"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

hard."

"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."

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"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

Hepzibah's courtesy.

"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.