"Can it be Phoebe?" questioned she within herself. "It must be little
Phoebe; for it can be nobody else,--and there is a look of her father
about her, too! But what does she want here? And how like a country
cousin, to come down upon a poor body in this way, without so much as a
day's notice, or asking whether she would be welcome! Well; she must
have a night's lodging, I suppose; and to-morrow the child shall go
back to her mother."
Phoebe, it must be understood, was that one little offshoot of the
Pyncheon race to whom we have already referred, as a native of a rural
part of New England, where the old fashions and feelings of
relationship are still partially kept up. In her own circle, it was
regarded as by no means improper for kinsfolk to visit one another
without invitation, or preliminary and ceremonious warning. Yet, in
consideration of Miss Hepzibah's recluse way of life, a letter had
actually been written and despatched, conveying information of Phoebe's
projected visit. This epistle, for three or four days past, had been
in the pocket of the penny-postman, who, happening to have no other
business in Pyncheon Street, had not yet made it convenient to call at
the House of the Seven Gables.
"No--she can stay only one night," said Hepzibah, unbolting the door.
"If Clifford were to find her here, it might disturb him!"