Still haunted with the idea that not one of the past incidents,

inclusive of Judge Pyncheon's visit, could be real, the recluse of the

Seven Gables murmured in her brother's ear,-"Clifford! Clifford! Is not this a dream?"

"A dream, Hepzibah!" repeated he, almost laughing in her face. "On the

contrary, I have never been awake before!"

Meanwhile, looking from the window, they could see the world racing

past them. At one moment, they were rattling through a solitude; the

next, a village had grown up around them; a few breaths more, and it

had vanished, as if swallowed by an earthquake. The spires of

meeting-houses seemed set adrift from their foundations; the

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broad-based hills glided away. Everything was unfixed from its

age-long rest, and moving at whirlwind speed in a direction opposite to

their own.

Within the car there was the usual interior life of the railroad,

offering little to the observation of other passengers, but full of

novelty for this pair of strangely enfranchised prisoners. It was

novelty enough, indeed, that there were fifty human beings in close

relation with them, under one long and narrow roof, and drawn onward by

the same mighty influence that had taken their two selves into its

grasp. It seemed marvellous how all these people could remain so

quietly in their seats, while so much noisy strength was at work in

their behalf. Some, with tickets in their hats (long travellers these,

before whom lay a hundred miles of railroad), had plunged into the

English scenery and adventures of pamphlet novels, and were keeping

company with dukes and earls. Others, whose briefer span forbade their

devoting themselves to studies so abstruse, beguiled the little tedium

of the way with penny-papers. A party of girls, and one young man, on

opposite sides of the car, found huge amusement in a game of ball.

They tossed it to and fro, with peals of laughter that might be

measured by mile-lengths; for, faster than the nimble ball could fly,

the merry players fled unconsciously along, leaving the trail of their

mirth afar behind, and ending their game under another sky than had

witnessed its commencement. Boys, with apples, cakes, candy, and rolls

of variously tinctured lozenges,--merchandise that reminded Hepzibah of

her deserted shop,--appeared at each momentary stopping-place, doing up

their business in a hurry, or breaking it short off, lest the market

should ravish them away with it. New people continually entered. Old

acquaintances--for such they soon grew to be, in this rapid current of

affairs--continually departed. Here and there, amid the rumble and the

tumult, sat one asleep. Sleep; sport; business; graver or lighter

study; and the common and inevitable movement onward! It was life

itself!

Clifford's naturally poignant sympathies were all aroused. He caught

the color of what was passing about him, and threw it back more vividly

than he received it, but mixed, nevertheless, with a lurid and

portentous hue. Hepzibah, on the other hand, felt herself more apart

from human kind than even in the seclusion which she had just quitted.