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The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 10 Summary
The Pyncheon Garden Phoebe suggests that Clifford go out into the garden for some sunshine. She reads to Clifford outside, choosing from Mr. Holgrave's fiction and poetry collection. Clifford still doesn't think much of fiction, but he does enjoy the poetry, with its rhythmic language. Even more than Phoebe's reading, though, Clifford enjoys listening her talk. Phoebe chats about the garden and the flowers that are blooming. Mr. Holgrave plants a row of scarlet runner beans, whose red flowers attract hummingbirds. Clifford feels so happy to watch them that he becomes like "a child again" (10.6). Hepzibah sometimes cries when she sees Clifford's excitement because she can remember him just like this as a child. The narrator wants to give one anecdote of the garden life Clifford and Phoebe share. Phoebe often talks about the chickens to entertain Clifford. They are all rather amusing looking: there is one rooster, two hens, and one tiny, ancient-looking chick. One of the hens has a great deal of trouble laying an egg, but she finally manages it. Without a thought for the feelings of the hen, Hepzibah takes the egg to make Clifford's breakfast. The next day, the rooster and the hen stand in front of Clifford and caw angrily in revenge. They stop only when Phoebe offers them a piece of spice cake. The narrator explains that he's telling this trivial story as one example of the kind of ordinary event that was so good for Clifford's health. Clifford also gets into the habit of looking into Maule's well. He says he sees beautiful faces there. But every now and then Clifford will yell, "The dark face gazes at me!" (10.14) and run away. On Sundays after church, Phoebe, Clifford, Hepzibah, Uncle Venner, and Mr. Holgrave have little parties in the garden. Clifford quite enjoys being younger than someone for once – in this case, Uncle Venner. One afternoon Uncle Venner says that he expects life after he retires on his farm will be a lot like these Sunday afternoons. Clifford makes the strange comment that Uncle Venner "is always talking about his farm. But I have a better scheme for him, by and by. We shall see!" (10.18). Hepzibah asks Phoebe to help her gather the currants. Mr. Holgrave falls into conversation with Clifford. Clifford really starts to cheer up. But as the sun sets, he gets gloomy again. He whispers, "I want my happiness! [...] Many, many years have I waited for it! It is late!" (10.26). But, the narrator tells us, that happiness isn't going to come to Clifford, unless it's the happiness of sitting in the garden with his family.
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