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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 7 Summary

The Guest

  • Phoebe wakes up the next morning and walks downstairs.
  • She finds Hepzibah looking at a cookbook.
  • Hepzibah asks Phoebe to go look for an egg in the hen coop.
  • Hepzibah begins cooking energetically.
  • Phoebe, the rats, and the ghosts of the household are all surprised at this unusual activity.
  • Phoebe gathers some flowers to put on the table.
  • She is surprised to see that Hepzibah has set the table for three. Who is the third visitor?
  • Throughout all of this preparation, Hepzibah has been trembling anxiously.
  • Finally Hepzibah asks Phoebe to "bear with" (7.8) her.
  • Phoebe asks what's upsetting Hepzibah so much.
  • Hepzibah hushes Phoebe because "He is coming!" (7.10).
  • There is a step in the passageway.
  • The approaching footsteps come slowly in fits and starts.
  • Finally the footsteps hesitate at the threshold of the door.
  • Hepzibah warns Phoebe: "Whatever may happen, be nothing but cheerful!" (7.14).
  • Hepzibah jumps up and leads an elderly man into the room.
  • This man has unusually long white hair and a broken face.
  • He looks like he is capable of thinking and feeling, but only sometimes – otherwise, his mind seems to "waver, and glimmer" (7.15).
  • Hepzibah introduces Phoebe to Clifford Pyncheon.
  • Clifford keeps looking around the room as though he cannot believe that he is there.
  • Finally Phoebe realizes that she is seeing the face of the man in Hepzibah's miniature portrait.
  • She can see, now and again, the remnants of that sensitive spirit captured in the portrait.
  • Clifford thinks that Hepzibah is angry with him.
  • Poor Hepzibah's permanent scowl – the result of heavy eyebrows and nearsightedness – freaks him out.
  • But Hepzibah feels nothing but love and pity for her brother.
  • Clifford eats a lot very quickly.
  • He also quaffs down a pot of coffee.
  • Clifford is unable to believe that this pleasant life will last.
  • Phoebe, noticing Clifford's pleasure in the beauties of the garden, quickly distracts him from dark thoughts by pointing out a new kind of rose.
  • Clifford is excited and asks to hold the rose.
  • After enjoying the beauty of the rose for a time, Clifford is distracted by the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon.
  • He demands that Hepzibah take it down.
  • She replies that it cannot be taken down.
  • Clifford asks that she cover it with a red cloth.
  • Clifford insists that "It must not stare [him] in the face!" (7.41).
  • Clifford slowly seems to be tiring: he's not used to so much excitement.
  • When he hears the shop bell, he is horrified by the ugly noise.
  • Hepzibah explains that she has had to open a shop.
  • Hepzibah asks if Clifford is ashamed of her.
  • Clifford asks Hepzibah how he could possibly be ashamed of her when he has just spent the last 30 years in jail.
  • Clifford bursts in to tears before asking, with an odd smile, "Are we so very poor, Hepzibah?" (7.54).
  • Clifford then falls asleep in his chair.
  • Hepzibah feels filled with grief and pity at the sight.

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