byles, of William
Bratde, and Colonel Gilbert, while Miss
Edsoh'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 Ma-
jesty's table this company of loyal gentle-
men, and of the ladies who make loyaJty an
easy and gracious duty. I sho«M be glad
if I could set before you a more bountifiil
feast; but if you mess with soldiers you
must look for soldiers' fare. I am at least
able to offer you an En^^ish 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 was said, and the dinner was form-
ally open ; but the guests were obliged to
confess to themselves in strict secrecy that
the splendor of the service had to go for
toward compensating for the meagemess of
the fare. Simple Mr. Edson ^ke fiunkly
the feeling of those around him, when he
turned to William Brattle and said :

" I don't know why a good wild tiurkey
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
count^ better, I think he would have sent
for one of those birds."

'^A mandamus councillor would have
been a good person to send," growled Tim-
•thy 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 ilishes. 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

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
Uie first acquaintance with it, was observed
to treat it quite as if it were some rare and
choice viand, only to be taken in infinitesi-
mal quantities. The General's brow clouded
as he also tasted of the national dish, and
the guests, whose ciuiosity had been excited,
each received a portion, but eyed it with
some suspicion.

** The man fix>m 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 afiaid the man from Fairfax made
this pudding, then," laughed the lieutenant
'' Flour is not so plenty, I am told, in Bos-
ton, as it will be; but the raisins are good.
Miss Edson, does this come up to your
foncy of an English plum -porridge?'* he
whispered to the lady l>eside him.

'' I think I should come to like it," said

<< It wants Yankee sauce," said Ruggles.

^* Sir William ougl^t to send another just
like this with his compliments to Washmg-
ton," said Brattle.

" We'll send our porridge fix>m the can-
non'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 laug^ to think
how they will show their heels when we quit
this town. We shall quit it on the Cam-
bridge 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 foolish-
ness of their course. I would gladly aid in
an honest reconciliation."

"Reconciliation, indeed!" snarled Rug-
gles. "It will come when a few of the
ringleaders like Sam Adams and John Han-
cock have been put beyond the point where
they can beg His Majesty's pardon. For

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my part, I shouldn't object to seeing a
Kiiox 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.
Kjiox has been made an officer in the rebel

"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 jews-
harps. I see Loring is to hold an auction
sale at his store to-monow."

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 idl, 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 pamfiilly a substitute for the dinner
itself, and nothing, perhaps, served more to
produce a general depression than the reflec-
tion, which passed dirough every one's mind,
that if the General could produce no more
substantial feast, it was going haid 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

The lieutenant had cheerfiilly relinquished
the handsome Miss Edson to Locd Percy,
and now strolled about among the different
groups, with no more setded 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 ec^uaUy careful to keep aloof from
what was disagreeable, and to conceal his
annoyance if caught unaware. To-day he

felt singulariy 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 upofi 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

" 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 sup-
pose it is the soldier in me that chAfes at
the forced confinement here. Though for
that matter, if the soldier ever had his wa^,
I am not sure but what is left of the man m
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 fix)m the other side. To teU die
truth, the manner in which the American
party has acted has shaken my confidence
m the common view that is taken of them.
Men do not sacrifice what these Bostonians
have sacrificed, for a mere petulant, lawless

" 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 dehberatdy 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 inhabit-
ants, 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 enthu-
siasm of youdi 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 politi-
cal history of this colony, I think I see
plainly how the separatism, the individual-
ism of the early settlers that made them

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impatient of our English Church, has steadily
acted upon their political sentiments, untU
nov 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 impend-
ing conflict differently; but I do not, and
with me there is no choice left. If the
ccdonies break away from the mother coun-
try, the church will be reduced so as to lead
only a lingering life ; the great body of the
disa£kcted is opposed to the church, and,
once in power, will strip it of all digni^ 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
ve»els and robes of the church."

'' It would hardly be becoming in me to
argue with you on such a question, Dr.
Cuier," said the young man, '' but I can't
hdp thinking that the church has within
itsdf a principle of life not dependent upon
the action of the colonies or of the king's
troops, or of the king himsel£ 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
su^icion 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 schis-

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, hasdly 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 com-
pany and ascended the great stai/tase to the
cupola. His eye followed the line of houses
to the barradcs at the comer of Prince and
Salem streets, and thence to the litde 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 vul-
gar, 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 plead-
ed some excuse, he hardly knew what, for so
eariy a withdrawal. He wrapped himself
in his cloak and walked through the nearly
deserted streets to his lodging. Patrok
inarched 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 muffle(i was
bdbre him, and he recognized by her gait
the dame Abigail Nixon, who was afi^uent
visitor of Mrs. Cudworth's, and thus familiar
to his sight. She was bending her steps
now in the directidh 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 lieu-
tenant, 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 an3rthing 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 Bos-
ton we shouldn't lack for fiiends and neigh-
bors now who would care for that young

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lady. But she'll not want for a friend while
I'm by her. May the whole ^tish army — "
but Mrs. Cudworth's objurgation died in her
heart as she recalled the scene she was in.
^'You're better than the rest, Lieutenant ; but
I wish the whole parcel of ye had never set
foot in Boston."

" Now just tell me, Mrs. Cudworth, what
I can do," said Page. "These are new
scenes to me."

"There's nothing," said she; "there's
nothing more can be done to-night If
these drunken fellows that have been singing
and swearing will only let the house alone
to-night. Twice they've rapped at the
knocker, and it was all I could do once to
keep them outside."

"You shall not be troubled," said, the
lieutenant, as he slipped from his guard a
silver whistle. "See, take this, and when
you need me, open the window or door a
bit and whistle. I shall be near, and you'll
know my rap. I'll only tap once on the
knocker. I've some matters outside I
want to attend to, but I shall be within call."

He stammered a litfle as he said this,
but gathered his cloak about him, fastened
it securely, and passed quickly out of the
house again.

" He's a willing youn^ man," said Mrs.
Cudworth, eyeing the whistle curiously.

" It's a wild life these young officers lead,"
said Mrs. Nixon dubiously. "I suppose
we'd best go up and sit with the body,
Tabitha, eh ?" and she looked rather regret-
fully at the fire.

" Sit you here, Abigail," said Mrs. Cud-
worth. " I mistrust Miss Hope's there now,
and she'll not thank us to disturb her."

A step was heard on the staircase, hesi-
tating in the passage by the kitchen. Mrs.
Cudworth hastened out with her light to find
her young mistress standing there.

" Is any one with you, Tabitha ? " she asked
in a low tone.

" Only Abigail Nixon, Miss Hope."

" Ah, I thought I heard other voices."

"The lieutenant came in with her a moment
ago, but he has gone again. Come to the
warm fire, child."

" No, not now," said she. " I will go up
again. When will the lieutenant return ?"

" I don't know. He acted strangely ; said
he had matters outside, but if I needed him,
I might only whistle on this toy he handed

The girl took the whistle and examined
it She had heard the conversation in the

" Do not keep Abigail long to-night," said

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 56 of 163)