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House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 5

House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 5

Phoebe’s Bright Touch in the Gloomy House

 

PART I
 
Phoebe Pyncheon slept, the first night, in a room that looked down upon the garden. The room was like ali other rooms in the House of the Seven Gables. Everything seemed old, wom, and ugly. For a moment, when she woke up the next morning, she did not know where she was. Heavy curtains hung around the bed. It was of a style that was in use more than a hundred years ago. Nothing was clear to Phoebe except that it was mora- ing. The sun had risen. Some light was coming into the dark room. Phoebe got up and dressed. She went to the window. Drawing the window curtains to one side, she looked out. In
 
the garden she saw a large rose bush. The bush had not been cared for in many years. Yet the roses vvere beautiful. Phoebe went down the stairs and found her way to the garden. She picked some of the roses. She brought them to her room.
 
Phoebe was one of those persons who seem to know, at once, how to place things in a room. Slıe began to change the position of some of the furniture. She put one thing here, another there. She placed the roses on the table. She pushed back the heavy window curtains so that more light came into the room. Every- thing she touched changed a little and seemed to come to life. The room was soon a different place. Phoebe went out. She planned to go again to the garden to pick more roses. But at the head of the stairs she met Hepzibah. Hepzibah invited her into her bedroom.
 
“Cousin Phoebe,” said Hepzibah, after they had both sat down. “I really cannot see my way clear to keep you with me.”
These words were not so direct as they may appear to the reader. Hepzibah and Phoebe had already talked together the night before. Hepzibah understood Phoebe’s difficult position. Phoebe’s father had died. Her mother had married again. Phoebe must now find a new home for herself. It was natural that she should turn to her cousin Hepzibah. There were few members of the Pyncheon family stili living. Phoebe planned to visit Miss Hepzibah for only a week or two. But, if things turned out ali right, she might remain longer.
 
“Dear cousin, I cannot teli how it will be,” answered Phoebe with great politeness. “I really believe we may get along together better than you think.”
 
“You are a good girl—I see that clearly,” said Hepzibah. “There is no question about that. But, Phoebe! This house is not a good place for a young person to live in. It lets in the wind and the cold. As for myself, you see what I am—a sad, old wom- an. My character, too, I am afraid, is not the best. Your life would not be pleasant here. Also, I cannot even give you enough to eat.”
 
“You will find me a very easy person to get along with,” an- swered Phoebe smiling. “And I plan to make my own living. You know I have not been brought up a Pyncheon. A young girl learns many things in a small Nevv England town.”
 
 
“But this is such an old and ugly place. Everything is cov- ered with dust. You might even become sick if you remained here.”
 
“There is the garden. I can take çare of the garden and get fresh air there.”
 
“But, after ali, child,” said Miss Hepzibah, rising suddenly, as if she vvanted to end the conversation, “it is not for me to say who should or should not live in this house. The real head of the house is coming soon.”
 
“Do you mean Judge Pyncheon?”
 
“Judge Pyncheon!” said Hepzibah angrily. “He will never enter this house while I live. No, no! But, Phoebe, you must see the face of the person I mean.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Revievv
 
A. 1. Describe the room in vvhich Phoebe slept.
2. What did she see when she looked out the window?
3. What did Phoebe do with the roses?
4. How did Phoebe change the room?
5. What did Miss Hepzibah say to Phoebe?
6. Why did Phoebe need to find a new home?
7. How long was Phoebe planning to visit Miss Hepzibah?
8. What reasons does Miss Hepzibah give for not wanting Phoebe to stay?
9. Why did Phoebe believe she would be an easy person to get along with?
10. Who did Miss Hepzibah say was coming home? Did she mean that this person was Judge Pyncheon?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
woke up see my way clear
 
to get up turned out ali right
 
cared for get along together
 
to sit down after ali
 
PARTII
 
Hepzibah left and came back vvith the small picture which she often looked at.
 
the garden she saw a large rose bush. The bush had not been cared for in many years. Yet the roses were beautiful. Phoebe went down the stairs and found her way to the garden. She picked some of the roses. She brought them to her room.
 
