Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 107Living thus by herself, refusing to hear of rebel victories, construing the bonfires, drumming, hurrahs, and bell-ringing to signify fresh triumphs for England, she drifted farther and farther out of her time and existed in the shadows of the past. She lighted the windows for the king's birthday, and often from the cupola watched for a British fleet, heeding not the people below, who, as they saw her withered face, repeated the prophecy, with a laugh "When the golden Indian on Province House shall shoot his arrow and the cock on South Church spire shall crow, look for a royal governor again." So, when it was bandied about the streets that the governor was coming, she took it in no wise strange, but dressed herself in silk and hoops, with store of ancient jewels, and made ready to receive him. In truth, there was a function, for already a man of stately mien, and richly dressed, was advancing through the court, with a staff of men in wigs and laced coats behind him, and a company of troops at a little distance. Esther Dudley flung the door wide and dropping on her knees held forth the key with the cry, "Thank heaven for this hour! God save the king!"
The governor put off his hat and helped the woman to her feet. "A strange prayer," said he; "yet we will echo it to this effect: For the good of the realm that still owns him to be its ruler, God save King George."
Esther Dudley stared wildly. That face she remembered now,—the proscribed rebel, John Hancock; governor, not by royal grant, but by the people's will.
"Have I welcomed a traitor? Then let me die."
"Alas! Mistress Dudley, the world has changed for you in these later years. America has no king." He offered her his arm, and she clung to it for a moment, then, sinking down, the great key, that she so long had treasured, clanked to the floor.
"I have been faithful unto death," she gasped. "God save the king!"
The people uncovered, for she was dead.
"At her tomb," said Hancock, "we will bid farewell forever to the past. A new day has come for us. In its broad light we will press onward."
THE LOSS OF JACOB HURD
Jacob Hurd, stern witch-harrier of Ipswich, can abide nothing out of the ordinary course of things, whether it be flight on a broomstick or the wrong adding of figures; so his son gives him trouble, for he is an imaginative boy, who walks alone, talking to the birds, making rhymes, picking flowers, and dreaming. That he will never be a farmer, mechanic, or tradesman is as good as certain, and one day when the child runs in with a story of a golden horse, with tail and mane of silver, on which he has ridden over land and sea, climbing mountains and swimming rivers, he turns pale with fright lest the boy be bewitched; then, as the awfulness of the invention becomes manifest, he cries, "Thou knowest thou art lying," and strikes the little fellow.