'Some of these fables are really awful,' observed Alice Vane, who had occasionally shuddered, as well as smiled, while her cousin spoke. 'It would be almost worth while to wipe away the black surface of the canvas, since the original picture can hardly be so formidable as those which fancy paints instead of it.'
'But would it be possible,' inquired her cousin, 'to restore this dark picture to its pristine hues?'
'Such arts are known in Italy,' said Alice.
The Lieutenant Governor had roused himself from his abstracted mood, and listened with a smile to the conversation of his young relatives. Yet his voice had something peculiar in its tones, when he undertook the explanation of the mystery.
'I am sorry, Alice, to destroy your faith in the legends of which you are so fond,' remarked he; 'but my antiquarian researches have long since made me acquainted with the subject of this picture—if picture it can be called—which is no more visible, nor ever will be, than the face of the long buried man whom it once represented. It was the portrait of Edward Randolph, the founder of this house, a person famous in the history of New England.'
'Of that Edward Randolph,' exclaimed Captain Lincoln, 'who obtained the repeal of the first provincial charter, under which our forefathers had enjoyed almost democratic privileges! He that was styled the arch-enemy of New England, and whose memory is still held in detestation, as the destroyer of our liberties!'
'It was the same Randolph,' answered Hutchinson, moving uneasily in his chair. 'It was his lot to taste the bitterness of popular odium.'