After a little while, the twilight, deepened by the shadows of the
fruit-trees and the surrounding buildings, threw an obscurity over the
"There," said Holgrave, "it is time to give over work! That last stroke
of the hoe has cut off a beanstalk. Good-night, Miss Phoebe Pyncheon!
Any bright day, if you will put one of those rosebuds in your hair, and
come to my rooms in Central Street, I will seize the purest ray of
sunshine, and make a picture of the flower and its wearer." He retired
towards his own solitary gable, but turned his head, on reaching the
door, and called to Phoebe, with a tone which certainly had laughter in
it, yet which seemed to be more than half in earnest.
"Be careful not to drink at Maule's well!" said he. "Neither drink nor
bathe your face in it!"
"Maule's well!" answered Phoebe. "Is that it with the rim of mossy
stones? I have no thought of drinking there,--but why not?"
"Oh," rejoined the daguerreotypist, "because, like an old lady's cup of
tea, it is water bewitched!"
He vanished; and Phoebe, lingering a moment, saw a glimmering light,
and then the steady beam of a lamp, in a chamber of the gable. On
returning into Hepzibah's apartment of the house, she found the
low-studded parlor so dim and dusky that her eyes could not penetrate
the interior. She was indistinctly aware, however, that the gaunt
figure of the old gentlewoman was sitting in one of the straight-backed
chairs, a little withdrawn from the window, the faint gleam of which
showed the blanched paleness of her cheek, turned sideways towards a
"Shall I light a lamp, Cousin Hepzibah?" she asked.
"Do, if you please, my dear child," answered Hepzibah. "But put it on
the table in the corner of the passage. My eyes are weak; and I can
seldom bear the lamplight on them."
What an instrument is the human voice! How wonderfully responsive to
every emotion of the human soul! In Hepzibah's tone, at that moment,
there was a certain rich depth and moisture, as if the words,
commonplace as they were, had been steeped in the warmth of her heart.
Again, while lighting the lamp in the kitchen, Phoebe fancied that her
cousin spoke to her.
"In a moment, cousin!" answered the girl. "These matches just glimmer,
and go out."
But, instead of a response from Hepzibah, she seemed to hear the murmur
of an unknown voice. It was strangely indistinct, however, and less
like articulate words than an unshaped sound, such as would be the
utterance of feeling and sympathy, rather than of the intellect. So
vague was it, that its impression or echo in Phoebe's mind was that of
unreality. She concluded that she must have mistaken some other sound
for that of the human voice; or else that it was altogether in her