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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVIII - GOVERNOR PYNCHEON
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The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVIII - GOVERNOR PYNCHEON Post by :cheemo Category :Long Stories Author :Nathaniel Hawthorne Date :April 2011 Read :1939

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The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVIII - GOVERNOR PYNCHEON

JUDGE PYNCHEON, while his two relatives have fled away with such
ill-considered haste, still sits in the old parlor, keeping house,
as the familiar phrase is, in the absence of its ordinary occupants.
To him, and to the venerable House of the Seven Gables, does our
story now betake itself, like an owl, bewildered in the daylight,
and hastening back to his hollow tree.

The Judge has not shifted his position for a long while now.
He has not stirred hand or foot, nor withdrawn his eyes so much as
a hair's-breadth from their fixed gaze towards the corner of the
room, since the footsteps of Hepzibah and Clifford creaked along
the passage, and the outer door was closed cautiously behind
their exit. He holds his watch in his left hand, but clutched in
such a manner that you cannot see the dial-plate. How profound
a fit of meditation! Or, supposing him asleep, how infantile a
quietude of conscience, and what wholesome order in the gastric
region, are betokened by slumber so entirely undisturbed with
starts, cramp, twitches, muttered dreamtalk, trumpet-blasts
through the nasal organ, or any slightest irregularity of breath!
You must hold your own breath, to satisfy yourself whether he breathes
at all. It is quite inaudible. You hear the ticking of his watch;
his breath you do not hear. A most refreshing slumber, doubtless!
And yet, the Judge cannot be asleep. His eyes are open! A veteran
politician, such as he, would never fall asleep with wide-open
eyes, lest some enemy or mischief-maker, taking him thus at
unawares, should peep through these windows into his consciousness,
and make strange discoveries among the remniniscences, projects,
hopes, apprehensions, weaknesses, and strong points, which he has
heretofore shared with nobody. A cautious man is proverbially said
to sleep with one eye open. That may be wisdom. But not with both;
for this were heedlessness! No, no! Judge Pyncheon cannot be asleep.

It is odd, however, that a gentleman so burdened with engagements,
--and noted, too, for punctuality,--should linger thus in an old
lonely mansion, which he has never seemed very fond of visiting.
The oaken chair, to be sure, may tempt him with its roominess.
It is, indeed, a spacious, and, allowing for the rude age that
fashioned it, a moderately easy seat, with capacity enough, at
all events, and offering no restraint to the Judge's breadth
of beam. A bigger man might find ample accommodation in it.
His ancestor, now pictured upon the wall, with all his English
beef about him, used hardly to present a front extending from
elbow to elbow of this chair, or a base that would cover its
whole cushion. But there are better chairs than this,--mahogany,
black walnut, rosewood, spring-seated and damask-cushioned,
with varied slopes, and innumerable artifices to make them easy,
and obviate the irksomeness of too tame an ease,--a score of
such might be at Judge Pyncheon's service. Yes! in a score of
drawing-rooms he would be more than welcome. Mamma would advance
to meet him, with outstretched hand; the virgin daughter, elderly
as he has now got to be,--an old widower, as he smilingly describes
himself,--would shake up the cushion for the Judge, and do her
pretty utmost to make him comfortable. For the Judge is a
prosperous man. He cherishes his schemes, moreover, like other
people, and reasonably brighter than most others; or did so, at
least, as he lay abed this morning, in an agreeable half-drowse,
planning the business of the day, and speculating on the
probabilities of the next fifteen years. With his firm health,
and the little inroad that age has made upon him, fifteen years
or twenty--yes, or perhaps five-and-twenty!--are no more than he
may fairly call his own. Five-and-twenty years for the enjoyment
of his real estate in town and country, his railroad, bank, and
insurance shares, his United States stock,--his wealth, in short,
however invested, now in possession, or soon to be acquired;
together with the public honors that have fallen upon him, and
the weightier ones that are yet to fall! It is good! It is
excellent! It is enough!

