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House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 4

House of The Seven Gables - Chapter 4


Later in the morning Hepzibah saw a rather old gentleman passing down the street. He was on the other side of the street. Upon coming close to the Pyncheon tree, he stopped. He took off his hat. It was warm. He wiped his face with his handker­chief. He looked at the House of the Seven Gables with great interest. Clearly, he was a person of importance. He was well dressed. His clothes were good. He carried a gold-headed cane.

When he was young, this man had probably been considered very good-looking. Now he was old. The expression of his face was a little too hard. His eyes were cold. His hair, what little remained, was completely white.

As he looked at the House of the Seven Gables he would first smile, then scowl. Finally, he saw the shop window. He put on his eye glasses. He looked carefully at the things which Hepzibah had put into the window. At first he seemed a little angry. Then he smiled. When he saw Hepzibah looking at him through the window, he smiled even more pleasantly. Then he passed down the street.

“There he is!” said Hepzibah to herself. She seemed to be very angry. “What does he think of it? Does he like it? Why is he looking back?”

The man had stopped. He had turned around. He was look­ing back once more at the shop window. He even began to

walk back toward the House of the Seven Gables. At that moment a customer entered the shop. It was the same young boy who had already bought two cakes earlier in the day. Now he was back for another. He bought the cake. By this time, however, the old gentleman had changed his mind. He walked on down the street.

“Take it as you like, Cousin Jaffrey,” said Hepzibah to herself. She looked up and down the street to be sure he was not coming back. “You have never seen my little shpp window. What do you think of it? What have you to say? Is not the Pyn-cheon house my own, while I live?”

Hepzibah, after this, went to the living room. She began to sew. She was very nervous. She put the sewing to one side. She stood up. She looked at the picture of Colonel Pyncheon. The picture was very old. Some parts of it were no longer clear. Yet the hard character of Colonel Pyncheon still showed clearly in the expression of his face. The man who drew the picture seemed to have understood his character very well. Hepzibah now saw, for the first time, that the face of Colonel Pyncheon was very similar to the face of the man who had just passed down the street.

“This is the very man!” she said. “Let Jaffrey Pyncheon smile as he will, there is the same look about the eyes. Dress him in the same clothes—then let him smile all he wants—no one would doubt that it was the old Pyncheon come again.”

While Hepzibah was busy with these thoughts, the shop bell sounded again. The sound seemed to come from far away. But she went quickly to the shop. There was an old man there. She knew this old man well. He had lived near the House of the Seven Gables all his life. He seemed always to have been old. As long as Hepzibah could remember, his hair had been white. He had always walked slowly like a very old person. Uncle Ven-ner was his name. He worked for different families in that section of town. He worked in their gardens. He cleaned the snow in the winter. He did any work he could find. He was a very simple person. Everyone knew him and liked him. Hepzibah felt kindly toward him because his name was a very old one in the town. A very long time ago, his family had been an important one.

“So you have really gone into business,” said Uncle Venner. “Well, I am happy to see it. Young people should always keep busy. And old people too should keep busy—except when they get sick and become too old to work. In a few years, I shall put my work to one side and go to live on my farm. That’s over there—the great house—the workhouse, some people call it. But I plan to do my work first and go there to live later. I’m really glad to see you are beginning a business, Miss Hepzibah.”

 “Thank you, Uncle Venner,” said Hepzibah. “You are right. It is time for me to begin work. Or, to speak the truth, I have just begun when I should be giving it up.”

Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review

A. 1. Whom did Miss Hepzibah see later in the morning?
2. What did this man do when he came close to the Pyncheon
3. Why did he seem to be a person of importance?
4. How had this man probably been considered when he was young?
5. How did he look now?
6. What did he do when he saw the shop and Miss Hepzibah?
7. Who entered the shop while the old gentleman was looking- at it?
8. Who was the old gentleman who had stopped to look at the shop?
9. Where did Hepzibah go? How did she feel?
10. What did she look at?
11. Whose face was similar to the face of Colonel Pyncheon in the picture?
12. Who was the next person who came to the shop?
13. What kinds of work did Uncle Venner do?
14. Why did Miss Hepzibah feel kindly toward him?
15. Why did Uncle Venner say that he was happy that she had gone into business?
16. What did Miss Hepzibah say to him?

B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
coming close to put on
for the first time similar to far away


“Oh, never say that, Miss Hepzibah,” answered the old man. “You are still a young woman. I remember, not so many years ago, when I used to see you as a child playing about the door of the house. You were always a very serious child. By the way, I met your cousin, the judge, ten minutes ago. Such an important man. Yet he smiled and spoke to me very pleasantly.”

