On raising her eyes, Phoebe was startled by the change in Judge

Pyncheon's face. It was quite as striking, allowing for the difference

of scale, as that betwixt a landscape under a broad sunshine and just

before a thunder-storm; not that it had the passionate intensity of the

latter aspect, but was cold, hard, immitigable, like a day-long

brooding cloud.

"Dear me! what is to be done now?" thought the country-girl to herself.

"He looks as if there were nothing softer in him than a rock, nor

milder than the east wind! I meant no harm! Since he is really my

cousin, I would have let him kiss me, if I could!"

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Then, all at once, it struck Phoebe that this very Judge Pyncheon was

the original of the miniature which the daguerreotypist had shown her

in the garden, and that the hard, stern, relentless look, now on his

face, was the same that the sun had so inflexibly persisted in bringing

out. Was it, therefore, no momentary mood, but, however skilfully

concealed, the settled temper of his life? And not merely so, but was

it hereditary in him, and transmitted down, as a precious heirloom,

from that bearded ancestor, in whose picture both the expression and,

to a singular degree, the features of the modern Judge were shown as by

a kind of prophecy? A deeper philosopher than Phoebe might have found

something very terrible in this idea. It implied that the weaknesses

and defects, the bad passions, the mean tendencies, and the moral

diseases which lead to crime are handed down from one generation to

another, by a far surer process of transmission than human law has been

able to establish in respect to the riches and honors which it seeks to

entail upon posterity.

But, as it happened, scarcely had Phoebe's eyes rested again on the

Judge's countenance than all its ugly sternness vanished; and she found

herself quite overpowered by the sultry, dog-day heat, as it were, of

benevolence, which this excellent man diffused out of his great heart

into the surrounding atmosphere,--very much like a serpent, which, as a

preliminary to fascination, is said to fill the air with his peculiar

odor.

"I like that, Cousin Phoebe!" cried he, with an emphatic nod of

approbation. "I like it much, my little cousin! You are a good child,

and know how to take care of yourself. A young girl--especially if she

be a very pretty one--can never be too chary of her lips."

"Indeed, sir," said Phoebe, trying to laugh the matter off, "I did not

mean to be unkind."

Nevertheless, whether or no it were entirely owing to the inauspicious

commencement of their acquaintance, she still acted under a certain

reserve, which was by no means customary to her frank and genial

nature. The fantasy would not quit her, that the original Puritan, of

whom she had heard so many sombre traditions,--the progenitor of the

whole race of New England Pyncheons, the founder of the House of the

Seven Gables, and who had died so strangely in it,--had now stept into

the shop. In these days of off-hand equipment, the matter was easily

enough arranged. On his arrival from the other world, he had merely

found it necessary to spend a quarter of an hour at a barber's, who had

trimmed down the Puritan's full beard into a pair of grizzled whiskers,

then, patronizing a ready-made clothing establishment, he had exchanged

his velvet doublet and sable cloak, with the richly worked band under

his chin, for a white collar and cravat, coat, vest, and pantaloons;

and lastly, putting aside his steel-hilted broadsword to take up a

gold-headed cane, the Colonel Pyncheon of two centuries ago steps

forward as the Judge of the passing moment!