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House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 16

House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 16

PART 1

 
The death of Judge Pyncheon naturally caused a great deal of talk in the town. But when it came to be understood that he had died a natural death, people soon forgot ali about him. There were some stories, told privately, about his past. But these stories had to do more with the supposed murder, thirty years before, of his old uncle, Jaffrey Pyncheon. Largely through the work of Mr. Holgrave, the photographer, it was proven that Clifford had had nothing to do with the death of his uncle. Instead, the cırcumstances had been so arranged that it simply appeared that Clifford had murdered the old man. It seems that Judge Pyncheon, when he was a young man, was of rather bad character. He had shown himself to be wild and interested in low pleasures. For this reason he had lost the affection of his uncle, who at first had cared for him very much. One night, according to the story, the young man went to his uncle’s home to look for money and also to go through his uncle’s private papers. While there, he was surprised by the opening of the door of his uncle’s study. There stood old Jaffrey
 
Pyncheon in his night clothes. The surprise at finding his nephew going through his private papers was too much for the old man. He became very much excited. Like so many other members of the Pyncheon family before him, he had the samc coughing sensation in his throat. Blood came to his mouth. Ilı- fell down dead. What was to be done? Help would conıe too late. The old man was surely dead. It would also be difficult for young Jaffrey Pyncheon to explain what he was doing there. He therefore continued to look through his uncle’s papers. He found a will, written a short time before, naming Clifford as the uncle’s legal representative and leaving to him ali the uncle’s money. This will yöung Jaffrey Pyncheon threw away. He also found an older will in which he himself was named as the uncle’s legal representative. This will he let remain. He had gone through ali the drawers of his uncle’s table. There were papers throvvn everyvvhere about the room.
 
He decided to leave the room in this condition so that people would think that Clifford, who lived in the same house with the uncle, had perhaps fought with the old man and killed him. Such, as it happened, turned out to be the case. Clifford was thought to have murdered his uncle. Young Jaffrey Pyncheon remained silent during ali this period and let things take their natural course. Clifford was tried for the murder of his uncle and sent to prison. Jaffrey Pyncheon, in turn, received ali his uncle’s money and everything he owned. He later became, as we have seen, Judge Pyncheon, a person of great importance in the town.
 
In any case, we leave Judge Pyncheon now to rest in his grave. His death naturally had a great influence över Clifford. Clifford seemed to feel really free for the first time since he came out of prison. For the first few days he was greatly excited över what had happened. Then he became calm again, but without falling back completely into his old ways. His manner in general was more cheerful. He never, it is true, became the man of light and happy spirits he had been when younger. But he began to take more interest in things about him. His periods of pleasure lasted longer. He seemed less old and tired.
 
Judge Pyncheon did not know it at the time of his death, but a week earlier his only son, who had been traveling in Europe, fell suddenly sick and died just before he was about to leave for home. Ali of the judge’s hard work to make himself even a richer man therefore came to nothing. Ali of his money and property now passed to the only remaining members of the Pyncheon family. Hepzibah, Clifford, and Phoebe became rich. Holgrave, too, through Phoebe, became a member of the family and was able to enjoy with them ali the pleasures of their new
 
life together. They decided to leave the old House of the Seven Gables and to live, for the present, in the rich country home of Judge Pyncheon.
 
It was the day on which they were to leave for their new home. They vvere sitting in the living room waiting for the cab to come to pick them up. Uncle Venner was with them.
 
“That picture,” said Clifford, pointing to the picture of old Colonel Pyncheon. “Soon I will not have to look at it any more. Yet it is a strange thing—I often feel that I know some secret connected with that picture—something that I once found out but later forgot. Perhaps the picture spoke to me when I was a boy and told me some important secret which I can no longer remember.”
 
“Perhaps I can remember it,” answered Holgrave. “See! Not one in a hundred persons who did not know it well would ever touch this secret spring.”
 
“A secret spring!” cried Clifford. “Ah, I remember now. I did come upon it one summer afternoon. I was just a young boy playing about the house. It was long, long ago.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. When did people forget ali about Judge Pyncheon?
 
