"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
effect of the interview."
"You cannot see him," answered Hepzibah. "Clifford has kept his bed
"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!"