Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 105The figure on the bed tried to hide its hideous face. "Do not look on me," it cried. "I am cursed for my pride that I wrapped about me as a mantle. You are avenged. I am Eleanore Rochcliffe."
The lunatic stared for a moment, then the house echoed with his laughter. The deadly mantle lay on a chair. He snatched it up, and waving also the red flag of the pestilence ran into the street. In a short time an effigy wrapped in the mantle was borne to Province House and set on fire by a mob. From that hour the pest abated and soon disappeared, though graves and scars made a bitter memory of it for many a year. Unhappiest of all was the disfigured creature who wandered amid the shadows of Province House, never showing her face, unloved, avoided, lonely.
During the siege of Boston Sir William Howe undertook to show his contempt for the raw fellows who were disrespectfully tossing cannon-balls at him from the batteries in Cambridge and South Boston, by giving a masquerade. It was a brilliant affair, the belles and blades of the loyalist set being present, some in the garb of their ancestors, for the past is ever more picturesque than the present, and a few roisterers caricaturing the American generals in ragged clothes, false noses, and absurd wigs. At the height of the merriment a sound of a dirge echoing through the streets caused the dance to stop. The funeral music paused before the doors of Province House, where the dance was going on, and they were flung open. Muffled drums marked time for a company that began to file down the great stair from the floor above the ball-room: dark men in steeple-hats and pointed beards, with Bibles, swords, and scrolls, who looked sternly at the guests and descended to the street.
Colonel Joliffe, a Whig, whose age and infirmity had prevented him from joining Washington, and whose courtesy and intelligence had made him respected by his foes, acted as chorus: "These I take to be the Puritan governors of Massachusetts: Endicott, Winthrop, Vane, Dudley, Haynes, Bellingham, Leverett, Bradstreet." Then came a rude soldier, mailed, begirt with arms: the tyrant Andros; a brown-faced man with a sailor's gait: Sir William Phipps; a courtier wigged and jewelled: Earl Bellomont; the crafty, well-mannered Dudley; the twinkling, red-nosed Shute; the ponderous Burnet; the gouty Belcher; Shirley, Pownall, Bernard, Hutchinson; then a soldier, whose cocked hat he held before his face. "'Tis the shape of Gage!" cried an officer, turning pale. The lights were dull and an uncomfortable silence had fallen on the company. Last, came a tall man muffled in a military cloak, and as he paused on the landing the guests looked from him to their host in amazement, for it was the figure of Howe himself. The governor's patience was at an end, for this was a part of the masquerade that had not been looked for. He fiercely cried to Joliffe, "There is a plot in this. Your head has stood too long on a traitor's shoulders."