The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 4 Summary
A Day Behind the Counter
- Around noon, Hepzibah sees a man walking by. He's elderly and rich-looking, with a cold, heavy face.
- He sees Hepzibah's shop and looks displeased, then suddenly smiles.
- This is Hepzibah's cousin Jaffrey Pyncheon – the judge who is head of the Pyncheon family.
- Just then, little Ned Higgins comes in to buy a gingerbread elephant.
- Hepzibah's cousin Jaffrey continues on his way.
- Hepzibah thinks to herself, "Take it as you like! You have seen my little shop-window! [...] Is not the Pyncheon-house my own, while I'm alive?" (4.6).
- Hepzibah retreats back into the house and looks at the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon.
- She sees his hard, direct face.
- She thinks to herself that Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon is the living image of their Puritan ancestor, no matter how much he tries to cover it with smiles.
- Looking at this portrait reminds her of the miniature of the young man she was studying earlier.
- She thinks mysteriously: "they persecuted his mother in him! He never was a Pyncheon!" (4.12).
- Hepzibah is startled to hear someone coming into the shop, and she rushes out.
- It's Uncle Venner.
- Uncle Venner is a very elderly handyman who has lived in the neighborhood for as long as Hepzibah can remember.
- He is a little odd, but much loved in the area.
- Uncle Venner congratulates Hepzibah on starting her shop.
- He mentions having seen her cousin Judge Pyncheon and compliments his smile.
- Hepzibah agrees bitterly, "my Cousin Jaffrey is thought to have a very pleasant smile!" (4.19).
- Uncle Venner promises that something good is coming Hepzibah's way.
- She starts to dream of reclaiming that land in Maine or joining up with the other Pyncheons back in England.
- But Uncle Venner seems to have something more immediate in mind: "When do you expect him home?" (4.29).
- He won't explain who "he" is.
- After Uncle Venner's visit, Hepzibah is even more disastrous with business than before. She is truly glad when her busy day in the shop is over.
- Hepzibah locks the door and looks outside.
- She sees a young woman getting off the public coach in front of her house.
- She realizes that this must by Phoebe Pyncheon, her young relative from the country.
- Hepzibah is surprised to see her and decides that she can stay, but only for one night.
- Hepzibah doesn't want Phoebe to disturb Clifford – though who Clifford might be we don't know yet.
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...