The bronze Washington in the deserted square shone silver beneath the moonlight, and down the frozen slopes the trees stretched out stiffened limbs. From the governor’s house a broad light streamed, and quickening his pace he entered the iron gate, which closed after him with a rheumatic cough, and briskly ascended the stone steps. As he drew the latch-key from his pocket he was thinking of his library, where the firelight fell on cheerful walls and red leathern chairs, and with the closing of the door he crossed the hall and entered the first room on the left.
A red fire burned in the grate, and the furniture reflected the colour until the place seemed pervaded by a visible warmth. The desk in the centre of the room, the shining backs of law books, the crimson rugs, the engravings on the walls, the easy chair drawn up before the hearth, presented to him as he entered now the security of individual isolation. He had felt the same sense of restfulness when he had ascended, after the day’s work, to the little whitewashed attic of his father’s house. To-night he liked the glow because it suggested warmth, but he could not have told off-hand the colour of the carpet or the subjects of the engravings on the wall; and had he found a white pine chair in place of the red leathern one, he would have used it without an admission of discomfort. In the midnight hours he liked the empty house about him—the silence and the safeguard of his loneliness. The deserted reception-rooms at the end of the hall pleased him by their stillness and the cold of their fireless grates. Even the stiff, unyielding furniture, in its fancy dress of satin brocade, soothed him by its remoteness when he passed it wrapped in thought.
He flung himself into the easy chair, raised the light by which he read, and unfolded a newspaper lying upon his desk. As he did so an article which concerned himself caught his eye, and he read it with curious intentness.
“The man with the conscience.
Refuses to recommend
restriction of the suffrage.
Attaches his signature
to several bills.—To
Amend and re-enact the charter of the
town of Culpeper—to establish A
Ferry across the Piankitank.”
He reread it abstractedly, pondering not the future of Culpeper or of the Piankitank River, but the title by which he was beginning to be known: