Now, the wizard's grandson, the young Matthew Maule of our story, was

popularly supposed to have inherited some of his ancestor's

questionable traits. It is wonderful how many absurdities were

promulgated in reference to the young man. He was fabled, for example,

to have a strange power of getting into people's dreams, and regulating

matters there according to his own fancy, pretty much like the

stage-manager of a theatre. There was a great deal of talk among the

neighbors, particularly the petticoated ones, about what they called

the witchcraft of Maule's eye. Some said that he could look into

people's minds; others, that, by the marvellous power of this eye, he

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could draw people into his own mind, or send them, if he pleased, to do

errands to his grandfather, in the spiritual world; others, again, that

it was what is termed an Evil Eye, and possessed the valuable faculty

of blighting corn, and drying children into mummies with the heartburn.

But, after all, what worked most to the young carpenter's disadvantage

was, first, the reserve and sternness of his natural disposition, and

next, the fact of his not being a church-communicant, and the suspicion

of his holding heretical tenets in matters of religion and polity.

After receiving Mr. Pyncheon's message, the carpenter merely tarried to

finish a small job, which he happened to have in hand, and then took

his way towards the House of the Seven Gables. This noted edifice,

though its style might be getting a little out of fashion, was still as

respectable a family residence as that of any gentleman in town. The

present owner, Gervayse Pyncheon, was said to have contracted a dislike

to the house, in consequence of a shock to his sensibility, in early

childhood, from the sudden death of his grandfather. In the very act

of running to climb Colonel Pyncheon's knee, the boy had discovered the

old Puritan to be a corpse. On arriving at manhood, Mr. Pyncheon had

visited England, where he married a lady of fortune, and had

subsequently spent many years, partly in the mother country, and partly

in various cities on the continent of Europe. During this period, the

family mansion had been consigned to the charge of a kinsman, who was

allowed to make it his home for the time being, in consideration of

keeping the premises in thorough repair. So faithfully had this

contract been fulfilled, that now, as the carpenter approached the

house, his practised eye could detect nothing to criticise in its

condition. The peaks of the seven gables rose up sharply; the shingled

roof looked thoroughly water-tight; and the glittering plaster-work

entirely covered the exterior walls, and sparkled in the October sun,

as if it had been new only a week ago.

The house had that pleasant aspect of life which is like the cheery

expression of comfortable activity in the human countenance. You could

see, at once, that there was the stir of a large family within it. A

huge load of oak-wood was passing through the gateway, towards the

outbuildings in the rear; the fat cook--or probably it might be the

housekeeper--stood at the side door, bargaining for some turkeys and

poultry which a countryman had brought for sale. Now and then a

maid-servant, neatly dressed, and now the shining sable face of a

slave, might be seen bustling across the windows, in the lower part of

the house. At an open window of a room in the second story, hanging

over some pots of beautiful and delicate flowers,--exotics, but which

had never known a more genial sunshine than that of the New England

autumn,--was the figure of a young lady, an exotic, like the flowers,

and beautiful and delicate as they. Her presence imparted an

indescribable grace and faint witchery to the whole edifice. In other

respects, it was a substantial, jolly-looking mansion, and seemed fit

to be the residence of a patriarch, who might establish his own

headquarters in the front gable and assign one of the remainder to each

of his six children, while the great chimney in the centre should

symbolize the old fellow's hospitable heart, which kept them all warm,

and made a great whole of the seven smaller ones.