The Conqueror by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
Book II. Alexander Hamilton
The Great House of Peter Lytton was hung with white from top to bottom, and every piece of furniture looked as if the cold wing of death had touched it. A white satin gown, which had come from London for Rachael six years before,--just too late, for she never went to a ball again,--was taken from her mahogany press and wrapped about her wasted body. Her magnificent hair was put out of sight in a cap of blond lace.
The fashionable world of St. Croix, which had seen little of Rachael in life, came to the ceremonious exit of her body. They sat along the four sides of the large drawing-room, looking like a black dado against the white walls, and the Rev. Cecil Wray Goodchild, the pastor of the larger number of that sombre flock, sonorously read the prayers for the dead. Hugh Knox felt that his was the right to perform that ceremony; but he was a Presbyterian, and Peter Lytton was not one of his converts. He was there, however, and so were several Danes, whose colourless faces and heads completed the symbolization encircling the coffin. People of Nevis, St. Christopher, and St. Croix were there, the sisters born of the same mother, a kinsman of Hamilton's, himself named James Hamilton, these bleached people of the North, whose faces, virtuous as they were, would have seemed to the dead woman to shed the malignant aura of Levine's,--and the boy for whom the sacrificial body had been laid on the altar. He paid his debt in wretchedness then and there, and stood by the black pall which covered his mother, feeling a hundred years older than the brother who sat demurely on Mrs. Lytton's agitated lap.
When Mr. Goodchild closed his book, the slave women entered with silver pitchers containing mulled wines, porter mixed with sugar and spice, madeira, and port wine. Heaped high on silver salvers were pastries and "dyer bread," wrapped in white paper sealed with black wax. The guests refreshed themselves deeply, then followed the coffin, which was borne on the shoulders of the dead woman's brothers and their closest friends, across the valley to the private burying-ground of the Lyttons. Old James Lytton was placed beside her in the following year, and ten years later a child of Christiana Huggins, the wife of his son. The cane grows above their graves to-day.