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House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 1

House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 1

 

PREFACE
 
The most pleasurable way of learning a foreign language is through reading; yet there is relatively little interesting material available to foreign students and others of varying English language competencies who are in need of readers with easier vocabularies. The American Classics series consists of ten books which I have chosen to simplify and adapt in order to fill this need. Consisting of ten carefully graded readers building from a vocabulary of 750 words in this first book1 to 2600 words in the tenth, the series provides a book at every level—from begin­ning, through intermediate, to advanced. A student who reads all ten books thus increases his vocabulary gradually and effort­lessly to a range of almost 3000 words.
 
The House of the Seven Gables is the first book in the American Classics series. In this edition the vocabulary of the book has been limited to 750 words. The sentence structure is simple, though sufficiently varied in form so as not to be monot­onous. Long descriptive passages, as well as the philosophical emphasis which was popular in the writing of that period, have been eliminated. What remains is a fast-moving story of love, murder, and revenge—interesting both for American students requiring a simplified vocabulary and foreign students who wish to read English while at the same time learning something of American life and customs.
 
The second book in this series of American Classics is Moby Dick, with a vocabulary range of 1000-words—including most of the 750 words introduced in The House of the Seven Gables,
 
      * These 750 words are listed alphabetically at the back of the book.
 
  as well as slightly over 250 new words. Each of the books that follows includes an additional 200 words. These books are all standard American classics, well known to American readers and to students of American literature throughout the world. Each has been selected because it has a good plot structure and interesting story content. A complete list of the titles and vocabulary ranges of the books in this series appears on the last page.
  
Attention is directed to the wealth of exercises for conversational purposes, as well as to the vocabulary and idiom drills in each book.
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Robert J. Dixson
 
onel Pyncheon was among the crowd of people who watched Maule die. At the place where he was being hanged, Maule pointed to where Colonel Pyncheon stood, and cried out in a loud voice: “God will give him blood to drink.” We shall see later in our story what Mathew Maule meant by these words.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What is a “gable”?
2. Why is the house in this story called the House of the Seven Gables?
3. What is there in front of the House of the Seven Gables?
4. How long does the history of this house go back?
5. How many years are there in a century?
6. What other name did Pyncheon Street have a long time ago?
7. Why did Mathew Maule build his house in this exact place?
8. As the years passed, what happened to Maule’s house and land?
9. Whose attention did Maule’s house and land attract?
10. What kind of man was Colonel Pyncheon?
11. What did Colonel Pyncheon decide that he wanted?
12. What did Colonel Pyncheon say about Maule’s land?
13. What did some people say at the time? What did others say?
14. How did the fight between the two men end?
15. How did Mathew Maule die?
16. What did Mathew Maule say before he died?
 
B.Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
chimney
road
named after
 
at first for sure give up
 
PART II
 
After the death of Mathew Maule, Colonel Pyncheon took over his land. He built a large new house in the exact place where Maule had his home before. No one could understand why, after all that had happened, Colonel Pyncheon wanted to
 
build his home in this exact place. There were many other good places on which to build. But Colonel Pyncheon had deçided upon this one. As already stated, he was a man of very strong character. He was not afraid of anyone or anything, and he was not afraid of Mathew Maule’s evil spirit either.
 
Yet a strange thing happened while Colonel Pyncheon was building his new house. The spring of water which was near the place turned bad. Anyone who drank the water became sick. Many people thought that Mathew Maule’s evil spirit was al­ready at work. Probably in building the lower part of the house, the workmen had touched the spring. This could turn the water bad. But people preferred to think that it was Maule’s spirit which made the water bad.
 
A second strange fact was that Colonel Pyncheon made Mathew Maule’s own son the head carpenter for the new house. Perhaps Colonel Pyncheon felt sad about taking the land from Mathew Maule, and hoped to pay the family back in this way. But it is also possible that Maule’s son was the best carpenter in town and Colonel Pyncheon wanted to build the best house possible. The colonel paid him well and Maule’s son built a very strong house for the colonel. The house is still standing today after one hundred and sixty years. This is proof that the work was good.
 
The House of the Seven Gables remains clear in the memory of the writer of this story. It has interested him since he was a young child. The house, first of all, is a good example of the style of this early period. Secondly, the house is interesting because of the many strange things that have happened there. The house today is naturally very different from when it was first built. Today it is old and ugly. But when it was first built it was the largest and most important house in the town. It caused a great impression everywhere.
 
In order to celebrate the opening of his new home, Colonel Pyncheon gave a large party. He invited almost everyone in the town. All the important people came. Many poor farmers and workmen also came. Everyone was curious to see the new house. There was a great deal of food for everyone to eat and good wine to drink.
 
Only one thing seemed strange to those who came to the
 
party. Colonel Pyncheon himself did not appear. No one saw him anywhere. Everyone expected him to be standing at the front door. They thought he would welcome each guest as he entered the house. Finally, the lieutenant governor himself appeared. He was one of the most important men in the whole country and the representative of the English government. But still Colonel Pyncheon did not appear. The lieutenant governor was a little angry. He was not accustomed to such actions. He asked one of the servants where Colonel Pyncheon was.
 
