The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 16 Summary
- 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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