"You can do nothing," said Hepzibah, controlling her agitation as well

as she could. "I devote myself to Clifford. He has every comfort

which his situation admits of."

"But allow me to suggest, dear cousin," rejoined the Judge, "you

err,--in all affection and kindness, no doubt, and with the very best

intentions,--but you do err, nevertheless, in keeping your brother so

secluded. Why insulate him thus from all sympathy and kindness?

Clifford, alas! has had too much of solitude. Now let him try

society,--the society, that is to say, of kindred and old friends. Let

me, for instance, but see Clifford, and I will answer for the good

Advertisement..

effect of the interview."

"You cannot see him," answered Hepzibah. "Clifford has kept his bed

since yesterday."

"What! How! Is he ill?" exclaimed Judge Pyncheon, starting with what

seemed to be angry alarm; for the very frown of the old Puritan

darkened through the room as he spoke. "Nay, then, I must and will see

him! What if he should die?"

"He is in no danger of death," said Hepzibah,--and added, with

bitterness that she could repress no longer, "none; unless he shall be

persecuted to death, now, by the same man who long ago attempted it!"

"Cousin Hepzibah," said the Judge, with an impressive earnestness of

manner, which grew even to tearful pathos as he proceeded, "is it

possible that you do not perceive how unjust, how unkind, how

unchristian, is this constant, this long-continued bitterness against

me, for a part which I was constrained by duty and conscience, by the

force of law, and at my own peril, to act? What did I do, in detriment

to Clifford, which it was possible to leave undone? How could you, his

sister,--if, for your never-ending sorrow, as it has been for mine, you

had known what I did,--have, shown greater tenderness? And do you

think, cousin, that it has cost me no pang?--that it has left no

anguish in my bosom, from that day to this, amidst all the prosperity

with which Heaven has blessed me?--or that I do not now rejoice, when

it is deemed consistent with the dues of public justice and the welfare

of society that this dear kinsman, this early friend, this nature so

delicately and beautifully constituted,--so unfortunate, let us

pronounce him, and forbear to say, so guilty,--that our own Clifford,

in fine, should be given back to life, and its possibilities of

enjoyment? Ah, you little know me, Cousin Hepzibah! You little know

this heart! It now throbs at the thought of meeting him! There lives

not the human being (except yourself,--and you not more than I) who has

shed so many tears for Clifford's calamity. You behold some of them

now. There is none who would so delight to promote his happiness! Try

me, Hepzibah!--try me, Cousin!--try the man whom you have treated as

your enemy and Clifford's!--try Jaffrey Pyncheon, and you shall find

him true, to the heart's core!"