"I have been happier than I am now; at least, much gayer," said Phoebe
thoughtfully. "Yet I am sensible of a great charm in this brightening
moonlight; and I love to watch how the day, tired as it is, lags away
reluctantly, and hates to be called yesterday so soon. I never cared
much about moonlight before. What is there, I wonder, so beautiful in
"And you have never felt it before?" inquired the artist, looking
earnestly at the girl through the twilight.
"Never," answered Phoebe; "and life does not look the same, now that I
have felt it so. It seems as if I had looked at everything, hitherto,
in broad daylight, or else in the ruddy light of a cheerful fire,
glimmering and dancing through a room. Ah, poor me!" she added, with a
half-melancholy laugh. "I shall never be so merry as before I knew
Cousin Hepzibah and poor Cousin Clifford. I have grown a great deal
older, in this little time. Older, and, I hope, wiser, and,--not
exactly sadder,--but, certainly, with not half so much lightness in my
spirits! I have given them my sunshine, and have been glad to give it;
but, of course, I cannot both give and keep it. They are welcome,
"You have lost nothing, Phoebe, worth keeping, nor which it was
possible to keep," said Holgrave after a pause. "Our first youth is of
no value; for we are never conscious of it until after it is gone. But
sometimes--always, I suspect, unless one is exceedingly
unfortunate--there comes a sense of second youth, gushing out of the
heart's joy at being in love; or, possibly, it may come to crown some
other grand festival in life, if any other such there be. This
bemoaning of one's self (as you do now) over the first, careless,
shallow gayety of youth departed, and this profound happiness at youth
regained,--so much deeper and richer than that we lost,--are essential
to the soul's development. In some cases, the two states come almost
simultaneously, and mingle the sadness and the rapture in one
"I hardly think I understand you," said Phoebe.
"No wonder," replied Holgrave, smiling; "for I have told you a secret
which I hardly began to know before I found myself giving it utterance.
Remember it, however; and when the truth becomes clear to you, then
think of this moonlight scene!"
"It is entirely moonlight now, except only a little flush of faint
crimson, upward from the west, between those buildings," remarked
Phoebe. "I must go in. Cousin Hepzibah is not quick at figures, and
will give herself a headache over the day's accounts, unless I help
But Holgrave detained her a little longer.
"Miss Hepzibah tells me," observed he, "that you return to the country
in a few days."