"Well, I don't wish to see it any more," observed Phoebe, turning away
her eyes. "It is certainly very like the old portrait. But my cousin
Hepzibah has another picture,--a miniature. If the original is still
in the world, I think he might defy the sun to make him look stern and
"You have seen that picture, then!" exclaimed the artist, with an
expression of much interest. "I never did, but have a great curiosity
to do so. And you judge favorably of the face?"
"There never was a sweeter one," said Phoebe. "It is almost too soft
and gentle for a man's."
"Is there nothing wild in the eye?" continued Holgrave, so earnestly
that it embarrassed Phoebe, as did also the quiet freedom with which he
presumed on their so recent acquaintance. "Is there nothing dark or
sinister anywhere? Could you not conceive the original to have been
guilty of a great crime?"
"It is nonsense," said Phoebe a little impatiently, "for us to talk
about a picture which you have never seen. You mistake it for some
other. A crime, indeed! Since you are a friend of my cousin
Hepzibah's, you should ask her to show you the picture."
"It will suit my purpose still better to see the original," replied the
daguerreotypist coolly. "As to his character, we need not discuss its
points; they have already been settled by a competent tribunal, or one
which called itself competent. But, stay! Do not go yet, if you
please! I have a proposition to make you."
Phoebe was on the point of retreating, but turned back, with some
hesitation; for she did not exactly comprehend his manner, although, on
better observation, its feature seemed rather to be lack of ceremony
than any approach to offensive rudeness. There was an odd kind of
authority, too, in what he now proceeded to say, rather as if the
garden were his own than a place to which he was admitted merely by
"If agreeable to you," he observed, "it would give me pleasure to turn
over these flowers, and those ancient and respectable fowls, to your
care. Coming fresh from country air and occupations, you will soon
feel the need of some such out-of-door employment. My own sphere does
not so much lie among flowers. You can trim and tend them, therefore,
as you please; and I will ask only the least trifle of a blossom, now
and then, in exchange for all the good, honest kitchen vegetables with
which I propose to enrich Miss Hepzibah's table. So we will be
fellow-laborers, somewhat on the community system."
Silently, and rather surprised at her own compliance, Phoebe
accordingly betook herself to weeding a flower-bed, but busied herself
still more with cogitations respecting this young man, with whom she so
unexpectedly found herself on terms approaching to familiarity. She
did not altogether like him. His character perplexed the little
country-girl, as it might a more practised observer; for, while the
tone of his conversation had generally been playful, the impression
left on her mind was that of gravity, and, except as his youth modified
it, almost sternness. She rebelled, as it were, against a certain
magnetic element in the artist's nature, which he exercised towards
her, possibly without being conscious of it.