“He is in his private study,” the servant said. “He went there about an hour ago. He said he wanted to be alone.”
 
One of the officials of the town took the servant to one side. “This man is the lieutenant governor, one of the most important men in the country,” he said. “Call Colonel Pyncheon at once. I know that the colonel received some important letters from England this morning. But he has already had time to read them. The colonel will be very angry when he learns that the lieutenant governor arrived and that you did not call him. Go at once to his study.”
 
“I am afraid,” said the servant. “The colonel spoke very clearly. He said he wanted to be alone. He would be very angry with me or with any other servant who did not follow his orders exactly. Let someone else go to his study. I will not do it.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What happened after the death of Mathew Maule?
2. Where did Colonel Pyncheon build a new house?
3. What was Colonel Pyncheon afraid of?
4. What happened to the spring of water which was near the place?
5. What probably turned the water bad? What did people prefer to think?
6. Who was the head carpenter for the new house?
7. What are two possible reasons why Colonel Pyncheon made Maule’s son the carpenter for the house?
8. Why has the House of the Seven Gables interested the writer of this story?
9. What did Colonel Pyncheon do to celebrate the opening of his new home?
10.What seemed strange to those who came to the patty?
11.Who finally appeared at the party?
12.How did the lieutenant governor feel when Colonel Pyncheon did not appear?
13.Why was the servant afraid to call Colonel Pyncheon?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
decided upon pay back                  pay back
afraid of impression                       impreession
turned bad curious                         curious
 
PART III
 
The lieutenant governor himself heard the last part of this conversation. He felt himself to be a very important person and was naturally not afraid of Colonel Pyncheon. He said: “Very well! I will take this matter into my own hands. It is time the good colonel came out to welcome his friends. People will think that he has drunk too much of his own wine and cannot come out.”
 
The servant pointed out the door of the colonel’s study. The lieutenant governor walked toward it. His manner showed his great importance. He knocked at the door. While he waited for an answer, he looked around at the crowd. He smiled at those who stood watching him. There was no answer to his knock. He knocked again. Still there was no answer. The lieutenant gov­ernor now became more angry. He took out his sword. With the handle of his sword he beat heavily upon the door. The noise was very loud. It could be heard through the whole house. It was enough to wake the dead—but it did not wake Colonel Pyncheon.
 
“Very strange!” said the lieutenant governor. “This is very strange. But if Colonel Pyncheon wants to forget the rules of politeness, then I can forget them too.”
 
With these words he tried’the door. The door opened easily. Everyone crowded toward the door. They pushed the lieutenant governor ahead of them into the room. What they saw first
 
was a beautiful room with rich furniture. There were many books on the shelves of the room. On the wall was a large map. There was also a large picture of Colonel Pyncheon hang­ing on the wall. The colonel himself sat directly under his pic­ture. He held a pen in his hand. In front of him were many papers and letters. He seemed to be looking toward the crowd, in front of which stood the lieutenant governor. There was an unpleasant expression on his face. He seemed to be very angry. But looking closer, the people soon saw that there was blood on Colonel Pyncheon’s collar. His beard was also covered with blood. It was too late to help him. He was dead.
 
Some people say that there was a voice which spoke at this moment. It sounded like the voice of old Mathew Maule. It said: 
“God has given him blood to drink!”
 
The death of Colonel Pyncheon naturally caused a great deal of talk. There were many stories told by people of the town. Some said that Colonel Pyncheon had been killed. They said that there were marks of someone’s hand on his throat. Others said that the window near the colonel’s chair was open. A man had gone out this window and left through the garden.
 
Another story which many believed was as follows: When the lieutenant governor first entered the colonel’s study, he saw a hand at the colonel's throat. This hand disappeared as the lieutenant governor came closer to the colonel. But such stories are sure to follow any important happening of this kind. The colonel, according to the public record of the time, died a na­tural death.
 
At his death, Colonel Pyncheon was a very rich man. He owned much land and the government had promised to give him even more. All of this he left to his son and family.
 
The land that had been promised by the government included a large section of what is today the state of Maine. Towns and cities would some day be built there. The land would make the Pyncheon family one of the richest in the country. 
All the neces­sary documents were ready, and Colonel Pyncheon expected to receive the land in a few weeks. Then he died. It was learned that some papers had not yet been signed, and one important document could not be found anywhere.
 
The colonel’s son tried hard to get the land. He did every-
 
thing he could to finish the work his father had begun. But he was not successful. He did not have the strong character of his father. He did not have the important friends in the government that Colonel Pyncheon had had.
 
