"You speak very unceremoniously of my kindred," said Phoebe, debating
with herself whether she ought to take offence.
"I speak true thoughts to a true mind!" answered Holgrave, with a
vehemence which Phoebe had not before witnessed in him. "The truth is
as I say! Furthermore, the original perpetrator and father of this
mischief appears to have perpetuated himself, and still walks the
street,--at least, his very image, in mind and body,--with the fairest
prospect of transmitting to posterity as rich and as wretched an
inheritance as he has received! Do you remember the daguerreotype, and
its resemblance to the old portrait?"
"How strangely in earnest you are!" exclaimed Phoebe, looking at him
with surprise and perplexity; half alarmed and partly inclined to
laugh. "You talk of the lunacy of the Pyncheons; is it contagious?"
"I understand you!" said the artist, coloring and laughing. "I believe
I am a little mad. This subject has taken hold of my mind with the
strangest tenacity of clutch since I have lodged in yonder old gable.
As one method of throwing it off, I have put an incident of the
Pyncheon family history, with which I happen to be acquainted, into the
form of a legend, and mean to publish it in a magazine."
"Do you write for the magazines?" inquired Phoebe.
"Is it possible you did not know it?" cried Holgrave. "Well, such is
literary fame! Yes. Miss Phoebe Pyncheon, among the multitude of my
marvellous gifts I have that of writing stories; and my name has
figured, I can assure you, on the covers of Graham and Godey, making as
respectable an appearance, for aught I could see, as any of the
canonized bead-roll with which it was associated. In the humorous
line, I am thought to have a very pretty way with me; and as for
pathos, I am as provocative of tears as an onion. But shall I read you
"Yes, if it is not very long," said Phoebe,--and added
laughingly,--"nor very dull."
As this latter point was one which the daguerreotypist could not decide
for himself, he forthwith produced his roll of manuscript, and, while
the late sunbeams gilded the seven gables, began to read.