"Come!" said Clifford in a tone of brief decision, most unlike what was
usual with him. "We stay here too long! Let us leave the old house to
our cousin Jaffrey! He will take good care of it!"
Hepzibah now noticed that Clifford had on a cloak,--a garment of long
ago,--in which he had constantly muffled himself during these days of
easterly storm. He beckoned with his hand, and intimated, so far as
she could comprehend him, his purpose that they should go together from
the house. There are chaotic, blind, or drunken moments, in the lives
of persons who lack real force of character,--moments of test, in which
courage would most assert itself,--but where these individuals, if left
to themselves, stagger aimlessly along, or follow implicitly whatever
guidance may befall them, even if it be a child's. No matter how
preposterous or insane, a purpose is a Godsend to them. Hepzibah had
reached this point. Unaccustomed to action or responsibility,--full of
horror at what she had seen, and afraid to inquire, or almost to
imagine, how it had come to pass,--affrighted at the fatality which
seemed to pursue her brother,--stupefied by the dim, thick, stifling
atmosphere of dread which filled the house as with a death-smell, and
obliterated all definiteness of thought,--she yielded without a
question, and on the instant, to the will which Clifford expressed.
For herself, she was like a person in a dream, when the will always
sleeps. Clifford, ordinarily so destitute of this faculty, had found
it in the tension of the crisis.
"Why do you delay so?" cried he sharply. "Put on your cloak and hood,
or whatever it pleases you to wear! No matter what; you cannot look
beautiful nor brilliant, my poor Hepzibah! Take your purse, with money
in it, and come along!"
Hepzibah obeyed these instructions, as if nothing else were to be done
or thought of. She began to wonder, it is true, why she did not wake
up, and at what still more intolerable pitch of dizzy trouble her
spirit would struggle out of the maze, and make her conscious that
nothing of all this had actually happened. Of course it was not real;
no such black, easterly day as this had yet begun to be; Judge Pyncheon
had not talked with, her. Clifford had not laughed, pointed, beckoned
her away with him; but she had merely been afflicted--as lonely
sleepers often are--with a great deal of unreasonable misery, in a
"Now--now--I shall certainly awake!" thought Hepzibah, as she went to
and fro, making her little preparations. "I can bear it no longer I
must wake up now!"
But it came not, that awakening moment! It came not, even when, just
before they left the house, Clifford stole to the parlor-door, and made
a parting obeisance to the sole occupant of the room.