"I trust you may find it so," said the old gentleman, who seemed rather

embarrassed, and desirous of avoiding the observation which Clifford's

wild talk drew on them both. "You have my best wishes for it."

"For Heaven's sake, dear Clifford, be quiet!" whispered his sister.

"They think you mad."

"Be quiet yourself, Hepzibah!" returned her brother. "No matter what

they think! I am not mad. For the first time in thirty years my

thoughts gush up and find words ready for them. I must talk, and I

will!"

He turned again towards the old gentleman, and renewed the conversation.

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"Yes, my dear sir," said he, "it is my firm belief and hope that these

terms of roof and hearth-stone, which have so long been held to embody

something sacred, are soon to pass out of men's daily use, and be

forgotten. Just imagine, for a moment, how much of human evil will

crumble away, with this one change! What we call real estate--the solid

ground to build a house on--is the broad foundation on which nearly all

the guilt of this world rests. A man will commit almost any wrong,--he

will heap up an immense pile of wickedness, as hard as granite, and

which will weigh as heavily upon his soul, to eternal ages,--only to

build a great, gloomy, dark-chambered mansion, for himself to die in,

and for his posterity to be miserable in. He lays his own dead corpse

beneath the underpinning, as one may say, and hangs his frowning

picture on the wall, and, after thus converting himself into an evil

destiny, expects his remotest great-grandchildren to be happy there. I

do not speak wildly. I have just such a house in my mind's eye!"

"Then, sir," said the old gentleman, getting anxious to drop the

subject, "you are not to blame for leaving it."

"Within the lifetime of the child already born," Clifford went on, "all

this will be done away. The world is growing too ethereal and

spiritual to bear these enormities a great while longer. To me,

though, for a considerable period of time, I have lived chiefly in

retirement, and know less of such things than most men,--even to me,

the harbingers of a better era are unmistakable. Mesmerism, now! Will

that effect nothing, think you, towards purging away the grossness out

of human life?"

"All a humbug!" growled the old gentleman.

"These rapping spirits, that little Phoebe told us of, the other day,"

said Clifford,--"what are these but the messengers of the spiritual

world, knocking at the door of substance? And it shall be flung wide

open!"

"A humbug, again!" cried the old gentleman, growing more and more testy

at these glimpses of Clifford's metaphysics. "I should like to rap

with a good stick on the empty pates of the dolts who circulate such

nonsense!"