Study Guide

The House of the Seven Gables Chapter 10

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter 10

The Pyncheon Garden

  • Phoebe suggests that Clifford go out into the garden for some sunshine.
  • She reads to Clifford outside, choosing from Mr. Holgrave's fiction and poetry collection.
  • Clifford still doesn't think much of fiction, but he does enjoy the poetry, with its rhythmic language.
  • Even more than Phoebe's reading, though, Clifford enjoys listening her talk.
  • Phoebe chats about the garden and the flowers that are blooming.
  • Mr. Holgrave plants a row of scarlet runner beans, whose red flowers attract hummingbirds.
  • Clifford feels so happy to watch them that he becomes like "a child again" (10.6).
  • Hepzibah sometimes cries when she sees Clifford's excitement because she can remember him just like this as a child.
  • The narrator wants to give one anecdote of the garden life Clifford and Phoebe share.
  • Phoebe often talks about the chickens to entertain Clifford.
  • They are all rather amusing looking: there is one rooster, two hens, and one tiny, ancient-looking chick.
  • One of the hens has a great deal of trouble laying an egg, but she finally manages it.
  • Without a thought for the feelings of the hen, Hepzibah takes the egg to make Clifford's breakfast.
  • The next day, the rooster and the hen stand in front of Clifford and caw angrily in revenge.
  • They stop only when Phoebe offers them a piece of spice cake.
  • The narrator explains that he's telling this trivial story as one example of the kind of ordinary event that was so good for Clifford's health.
  • Clifford also gets into the habit of looking into Maule's well.
  • He says he sees beautiful faces there.
  • But every now and then Clifford will yell, "The dark face gazes at me!" (10.14) and run away.
  • On Sundays after church, Phoebe, Clifford, Hepzibah, Uncle Venner, and Mr. Holgrave have little parties in the garden.
  • Clifford quite enjoys being younger than someone for once – in this case, Uncle Venner.
  • One afternoon Uncle Venner says that he expects life after he retires on his farm will be a lot like these Sunday afternoons.
  • Clifford makes the strange comment that Uncle Venner "is always talking about his farm. But I have a better scheme for him, by and by. We shall see!" (10.18).
  • Hepzibah asks Phoebe to help her gather the currants.
  • Mr. Holgrave falls into conversation with Clifford.
  • Clifford really starts to cheer up. But as the sun sets, he gets gloomy again.
  • He whispers, "I want my happiness! [...] Many, many years have I waited for it! It is late!" (10.26).
  • But, the narrator tells us, that happiness isn't going to come to Clifford, unless it's the happiness of sitting in the garden with his family.