"There is the garden,--the flowers to be taken care of," observed

Phoebe. "I should keep myself healthy with exercise in the open air."

"And, after all, child," exclaimed Hepzibah, suddenly rising, as if to

dismiss the subject, "it is not for me to say who shall be a guest or

inhabitant of the old Pyncheon House. Its master is coming."

"Do you mean Judge Pyncheon?" asked Phoebe in surprise.

"Judge Pyncheon!" answered her cousin angrily. "He will hardly cross

the threshold while I live! No, no! But, Phoebe, you shall see the face

of him I speak of."

She went in quest of the miniature already described, and returned with

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it in her hand. Giving it to Phoebe, she watched her features

narrowly, and with a certain jealousy as to the mode in which the girl

would show herself affected by the picture.

"How do you like the face?" asked Hepzibah.

"It is handsome!--it is very beautiful!" said Phoebe admiringly. "It

is as sweet a face as a man's can be, or ought to be. It has something

of a child's expression,--and yet not childish,--only one feels so very

kindly towards him! He ought never to suffer anything. One would bear

much for the sake of sparing him toil or sorrow. Who is it, Cousin

Hepzibah?"

"Did you never hear," whispered her cousin, bending towards her, "of

Clifford Pyncheon?"

"Never. I thought there were no Pyncheons left, except yourself and

our cousin Jaffrey," answered Phoebe. "And yet I seem to have heard

the name of Clifford Pyncheon. Yes!--from my father or my mother; but

has he not been a long while dead?"

"Well, well, child, perhaps he has!" said Hepzibah with a sad, hollow

laugh; "but, in old houses like this, you know, dead people are very

apt to come back again! We shall see. And, Cousin Phoebe, since, after

all that I have said, your courage does not fail you, we will not part

so soon. You are welcome, my child, for the present, to such a home as

your kinswoman can offer you."

With this measured, but not exactly cold assurance of a hospitable

purpose, Hepzibah kissed her cheek.

They now went below stairs, where Phoebe--not so much assuming the

office as attracting it to herself, by the magnetism of innate

fitness--took the most active part in preparing breakfast. The

mistress of the house, meanwhile, as is usual with persons of her stiff

and unmalleable cast, stood mostly aside; willing to lend her aid, yet

conscious that her natural inaptitude would be likely to impede the

business in hand. Phoebe and the fire that boiled the teakettle were

equally bright, cheerful, and efficient, in their respective offices.

Hepzibah gazed forth from her habitual sluggishness, the necessary

result of long solitude, as from another sphere. She could not help

being interested, however, and even amused, at the readiness with which

her new inmate adapted herself to the circumstances, and brought the

house, moreover, and all its rusty old appliances, into a suitableness

for her purposes. Whatever she did, too, was done without conscious

effort, and with frequent outbreaks of song, which were exceedingly

pleasant to the ear. This natural tunefulness made Phoebe seem like a

bird in a shadowy tree; or conveyed the idea that the stream of life

warbled through her heart as a brook sometimes warbles through a

pleasant little dell. It betokened the cheeriness of an active

temperament, finding joy in its activity, and, therefore, rendering it

beautiful; it was a New England trait,--the stern old stuff of

Puritanism with a gold thread in the web.