Still lingering in the old chair! If the Judge has a little
time to throw away, why does not he visit the insurance office,
as is his frequent custom, and sit awhile in one of their
leathern-cushioned arm-chairs, listening to the gossip of the
day, and dropping some deeply designed chance-word, which will
be certain to become the gossip of to-morrow. And have not the
bank directors a meeting at which it was the Judge's purpose to
be present, and his office to preside? Indeed they have; and the
hour is noted on a card, which is, or ought to be, in Judge
Pyncheon's right vest-pocket. Let him go thither, and loll at ease
upon his moneybags! He has lounged long enough in the old chair!

This was to have been such a busy day. In the first place, the
interview with Clifford. Half an hour, by the Judge's reckoning,
was to suffice for that; it would probably be less, but--taking
into consideration that Hepzibah was first to be dealt with, and
that these women are apt to make many words where a few would do
much better--it might be safest to allow half an hour. Half an
hour? Why, Judge, it is already two hours, by your own undeviatingly
accurate chronometer. Glance your eye down at it and see! Ah! he
will not give himself the trouble either to bend his head, or elevate
his hand, so as to bring the faithful time-keeper within his range
of vision! Time, all at once, appears to have become a matter of no
moment with the Judge!

And has he forgotten all the other items of his memoranda?
Clifford's affair arranged, he was to meet a State Street broker,
who has undertaken to procure a heavy percentage, and the best
of paper, for a few loose thousands which the Judge happens to
have by him, uninvested. The wrinkled note-shaver will have
taken his railroad trip in vain. Half an hour later, in the street
next to this, there was to be an auction of real estate, including
a portion of the old Pyncheon property, originally belonging to
Maule's garden ground. It has been alienated from the Pyncheons
these four-score years; but the Judge had kept it in his eye, and
had set his heart on reannexing it to the small demesne still left
around the Seven Gables; and now, during this odd fit of oblivion,
the fatal hammer must have fallen, and transferred our ancient
patrimony to some alien possessor. Possibly, indeed, the sale
may have been postponed till fairer weather. If so, will the
Judge make it convenient to be present, and favor the auctioneer
with his bid, On the proximate occasion?

The next affair was to buy a horse for his own driving. The one
heretofore his favorite stumbled, this very morning, on the road
to town, and must be at once discarded. Judge Pyncheon's neck
is too precious to be risked on such a contingency as a stumbling
steed. Should all the above business be seasonably got through
with, he might attend the meeting of a charitable society; the
very name of which, however, in the multiplicity of his
benevolence, is quite forgotten; so that this engagement may pass
unfulfilled, and no great harm done. And if he have time, amid
the press of more urgent matters, he must take measures for the
renewal of Mrs. Pyncheon's tombstone, which, the sexton tells
him, has fallen on its marble face, and is cracked quite in twain.
She was a praiseworthy woman enough, thinks the Judge, in spite
of her nervousness, and the tears that she was so oozy with, and
her foolish behavior about the coffee; and as she took her
departure so seasonably, he will not grudge the second tombstone.
It is better, at least, than if she had never needed any! The next
item on his list was to give orders for some fruit-trees, of a rare
variety, to be deliverable at his country-seat in the ensuing
autumn. Yes, buy them, by all means; and may the peaches be
luscious in your mouth, Judge Pyncheon! After this comes something
more important. A committee of his political party has besought
him for a hundred or two of dollars, in addition to his previous
disbursements, towards carrying on the fall campaign. The Judge
is a patriot; the fate of the country is staked on the November
election; and besides, as will be shadowed forth in another
paragraph, he has no trifling stake of his own in the same great
game. He will do what the committee asks; nay, he will be liberal
beyond their expectations; they shall have a check for five hundred
dollars, and more anon, if it be needed. What next? A decayed widow,
whose husband was Judge Pyncheon's early friend, has laid her case of
destitution before him, in a very moving letter. She and her fair
daughter have scarcely bread to eat. He partly intends to call on
her to-day,--perhaps so--perhaps not,--accordingly as he may happen
to have leisure, and a small bank-note.

Another business, which, however, he puts no great weight on (it
is well, you know, to be heedful, but not over-anxious, as respects
one's personal health),--another business, then, was to consult his
family physician. About what, for Heaven's sake? Why, it is rather
difficult to describe the symptoms. A mere dimness of sight and
dizziness of brain, was it?--or disagreeable choking, or stifling,
or gurgling, or bubbling, in the region of the thorax, as the
anatomists say?--or was it a pretty severe throbbing and kicking of
the heart, rather creditable to him than otherwise, as showing that
the organ had not been left out of the Judge's physical contrivance?
No matter what it was. The doctor probably would smile at the
statement of such trifles to his professional ear; the Judge would
smile in his turn; and meeting one another's eyes, they would enjoy
a hearty laugh together! But a fig for medical advice. The Judge
will never need it.

