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The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 16 Summary
Clifford's Chamber Hepzibah goes back inside the House of the Seven Gables. She has a feeling that something new, something unprecedented in the Pyncheon family history, is about to take place. Hepzibah is sure that Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon will destroy Clifford. She is also sure that Clifford has no access to the secret Judge Pyncheon believes he holds. She has nowhere to turn for help. Who would side with Clifford against well-respected Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon? She thinks of going to Mr. Holgrave, but he's not there. She looks out the arched window at the sky and sends up a prayer, but she doesn't feel any response. At last Hepzibah goes to knock on Clifford's door. No one answers. Hepzibah asks if she can come in. She finds Clifford's room empty. Hepzibah looks down into the garden to see if Clifford has gone out somehow. She sees "a strange grimalkin" – meaning an old house cat – walking across the garden. Hepzibah throws a stick at it to frighten it away. But still, Hepzibah cannot see Clifford. She can't imagine that he would have run away – he would be treated so badly by the public! Hepzibah suddenly wonders whether Clifford might have decided to end it all and throw himself into the sea. Hepzibah is so frightened by the thought that she runs to Judge Pyncheon. She begs Judge Pyncheon to help her. She finds him sitting in that chair in the parlor – the same chair, supposedly, where Colonel Pyncheon was found dead 150 years before. Judge Pyncheon doesn't move, even when Hepzibah screams, "Do you hear me, Jaffrey Pyncheon?" (16.22). Clifford walks into the parlor. He looks crazy. His face is filled with a wild expression of "scorn and mockery" (16.23). Clifford tells Hepzibah that they can dance now – they can do whatever they like. Hepzibah realizes that Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon is dead. Clifford suggests that they leave the House of the Seven Gables. After all, Judge Pyncheon "will take good care of it!" (16.28). Hepzibah is in such a panic that she agrees without question. She grabs her cloak and follows Clifford. She keeps thinking that she will awake from this dream, but she never does. And so Clifford and Hepzibah leave the House of the Seven Gables. Inside, Judge Pyncheon's body is sitting by himself "in the old home of his forefathers" (16.35).
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