"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
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
"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."