Clifford, as the company partook of their little banquet, grew to be

the gayest of them all. Either it was one of those up-quivering

flashes of the spirit, to which minds in an abnormal state are liable,

or else the artist had subtly touched some chord that made musical

vibration. Indeed, what with the pleasant summer evening, and the

sympathy of this little circle of not unkindly souls, it was perhaps

natural that a character so susceptible as Clifford's should become

animated, and show itself readily responsive to what was said around

him. But he gave out his own thoughts, likewise, with an airy and

fanciful glow; so that they glistened, as it were, through the arbor,


and made their escape among the interstices of the foliage. He had

been as cheerful, no doubt, while alone with Phoebe, but never with

such tokens of acute, although partial intelligence.

But, as the sunlight left the peaks of the Seven Gables, so did the

excitement fade out of Clifford's eyes. He gazed vaguely and

mournfully about him, as if he missed something precious, and missed it

the more drearily for not knowing precisely what it was.

"I want my happiness!" at last he murmured hoarsely and indistinctly,

hardly shaping out the words. "Many, many years have I waited for it!

It is late! It is late! I want my happiness!"

Alas, poor Clifford! You are old, and worn with troubles that ought

never to have befallen you. You are partly crazy and partly imbecile;

a ruin, a failure, as almost everybody is,--though some in less degree,

or less perceptibly, than their fellows. Fate has no happiness in

store for you; unless your quiet home in the old family residence with

the faithful Hepzibah, and your long summer afternoons with Phoebe, and

these Sabbath festivals with Uncle Venner and the daguerreotypist,

deserve to be called happiness! Why not? If not the thing itself, it

is marvellously like it, and the more so for that ethereal and

intangible quality which causes it all to vanish at too close an

introspection. Take it, therefore, while you may. Murmur

not,--question not,--but make the most of it!