With his mind full of imaginary magnificence, Mr. Pyncheon heard a
half-uttered exclamation from his daughter. It was very faint and low;
so indistinct that there seemed but half a will to shape out the words,
and too undefined a purport to be intelligible. Yet it was a call for
help!--his conscience never doubted it;--and, little more than a
whisper to his ear, it was a dismal shriek, and long reechoed so, in
the region round his heart! But this time the father did not turn.
After a further interval, Maule spoke.
"Behold your daughter," said he.
Mr. Pyncheon came hastily forward. The carpenter was standing erect in
front of Alice's chair, and pointing his finger towards the maiden with
an expression of triumphant power, the limits of which could not be
defined, as, indeed, its scope stretched vaguely towards the unseen and
the infinite. Alice sat in an attitude of profound repose, with the
long brown lashes drooping over her eyes.
"There she is!" said the carpenter. "Speak to her!"
"Alice! My daughter!" exclaimed Mr. Pyncheon. "My own Alice!"
She did not stir.
"Louder!" said Maule, smiling.
"Alice! Awake!" cried her father. "It troubles me to see you thus!
He spoke loudly, with terror in his voice, and close to that delicate
ear which had always been so sensitive to every discord. But the sound
evidently reached her not. It is indescribable what a sense of remote,
dim, unattainable distance betwixt himself and Alice was impressed on
the father by this impossibility of reaching her with his voice.
"Best touch her!" said Matthew Maule "Shake the girl, and roughly, too!
My hands are hardened with too much use of axe, saw, and plane,--else I
might help you!"
Mr. Pyncheon took her hand, and pressed it with the earnestness of
startled emotion. He kissed her, with so great a heart-throb in the
kiss, that he thought she must needs feel it. Then, in a gust of anger
at her insensibility, he shook her maiden form with a violence which,
the next moment, it affrighted him to remember. He withdrew his
encircling arms, and Alice--whose figure, though flexible, had been
wholly impassive--relapsed into the same attitude as before these
attempts to arouse her. Maule having shifted his position, her face
was turned towards him slightly, but with what seemed to be a reference
of her very slumber to his guidance.
Then it was a strange sight to behold how the man of conventionalities
shook the powder out of his periwig; how the reserved and stately
gentleman forgot his dignity; how the gold-embroidered waistcoat
flickered and glistened in the firelight with the convulsion of rage,
terror, and sorrow in the human heart that was beating under it.
"Villain!" cried Mr. Pyncheon, shaking his clenched fist at Maule.
"You and the fiend together have robbed me of my daughter. Give her
back, spawn of the old wizard, or you shall climb Gallows Hill in your