Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/171

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165
THE WHITE OLD MAID.

person within was a negro, and bore a singular resemblance to old Cæsar, formerly a slave in the house, but freed by death some thirty years before.

'Her summons has waked up a servant of the old family,' said one, half seriously.

'Let us wait here, replied another. 'More guests will knock at the door, anon. But, the gate of the grave-yard should be thrown open!'

Twilight had overspread the town, before the crowd began to separate, or the comments on this incident were exhausted. One after another was wending his way homeward, when a coach—no common spectacle in those days—drove slowly into the street. It was an old-fashioned equipage, hanging close to the ground, with arms on the panels, a footman behind, and a grave, corpulent coachman seated high in front—the whole giving an idea of solemn state and dignity. There was something awful, in the heavy rumbling of the wheels. The coach rolled down the street, till, coming to the gateway of the deserted mansion, it drew up, and the footman sprang to the ground.

'Whose grand coach is this?' asked a very inquisitive body.

The footman made no reply, but ascended the steps of the old house, gave three raps, with the iron hammer, and returned to open the coach-door. An old man, possessed of the heraldic lore so common in that day, examined the shield of arms on the panel.

'Azure, a lion's head erased, between three flower de luces,' said he; then whispered the name of the family to whom these bearings belonged. The last