For more than a hundred years the Pyncheon family contin­ued to fight for this land. The idea that the land that had been promised to Colonel Pyncheon really belonged to them had a great influence on the history of the family. Each new genera­tion lived with the hope that some day the government would finally give them the land. Some members of the family lived and acted like real aristocrats. They talked much about all the land to the east which belonged to their family. Others were lazy and never worked. They preferred to take it easy and wait for the day when they would all be suddenly rich. All of them often looked at the map on the wall of the colonel’s study. Each time a new town grew in this section, they marked it on the map.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. How did the lieutenant governor feel about himself? Was he afraid of Colonel Pyncheon? ~
2. What happened when the lieutenant governor knocked on the door?
3. What did he use to beat upon the door?
4. What happened when he tried the door?
5. What did they see first when they entered the room?
6. Where was Colonel Pyncheon sitting?
7. Toward whom did he seem to be looking? How did he seem to be?
8. What did the people see when they looked closer?
9. What did some people say they heard?
10. What were some of the things that people said about Colonel Pyncheon’s death?
11. What did Colonel Pyncheon own at the time of his death?
12. What had the government promised to Colonel Pyncheon?
13. Why wasn’t Colonel Pyncheon’s son able to get the land?
14. What influence did the idea of the land have on the history of the family?
 
 B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
take into my own hands pointed out waited for
 
in front of according to belonged to
 
PART IV
 
Almost two centuries have now passed since the period of old Colonel Pyncheon. The House of the Seven Gables is still the family house. Many of Colonel Pyncheon’s descendants have lived there. Some of these descendants have been, like Colonel Pyncheon, persons of strong character. Now and then people would say, “Here is the old Pyncheon again. Now the House of the Seven Gables will have the new roof it needs.” But little was done to the House of the Seven Gables. Few changes were made. The House today has nothing of its earlier importance. It is old and ugly. The street on which it stands is no longer an important street. Some of the windows of the house are broken and have never been fixed. No one cares for the garden, which is in even a sadder state than the house.
 
People continued to tell the same stories about the House of the Seven Gables. If a member of the Pyncheon family made a noise in his throat, someone would be sure to say, “He has Maule’s blood to drink.”
 
About a hundred years ago one of the Pyncheons died sud­denly. His death was similar in many ways to the death of Colo­nel Pyncheon. This was proof, some people said, that the spirit of old Mathew Maule was still at work.
 
But, on the whole, the Pyncheons lived during this time very much like other people of the town. They had their own char­acter—but they also took on the character of the town. During late years the most important happening in the family was the murder of one of its own members. He was an old man, killed by his own nephew. This was naturally very serious for the family. The young man was tried for murder. But there was little proof against him. He was not put to death, but was sent to prison. This happened thirty years before our story begins.
 
There is some talk that the man will soon be given his freedom. He will come out of prison.
 
The old man who was killed was very rich. At his death, everything he owned went to another nephew, a cousin of the young man whowent to prison. This nephew, who now became rich, was rather wild in character as a young man. But after his uncle died he changed. He became serious and hard-work­ing. He studied and became a lawyer, and later, he became a judge. Through all his life he showed more of the character of old Colonel Pyncheon than any other member of the family. He entered politics and took an important part in both town and state government matters.
 
As time passed, he grew even richer. He built himself a large home a few miles from the town. There he lived like a gentle­man. Everyone considered Judge Pyncheon a very important and successful man.
 
By that time there were very few members of the Pyncheon family still living. There was, first of all, Judge Pyncheon, about whom we have just spoken. He had one son, who was in Europe. There was the Judge’s cousin, Clifford, who, thirty years before, was sent to prison for the murder of his uncle. There was also Hepzibah, a sister of the man who was in prison. This sister lived alone in the House of the Seven Gables. Judge Pyncheon had offered to let her live at his home. But she refused to accept any help from him. She said that she preferred to be poor rather than take help from him. Finally, there was Phoebe, the last and youngest Pyncheon, a girl of seventeen. She was the daugh­ter of still another cousin of Judge Pyncheon. This cousin had married a young woman of poor family. He later died very poor, leaving his wife and child without anything.
 
As to the descendants of Mathew Maule, there is not much to tell. They continued to live in the town for many years. Most­ly, they were simple workmen: farmers, carpenters, servants. They were almost always very poor. The family grew smaller. Finally, it disappeared from the town completely. The fact that Mathew Maule had been hanged as a witch did not make life any easier for the Maules. For many years people would not have anything to do with them. They felt that Maule’s evil spirit was passed down from one generation to another, that the
 
Maules, for example, could influence people’s dreams. The truth is that the Maules were simple, quiet people. They always kept to themselves and never bothered with anyone else. Few people, therefore; ever got to know them well or to understand them.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. How many centuries have now passed since the period of
Colonel Pyncneon?
2. What does the House of the Seven Gables look like now?
3. What stories do people continue to tell about the Pyncheons and their house?
4. What happened about a hundred years ago?
5. What was the most important happening in the family dur­ing late years? How long ago did this happen?
6. What happened to the nephew who killed the old man? What may happen to him soon?
7. Who got all the old man’s money?
8. What kind of character did this nephew have when he was a young man?
9. What kind of man did this nephew become?
10. Where did Judge Pyncheon live?
11. What did everyone consider him to be?
12. How many sons did Judge Pyncheon have? Where was the son?
13. Who was Clifford and where was he?
14. Who was Hepzibah and where did she live?
15. Who was Phoebe?
16. What happened to the descendants of Mathew Maule? What happened to the Maule family?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
cares for similar to at work
on the whole
 
put to death took part in
have anything to do with kept to themselves