There was not, for many years afterwards, a Governor of Massachusetts; and the magistrates, who had charge of such matters, saw no objection to Esther Dudley's residence in the Province House, especially as they must otherwise have paid a hireling for taking care of the premises, which with her was a labor of love.
Forth went the sable messenger, with the starlight or the moonshine gleaming through him, and did his errand in the burial ground, knocking at the iron doors of tombs, or upon the marble slabs that covered them, and whispering to those within: "My mistress, old Esther Dudley, bids you to the Province House at midnight.
Yet Esther Dudley's most frequent and favored guests were the children of the town.
I witnessed her will, and it is to be so," whispered Esther smiling.
Esther fitted up the closet with a little table, placed a footstool before it, and over it a picture taken from one of the shut-up rooms.
During one of her play hours she wrote out the important document as well as she could, with some help from Esther as to certain legal terms, and when the good-natured Frenchwoman had signed her name, Amy felt relieved and laid it by to show Laurie, whom she wanted as a second witness.
One after another disappeared, each seeking his or her rude dormitory; and, before many minutes, Esther, who by this time had scolded the younger fry to sleep, found herself, if we except the usual watchman below, in solitary possession of the naked rock.
Agitated by these reflections, which put sleep at defiance, Esther continued at her post, listening with that sort of acuteness which is termed instinct in the animals a few degrees below her in the scale of intelligence, for any of those noises which might indicate the approach of footsteps.
demanded Esther, in a voice that nearly refused to convey her words to the ears of the anxious listener beneath.
They need not know,' he began; but before anything more could be said on either side, Esther and Arthur re-entered the room.
Esther smiled and glanced at me: I merely bowed, and her countenance fell.
I am not sure that you repay my care as it deserves, Esther," he declared.
I cannot say that I am glad to hear it," Esther replied quietly.
She raised me, sat in her chair, and standing me before her, said slowly in a cold, low voice--I see her knitted brow and pointed finger--"Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were hers.
You are different from other children, Esther, because you were not born, like them, in common sinfulness and wrath.