"Hepzibah, my beloved cousin, I am rejoiced!" exclaimed the Judge most

emphatically. "Now, at length, you have something to live for. Yes,

and all of us, let me say, your friends and kindred, have more to live

for than we had yesterday. I have lost no time in hastening to offer

any assistance in my power towards making Clifford comfortable. He

belongs to us all. I know how much he requires,--how much he used to

require,--with his delicate taste, and his love of the beautiful.

Anything in my house,--pictures, books, wine, luxuries of the

table,--he may command them all! It would afford me most heartfelt

gratification to see him! Shall I step in, this moment?"

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"No," replied Hepzibah, her voice quivering too painfully to allow of

many words. "He cannot see visitors!"

"A visitor, my dear cousin!--do you call me so?" cried the Judge, whose

sensibility, it seems, was hurt by the coldness of the phrase. "Nay,

then, let me be Clifford's host, and your own likewise. Come at once

to my house. The country air, and all the conveniences,--I may say

luxuries,--that I have gathered about me, will do wonders for him. And

you and I, dear Hepzibah, will consult together, and watch together,

and labor together, to make our dear Clifford happy. Come! why should

we make more words about what is both a duty and a pleasure on my part?

Come to me at once!"

On hearing these so hospitable offers, and such generous recognition of

the claims of kindred, Phoebe felt very much in the mood of running up

to Judge Pyncheon, and giving him, of her own accord, the kiss from

which she had so recently shrunk away. It was quite otherwise with

Hepzibah; the Judge's smile seemed to operate on her acerbity of heart

like sunshine upon vinegar, making it ten times sourer than ever.

"Clifford," said she,--still too agitated to utter more than an abrupt

sentence,--"Clifford has a home here!"

"May Heaven forgive you, Hepzibah," said Judge Pyncheon,--reverently

lifting his eyes towards that high court of equity to which he

appealed,--"if you suffer any ancient prejudice or animosity to weigh

with you in this matter. I stand here with an open heart, willing and

anxious to receive yourself and Clifford into it. Do not refuse my

good offices,--my earnest propositions for your welfare! They are such,

in all respects, as it behooves your nearest kinsman to make. It will

be a heavy responsibility, cousin, if you confine your brother to this

dismal house and stifled air, when the delightful freedom of my

country-seat is at his command."

"It would never suit Clifford," said Hepzibah, as briefly as before.

"Woman!" broke forth the Judge, giving way to his resentment, "what is

the meaning of all this? Have you other resources? Nay, I suspected as

much! Take care, Hepzibah, take care! Clifford is on the brink of as

black a ruin as ever befell him yet! But why do I talk with you, woman

as you are? Make way!--I must see Clifford!"