The House of the Seven Gables

By A. Marion Merrill; Nathaniel Hawthorne | Go to book overview

IX
CLIFFORD AND PHOEBE

TRULY was there something high, generous, and noble in the native composition of our poor old Hepzibah! Or else, -- and it was quite as probably the case, -- she had been enriched by poverty, developed by sorrow, elevated by the strong and solitary affection of her life, and thus endowed with heroism, which never could have characterized her in what are called happier circumstances. Through dreary years Hepzibah had looked forward -- for the most part despairingly, never with any confidence of hope, but always with the feeling that it was her brightest possibility -- to the very position in which she now found herself. In her own behalf, she had asked nothing of Providence but the opportunity of devoting herself to this brother, whom she had so loved, -- so admired for what he was, or might have been, -- and to whom she had kept her faith, alone of all the world, wholly, unfalteringly, at every instant, and throughout life. And here, in his late decline, the lost one had come back out of his long and strange misfortune, and was thrown on her sympathy, as it seemed, not merely for the bread of his physical existence, but for everything that should keep him morally alive. She had responded to the call. She had come forward, -- our poor, gaunt Hepzibah, in her rusty silks, with her rigid joints, and the sad perversity of her scowl, -- ready to do her utmost; and with affection enough, if

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