Pray, pray, Judge Pyncheon, look at your watch, Now! What--not
a glance! It is within ten minutes of the dinner hour! It surely
cannot have slipped your memory that the dinner of to-day is to
be the most important, in its consequences, of all the dinners
you ever ate. Yes, precisely the most important; although,
in the course of your somewhat eminent career, you have been
placed high towards the head of the table, at splendid banquets,
and have poured out your festive eloquence to ears yet echoing
with Webster's mighty organ-tones. No public dinner this,
however. It is merely a gathering of some dozen or so of friends
from several districts of the State; men of distinguished character
and influence, assembling, almost casually, at the house of a
common friend, likewise distinguished, who will make them
welcome to a little better than his ordinary fare. Nothing in
the way of French cookery, but an excellent dinner, nevertheless.
Real turtle, we understand, and salmon, tautog, canvas-backs, pig,
English mutton, good roast beef, or dainties of that serious kind,
fit for substantial country gentlemen, as these honorable persons
mostly are. The delicacies of the season, in short, and flavored
by a brand of old Madeira which has been the pride of many seasons.
It is the Juno brand; a glorious wine, fragrant, and full of gentle
might; a bottled-up happiness, put by for use; a golden liquid,
worth more than liquid gold; so rare and admirable, that veteran
wine-bibbers count it among their epochs to have tasted it!
It drives away the heart-ache, and substitutes no head-ache!
Could the Judge but quaff a glass, it might enable him to shake
off the unaccountable lethargy which (for the ten intervening
minutes, and five to boot, are already past) has made him such
a laggard at this momentous dinner. It would all but revive a
dead man! Would you like to sip it now, Judge Pyncheon?

Alas, this dinner. Have you really forgotten its true object?
Then let us whisper it, that you may start at once out of the
oaken chair, which really seems to be enchanted, like the one
in Comus, or that in which Moll Pitcher imprisoned your own
grandfather. But ambition is a talisman more powerful than
witchcraft. Start up, then, and, hurrying through the streets,
burst in upon the company, that they may begin before the fish
is spoiled! They wait for you; and it is little for your interest
that they should wait. These gentlemen--need you be told it?
--have assembled, not without purpose, from every quarter of
the State. They are practised politicians, every man of them,
and skilled to adjust those preliminary measures which steal
from the people, without its knowledge, the power of choosing
its own rulers. The popular voice, at the next gubernatorial
election, though loud as thunder, will be really but an echo of
what these gentlemen shall speak, under their breath, at your
friend's festive board. They meet to decide upon their candidate.
This little knot of subtle schemers will control the convention,
and, through it, dictate to the party. And what worthier candidate,
--more wise and learned, more noted for philanthropic liberality,
truer to safe principles, tried oftener by public trusts, more
spotless in private character, with a larger stake in the common
welfare, and deeper grounded, by hereditary descent, in the faith
and practice of the Puritans,--what man can be presented for the
suffrage of the people, so eminently combining all these claims
to the chief-rulership as Judge Pyncheon here before us?

Make haste, then! Do your part! The meed for which you have
toiled, and fought, and climbed, and crept, is ready for your
grasp! Be present at this dinner!--drink a glass or two of that
noble wine!--make your pledges in as low a whisper as you will!
--and you rise up from table virtually governor of the glorious
old State! Governor Pyncheon of Massachusetts!

And is there no potent and exhilarating cordial in a certainty like
this? It has been the grand purpose of half your lifetime to obtain
it. Now, when there needs little more than to signify your acceptance,
why do you sit so lumpishly in your great-great-grandfather's oaken
chair, as if preferring it to the gubernatorial one? We have all heard
of King Log; but, in these jostling times, one of that royal kindred
will hardly win the race for an elective chief-magistracy.

