It pleased him more, and was better for his inward welfare, that Phoebe

should talk, and make passing occurrences vivid to his mind by her

accompanying description and remarks. The life of the garden offered

topics enough for such discourse as suited Clifford best. He never

failed to inquire what flowers had bloomed since yesterday. His

feeling for flowers was very exquisite, and seemed not so much a taste

as an emotion; he was fond of sitting with one in his hand, intently

observing it, and looking from its petals into Phoebe's face, as if the

garden flower were the sister of the household maiden. Not merely was

there a delight in the flower's perfume, or pleasure in its beautiful

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form, and the delicacy or brightness of its hue; but Clifford's

enjoyment was accompanied with a perception of life, character, and

individuality, that made him love these blossoms of the garden, as if

they were endowed with sentiment and intelligence. This affection and

sympathy for flowers is almost exclusively a woman's trait. Men, if

endowed with it by nature, soon lose, forget, and learn to despise it,

in their contact with coarser things than flowers. Clifford, too, had

long forgotten it; but found it again now, as he slowly revived from

the chill torpor of his life.

It is wonderful how many pleasant incidents continually came to pass in

that secluded garden-spot when once Phoebe had set herself to look for

them. She had seen or heard a bee there, on the first day of her

acquaintance with the place. And often,--almost continually,

indeed,--since then, the bees kept coming thither, Heaven knows why, or

by what pertinacious desire, for far-fetched sweets, when, no doubt,

there were broad clover-fields, and all kinds of garden growth, much

nearer home than this. Thither the bees came, however, and plunged

into the squash-blossoms, as if there were no other squash-vines within

a long day's flight, or as if the soil of Hepzibah's garden gave its

productions just the very quality which these laborious little wizards

wanted, in order to impart the Hymettus odor to their whole hive of New

England honey. When Clifford heard their sunny, buzzing murmur, in the

heart of the great yellow blossoms, he looked about him with a joyful

sense of warmth, and blue sky, and green grass, and of God's free air

in the whole height from earth to heaven. After all, there need be no

question why the bees came to that one green nook in the dusty town.

God sent them thither to gladden our poor Clifford. They brought the

rich summer with them, in requital of a little honey.

When the bean-vines began to flower on the poles, there was one

particular variety which bore a vivid scarlet blossom. The

daguerreotypist had found these beans in a garret, over one of the

seven gables, treasured up in an old chest of drawers by some

horticultural Pyncheon of days gone by, who doubtless meant to sow them

the next summer, but was himself first sown in Death's garden-ground.

By way of testing whether there were still a living germ in such

ancient seeds, Holgrave had planted some of them; and the result of his

experiment was a splendid row of bean-vines, clambering, early, to the

full height of the poles, and arraying them, from top to bottom, in a

spiral profusion of red blossoms. And, ever since the unfolding of the

first bud, a multitude of humming-birds had been attracted thither. At

times, it seemed as if for every one of the hundred blossoms there was

one of these tiniest fowls of the air,--a thumb's bigness of burnished

plumage, hovering and vibrating about the bean-poles. It was with

indescribable interest, and even more than childish delight, that

Clifford watched the humming-birds. He used to thrust his head softly

out of the arbor to see them the better; all the while, too, motioning

Phoebe to be quiet, and snatching glimpses of the smile upon her face,

so as to heap his enjoyment up the higher with her sympathy. He had

not merely grown young;--he was a child again.