His present phase, as a daguerreotypist, was of no more importance in

his own view, nor likely to be more permanent, than any of the

preceding ones. It had been taken up with the careless alacrity of an

adventurer, who had his bread to earn. It would be thrown aside as

carelessly, whenever he should choose to earn his bread by some other

equally digressive means. But what was most remarkable, and, perhaps,

showed a more than common poise in the young man, was the fact that,

amid all these personal vicissitudes, he had never lost his identity.

Homeless as he had been,--continually changing his whereabout, and,

therefore, responsible neither to public opinion nor to

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individuals,--putting off one exterior, and snatching up another, to be

soon shifted for a third,--he had never violated the innermost man, but

had carried his conscience along with him. It was impossible to know

Holgrave without recognizing this to be the fact. Hepzibah had seen

it. Phoebe soon saw it likewise, and gave him the sort of confidence

which such a certainty inspires. She was startled, however, and

sometimes repelled,--not by any doubt of his integrity to whatever law

he acknowledged, but by a sense that his law differed from her own. He

made her uneasy, and seemed to unsettle everything around her, by his

lack of reverence for what was fixed, unless, at a moment's warning, it

could establish its right to hold its ground.

Then, moreover, she scarcely thought him affectionate in his nature.

He was too calm and cool an observer. Phoebe felt his eye, often; his

heart, seldom or never. He took a certain kind of interest in Hepzibah

and her brother, and Phoebe herself. He studied them attentively, and

allowed no slightest circumstance of their individualities to escape

him. He was ready to do them whatever good he might; but, after all,

he never exactly made common cause with them, nor gave any reliable

evidence that he loved them better in proportion as he knew them more.

In his relations with them, he seemed to be in quest of mental food,

not heart-sustenance. Phoebe could not conceive what interested him so

much in her friends and herself, intellectually, since he cared nothing

for them, or, comparatively, so little, as objects of human affection.

Always, in his interviews with Phoebe, the artist made especial inquiry

as to the welfare of Clifford, whom, except at the Sunday festival, he

seldom saw.

"Does he still seem happy?" he asked one day.

"As happy as a child," answered Phoebe; "but--like a child, too--very

easily disturbed."

"How disturbed?" inquired Holgrave. "By things without, or by thoughts

within?"

"I cannot see his thoughts! How should I?" replied Phoebe with simple

piquancy. "Very often his humor changes without any reason that can be

guessed at, just as a cloud comes over the sun. Latterly, since I have

begun to know him better, I feel it to be not quite right to look

closely into his moods. He has had such a great sorrow, that his heart

is made all solemn and sacred by it. When he is cheerful,--when the

sun shines into his mind,--then I venture to peep in, just as far as

the light reaches, but no further. It is holy ground where the shadow

falls!"