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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 18 Summary

Governor Pyncheon

  • 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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