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Page 203


“Ye're like to the timmer o' yon rotten wood,
Ye're like to the bark o' yon rotten tree,
Ye'll slip frae me like a knotless thread,
And ye'll crack your credit wi' mae nor me.”


At the period of our history, twelve o'clock was
the hour appointed for dinner: we believe in the
mother country—certainly in the colony then, as
now, every where in the interior of our states,
this natural division of time was maintained.
Our magistrates did not then claim any exemption
from the strict rules of simplicity and frugality
that were imposed on the humble citizens,
and Governor Winthrop's meridian meal, though
it might have been somewhat superior in other
luxuries, had no more of the luxury of time bestowed
on it, than that of the honest artisans and
tradesmen about him.

In order to explain what follows, it is necessary
to state to our readers, that adjoining the parlour
of Governor Winthrop's mansion, was that sine
qua non of all thrifty housekeepers, an ample pantry.
In the door of this pantry, was a glazed
panel, over the parlour side of which, hung a
green curtain. The glass, as glasses will, had


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been broken, and not yet repaired; and let house-wives
take the admonition if they like, on this
slight accident depended life and death.

The pantry beside the door already described,
had another which communicated with the kitchen;
through this, Jennet, (who in housewife skill
resembled the “neat-handed Phillis” of poetic
fame, though, in other respects, prosaic enough)
had entered to perform within the sanctum certain
confidential services for Madam Winthrop.

It now drew near the hour of two, the time appointed
for the interview of the Governor with
Sir Philip; the dinner was over, the table removed,
and all orderly and quiet in the parlour,
when Jennet, in her retreat, heard Miss Leslie
and Mr. Everell Fletcher enter, and though the
weather was warm, close the door after them. A
slight hint is sufficient for the wary and wise, and
Jennet, on hearing the door shut, forbore to make
any noise, which should apprise the parties of her

The young people, as if fearful of being overheard
without, withdrew to the furthest extremity
from the entry door, and came into the corner
adjoining the pantry. They spoke, though in low
tones, yet in the most earnest and animated manner;
and Jennet, tempted beyond what she was
able to bear, drew nigh to the door with a cat's
tread, and applied her ear to the aperture, where
the sounds were only slightly obstructed by the
silk curtain.


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While speakers and listener stood in this interesting
relation to each other, Sir Philip Gardiner
was approaching the mansion, his bad mind
filled with projects, hopes, and fears. He had,
after much painful study, framed the following
story, which he hoped to impose on the credulity
of the Governor, and through him, of the public.
His sole care was to avoid present investigation
and detection; like all who navigate winding channels,
he regarded only the difficulties directly before

He meant that, in the first place, by way of a
coup de grace, the Governor should understand
he had intentionally acquiesced in the discovery
of Rosa's disguise. He would then, as honest
Varney did, confess there had been some love-passages
between the girl and himself, in the days
of his folly. He would state, that subsequent
to his conversion, he had placed her in a godly
school in England, and that to his utter confusion,
he had discovered after he had sailed from London,
that she had, in the disguise she still wore,
secreted herself on board the ship. He had, perhaps,
felt too much indulgence for the girl's
youth, and unconquerable affection for him; but
he should hope that was not an unpardonable sin.
He had been restrained from divulging her real
character on ship-board, from his reluctance to
expose her youth to result, or further temptation.
On his arrival, he war conscious it was a manifest
duty, to have delivered her over to the public authorities,


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but pity—pity still had ruled him. He
scrupled—perhaps that was a temptation of the
enemy who knew well to assail the weakest
points; he scrupled to give over to public shame
one, of whose transgressions he had been the
cause. Besides, she had been bred in France a
papist; and he had hoped—trusting, perhaps, too
much in his own strength—that he might convert
her from the error of her ways; snatch the brand
from the burning; he had indeed felt a fatherly
tenderness for her, and weakly indulging that sentiment,
he had still, when he found her obstinately
persisting in her errors, devised a plan to shelter
her from public punishment; and in pursuance
of it, he had taken advantage of the opportunity
afforded him by his visit to Thomas
Morton, to propose to Magawisca, that in case
she should obtain her liberty from the clemency
of her judges, she should undertake to convey
Rosa to a convent in Montreal, of the order to
which she had been in her childhood attached.

He meant to plead guilty, as he thought he
could well afford to do, if he was exculpated on
the other points, to all the sin of acquiescence in
Rosa's devotion to an unholy and proscribed religion;
and to the crucifix Magawisca had produced,
and which he feared would prove a “confirmation
strong,” to any jealousies the Governor
might still harbour against him, he meant to answer,
that he had taken it from Rosa to explain


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to Magawisca that she was of the Romish religion.

With this plausible tale, not the best that could
have been devised, perhaps, by one accustomed
to all the sinuosities of the human mind and human
affairs, but the best that Sir Philip could
frame in his present perplexity, he bent his steps
towards the Governor's, a little anticipating the
appointed hour, in the hope of obtaining a glimpse
of Miss Leslie, whom he had not seen since their
last interview at the island; and who was still
the bright cynosure by which, through all the dangers
that beset him, he trusted to guide himself
to a joyous destiny.

