Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/80

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the most gorgeous of her mildewed velvets and brocades, was seen passing from casement to casement, until she paused before the balcony, and flourished a huge key above her head. Her wrinkled visage actually gleamed with triumph, as if the soul within her were a festal lamp.

'What means this blaze of light? What does old Esther's joy portend?' whispered a spectator. 'It is frightful to see her gliding about the chambers, and rejoicing there without a soul to bear her company.'

'It is as if she were making merry in a tomb,' said another.

'Pshaw! It is no such mystery,' observed an old man, after some brief exercise of memory. 'Mistress Dudley is keeping jubilee for the King of England's birthday.'

Then the people laughed aloud, and would have thrown mud against the blazing transparency of the King's crown and initials, only that they pitied the poor old dame, who was so dismally triumphant amid the wreck and ruin of the system to which she appertained.

Oftentimes it was her custom to climb the weary staircase that wound upward to the cupola, and thence strain her dimmed eyesight seaward and countryward, watching for a British fleet, or for the march of a grand procession, with the King's banner floating over it. The passengers in the street below would discern her anxious visage, and send up a shout—'When the golden Indian on the Province House shall shoot his arrow, and when the cock on the Old South spire shall crow, then look for a Royal Governor again!'—for this had grown a by-word through the town. And at last, after long, long years, old Esther Dudley knew, or perchance she