Clifford sat at the window with Hepzibah, watching the neighbors as

they stepped into the street. All of them, however unspiritual on

other days, were transfigured by the Sabbath influence; so that their

very garments--whether it were an old man's decent coat well brushed

for the thousandth time, or a little boy's first sack and trousers

finished yesterday by his mother's needle--had somewhat of the quality

of ascension-robes. Forth, likewise, from the portal of the old house

stepped Phoebe, putting up her small green sunshade, and throwing

upward a glance and smile of parting kindness to the faces at the

arched window. In her aspect there was a familiar gladness, and a

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holiness that you could play with, and yet reverence it as much as

ever. She was like a prayer, offered up in the homeliest beauty of

one's mother-tongue. Fresh was Phoebe, moreover, and airy and sweet in

her apparel; as if nothing that she wore--neither her gown, nor her

small straw bonnet, nor her little kerchief, any more than her snowy

stockings--had ever been put on before; or, if worn, were all the

fresher for it, and with a fragrance as if they had lain among the

rosebuds.

The girl waved her hand to Hepzibah and Clifford, and went up the

street; a religion in herself, warm, simple, true, with a substance

that could walk on earth, and a spirit that was capable of heaven.

"Hepzibah," asked Clifford, after watching Phoebe to the corner, "do

you never go to church?"

"No, Clifford!" she replied,--"not these many, many years!"

"Were I to be there," he rejoined, "it seems to me that I could pray

once more, when so many human souls were praying all around me!"

She looked into Clifford's face, and beheld there a soft natural

effusion; for his heart gushed out, as it were, and ran over at his

eyes, in delightful reverence for God, and kindly affection for his

human brethren. The emotion communicated itself to Hepzibah. She

yearned to take him by the hand, and go and kneel down, they two

together,--both so long separate from the world, and, as she now

recognized, scarcely friends with Him above,--to kneel down among the

people, and be reconciled to God and man at once.

"Dear brother," said she earnestly, "let us go! We belong nowhere. We

have not a foot of space in any church to kneel upon; but let us go to

some place of worship, even if we stand in the broad aisle. Poor and

forsaken as we are, some pew-door will be opened to us!"

So Hepzibah and her brother made themselves, ready--as ready as they

could in the best of their old-fashioned garments, which had hung on

pegs, or been laid away in trunks, so long that the dampness and mouldy

smell of the past was on them,--made themselves ready, in their faded

bettermost, to go to church. They descended the staircase

together,--gaunt, sallow Hepzibah, and pale, emaciated, age-stricken

Clifford! They pulled open the front door, and stepped across the

threshold, and felt, both of them, as if they were standing in the

presence of the whole world, and with mankind's great and terrible eye

on them alone. The eye of their Father seemed to be withdrawn, and

gave them no encouragement. The warm sunny air of the street made them

shiver. Their hearts quaked within them at the idea of taking one

step farther.