 “Yes,” said Hepzibah. Her voice was a little hard. “My cousin Jaffrey is thought to have a pleasant smile.”

“And so he has. And that’s unusual in a Pyncheon—if I may say so. They never had the name of being very pleasant people. There was no getting close to them. But now, Miss Hepzibah— if you don’t mind my asking—why doesn’t Judge Pyncheon, with all his money, tell his cousin to close her little shop? It is good for you to be doing something. But it is not right for the judge to let you.”

“We won’t talk about it, please, Uncle Venner,” said Hepzibah coldly. “If I want to make my own living, that is my business. Judge Pyncheon has nothing to do with it. Perhaps some day I will even go with you to live at your farm. That will also be my business.”

“And it’s not a bad place—my farm,” said the old man happily. “I will have many friends there. They are all old people like myself. .It is pleasant to sit with them and talk. Summer or winter, I expect to pass many pleasant hours there. But you— you are a young woman yet. Something better will turn up for you. I am sure of it.”

Hepzibah had often hoped that one day something might happen suddenly to change everything. A rich uncle who lived in England might invite her to live with him. Another descendant of the Pyncheon family had gone to Virginia to live. He had become very rich. He owned much land. Perhaps he would decide to send her a great deal of money. She went on dreaming in this way.

“Be very careful in your business, Miss Hepzibah,” said Uncle Venner. “Look well to your change. Don’t take any paper money. Above all, put on a happy face for your customers. Smile pleasantly as you hand them what they ask for. A poor

article, if sold with a warm smile, will go off better than a good one which you have scowled upon.”

Hepzibah seemed to become a little sad at these words. Uncle Venner saw this. Quickly he began to talk about something dif­ferent. He came close to Hepzibah. He spoke softly to her. • “When do you expect him home?”

“Whom do you mean?” asked Hepzibah.

“Ah, you don’t like to talk about it,” said Uncle Venner. “Well, well! We’ll say no more, though there’s word of it all over town. I remember him, Miss Hepzibah, before he could walk alone.”

During the rest of the day Hepzibah went about her work as though she were in a dream. Uncle Venner’s last words had in­fluenced her greatly. She waited upon her customers, but often she forgot what she was doing. She made many mistakes. At the end of the day she had very little money in her money draw­er. No matter! Her first day in the shop had passed. It had been one of the longest days in her life. She covered the shop bell so that it would not sound. She closed the shop door.

At this moment a bus stopped outside. Hepzibah’s heart was in her mouth. Was this the person out of the past that she had waited for so long? Was she to meet him now?

A gentleman got out of the bus, but it was only to offer his hand to a young lady. This young lady now got out. She smiled pleasantly at the gentleman. She thanked him for helping her. She walked toward the House of the Seven Gables. She did not go to the shop door. She went directly to the front door.

“Who can it be?” thought Hepzibah. She was scowling deeply. She tried to see who was coming to visit her. She went into the hall and looked out through a side window. The girl had a very pleasant face. It was the kind of face to which any door would be opened at once.

“Can it be Phoebe?” Hepzibah asked herself. “It must be little Phoebe, for it can be no one else. And there is the look of her father about her. But what does she want here? It is just like a country cousin to come to visit without writing a letter first. Well, she can remain here tonight, but tomorrow she must go back to her mother.

Phoebe was the young cousin, seventeen years old, of whom we spoke before in telling how few members of the Pyncheon family now remained. The truth was that she had written a letter to Miss Hepzibah four or five days ago. The mailman, however, still had the letter with him. He had no other business in Pyncheon Street. He had not yet brought the letter.

“No—she can remain only one night,” said Hepzibah to herself, opening the door. ‘’If Clifford were to find her here, it might bother him.”

Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review

A.    1. How had Judge Pyncheon acted to Uncle Venner?

2.    How does Miss Hepzibah seem to feel about her cousin?

3.    What does Uncle Venner think that Judge Pyncheon should do for Miss Hepzibah?

4.    What kind of life does Uncle Venner expect to have on his farm?

5.    What were the dreams Miss Hepzibah had had about changing her life?

6.    What did Uncle Venner tell her about her business?

7.    About whom is Uncle Venner talking just before he leaves?

8.    How did Miss Hepzibah go about her work for the rest of the day?

9.    How much money did she make that day?

10.    Why was Hepzibah’s “heart in her mouth” when a bus stopped outside?

11.    Who got out of the bus?

12.    Who was Phoebe?

13.    How long was Miss Hepzibah willing to let her stay?

14.    Why hadn’t Miss Hepzibah received Phoebe’s letter?

B.    Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your

used to see by the way getting close to has nothing to do with

turn up above all waited upon got out