But where was Clifford? Could it be that, aware of the presence of his

Evil Destiny, he had crept silently down the staircase, while the Judge

and Hepzibah stood talking in the shop, and had softly undone the

fastenings of the outer door, and made his escape into the street?

With that thought, she seemed to behold his gray, wrinkled, yet

childlike aspect, in the old-fashioned garments which he wore about the

house; a figure such as one sometimes imagines himself to be, with the

world's eye upon him, in a troubled dream. This figure of her wretched

brother would go wandering through the city, attracting all eyes, and

everybody's wonder and repugnance, like a ghost, the more to be

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shuddered at because visible at noontide. To incur the ridicule of the

younger crowd, that knew him not,--the harsher scorn and indignation of

a few old men, who might recall his once familiar features! To be the

sport of boys, who, when old enough to run about the streets, have no

more reverence for what is beautiful and holy, nor pity for what is

sad,--no more sense of sacred misery, sanctifying the human shape in

which it embodies itself,--than if Satan were the father of them all!

Goaded by their taunts, their loud, shrill cries, and cruel

laughter,--insulted by the filth of the public ways, which they would

fling upon him,--or, as it might well be, distracted by the mere

strangeness of his situation, though nobody should afflict him with so

much as a thoughtless word,--what wonder if Clifford were to break into

some wild extravagance which was certain to be interpreted as lunacy?

Thus Judge Pyncheon's fiendish scheme would be ready accomplished to

his hands!

Then Hepzibah reflected that the town was almost completely

water-girdled. The wharves stretched out towards the centre of the

harbor, and, in this inclement weather, were deserted by the ordinary

throng of merchants, laborers, and sea-faring men; each wharf a

solitude, with the vessels moored stem and stern, along its misty

length. Should her brother's aimless footsteps stray thitherward, and

he but bend, one moment, over the deep, black tide, would he not

bethink himself that here was the sure refuge within his reach, and

that, with a single step, or the slightest overbalance of his body, he

might be forever beyond his kinsman's gripe? Oh, the temptation! To

make of his ponderous sorrow a security! To sink, with its leaden

weight upon him, and never rise again!

The horror of this last conception was too much for Hepzibah. Even

Jaffrey Pyncheon must help her now She hastened down the staircase,

shrieking as she went.

"Clifford is gone!" she cried. "I cannot find my brother. Help,

Jaffrey Pyncheon! Some harm will happen to him!"

She threw open the parlor-door. But, what with the shade of branches

across the windows, and the smoke-blackened ceiling, and the dark

oak-panelling of the walls, there was hardly so much daylight in the

room that Hepzibah's imperfect sight could accurately distinguish the

Judge's figure. She was certain, however, that she saw him sitting in

the ancestral arm-chair, near the centre of the floor, with his face

somewhat averted, and looking towards a window. So firm and quiet is

the nervous system of such men as Judge Pyncheon, that he had perhaps

stirred not more than once since her departure, but, in the hard

composure of his temperament, retained the position into which accident

had thrown him.