"It is natural enough, Mr. Holgrave, that you should have ideas like

these," rejoined Hepzibah, drawing up her gaunt figure with slightly

offended dignity. "You are a man, a young man, and brought up, I

suppose, as almost everybody is nowadays, with a view to seeking your

fortune. But I was born a lady, and have always lived one; no matter

in what narrowness of means, always a lady."

"But I was not born a gentleman; neither have I lived like one," said

Holgrave, slightly smiling; "so, my dear madam, you will hardly expect

me to sympathize with sensibilities of this kind; though, unless I

deceive myself, I have some imperfect comprehension of them. These

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names of gentleman and lady had a meaning, in the past history of the

world, and conferred privileges, desirable or otherwise, on those

entitled to bear them. In the present--and still more in the future

condition of society-they imply, not privilege, but restriction!"

"These are new notions," said the old gentlewoman, shaking her head.

"I shall never understand them; neither do I wish it."

"We will cease to speak of them, then," replied the artist, with a

friendlier smile than his last one, "and I will leave you to feel

whether it is not better to be a true woman than a lady. Do you really

think, Miss Hepzibah, that any lady of your family has ever done a more

heroic thing, since this house was built, than you are performing in it

to-day? Never; and if the Pyncheons had always acted so nobly, I doubt

whether an old wizard Maule's anathema, of which you told me once,

would have had much weight with Providence against them."

"Ah!--no, no!" said Hepzibah, not displeased at this allusion to the

sombre dignity of an inherited curse. "If old Maule's ghost, or a

descendant of his, could see me behind the counter to-day, he would

call it the fulfillment of his worst wishes. But I thank you for your

kindness, Mr. Holgrave, and will do my utmost to be a good shop-keeper."

"Pray do" said Holgrave, "and let me have the pleasure of being your

first customer. I am about taking a walk to the seashore, before going

to my rooms, where I misuse Heaven's blessed sunshine by tracing out

human features through its agency. A few of those biscuits, dipt in

sea-water, will be just what I need for breakfast. What is the price

of half a dozen?"

"Let me be a lady a moment longer," replied Hepzibah, with a manner of

antique stateliness to which a melancholy smile lent a kind of grace.

She put the biscuits into his hand, but rejected the compensation. "A

Pyncheon must not, at all events under her forefathers' roof, receive

money for a morsel of bread from her only friend!"