Well! it is absolutely too late for dinner! Turtle, salmon, tautog,
woodcock, boiled turkey, South-Down mutton, pig, roast-beef,
have vanished, or exist only in fragments, with lukewarm potatoes,
and gravies crusted over with cold fat. The Judge, had he done
nothing else, would have achieved wonders with his knife and fork.
It was he, you know, of whom it used to be said, in reference to
his ogre-like appetite, that his Creator made him a great aninmal,
but that the dinner-hour made him a great beast. Persons of his
large sensual endowments must claim indulgence, at their feeding-time.
But, for once, the Judge is entirely too late for dinner! Too late,
we fear, even to join the party at their wine! The guests are warm
and merry; they have given up the Judge; and, concluding that the
Free-Soilers have him, they will fix upon another candidate. Were our
friend now to stalk in among them, with that wide-open stare, at once
wild and stolid, his ungenial presence would be apt to change their
cheer. Neither would it be seemly in Judge Pyncheon, generally so
scrupulous in his attire, to show himself at a dinner-table with
that crimson stain upon his shirt-bosom. By the bye, how came it
there? It is an ugly sight, at any rate; and the wisest way for the
Judge is to button his coat closely over his breast, and, taking his
horse and chaise from the livery stable, to make all speed to his
own house. There, after a glass of brandy and water, and a mutton-chop,
a beefsteak, a broiled fowl, or some such hasty little dinner and
supper all in one, he had better spend the evening by the fireside.
He must toast his slippers a long while, in order to get rid of
the chilliness which the air of this vile old house has sent curdling
through his veins.

Up, therefore, Judge Pyncheon, up! You have lost a day. But
to-morrow will be here anon. Will you rise, betimes, and make
the most of it? To-morrow. To-morrow! To-morrow. We, that are
alive, may rise betimes to-morrow. As for him that has died
to-day, his morrow will be the resurrection morn.

Meanwhile the twilight is glooming upward out of the corners of
the room. The shadows of the tall furniture grow deeper, and at
first become more definite; then, spreading wider, they lose their
distinctness of outline in the dark gray tide of oblivion, as it
were, that creeps slowly over the various objects, and the one
human figure sitting in the midst of them. The gloom has not
entered from without; it has brooded here all day, and now,
taking its own inevitable time, will possess itself of everything.
The Judge's face, indeed, rigid and singularly white, refuses to
melt into this universal solvent. Fainter and fainter grows the
light. It is as if another double-handful of darkness had been
scattered through the air. Now it is no longer gray, but sable.
There is still a faint appearance at the window. neither a glow,
nor a gleam, Nor a glimmer,--any phrase of light would express
something far brighter than this doubtful perception, or sense,
rather, that there is a window there. Has it yet vanished? No!
--yes!--not quite! And there is still the swarthy whiteness,--we
shall venture to marry these ill-agreeing words,--the swarthy
whiteness of Judge Pyncheon's face. The features are all gone:
there is only the paleness of them left. And how looks it now?
There is no window! There is no face! An infinite, inscrutable
blackness has annihilated sight! Where is our universe? All
crumbled away from us; and we, adrift in chaos, may hearken to
the gusts of homeless wind, that go sighing and murmuring about
in quest of what was once a world!

Is there no other sound? One other, and a fearful one. It is the
ticking of the Judge's watch, which, ever since Hepzibah left the
room in search of Clifford, he has been holding in his hand. Be
the cause what it may, this little, quiet, never-ceasing throb of
Time's pulse, repeating its small strokes with such busy regularity,
in Judge Pyncheon's motionless hand, has an effect of terror, which
we do not find in any other accompaniment of the scene.

