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The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 15 Summary

The Scowl and Smile

  • 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.

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