One inauspicious circumstance there was, which awakened a hardly
concealed displeasure in the breasts of a few of the more punctilious
visitors. The founder of this stately mansion--a gentleman noted for
the square and ponderous courtesy of his demeanor, ought surely to have
stood in his own hall, and to have offered the first welcome to so many
eminent personages as here presented themselves in honor of his solemn
festival. He was as yet invisible; the most favored of the guests had
not beheld him. This sluggishness on Colonel Pyncheon's part became
still more unaccountable, when the second dignitary of the province
made his appearance, and found no more ceremonious a reception. The
lieutenant-governor, although his visit was one of the anticipated
glories of the day, had alighted from his horse, and assisted his lady
from her side-saddle, and crossed the Colonel's threshold, without
other greeting than that of the principal domestic.
This person--a gray-headed man, of quiet and most respectful
deportment--found it necessary to explain that his master still
remained in his study, or private apartment; on entering which, an hour
before, he had expressed a wish on no account to be disturbed.
"Do not you see, fellow," said the high-sheriff of the county, taking
the servant aside, "that this is no less a man than the
lieutenant-governor? Summon Colonel Pyncheon at once! I know that he
received letters from England this morning; and, in the perusal and
consideration of them, an hour may have passed away without his
noticing it. But he will be ill-pleased, I judge, if you suffer him to
neglect the courtesy due to one of our chief rulers, and who may be
said to represent King William, in the absence of the governor himself.
Call your master instantly."
"Nay, please your worship," answered the man, in much perplexity, but
with a backwardness that strikingly indicated the hard and severe
character of Colonel Pyncheon's domestic rule; "my master's orders were
exceeding strict; and, as your worship knows, he permits of no
discretion in the obedience of those who owe him service. Let who list
open yonder door; I dare not, though the governor's own voice should
bid me do it!"
"Pooh, pooh, master high sheriff!" cried the lieutenant-governor, who
had overheard the foregoing discussion, and felt himself high enough in
station to play a little with his dignity. "I will take the matter
into my own hands. It is time that the good Colonel came forth to
greet his friends; else we shall be apt to suspect that he has taken a
sip too much of his Canary wine, in his extreme deliberation which cask
it were best to broach in honor of the day! But since he is so much
behindhand, I will give him a remembrancer myself!"