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slowly round, displaying a face of antique majesty, rendered doubly venerable by the hoary beard that descended on his breast. He made a gesture at once of encouragement and warning, then turned again, and resumed his way.
“Who is this gray patriarch?” asked the young men of their sires.
“Who is this venerable brother?” asked the old men among themselves.
But none could make reply. The fathers of the people, those 10 of fourscore years and upwards, were disturbed, deeming it
strange that they should forget one of such evident authority, whom they must have known in their early days, the associate of Winthrop, and all the old councilors, giving laws, and making
prayers, and leading them against the savage. The elderly men 15 ought to have remembered him, too, with locks as gray in their
youth as their own were now. And the young! How could he have passed so utterly from their memories—that hoary sire, the relic of long-departed times, whose awful benediction had surely been bestowed on their uncovered heads, in childhood?
"Whence did he come? What is his purpose? Who can this old man be?" whispered the wondering crowd.
Meanwhile, the venerable stranger, staff in hand, was pursuing his solitary walk along the center of the street. As he drew near the advancing soldiers, and as the roll of their drum came full upon his ear, the old man raised himself to a loftier mien, while the decrepitude of age seemed to fall from his shoulders, leaving him in gray but unbroken dignity. Now, he marched onward with a warrior's step, keeping time to the
military music. Thus the aged form advanced on one side, 30 and the whole parade of soldiers and magistrates on the other,
till, when scarcely twenty yards remained between, the old man grasped his staff by the middle, and held it before him like a leader's truncheon.
“Stand!” cried he.
warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule a host in the battlefield or be raised to God in prayer, were irresistible. At the old man's word and outstretched arm, the roll of the drum was
hushed at once, and the advancing line stood still. A tremulous 5 enthusiasm seized upon the multitude. That stately form, com
bining the leader and the saint, so gray, so dimly seen, in such an ancient garb, could only belong to some old champion of the righteous cause, whom the oppressor's drum had summoned from
his grave. They raised a shout of awe and exultation, and looked 10 for the deliverance of New England.
The Governor, and the gentlemen of his party, perceiving themselves brought to an unexpected stand, rode hastily forward, as if they would have pressed their snorting and affrighted horses right against the hoary apparition. He, however, blenched not a step, but glancing his severe eye round the group, which half encompassed him, at last bent it sternly on Sir Edmund Andros. One would have thought that the dark old man was chief ruler there, and the Governor and Council,
with soldiers at their back, representing the whole power and 20 authority of the Crown, had no alternative but obedience.
“What does this old fellow here?" cried Edward Randolph, fiercely. "On, Sir Edmund! Bid the soldiers forward, and give the dotard the same choice that you give all his countrymen-to stand aside or be trampled on!"
“Nay, nay, let us show respect to the good grandsire," said Bullivant, laughing. "See you not, he is some old roundheaded dignitary, who hath lain asleep these thirty years, and knows nothing of the change of times? Doubtless, he thinks to put us down with a proclamation in Old Noll's name!"
"Are you mad, old man?" demanded Sir Edmund Andros, in loud and harsh tones. "How dare you stay the march of King James's Governor?”
"I have stayed the march of a king himself, ere now," replied the gray figure, with stern composure. "I am here, Sir Gov35 ernor, because the cry of an oppressed people hath disturbed me
in my secret place; and beseeching this favor earnestly of the Lord, it was vouchsafed me to appear once again on earth, in the good old cause of His saints. And what speak ye of James?
There is no longer a tyrant on the throne of England, and by 5 tomorrow noon his name shall be a byword this very street,
where ye would make it a word of terror. Back, thou that wast a Governor, back! With this night thy power is ended-tomorrow, the prison!-back, lest I foretell the scaffold!"
The people had been drawing nearer and nearer, and drinking 10 in the words of their champion, who spoke in accents long dis
used, like one unaccustomed to converse, except with the dead of many years ago. But his voice stirred their souls. They confronted the soldiers, not wholly without arms, and ready to
convert the very stones of the street into deadly weapons. Sir 15 Edmund Andros looked at the old man; then he cast his hard
and cruel eye over the multitude, and beheld them burning with that lurid wrath so difficult to kindle or to quench; and again he fixed his gaze on the aged form, which stood obscurely in an
open space, where neither friend nor foe had thrust himself. 20 What were his thoughts, he uttered no word which might dis
cover. But whether the oppressor were overawed by the Gray Champion's look, or perceived his peril in the threatening attitude of the people, it is certain that he gave back, and ordered
his soldiers to commence a slow and guarded retreat. Before 25 another sunset, the Governor, and all that rode so proudly with
him, were prisoners, and long ere it was known that James had abdicated, King William was proclaimed throughout New England.
