On the second morning thereafter, Phoebe might have been seen, in her

straw bonnet, with a shawl on one arm and a little carpet-bag on the

other, bidding adieu to Hepzibah and Cousin Clifford. She was to take

a seat in the next train of cars, which would transport her to within

half a dozen miles of her country village.

The tears were in Phoebe's eyes; a smile, dewy with affectionate

regret, was glimmering around her pleasant mouth. She wondered how it

came to pass, that her life of a few weeks, here in this heavy-hearted

old mansion, had taken such hold of her, and so melted into her

associations, as now to seem a more important centre-point of

Advertisement..

remembrance than all which had gone before. How had Hepzibah--grim,

silent, and irresponsive to her overflow of cordial sentiment--contrived

to win so much love? And Clifford,--in his abortive decay, with the

mystery of fearful crime upon him, and the close prison-atmosphere yet

lurking in his breath,--how had he transformed himself into the simplest

child, whom Phoebe felt bound to watch over, and be, as it were, the

providence of his unconsidered hours! Everything, at that instant of

farewell, stood out prominently to her view. Look where she would, lay

her hand on what she might, the object responded to her consciousness,

as if a moist human heart were in it.

She peeped from the window into the garden, and felt herself more

regretful at leaving this spot of black earth, vitiated with such an

age-long growth of weeds, than joyful at the idea of again scenting her

pine forests and fresh clover-fields. She called Chanticleer, his two

wives, and the venerable chicken, and threw them some crumbs of bread

from the breakfast-table. These being hastily gobbled up, the chicken

spread its wings, and alighted close by Phoebe on the window-sill,

where it looked gravely into her face and vented its emotions in a

croak. Phoebe bade it be a good old chicken during her absence, and

promised to bring it a little bag of buckwheat.

"Ah, Phoebe!" remarked Hepzibah, "you do not smile so naturally as when

you came to us! Then, the smile chose to shine out; now, you choose it

should. It is well that you are going back, for a little while, into

your native air. There has been too much weight on your spirits. The

house is too gloomy and lonesome; the shop is full of vexations; and as

for me, I have no faculty of making things look brighter than they are.

Dear Clifford has been your only comfort!"

"Come hither, Phoebe," suddenly cried her cousin Clifford, who had said

very little all the morning. "Close!--closer!--and look me in the

face!"

Phoebe put one of her small hands on each elbow of his chair, and

leaned her face towards him, so that he might peruse it as carefully as

he would. It is probable that the latent emotions of this parting hour

had revived, in some degree, his bedimmed and enfeebled faculties. At

any rate, Phoebe soon felt that, if not the profound insight of a seer,

yet a more than feminine delicacy of appreciation, was making her heart

the subject of its regard. A moment before, she had known nothing

which she would have sought to hide. Now, as if some secret were

hinted to her own consciousness through the medium of another's

perception, she was fain to let her eyelids droop beneath Clifford's

gaze. A blush, too,--the redder, because she strove hard to keep it

down,--ascended bigger and higher, in a tide of fitful progress, until

even her brow was all suffused with it.