"A cent-shop, and no yeast!" quoth she; "That will never do! Who ever

heard of such a thing? Your loaf will never rise, no more than mine

will to-day. You had better shut up shop at once."

"Well," said Hepzibah, heaving a deep sigh, "perhaps I had!"

Several times, moreover, besides the above instance, her lady-like

sensibilities were seriously infringed upon by the familiar, if not

rude, tone with which people addressed her. They evidently considered

themselves not merely her equals, but her patrons and superiors. Now,

Hepzibah had unconsciously flattered herself with the idea that there

would be a gleam or halo, of some kind or other, about her person,

Advertisement..

which would insure an obeisance to her sterling gentility, or, at

least, a tacit recognition of it. On the other hand, nothing tortured

her more intolerably than when this recognition was too prominently

expressed. To one or two rather officious offers of sympathy, her

responses were little short of acrimonious; and, we regret to say,

Hepzibah was thrown into a positively unchristian state of mind by the

suspicion that one of her customers was drawn to the shop, not by any

real need of the article which she pretended to seek, but by a wicked

wish to stare at her. The vulgar creature was determined to see for

herself what sort of a figure a mildewed piece of aristocracy, after

wasting all the bloom and much of the decline of her life apart from

the world, would cut behind a counter. In this particular case,

however mechanical and innocuous it might be at other times, Hepzibah's

contortion of brow served her in good stead.

"I never was so frightened in my life!" said the curious customer, in

describing the incident to one of her acquaintances. "She's a real old

vixen, take my word of it! She says little, to be sure; but if you

could only see the mischief in her eye!"

On the whole, therefore, her new experience led our decayed gentlewoman

to very disagreeable conclusions as to the temper and manners of what

she termed the lower classes, whom heretofore she had looked down upon

with a gentle and pitying complaisance, as herself occupying a sphere

of unquestionable superiority. But, unfortunately, she had likewise to

struggle against a bitter emotion of a directly opposite kind: a

sentiment of virulence, we mean, towards the idle aristocracy to which

it had so recently been her pride to belong. When a lady, in a

delicate and costly summer garb, with a floating veil and gracefully

swaying gown, and, altogether, an ethereal lightness that made you look

at her beautifully slippered feet, to see whether she trod on the dust

or floated in the air,--when such a vision happened to pass through

this retired street, leaving it tenderly and delusively fragrant with

her passage, as if a bouquet of tea-roses had been borne along,--then

again, it is to be feared, old Hepzibah's scowl could no longer

vindicate itself entirely on the plea of near-sightedness.