Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/168

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before it, and guests in every chamber, instead of the present solitude. But, owing to some dispute about the right of inheritance, the mansion had been long without a tenant, decaying from year to year, and throwing the stately gloom of its shadow over the busiest part of the town. Such was the scene, and such the time, when a figure, unlike any that have been described, was observed at a distance down the street.

'I espy a strange sail, yonder,' remarked a Liverpool captain; 'that woman, in the long, white garment!'

The sailor seemed much struck by the object, as were several others, who, at the same moment, caught a glimpse of the figure that had attracted his notice. Almost immediately, the various topics of conversation gave place to speculations, in an under tone, on this unwonted occurrence.

'Can there be a funeral, so late this afternoon?' inquired some.

They looked for the signs of death at every door—the sexton, the hearse, the assemblage of black clad relatives—all that makes up the woful pomp of funerals. They raised their eyes, also, to the sun-gilt spire of the church, and wondered that no clang proceeded from its bell, which had always tolled till now, when this figure appeared in the light of day. But none had heard that a corpse was to be borne to its home that afternoon, nor was there any token of a funeral, except the apparition of the 'Old Maid in the Winding-Sheet.'

'What may this portend?' asked each man of his neighbor.