withdrew it from the lock—unclosed the door—and stept across the threshold. Advancing up the court-yard, appeared a person of most dignified mien, with tokens, as Esther interpreted them, of gentle blood, high rank, and long accustomed authority, even in his walk and every gesture. He was richly dressed, but wore a gouty shoe, which, however, did not lessen the stateliness of his gait. Around and behind him were people in plain civic dresses, and two or three war-worn veterans, evidently officers of rank, arrayed in a uniform of blue and buff. But Esther Dudley, firm in the belief that had fastened its roots about her heart, beheld only the principal personage, and never doubted that this was the long looked-for Governor, to whom she was to surrender up her charge. As he approached, she involuntarily sank down on her knees, and tremblingly held forth the heavy key.
'Receive my trust! take it quickly!' cried she; 'for methinks Death is striving to snatch away my triumph. But he comes too late. Thank Heaven for this blessed hour! God save King George!'
'That, Madam, is a strange prayer to be offered up at such a moment,' replied the unknown guest of the Province House, and courteously removing his hat, he offered his arm to raise the aged woman. 'Yet, in reverence for your gray hairs and long-kept faith, Heaven forbid that any here should say you nay. Over the realms which still acknowledge his sceptre, God save King George!'
Esther Dudley started to her feet, and hastily clutching back the key, gazed with fearful earnestness at the stranger; and dimly and doubtfully, as if suddenly