"Governor Hutchinson hurried to the spot," said Grandfather, "and besought the people to have patience, promising that strict justice should be done. A day or two afterward the British troops were withdrawn from town and stationed at Castle William. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers were tried for murder. But none of them were found guilty. The judges told the jury that the insults and violence which had been offered to the soldiers justified them in firing at the mob."
"The Revolution," observed Laurence, who had said but little during the evening, "was not such a calm, majestic movement as I supposed. I do not love to hear of mobs and broils in the street. These things were unworthy of the people when they had such a great object to accomplish."
"Nevertheless, the world has seen no grander movement than that of our Revolution from first to last," said Grandfather. "The people, to a man, were full of a great and noble sentiment. True, there may be much fault to find with their mode of expressing this sentiment; but they knew no better; the necessity was upon them to act out their feelings in the best manner they could. We must forgive what was wrong in their actions, and look into their hearts and minds for the honorable motives that impelled them."
"And I suppose," said Laurence, "there were men who knew how to act worthily of what they felt."
"There were many such," replied Grandfather; "and we will speak of some of them hereafter."
Grandfather here made a pause. That night Charley had a dream about the Boston massacre, and thought that he himself was in the crowd and struck down Captain Preston with a great club. Laurence dreamed that he was sitting in our great chair, at the window of the British Coffee House, and beheld the whole scene which Grandfather had described. It seemed to him, in his dream, that, if the townspeople and the soldiers would but have heard him speak a single word, all the slaughter might have been averted. But there was such an uproar that it drowned his voice.
The next morning the two boys went together to State Street and stood on the very spot where the first blood of the Revolution had been shed. The Old State House was still there, presenting almost the same aspect that it had worn on that memorable evening, one-and-seventy years ago. It is the sole remaining witness of the Boston massacre.
THE NEXT evening the astral lamp was lighted earlier than usual, because Laurence was very much engaged in looking over the collection of portraits which had been his New-Year's gift from Grandfather.