But where was the Gray Champion? Some reported that 30 when the troops had gone from King Street, and the people were
thronging tumultuously in their rear, Bradstreet, the aged Governor, was seen to embrace a form more aged than his own. Others soberly affirmed that while they marveled at the venerable grandeur of his aspect, the old man had faded from their eyes, melting slowly into the hues of twilight, till, where he
stood, there was an empty space. But all agreed that the hoary shape was gone. The men of that generation watched for his reappearance, in sunshine and in twilight, but never saw him
more, nor knew when his funeral passed, nor where his grave5 stone was.
And who was the Gray Champion? Perhaps his name might be found in the records of that stern Court of Justice which passed a sentence, too mighty for the age, but glorious in all
after times, for its humbling lesson to the monarch and its high 10 example to the subject. I have heard that whenever the de
scendants of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their sires, the old man appears again. When eighty years had passed, he walked once more in King Street. Five years later, in the twi
light of an April morning, he stood on the green, beside the 15 meetinghouse, at Lexington, where now the obelisk of granite,
with a slab of slate inlaid, commemorates the first fallen of the Revolution. And when our fathers were toiling at the breastwork on Bunker's Hill, all through that night the old warrior
walked his rounds. Long, long may it be ere he comes again! 20 His hour is one of darkness, and adversity, and peril. But
should domestic tyranny oppress us, or the invader's step pollute our soil, still may the Gray Champion come, for he is the type of New England's hereditary spirit, and his shadowy
march, on the eve of danger, must ever be the pledge that New 25 England's sons will vindicate their ancestry.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the first great Ameri
writer of prose romance, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Bowdoin College in the class with Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, who became President. Hawthorne held positions in the customhouse, and, for a time, represented the United States as consul in England, but his interest always lay in writing. He was a master of the short story as a means for interpreting character, particularly the character of the Puritan founders of New England. He popularized New England history in the form of stories, such as those in Grandfather's Chair. He wrote also legends of colonial times, which portray the stern methods of Governor Endicott, or tell a humorous story of the pine-tree shillings, or recount the weird story of the champion who defied Governor Andros. But besides these legends he wrote stories of lovers who sought vainly for happiness, and tales of a great stone face on the mountain side, or of the strange search for a precious gem, and what these things signified. Somewhat longer than these tales—Twice-Told Tales he called them, from which “The Gray Champion” is taken—are his romances, such as The Scarlet Letter, Mosses from an Old Manse, and The House of the Seven Gables.
Historical Note. A tradition handed down from the time of King Philip's War gave Hawthorne the suggestion for this story. In the attack made upon the village of Hadley, Massachusetts, by the Indians in 1675 a venerable man, of stately form, and with flowing white beard, suddenly appeared among the panic-stricken villagers, took command, and helped them put the savages to flight. Then he disappeared as suddenly as he had come. In their wonder, not knowing where he had come from or where he had gone, many believed he had been sent from Heaven to deliver them.
Their defender was William Goffe, who had been an officer in Cromwell's army and a member of the court which condemned Charles I to death. (Read the reference to this court in the story, page 449, lines 6-10.) Goffe was a Puritan, a man of deep religious feeling, whose acts had been governed by the desire to secure for his countrymen their liberties. When Charles II succeeded to the English throne, Goffe fled to New England to escape the King's vengeance. Officers were sent across the ocean in pursuit of him. For this reason he lived in hiding, his name and identity being known only to friends who aided and protected him. He had many narrow escapes, but was never captured. From his hiding place he saw the Indians stealing upon the people of Hadley and went forth to battle against them. After living in exile for the rest of his life, he died about 1679.
In this story, Hawthorne altered facts to suit his purpose, making the Gray Champion appear at the time of the Boston Insurrection, in 1689. In this year James II, who had succeeded his brother, Charles II, was dethroned, and fled from his kingdom, and his son-in-law, William III, Prince of Orange, was made King of England.
The Gray Champion is made to typify the Spirit of Liberty—that spirit which animated Goffe as a Puritan soldier under Cromwell and which sent the Pilgrims and Puritans forth to find a home in the New World.