Maule's Lane, or Pyncheon Street, as it were now more decorous to call

it, was thronged, at the appointed hour, as with a congregation on its

way to church. All, as they approached, looked upward at the imposing

edifice, which was henceforth to assume its rank among the habitations

of mankind. There it rose, a little withdrawn from the line of the

street, but in pride, not modesty. Its whole visible exterior was

ornamented with quaint figures, conceived in the grotesqueness of a

Gothic fancy, and drawn or stamped in the glittering plaster, composed

of lime, pebbles, and bits of glass, with which the woodwork of the

walls was overspread. On every side the seven gables pointed sharply

Advertisement..

towards the sky, and presented the aspect of a whole sisterhood of

edifices, breathing through the spiracles of one great chimney. The

many lattices, with their small, diamond-shaped panes, admitted the

sunlight into hall and chamber, while, nevertheless, the second story,

projecting far over the base, and itself retiring beneath the third,

threw a shadowy and thoughtful gloom into the lower rooms. Carved

globes of wood were affixed under the jutting stories. Little spiral

rods of iron beautified each of the seven peaks. On the triangular

portion of the gable, that fronted next the street, was a dial, put up

that very morning, and on which the sun was still marking the passage

of the first bright hour in a history that was not destined to be all

so bright. All around were scattered shavings, chips, shingles, and

broken halves of bricks; these, together with the lately turned earth,

on which the grass had not begun to grow, contributed to the impression

of strangeness and novelty proper to a house that had yet its place to

make among men's daily interests.

The principal entrance, which had almost the breadth of a church-door,

was in the angle between the two front gables, and was covered by an

open porch, with benches beneath its shelter. Under this arched

doorway, scraping their feet on the unworn threshold, now trod the

clergymen, the elders, the magistrates, the deacons, and whatever of

aristocracy there was in town or county. Thither, too, thronged the

plebeian classes as freely as their betters, and in larger number.

Just within the entrance, however, stood two serving-men, pointing some

of the guests to the neighborhood of the kitchen and ushering others

into the statelier rooms,--hospitable alike to all, but still with a

scrutinizing regard to the high or low degree of each. Velvet garments

sombre but rich, stiffly plaited ruffs and bands, embroidered gloves,

venerable beards, the mien and countenance of authority, made it easy

to distinguish the gentleman of worship, at that period, from the

tradesman, with his plodding air, or the laborer, in his leathern

jerkin, stealing awe-stricken into the house which he had perhaps

helped to build.