2. What did Mr. Holgrave do for Clifford?
 
3. Why did Judge Pyncheon, when he was a young man, lose the affection of his uncle?
 
4. What had his uncle found him doing one night?
 
5. What had happened to the uncle?
 
6. To whom had the uncle left his money?
 
7. What did Jaffrey do with the will? What did he put in its place?
 
8. Why did he leave the room in disorder?
 
9. What did Jaffrey do while they tried Clifford for the murder of his uncle?
 
10. What did J aff rey receive asa result of ali this?
 
11. What influence did Judge Pyncheon’s death have on Clifford?
 
12. What had happened to Judge Pyncheon’s son a week before his own death?
 
13. To whom did ali of the judge’s money and property pass?
 
PARTII
 
The photographer touched this secret spring at the side of the picture. In earlier times this spring probably caused the picture to ınove out a little ways. But after so many years the spring naturally no longer worked well. The whole picture now fell suddenly from the wall with a loud noise. Behind where the picture had hung, built right into the wall, there could be seen a small box. In this box there was an old piece of paper, ali covered with dust.
 
Holgrave picked it up and began to read it. It proved to be the important document which had been lost to the Pyncheon family for so long a time. It was signed by several important officials of the government, including the English governor, and gave to Colonel Pyncheon and his descendants, for ali time, the right to certain great lands to the east.
 
“This is the very document which the Pyncheon family has been looking for during almost two centuries,” said Holgrave. “It was also this document that caused the death of Alice Pyncheon. Now that we have found it, it has no value at ali.”
 
“Poor Cousin Jaffrey,” said Hepzibah. “When they were young together, Clifford probably told some kind of strange story about touching this secret spring and finding an im­portant document behind the picture. And poor Jaffrey, who took hold of everything as if it were real, thought my brother had found out where his uncle kept his money and important papers.”
 
“But,” said Phoebe, turning to Holgrave and speaking to him privately, “how did you come to know about this secret spring?”
 
“My dearest Phoebe,” said Holgravc, “how will it please you to take the name of Maule when you nıarry me? For that is my real name. You should have known this sooner—except that in tlıc history of your family, with its many problems and troubles, I am the representative of the old witch Maule. But I am no more a' witch than he was. Mathevv Maule’s son, the carpenter who built this house, put in that special box right behind the picture of Colonel Pyncheon. He also placed the document there where no one could find it. In this way he paid the Pyncheon family back for taking away from his father the land on which this house stands. The Pyncheon family received this small piece of land but, in return, they lost ali those im- portant lands to the east.”
 
“And now,” said Uncle Venner, “I suppose that ali that land to the east has no more value to the Pyncheon family than my part of my farm över there.”
“Uncle Venner,” said Phoebe. “You must never talk any more about your farm. You will never go there as long as you live. There is a small garden house near our new home, and we are going to put furniture in it and fix it up just for you. You must come with us and help to keep Clifford in good spirits.”
 
“Oh, my dear child,” said Uncle Venner. “You make me feel very happy. But old Pyncheon Street may not be the same witbout me here—especially in the gardens and around the back doors of the houses. But either I must go to your country home or you must come to my farm. That’s certain.”
 
“Oh, come with us—by ali means, Uncle Venner,” said Clifford. “I want you to be close by my side—so that we can talk together as we always do.”
 
A simple but rich looking cab had drawn up in front of the house. Ali the party now came out and got into the cab except Uncle Venner. He was to follow in a few days. They were ali talking and laughing pleasantly together. Several children were attracted to the place by the beautiful new cab and the two large black horses.
 
Hepzibah saw little Ned Higgins among these children. She put her hand into her pocket and presented the boy with enough small change to buy cakes every day for a month.
 
Two men passed by at this moment. They happened to be the same two men who had passed the first day that Hepzibah opened her shop.
“Well,” said one of the men. “What do you think of this? My wife kept a shop like this for three months and lost five dollars on it. Old Maid Pyncheon has been in business just about that long and goes off in a private cab with several hundred thousand dollars—considering her part and Clifford’s and Phoebe’s. I’d say that was doing very well.”
 
“Yes,” said the other man. “That’s a pretty good business —a pretty good business.”
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
1. What had the secret spring once caused the picture to do?
2. What happened when Holgrave touched the spring?
3. What was built into the wall?
4. What was in the box?
5. What did the piece of paper prove to be?
6. What had Cousin Jaffrey thought that Clifford had found?
7. What was Holgrave’s real name?
8. Who had placed the document in the special box?
9. Why had he hidden the document?
10. Where did Phoebe say that Uncle Venner could live?
11. Why did Clifford say that he wanted Uncle Venner to come with them?
12. What drew up in front of the house?
13. When was Uncle Venner to fol!ow them?
14. What attracted several children to the place?
15. Who did Hepzibah see among them?
16. What did she give him?
17. What did the two men who passed by at that moment say to each other?