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Clifford and Hepzibah start moping around the House of the Seven Gables.
The weather is cold and stormy.
Hepzibah is exhausted trying to keep up the house by herself.
On the fifth day of this, Clifford refuses to get up in the morning.
Frankly, Hepzibah is relieved to be alone for a bit.
Clifford taps out a few notes on the harpsichord before the strings snap.
Then they hear the sound of the shop bell. It's Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon.
Judge Pyncheon asks why Hepzibah keeps Clifford so secluded – surely it would do Clifford good to see an old friend?
Hepzibah replies that it's impossible: Clifford has been in bed for the past day.
Judge Pyncheon seems really upset at the idea that Clifford might be dying. He insists on seeing Clifford as soon as possible to heal up the bitterness between them.
Hepzibah tells him to cut the crap: she knows he has something terrible in mind for Clifford.
Judge Pyncheon tells Hepzibah sternly to knock it off. He insists on seeing Clifford, and he won't leave the house without doing so.
Judge Pyncheon claims that, without his efforts, Clifford would never have gotten out of prison at all.
Hepzibah says Pyncheon is the one who sent Clifford there in the first place.
Hepzibah doesn't understand what Judge Pyncheon wants from Clifford. The sight of him would probably drive Clifford insane.
Judge Pyncheon finally gets down to business: when their Uncle Jaffrey Pyncheon died, the lawyers found that he had much less money than expected. Everyone thought he was one of the wealthiest men of his day.
Judge Pyncheon is sure that Jaffrey hid some of his property.
Judge Pyncheon also points out that all of Jaffrey's estate was left to Judge Pyncheon except for the House of the Seven Gables (which went to Hepzibah).
Judge Pyncheon is certain that Clifford has the key to the rest of Uncle Jaffrey Pyncheon's estate.
Hepzibah tells Judge Pyncheon he's nuts.
Judge Pyncheon informs Hepzibah that, some months before Uncle Jaffrey Pyncheon's death, Clifford bragged to Judge Pyncheon that he knew a "secret of incalculable wealth" (15.34).
Judge Pyncheon wants that secret.
Judge Pyncheon thinks Clifford is hiding the secret out of personal spite for Judge Pyncheon.
Hepzibah asks what will happen if Clifford doesn't tell (or doesn't know) the location of this supposed wealth.
Judge Pyncheon promises he will have Clifford locked up in an asylum for the rest of his life.
Hepzibah tells Judge Pyncheon that he's the one who is insane, not Clifford.
Judge Pyncheon has all the money he could possibly need to live out the remainder of his days – why does he keep grasping after more?
Judge Pyncheon demands that Clifford make his decision this afternoon.
Hepzibah begs Judge Pyncheon to be kind to Clifford, because "God is looking at you, Jaffrey Pyncheon!" (15.45).
Judge Pyncheon sits down in the parlor to wait for Clifford.
Hepzibah thinks Judge Pyncheon has said something to call her back.
But no, Judge Pyncheon demands that Hepzibah bring Clifford to him.