Phoebe was one of those persons who seem to know, at once, how to place things in a room. She began to change the position of some of the furniture. She put one thing here, another there. She placed the roses on the table. She pushed back the heavy window curtains so that more light came into the room. Every­thing she touched changed a little and seemed to come to life. The room was soon a different place. Phoebe went out. She planned to go again to the garden to pick more roses. But at the head of the stairs she met Hepzibah. Hepzibah invited her into her bedroom.
 
“Cousin Phoebe,” said Hepzibah, after they had both sat down. “I really cannot see my way clear to keep you with me.”
 
These words were not so direct as they may appear to the reader. Hepzibah and Phoebe had already talked together the night before. Hepzibah understood Phoebe’s difficult position. Phoebe’s father had died. Her mother had married again. Phoebe must now find a new home for herself. It was natural that she should turn to her cousin Hepzibah. There were few members of the Pyncheon family still living. Phoebe planned to visit Miss Hepzibah for only a week or two. But, if things turned out all right, she might remain longer.
 
“Dear cousin, I cannot tell how it will be,” answered Phoebe with great politeness. “I really believe we may get along together better than you think.”
 
“You are a good girl—I see that clearly,” said Hepzibah. “There is no question about that. But, Phoebe! This house is not a good place for a young person to live in. It lets in the wind and the cold. As for myself, you see what I am—a sad, old wom­an. My character, too, I am afraid, is not the best. Your life would not be pleasant here. Also, I cannot even give you enough to eat.”
 
“You will find me a very easy person to get along with,” an­swered Phoebe smiling. “And I plan to make my own living. You know I have not been brought up a Pyncheon. A young girl learns many things in a small New England town.”
 
“How do you like the face?” she asked Phoebe.
 
“It is a very good looking face. It is beautiful,” said Phoebe. “It is as pleasant a face as a man’s can be. It has something of a child’s expression. Who is it, Cousin Hepzibah?”
 
“Did you never hear of Clifford Pyncheon?” asked Hepzibah. “Never. I thought that there were no Pyncheons left except yourself and Cousin Jaffrey. And yet I seem to have heard the name of Clifford Pyncheon from my mother or father. But has he not been dead a long time?”
 
“Well, child, perhaps he has,” said Hepzibah, “but in an old house like this, dead people, you know, sometimes come back. We shall see. And, Phoebe, after all that I have said, if you still feel as you do, perhaps you can continue to live here a little longer.” Then Hepzibah came close to her and kissed her.
 
They went down the stairs together. Phoebe began at once to help Hepzibah get breakfast ready. The old lady stood to one side. She watched the young girl work. She herself moved so slowly. Phoebe moved so quickly. Everything Phoebe did, she did well. She sang while she worked—pleasant, cheerful little songs which she had learned as a child. She was like a bird- busy and happy every moment. Hepzibah brought out some of the old family dishes for Phoebe to see. They were beautiful pieces. Hepzibah was proud of them. Most of them were cov­ered with dust. Phoebe cleaned each piece carefully.
 
“What a good little wife you will make some day!” said Hep­zibah smiling. “Are you as good at your books as you are at doing house work?”
 
“Not exactly, I am afraid,” said Phoebe. “But I taught school last summer in our town for a time.”
 
“These things must have come to you with your mother’s blood. I never knew a Pyncheon that was good at them.” Before they had finished breakfast, the shop bell sounded. Hepzibah had been almost happy up to this moment. Now she became sad again. The second day in the shop, she felt, would probably be worse than the first. Phoebe said to her:
 
“Do not trouble yourself, Cousin Hepzibah. I am shopkeeper today.”
 
“You, child!” said Miss Hepzibah. “What can a little country girl know of such things?”
 
“Oh, I have done all the shopping for the family at the store in our town. And I have also had experience selling things. You shall see that I am a good shopkeeper.”
 
Hepzibah followed Phoebe to the shop but remained in the hall outside. She watched Phoebe from there. The first customer was a difficult one. An old woman wanted to change some ma­terial she had made for some things in the shop. Phoebe was very pleasant with the old woman. She handled the situation very well.
 
“Was not that well done?” asked Phoebe laughing, after the customer had gone.
 
“Very well done, my child—much better than I could do,” said Hepzibah.
 
Phoebe proved to be as good a worker in the shop as she was everywhere else. She had many ideas for making the shop better. Hepzibah listened to her carefully. She was happy not to have to run the shop herself.
 
