As for ornamental articles of furniture, we recollect but two, if such

they may be called. One was a map of the Pyncheon territory at the

eastward, not engraved, but the handiwork of some skilful old

draughtsman, and grotesquely illuminated with pictures of Indians and

wild beasts, among which was seen a lion; the natural history of the

region being as little known as its geography, which was put down most

fantastically awry. The other adornment was the portrait of old

Colonel Pyncheon, at two thirds length, representing the stern features

of a Puritanic-looking personage, in a skull-cap, with a laced band and

a grizzly beard; holding a Bible with one hand, and in the other

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uplifting an iron sword-hilt. The latter object, being more

successfully depicted by the artist, stood out in far greater

prominence than the sacred volume. Face to face with this picture, on

entering the apartment, Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon came to a pause;

regarding it with a singular scowl, a strange contortion of the brow,

which, by people who did not know her, would probably have been

interpreted as an expression of bitter anger and ill-will. But it was

no such thing. She, in fact, felt a reverence for the pictured visage,

of which only a far-descended and time-stricken virgin could be

susceptible; and this forbidding scowl was the innocent result of her

near-sightedness, and an effort so to concentrate her powers of vision

as to substitute a firm outline of the object instead of a vague one.

We must linger a moment on this unfortunate expression of poor

Hepzibah's brow. Her scowl,--as the world, or such part of it as

sometimes caught a transitory glimpse of her at the window, wickedly

persisted in calling it,--her scowl had done Miss Hepzibah a very ill

office, in establishing her character as an ill-tempered old maid; nor

does it appear improbable that, by often gazing at herself in a dim

looking-glass, and perpetually encountering her own frown with its

ghostly sphere, she had been led to interpret the expression almost as

unjustly as the world did. "How miserably cross I look!" she must

often have whispered to herself; and ultimately have fancied herself

so, by a sense of inevitable doom. But her heart never frowned. It

was naturally tender, sensitive, and full of little tremors and

palpitations; all of which weaknesses it retained, while her visage was

growing so perversely stern, and even fierce. Nor had Hepzibah ever

any hardihood, except what came from the very warmest nook in her

affections.

All this time, however, we are loitering faintheartedly on the

threshold of our story. In very truth, we have an invincible

reluctance to disclose what Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon was about to do.