Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/25

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19
HOWE'S MASQUERADE.

very shape and dress!' gasped Doctor Byles. This is an awful mockery!'

'A tedious foolery, rather, said Sir William Howe, with an air of indifference. But who were the three that preceded him?'

'Governor Dudley, a cunning politician—yet his craft once brought him to a prison,' replied Colonel Joliffe. 'Governor Shute, formerly a Colonel under Marlborough, and whom the people frightened out of the province; and learned Governor Burnet, whom the legislature tormented into a mortal fever.'

'Methinks they were miserable men, these royal governors of Massachusetts,' observed Miss Joliffe. 'Heavens, how dim the light grows!'

It was certainly a fact that the large lamp which illuminated the staircase, now burned dim and duskily: so that several figures, which passed hastily down the stairs and went forth from the porch, appeared rather like shadows than persons of fleshly substance. Sir William Howe and his guests stood at the doors of the contiguous apartments, watching the progress of this singular pageant, with various emotions of anger, contempt, or half acknowledged fear, but still with an anxious curiosity. The shapes, which now seemed hastening to join the mysterious procession, were recognised rather by striking peculiarities of dress, or broad characteristics of manner, than by any perceptible resemblance of features to their prototypes. Their faces, indeed, were invariably kept in deep shadow. But Doctor Byles, and other gentlemen who had long been familiar with the successive rulers of the province, were heard to whisper the