“What a good little girl she is!” said Hepzibah to herself. “If she could only be a lady too. But that is not possible. Phoebe is no lady. She takes everything from her mother.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What picture did Miss Hepzibah show to Phoebe?
2. .What did Phoebe think about the face in the picture?
3. Whose picture was it?
4. What did Phoebe think had happened to Clifford Pyncheon?
5. What did Miss Hepzibah decide about letting Phoebe stay?
6. Why was Phoebe better at the housework than Miss Hepzibah?
7. What did Hepzibah bring out for her to see?
8. What had Phoebe done last summer?
9.. What made Miss Hepzibah become sad again?
10. What kind of shopkeeper did Phoebe turn out to be?
 
B.  Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
hear of come back at once           taught school as a child good at

PART IIl

 
      Whether Phoebe was a lady or not, was really not important. She did not look or dress like an aristocrat. But she knew how to act in every situation. Her manners were very good. She was' also very pretty. Her hair was rich and soft. Her eyes were deep and beautiful. She moved lightly. Everything she touched she made more cheerful. The House of the Seven Gables, after she was there a few days, seemed less dark and unpleasant than before. The business of the shop picked up greatly. People found out that she, and not Miss Hepzibah, was working there. It was pleasant for them to do business with Phoebe.
 
“We must put in more goods, Cousin Hepzibah. I have sold out almost everything,” Phoebe said after a few days. She picked up some of the money from the money drawer. “And look at all the money we have made.”
 
    “Well done, well done,” said Uncle Venner. He often came to the shop to see how things were going. “There’s a girl who will never end her days at my farm.”
 
    “Yes, Phoebe is a good girl,” said Hepzibah. “But, Uncle Venner, you have known our family for many years. Can you tell me whether there ever was a Pyncheon that she takes after?”
   
“I don’t believe there ever was,” answered the old man. “In any case, I never knew anyone like her in your family or in any other family. God must have sent her to you, Miss Hepzibah.
   
” Little by little Miss Hepzibah and Phoebe became close friends. They often talked together at night after the shop was closed. Hepzibah liked to tell Phoebe stories about the Pyncheon family. She showed her the marks on the hall door. These were the marks made by the sword of the lieutenant governor when he beat upon the door in order to wake up Colonel Pyncheon. She showed her the map in the living room; she pointed out the lands to the east which the Pyncheon family said belonged to them. She told Phoebe the story of beautiful Alice Pyncheon. Alice lived a hundred years ago. She played the piano very well. One day, while still very young, she became sick in a strange manner. Each day she grew paler. She soon died. After this, when any member of the Pyncheon family died, it was believed that Alice returned and played the piano again. She played
 
softly, sadly. It was her own piano. It was still upstairs in Hep-zibah’s bedroom. No one had ever touched this piano except Alice Pyncheon.
 
   Miss Hepzibah also spoke to Phoebe about Mr. Holgrave, the photographer. She said that she had let him have a room in the house because she needed the money so badly. He seemed like a very pleasant young man. But he had some very strange friends who often came to see him. They dressed strangely and acted strangely. They talked sometimes against the government anch against the existing order of things.
 
  “But, dear cousin,” asked Phoebe, “if he himself is strange and has such strange friends, why do you let him remain here?”
 
“I have sometimes thought I would ask him to leave,” said Hepzibah. “But he is very pleasant. He is also a quiet kind of person. Without exactly liking him, I don’t think I would care to see him leave.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. Why wasn’t it important whether Phoebe was a lady or not?
 
2. How did the House of the Seven Gables seem after she had been there for a few days?
 
3. Why did the business of the shop pick up greatly?
 
4. What did Phoebe say to Miss Hepzibah after a few days?
 
5. Who was listening to their conversation?
 
6. Who in the Pyncheon family does Uncle Venner think that Phoebe takes after?
 
7. What stories did Miss Hepzibah tell Phoebe? What did she show her?
 
8. What was the story she told about Alice Pyncheon?
 
9. What did Miss Hepzibah say about Mr. Holgrave?
 
10. Why did Miss Hepzibah let him go on staying in the House of the Seven Gables?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
 
picked up whether or not do business with sold out
 
make money takes after little by little pointed out