Phoebe Pyncheon slept, on the night of her arrival, in a chamber that

looked down on the garden of the old house. It fronted towards the

east, so that at a very seasonable hour a glow of crimson light came

flooding through the window, and bathed the dingy ceiling and

paper-hangings in its own hue. There were curtains to Phoebe's bed; a

dark, antique canopy, and ponderous festoons of a stuff which had been

rich, and even magnificent, in its time; but which now brooded over the

girl like a cloud, making a night in that one corner, while elsewhere

it was beginning to be day. The morning light, however, soon stole

into the aperture at the foot of the bed, betwixt those faded curtains.


Finding the new guest there,--with a bloom on her cheeks like the

morning's own, and a gentle stir of departing slumber in her limbs, as

when an early breeze moves the foliage,--the dawn kissed her brow. It

was the caress which a dewy maiden--such as the Dawn is,

immortally--gives to her sleeping sister, partly from the impulse of

irresistible fondness, and partly as a pretty hint that it is time now

to unclose her eyes.

At the touch of those lips of light, Phoebe quietly awoke, and, for a

moment, did not recognize where she was, nor how those heavy curtains

chanced to be festooned around her. Nothing, indeed, was absolutely

plain to her, except that it was now early morning, and that, whatever

might happen next, it was proper, first of all, to get up and say her

prayers. She was the more inclined to devotion from the grim aspect of

the chamber and its furniture, especially the tall, stiff chairs; one

of which stood close by her bedside, and looked as if some

old-fashioned personage had been sitting there all night, and had

vanished only just in season to escape discovery.

When Phoebe was quite dressed, she peeped out of the window, and saw a

rosebush in the garden. Being a very tall one, and of luxuriant

growth, it had been propped up against the side of the house, and was

literally covered with a rare and very beautiful species of white rose.

A large portion of them, as the girl afterwards discovered, had blight

or mildew at their hearts; but, viewed at a fair distance, the whole

rosebush looked as if it had been brought from Eden that very summer,

together with the mould in which it grew. The truth was, nevertheless,

that it had been planted by Alice Pyncheon,--she was Phoebe's

great-great-grand-aunt,--in soil which, reckoning only its cultivation

as a garden-plat, was now unctuous with nearly two hundred years of

vegetable decay. Growing as they did, however, out of the old earth,

the flowers still sent a fresh and sweet incense up to their Creator;

nor could it have been the less pure and acceptable because Phoebe's

young breath mingled with it, as the fragrance floated past the window.

Hastening down the creaking and carpetless staircase, she found her way

into the garden, gathered some of the most perfect of the roses, and

brought them to her chamber.