"You are severe," said Holgrave, compelled to recognize a degree of

truth in the piquant sketch of his own mood.

"And then," continued Phoebe, "what can you mean by your conviction,

which you tell me of, that the end is drawing near? Do you know of any

new trouble hanging over my poor relatives? If so, tell me at once, and

I will not leave them!"

"Forgive me, Phoebe!" said the daguerreotypist, holding out his hand,

to which the girl was constrained to yield her own. "I am somewhat of

a mystic, it must be confessed. The tendency is in my blood, together

with the faculty of mesmerism, which might have brought me to Gallows

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Hill, in the good old times of witchcraft. Believe me, if I were

really aware of any secret, the disclosure of which would benefit your

friends,--who are my own friends, likewise,--you should learn it before

we part. But I have no such knowledge."

"You hold something back!" said Phoebe.

"Nothing,--no secrets but my own," answered Holgrave. "I can perceive,

indeed, that Judge Pyncheon still keeps his eye on Clifford, in whose

ruin he had so large a share. His motives and intentions, however are

a mystery to me. He is a determined and relentless man, with the

genuine character of an inquisitor; and had he any object to gain by

putting Clifford to the rack, I verily believe that he would wrench his

joints from their sockets, in order to accomplish it. But, so wealthy

and eminent as he is,--so powerful in his own strength, and in the

support of society on all sides,--what can Judge Pyncheon have to hope

or fear from the imbecile, branded, half-torpid Clifford?"

"Yet," urged Phoebe, "you did speak as if misfortune were impending!"

"Oh, that was because I am morbid!" replied the artist. "My mind has a

twist aside, like almost everybody's mind, except your own. Moreover,

it is so strange to find myself an inmate of this old Pyncheon House,

and sitting in this old garden--(hark, how Maule's well is

murmuring!)--that, were it only for this one circumstance, I cannot

help fancying that Destiny is arranging its fifth act for a

catastrophe."

"There!" cried Phoebe with renewed vexation; for she was by nature as

hostile to mystery as the sunshine to a dark corner. "You puzzle me

more than ever!"

"Then let us part friends!" said Holgrave, pressing her hand. "Or, if

not friends, let us part before you entirely hate me. You, who love

everybody else in the world!"

"Good-by, then," said Phoebe frankly. "I do not mean to be angry a

great while, and should be sorry to have you think so. There has

Cousin Hepzibah been standing in the shadow of the doorway, this

quarter of an hour past! She thinks I stay too long in the damp garden.

So, good-night, and good-by."