The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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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