But, listen! That puff of the breeze was louder. it, had a tone
unlike the dreary and sullen one which has bemoaned itself, and
afflicted all mankind with miserable sympathy, for five days past.
The wind has veered about! It now comes boisterously from the
northwest, and, taking hold of the aged framework of the Seven
Gables, gives it a shake, like a wrestler that would try strength
with his antagonist. Another and another sturdy tussle with the
blast! The old house creaks again, and makes a vociferous but
somewhat unintelligible bellowing in its sooty throat (the big
flue, we mean, of its wide chimney), partly in complaint at the
rude wind, but rather, as befits their century and a half of
hostile intimacy, in tough defiance. A rumbling kind of a bluster
roars behind the fire-board. A door has slammed above stairs.
A window, perhaps, has been left open, or else is driven in by
an unruly gust. It is not to be conceived, before-hand, what
wonderful wind-instruments are these old timber mansions, and
how haunted with the strangest noises, which immediately begin
to sing, and sigh, and sob, and shriek,--and to smite with
sledge-hammers, airy but ponderous, in some distant chamber,
--and to tread along the entries as with stately footsteps,
and rustle up and down the staircase, as with silks miraculously
stiff,--whenever the gale catches the house with a window open,
and gets fairly into it. Would that we were not an attendant
spirit here! It is too awful! This clamor of the wind through
the lonely house; the Judge's quietude, as he sits invisible;
and that pertinacious ticking of his watch!

As regards Judge Pyncheon's invisibility, however, that matter
will soon be remedied. The northwest wind has swept the sky
clear. The window is distinctly seen. Through its panes,
moreover, we dimly catch the sweep of the dark, clustering
foliage outside, fluttering with a constant irregularity of
movement, and letting in a peep of starlight, now here, now
there. Oftener than any other object, these glimpses illuminate
the Judge's face. But here comes more effectual light. Observe
that silvery dance upon the upper branches of the pear-tree,
and now a little lower, and now on the whole mass of boughs,
while, through their shifting intricacies, the moonbeams fall
aslant into the room. They play over the Judge's figure and
show that he has not stirred throughout the hours of darkness.
They follow the shadows, in changeful sport, across his unchanging
features. They gleam upon his watch. His grasp conceals the
dial-plate,--but we know that the faithful hands have met;
for one of the city clocks tells midnight.

A man of sturdy understanding, like Judge Pyncheon, cares no
more for twelve o'clock at night than for the corresponding hour
of noon. However just the parallel drawn, in some of the preceding
pages, between his Puritan ancestor and himself, it fails in this
point. The Pyncheon of two centuries ago, in common with most of
his contemporaries, professed his full belief in spiritual
ministrations, although reckoning them chiefly of a malignant
character. The Pyncheon of to-night, who sits in yonder arm-chair,
believes in no such nonsense. Such, at least, was his creed,
some few hours since. His hair will not bristle, therefore,
at the stories which--in times when chimney-corners had benches
in them, where old people sat poking into the ashes of the past,
and raking out traditions like live coals--used to be told about
this very room of his ancestral house. In fact, these tales are
too absurd to bristle even childhood's hair. What sense, meaning,
or moral, for example, such as even ghost-stories should be
susceptible of, can be traced in the ridiculous legend, that,
at midnight, all the dead Pyncheons are bound to assemble in this
parlor? And, pray, for what? Why, to see whether the portrait of
their ancestor still keeps its place upon the wall, in compliance
with his testamentary directions! Is it worth while to come out
of their graves for that?

We are tempted to make a little sport with the idea. Ghost-stories
are hardly to be treated seriously any longer. The family-party of
the defunct Pyncheons, we presume, goes off in this wise.

First comes the ancestor himself, in his black cloak, steeple-hat,
and trunk-breeches, girt about the waist with a leathern belt,
in which hangs his steel-hilted sword; he has a long staff in his
hand, such as gentlemen in advanced life used to carry, as much
for the dignity of the thing as for the support to be derived from
it. He looks up at the portrait; a thing of no substance, gazing
at its own painted image! All is safe. The picture is still there.
The purpose of his brain has been kept sacred thus long after the
man himself has sprouted up in graveyard grass. See! he lifts his
ineffectual hand, and tries the frame. All safe! But is that a
smile?--is it not, rather a frown of deadly import, that darkens
over the shadow of his features? The stout Colonel is dissatisfied!
So decided is his look of discontent as to impart additional
distinctness to his features; through which, nevertheless, the
moonlight passes, and flickers on the wall beyond. Something has
strangely vexed the ancestor! With a grim shake of the head, he
turns away. Here come other Pyncheons, the whole tribe, in their
half a dozen generations, jostling and elbowing one another, to
reach the picture. We behold aged men and grandames, a clergyman
with the Puritanic stiffness still in his garb and mien, and a
red-coated officer of the old French war; and there comes the
shop-keeping Pyncheon of a century ago, with the ruffles turned
back from his wrists; and there the periwigged and brocaded
gentleman of the artist's legend, with the beautiful and pensive
Alice, who brings no pride out of her virgin grave. All try the
picture-frame. What do these ghostly people seek? A mother lifts
her child, that his little hands may touch it! There is evidently
a mystery about the picture, that perplexes these poor Pyncheons
when they ought to be at rest. In a corner, meanwhile, stands the
figure of an elderly man, in a leathern jerkin and breeches, with
a carpenter's rule sticking out of his side pocket; he points his
finger at the bearded Colonel and his descendants, nodding,
jeering, mocking, and finally bursting into obstreperous, though
inaudible laughter.

