Excerpts from Chapter 9, "Clifford and Phoebe," of The House of the Seven
Gables which focus on Hepzibah.
. . . 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 that were all, to do a hundred
times as much! There could be few more tearful sights,--and Heaven forgive
us if a smile insist on mingling with our conception of it,--few sights
with truer pathos in them, than Hepzibah presented, on that first afternoon.
How patiently did she endeavor to wrap Clifford up in her great, warm
love, and make it all the world to him, so that he should retain no torturing
sense of the coldness and dreariness without! Her little efforts to amuse
him! How pitiful, yet magnanimous, they were!
But the worst of all,--the hardest stroke of fate for Hepzibah to endure,
and perhaps for Clifford too,--was his invincible distaste for her appearance.
Her features, never the most agreeable, and now harsh with age and grief,
and resentment against the world for his sake; her dress, and especially
her turban; the queer and quaint manners, which had unconsciously grown
upon her in solitude;--such being the poor gentlewoman's outward characteristics,
it is no great marvel, although the mournfullest of pities, that the instinctive
lover of the Beautiful was fain to turn away his eyes. (Chapter