"Can it be?" whispered Holgrave.

"It is they!" answered Phoebe. "Thank God!--thank God!"

And then, as if in sympathy with Phoebe's whispered ejaculation, they

heard Hepzibah's voice more distinctly.

"Thank God, my brother, we are at home!"

"Well!--Yes!--thank God!" responded Clifford. "A dreary home,

Hepzibah! But you have done well to bring me hither! Stay! That parlor

door is open. I cannot pass by it! Let me go and rest me in the arbor,

where I used,--oh, very long ago, it seems to me, after what has

befallen us,--where I used to be so happy with little Phoebe!"


But the house was not altogether so dreary as Clifford imagined it.

They had not made many steps,--in truth, they were lingering in the

entry, with the listlessness of an accomplished purpose, uncertain what

to do next,--when Phoebe ran to meet them. On beholding her, Hepzibah

burst into tears. With all her might, she had staggered onward beneath

the burden of grief and responsibility, until now that it was safe to

fling it down. Indeed, she had not energy to fling it down, but had

ceased to uphold it, and suffered it to press her to the earth.

Clifford appeared the stronger of the two.

"It is our own little Phoebe!--Ah! and Holgrave with, her" exclaimed

he, with a glance of keen and delicate insight, and a smile, beautiful,

kind, but melancholy. "I thought of you both, as we came down the

street, and beheld Alice's Posies in full bloom. And so the flower of

Eden has bloomed, likewise, in this old, darksome house to-day."