Indulging our fancy in this freak, we have partly lost the power
of restraint and guidance. We distinguish an unlooked-for figure
in our visionary scene. Among those ancestral people there is a
young man, dressed in the very fashion of to-day: he wears a
dark frock-coat, almost destitute of skirts, gray pantaloons,
gaiter boots of patent leather, and has a finely wrought gold
chain across his breast, and a little silver-headed whalebone
stick in his hand. Were we to meet this figure at noonday, we
should greet him as young Jaffrey Pyncheon, the Judge's only
surviving child, who has been spending the last two years in
foreign travel. If still in life, how comes his shadow hither?
If dead, what a misfortune! The old Pyncheon property, together
with the great estate acquired by the young man's father, would
devolve on whom? On poor, foolish Clifford, gaunt Hepzibah, and
rustic little Phoebe! But another and a greater marvel greets us!
Can we believe our eyes? A stout, elderly gentleman has made his
appearance; he has an aspect of eminent respectability, wears a
black coat and pantaloons, of roomy width, and might be pronounced
scrupulously neat in his attire, but for a broad crimson stain
across his snowy neckcloth and down his shirt-bosom. Is it the
Judge, or no? How can it be Judge Pyncheon? We discern his figure,
as plainly as the flickering moonbeams can show us anything, still
seated in the oaken chair! Be the apparition whose it may, it
advances to the picture, seems to seize the frame, tries to
peep behind it, and turns away, with a frown as black as the
ancestral one.

The fantastic scene just hinted at must by no means be considered
as forming an actual portion of our story. We were betrayed into
this brief extravagance by the quiver of the moonbeams; they dance
hand-in-hand with shadows, and are reflected in the looking-glass,
which, you are aware, is always a kind of window or doorway into
the spiritual world. We needed relief, moreover, from our too
long and exclusive contemplation of that figure in the chair.
This wild wind, too, has tossed our thoughts into strange confusion,
but without tearing them away from their one determined centre.
Yonder leaden Judge sits immovably upon our soul. Will he never
stir again? We shall go mad unless he stirs! You may the better
estimate his quietude by the fearlessness of a little mouse,
which sits on its hind legs, in a streak of moonlight, close by
Judge Pyncheon's foot, and seems to meditate a journey of
exploration over this great black bulk. Ha! what has startled
the nimble little mouse? It is the visage of grimalkin, outside
of the window, where he appears to have posted himself for a
deliberate watch. This grimalkin has a very ugly look. Is it
a cat watching for a mouse, or the devil for a human soul? Would
we could scare him from the window!

Thank Heaven, the night is well-nigh past! The moonbeams have
no longer so silvery a gleam, nor contrast so strongly with the
blackness of the shadows among which they fall. They are paler
now; the shadows look gray, not black. The boisterous wind is
hushed. What is the hour? Ah! the watch has at last ceased to
tick; for the Judge's forgetful fingers neglected to wind it up,
as usual, at ten o'clock, being half an hour or so before his
ordinary bedtime,--and it has run down, for the first time in five
years. But the great world-clock of Time still keeps its beat.
The dreary night--for, oh, how dreary seems its haunted waste,
behind us!--gives place to a fresh, transparent, cloudless morn.
Blessed, blessed radiance! The daybeam--even what little of it finds
its way into this always dusky parlor--seems part of the universal
benediction, annulling evil, and rendering all goodness possible,
and happiness attainable. Will Judge Pyncheon now rise up from
his chair? Will he go forth, and receive the early sunbeams on
his brow? Will he begin this new day,--which God has smiled upon,
and blessed, and given to mankind,--will he begin it with better
purposes than the many that have been spent amiss? Or are all the
deep-laid schemes of yesterday as stubborn in his heart, and as
busy in his brain, as ever?

