Accordingly, with such a tramp of his ponderous riding-boots as might

of itself have been audible in the remotest of the seven gables, he

advanced to the door, which the servant pointed out, and made its new

panels reecho with a loud, free knock. Then, looking round, with a

smile, to the spectators, he awaited a response. As none came,

however, he knocked again, but with the same unsatisfactory result as

at first. And now, being a trifle choleric in his temperament, the

lieutenant-governor uplifted the heavy hilt of his sword, wherewith he

so beat and banged upon the door, that, as some of the bystanders

whispered, the racket might have disturbed the dead. Be that as it

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might, it seemed to produce no awakening effect on Colonel Pyncheon.

When the sound subsided, the silence through the house was deep,

dreary, and oppressive, notwithstanding that the tongues of many of the

guests had already been loosened by a surreptitious cup or two of wine

or spirits.

"Strange, forsooth!--very strange!" cried the lieutenant-governor,

whose smile was changed to a frown. "But seeing that our host sets us

the good example of forgetting ceremony, I shall likewise throw it

aside, and make free to intrude on his privacy."

He tried the door, which yielded to his hand, and was flung wide open

by a sudden gust of wind that passed, as with a loud sigh, from the

outermost portal through all the passages and apartments of the new

house. It rustled the silken garments of the ladies, and waved the

long curls of the gentlemen's wigs, and shook the window-hangings and

the curtains of the bedchambers; causing everywhere a singular stir,

which yet was more like a hush. A shadow of awe and half-fearful

anticipation--nobody knew wherefore, nor of what--had all at once

fallen over the company.

They thronged, however, to the now open door, pressing the

lieutenant-governor, in the eagerness of their curiosity, into the room

in advance of them. At the first glimpse they beheld nothing

extraordinary: a handsomely furnished room, of moderate size, somewhat

darkened by curtains; books arranged on shelves; a large map on the

wall, and likewise a portrait of Colonel Pyncheon, beneath which sat

the original Colonel himself, in an oaken elbow-chair, with a pen in

his hand. Letters, parchments, and blank sheets of paper were on the

table before him. He appeared to gaze at the curious crowd, in front

of which stood the lieutenant-governor; and there was a frown on his

dark and massive countenance, as if sternly resentful of the boldness

that had impelled them into his private retirement.