"What is it now, child?" asked the maiden lady rather impatiently; "did

you come back to shut the door?"

"No," answered the urchin, pointing to the figure that had just been

put up; "I want that other Jim Crow."

"Well, here it is for you," said Hepzibah, reaching it down; but

recognizing that this pertinacious customer would not quit her on any

other terms, so long as she had a gingerbread figure in her shop, she

partly drew back her extended hand, "Where is the cent?"

The little boy had the cent ready, but, like a true-born Yankee, would

have preferred the better bargain to the worse. Looking somewhat


chagrined, he put the coin into Hepzibah's hand, and departed, sending

the second Jim Crow in quest of the former one. The new shop-keeper

dropped the first solid result of her commercial enterprise into the

till. It was done! The sordid stain of that copper coin could never be

washed away from her palm. The little schoolboy, aided by the impish

figure of the negro dancer, had wrought an irreparable ruin. The

structure of ancient aristocracy had been demolished by him, even as if

his childish gripe had torn down the seven-gabled mansion. Now let

Hepzibah turn the old Pyncheon portraits with their faces to the wall,

and take the map of her Eastern territory to kindle the kitchen fire,

and blow up the flame with the empty breath of her ancestral

traditions! What had she to do with ancestry? Nothing; no more than

with posterity! No lady, now, but simply Hepzibah Pyncheon, a forlorn

old maid, and keeper of a cent-shop!

Nevertheless, even while she paraded these ideas somewhat

ostentatiously through her mind, it is altogether surprising what a

calmness had come over her. The anxiety and misgivings which had

tormented her, whether asleep or in melancholy day-dreams, ever since

her project began to take an aspect of solidity, had now vanished quite

away. She felt the novelty of her position, indeed, but no longer with

disturbance or affright. Now and then, there came a thrill of almost

youthful enjoyment. It was the invigorating breath of a fresh outward

atmosphere, after the long torpor and monotonous seclusion of her life.

So wholesome is effort! So miraculous the strength that we do not know

of! The healthiest glow that Hepzibah had known for years had come now

in the dreaded crisis, when, for the first time, she had put forth her

hand to help herself. The little circlet of the schoolboy's copper

coin--dim and lustreless though it was, with the small services which

it had been doing here and there about the world--had proved a

talisman, fragrant with good, and deserving to be set in gold and worn

next her heart. It was as potent, and perhaps endowed with the same

kind of efficacy, as a galvanic ring! Hepzibah, at all events, was

indebted to its subtile operation both in body and spirit; so much the

more, as it inspired her with energy to get some breakfast, at which,

still the better to keep up her courage, she allowed herself an extra

spoonful in her infusion of black tea.