In this latter case, there is much to do. Will the Judge still
insist with Hepzibah on the interview with Clifford? Will he buy
a safe, elderly gentleman's horse? Will he persuade the purchaser
of the old Pyncheon property to relinquish the bargain in his
favor? Will he see his family physician, and obtain a medicine
that shall preserve him, to be an honor and blessing to his race,
until the utmost term of patriarchal longevity? Will Judge
Pyncheon, above all, make due apologies to that company of
honorable friends, and satisfy them that his absence from the
festive board was unavoidable, and so fully retrieve himself in
their good opinion that he shall yet be Governor of Massachusetts?
And all these great purposes accomplished, will he walk the streets
again, with that dog-day smile of elaborate benevolence, sultry
enough to tempt flies to come and buzz in it? Or will he, after the
tomb-like seclusion of the past day and night, go forth a humbled
and repentant man, sorrowful, gentle, seeking no profit, shrinking
from worldly honor, hardly daring to love God, but bold to love
his fellow man, and to do him what good he may? Will he bear
about with him,--no odious grin of feigned benignity, insolent
in its pretence, and loathsome in its falsehood,--but the tender
sadness of a contrite heart, broken, at last, beneath its own
weight of sin? For it is our belief, whatever show of honor he
may have piled upon it, that there was heavy sin at the base of
this man's being.

Rise up, Judge Pyncheon! The morning sunshine glimmers through the
foliage, and, beautiful and holy as it is, shuns not to kindle up
your face. Rise up, thou subtle, worldly, selfish, iron-hearted
hypocrite, and make thy choice whether still to be subtle, worldly,
selfish, iron-hearted, and hypocritical, or to tear these sins out
of thy nature, though they bring the lifeblood with them! The Avenger
is upon thee! Rise up, before it be too late!

What! Thou art not stirred by this last appeal? No, not a jot!
And there we see a fly,--one of your common house-flies, such as
are always buzzing on the window-pane,--which has smelt out Governor
Pyncheon, and alights, now on his forehead, now on his chin, and now,
Heaven help us! is creeping over the bridge of his nose, towards the
would-be chief-magistrate's wide-open eyes! Canst thou not brush the
fly away? Art thou too sluggish? Thou man, that hadst so many busy
projects yesterday! Art thou too weak, that wast so powerful?
Not brush away a fly? Nay, then, we give thee up!

And hark! the shop-bell rings. After hours like these latter
ones, through which we have borne our heavy tale, it is good
to be made sensible that there is a living world, and that even
this old, lonely mansion retains some manner of connection with
it. We breathe more freely, emerging from Judge Pyncheon's
presence into the street before the Seven Gables.

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The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XIX - ALICE'S POSIES The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XIX - ALICE'S POSIES

The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XIX - ALICE'S POSIES
UNCLE VENNER, trundling a wheelbarrow, was the earliest personstirring in the neighborhood the day after the storm.Pyncheon Street, in front of the House of the Seven Gables, wasa far pleasanter scene than a by-lane, confined by shabby fences,and bordered with wooden dwellings of the meaner class, couldreasonably be expected to present. Nature made sweet amends,that morning, for the five unkindly days which had preceded it.It would have been enough to live for, merely to look up at thewide benediction of the sky, or as much of it as was visiblebetween the houses, genial once more with sunshine. Every objectwas

The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVII - THE FLIGHT OF TWO OWLS The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVII - THE FLIGHT OF TWO OWLS

The House Of Seven Gables - Chapter XVII - THE FLIGHT OF TWO OWLS
SUMMER as it was, the east wind set poor Hepzibah's fewremaining teeth chattering in her head, as she and Clifford facedit, on their way up Pyncheon Street, and towards the centre ofthe town. Not merely was it the shiver which this pitiless blastbrought to her frame (although her feet and hands, especially,had never seemed so death-a-cold as now), but there was a moralsensation, mingling itself with the physical chill, and causingher to shake more in spirit than in body. The world's broad,bleak atmosphere was all so comfortless! Such, indeed, is theimpression which it makes on every new adventurer, even