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The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables
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The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 18 Summary
Judge Pyncheon still sits in the parlor "keeping house" (18.1).
He has not moved a muscle.
The narrator comments that it's odd to see Judge Pyncheon sitting so still when he has so much business to do today.
After finishing his business with Clifford, he was going to meet with his broker to invest more money.
He was going to buy a portion of property that used to belong to the Maule family to complete the estate of the House of the Seven Gables.
He was going to buy a horse and some new fruit trees.
He was going to replace the tombstone on his wife's grave (which has fallen over).
He was going to visit the widow of an old business partner who has fallen on hard times.
And he was going to visit the doctor.
He didn't think his symptoms were that important: dizziness and a "disagreeable choking, or stifling" in the throat.
He was going to attend a dinner later on, the purpose of which was to select him as a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts.
But the dinner has now passed and the guests have given up on Judge Pyncheon.
On his white shirt, there is a blood stain about his neck.
The Judge's watch is still ticking in his hand, but nothing else is moving.
A moonbeam gleams on the Judge's still face.
Judge Pyncheon doesn't believe in ghosts. But even if he doesn't, the narrator wants to play with one:
First comes Colonel Pyncheon himself, with a sword at his waist and a staff in his hand.
He is frowning.
Next come all the other Pyncheons, including "the shop-keeping Pyncheon" and Alice Pyncheon.
They all stop to look at the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon, and they all look dissatisfied.
In a corner there is an elderly man pointing and laughing at all the Pyncheons.
Among the hoard of dead Pyncheons there is one unexpected one: the son of Judge Pyncheon.
With him dead, this makes Phoebe, Clifford, and Hepzibah Judge Pyncheon's only remaining heirs.
And there is also the newest ghost: Judge Pyncheon himself.
The narrator continues to point out the stillness of Judge Pyncheon. "Will he never stir again?" (18.23) he asks.
The only thing that does move is a black cat – the grimalkin – outside the window.
The narrator asks if this grimalkin is "the devil [watching] for a human soul?" (18.23).
The night has passed and Judge Pyncheon's watch has run down.
Judge Pyncheon has another busy day ahead of him: will he move now?
A fly lands on Judge Pyncheon but he doesn't brush it away.
At last, the narrator gives up on him.
The shop bell jangles and the narrator leaves Judge Pyncheon alone.
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