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The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 19 Summary
Alice's Posies Uncle Venner is the first person awake the morning after the storm. Everything looks clean and refreshed, even the House of the Seven Gables. The most eye-catching thing about the whole house is the full bloom of Alice's Posies, the flowers sown by Alice Pyncheon so many years before. Uncle Venner stops by the House of the Seven Gables for scraps to feed his pig. He's surprised that Hepzibah hasn't left him anything. Mr. Holgrave sees Uncle Venner at the gate. Uncle Venner explains that no one is up yet. He asks if the wind kept Mr. Holgrave up the night before. Mr. Holgrave replies, "If I were a believer in ghosts [...] I should have concluded that all the old Pyncheons were running riot in the lower rooms" (19.7). But it's all very quiet now. Uncle Venner mentions that he saw Judge Pyncheon in the shop the day before. Uncle Venner suggests that Mr. Holgrave pick one of Alice's Posies and keep it in water until Phoebe comes back. Mr. Holgrave agrees that the water of Maule's well suits Alice's Posies the best. Uncle Venner goes on his way. The next visitor is an angry housewife, Mrs. Gubbins. She wants to buy half a pound of pork. A neighbor across the street tells her not to bother: nobody's home. Well, that's too bad, says the neighbor across the way – both Hepzibah and Clifford have gone off with Judge Pyncheon. Mrs. Gubbins thinks that's unlikely: everyone knows that Hepzibah and Judge Pyncheon have had a falling out, and that's why Hepzibah is so poor. The neighbor claims only a blood relative like Judge Pyncheon would bother to help out dreadful Hepzibah and Clifford. Mrs. Gubbins stalks off. Ned Higgins goes up the street on his way to school and stops to buy a cookie. He bangs on the door because he wants "an elephant!" (19.23). The little brat almost throws a stone through the window, but a passerby stops him in time. Ned sobs, "They won't open the door; and I can't get my elephant!" (19.26). The man sends Ned off to school. The man then turns to his friend Dixey and wonders what has happened to the Pyncheons. It's odd because Judge Pyncheon – who is a man of very regular habits – didn't come home the night before. Dixey thinks Judge Pyncheon will be fine. He speculates that Hepzibah has gotten into debt and run off. Several delivery people stop by throughout the morning but they get no answer at the door. The butcher peeps through the window and sees someone sitting down in the parlor. He thinks it's Clifford ignoring the doorbell and drives off in a snit. The man with the barrel-organ and the monkey stops to play outside of the house. A crowd of children collect. They argue over whether anyone is home. The man with the barrel-organ keeps playing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Phoebe or Clifford. The children finally get bored and tell him to go along. Two men passing by tell the barrel-organ player to be quiet. One of them says the Pyncheons will be wanting no music: "it is reported all over town that Judge Pyncheon, who owns the house, has been murdered [...] So be off with you, at once!" (19.46) The barrel-organ player finds a card on the doorstep. It belonged to Judge Pyncheon and has a bunch of appointments written on the back. Dixey decides they have to bring the card to the city marshal. Dixey thinks Clifford "may have been up at his old tricks" (19.49) – in other words, that he and Hepzibah have killed Judge Pyncheon. The children run off in fright, but they start daring each other to run past the House of the Seven Gables. They think they can see Clifford and Hepzibah scowling at them from the windows. Half an hour later, a cab stops at the door. It's Phoebe! She's back! Ned Higgins screams at her not to go inside. Ned Higgins thinks there's "something wicked there!" (19.57). The doors are locked, so Phoebe goes around to the garden. She sees that the storm has made Maule's well overflow. Phoebe starts to feel slightly nervous. The side door swings open and Phoebe walks inside. The door swings shut behind her.
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