Never was he more unwelcome to her sight,
than when he opened the parlour door, and interrupted
the deeply interesting conversation in
which we left her engaged. She coldly bowed
without speaking, and left him, without making
any apology, in the midst of his flattering compliments
on the recovery of her health.

Sir Philip and Everell were much on the terms
of two unfriendly dogs, who are, by some coercion,
kept from doing battle, but who never meet
without low growls and sullen looks, that intimate
their deadly enmity. Everell paced the room
twice or thrice, then snatched up his hat, left the
house, and sauntered up the street.

No sooner had he disappeared, than Jennet
emerged from her seclusion, her hands uplifted,
and her eyes upturned—“Oh, Sir Philip! Sir


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Philip!” she said, as soon as she could get her
voice, a delay never long with Jennet—“truly
is the heart deceitful—and the lips too. Oh!
who would have thought it?—such a daring, presumptuous,
and secret sin, too! Where is the
Governor? he must know it. But first, Sir Philip,
I will tell you—that will do—as you and the
Governor are one in counsel.”

`Heaven grant we may be so,' thought Sir Philip,
and he closed the door, and turned to Jennet,
eager to hear her communication; for her earnestness,
and still more the source whence the
intelligence emanated, excited his curiosity.

Jennet drew very close to him, and communicated
her secret in a whisper.

At first, the listener's face did not indicate any
particular emotion, but merely that courteous attention
that a sagacious man would naturally
lend to intelligence which the relator deemed of
vital importance. Suddenly a light seemed to
flash across him; he started away from Jennet,
stood still for a moment, with a look of intense
thought, then turning to his informer, he said,
“Mrs. Jennet, I think we had best, for to-day,
confine within our own bosoms the knowledge of
this secret. As you say, Mr. Everell's is a presumptuous
sin; but it will not be punished unless
it proceeds to the overt act.”

“Overt act! what kind of act is that?” inquired


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Sir Philip explained, and Jennet soon comprehended
the difference, in its consequences to the
offender, between a meditated, and an executed
crime. Jennet hesitated for a few moments; she
had a sort of attachment to the family she had
long served, much like that of an old cat for its
accustomed haunts, but towards Everell she had
a feeling of unqualified hostility. From his boyhood,
he had been rebellious against her petty
domiciliary tyranny, and had never manifested
the slighest deference for her canting pretensions.
Still she was loath in any way to be accessory to
an act that would involve the family, with which
she was herself identified, in any disgrace or distress.
Sir Philip divined the cause of her hesitation,
and, impatient for her decision, he essayed
to resolve her doubts: “Of course, Mrs. Jennet,”
he said, “you are aware that any penalty Mr.
Everell Fletcher would incur, will not be of a
nature to touch life or limb.”

“Ay—that's what I wanted to know; and that
being the case, it appears to me plain duty to let
him bake as he has brewed. Faithful are the
wounds of a friend, Sir Philip; and this may
prove a timely rebuke to his youth, and to this
quicksilver, fear-nought, Hope Leslie. But you
will take care to have your hand come in in time,
for if there should be any miss in the matter, it
would prove a heavy weight to our consciences.”

“Oh certainly, certainly,” said Sir Philip, with
undisguised exultation, “I shall, you know, command


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the springs, and can touch them at pleasure.
Now, Mrs. Jennet, will you favour me with
pen and ink; and do me still another favour”—
and he took a guinea from his purse—` expend
this trifle in some book for your private edification;
I hear much of a famous one just brought
from England, entitled, `Food for saints, and Fire
for sinners.' ”

“Many thanks, Sir Philip,” replied Jennet, graciously
accepting the gift; “such savory treatises
are as much wanted among us just now, as rain
upon the parched earth: it's but a sickly and a
moral time with us. You put me in mind, Sir
Philip,” she continued, while she was collecting
the writing materials, “you put me in mind of
Mr. Everell's oversight; or, rather, I may say, of
his making me a mark in that unhandsome way
that I can never forget. When he came from
England, there was not, save myself, one of the
family—no, nor an old woman or child, in Springfield
but what he had some keepsake for; not
that I care for the value of the thing—as I told
Digby, at his wedding, when he saluted every woman
in the room but me. But, then, one does
not like to be slighted.”

Sir Philip, by this time, was fortunately bending
over his paper, and Jennet did not perceive
his smile at her jumble of selfish, and feminine
resentments; and observing that he had at once
become quite abstracted from her, she withdrew,
half satisfied herself that she had acted conscientiously


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in her conspiracy against her young master,
and quite sure that she should appear a pattern
of wisdom and duty.

Sir Philip, mentally thanking heaven that he
had not yet encountered Governor Winthrop, addressed
a hasty note to him, saying that he had
come to his house, true to his appointment, and
impatient for the explanation, which, he might
say without presumption, he was sure would remove
the displeasure under which he (Sir Philip)
was at this moment suffering; but that, in consequence
of a sudden and severe indisposition, the
effect of the distressful agitation of his feelings, he
found himself obliged to return to his lodgings,
and defer their interview till the next day; till
then, he humbly hoped the Governor would suspend
his judgment. He then directed the note,
and left it on the table, and passed the threshold
of the Winthrop mansion, as he believed, and
hoped, for the last time.