We have already hinted that it is not our purpose to trace down the

history of the Pyncheon family, in its unbroken connection with the

House of the Seven Gables; nor to show, as in a magic picture, how the

rustiness and infirmity of age gathered over the venerable house

itself. As regards its interior life, a large, dim looking-glass used

to hang in one of the rooms, and was fabled to contain within its

depths all the shapes that had ever been reflected there,--the old

Colonel himself, and his many descendants, some in the garb of antique

babyhood, and others in the bloom of feminine beauty or manly prime, or

saddened with the wrinkles of frosty age. Had we the secret of that


mirror, we would gladly sit down before it, and transfer its

revelations to our page. But there was a story, for which it is

difficult to conceive any foundation, that the posterity of Matthew

Maule had some connection with the mystery of the looking-glass, and

that, by what appears to have been a sort of mesmeric process, they

could make its inner region all alive with the departed Pyncheons; not

as they had shown themselves to the world, nor in their better and

happier hours, but as doing over again some deed of sin, or in the

crisis of life's bitterest sorrow. The popular imagination, indeed,

long kept itself busy with the affair of the old Puritan Pyncheon and

the wizard Maule; the curse which the latter flung from his scaffold

was remembered, with the very important addition, that it had become a

part of the Pyncheon inheritance. If one of the family did but gurgle

in his throat, a bystander would be likely enough to whisper, between

jest and earnest, "He has Maule's blood to drink!" The sudden death of

a Pyncheon, about a hundred years ago, with circumstances very similar

to what have been related of the Colonel's exit, was held as giving

additional probability to the received opinion on this topic. It was

considered, moreover, an ugly and ominous circumstance, that Colonel

Pyncheon's picture--in obedience, it was said, to a provision of his

will--remained affixed to the wall of the room in which he died. Those

stern, immitigable features seemed to symbolize an evil influence, and

so darkly to mingle the shadow of their presence with the sunshine of

the passing hour, that no good thoughts or purposes could ever spring

up and blossom there. To the thoughtful mind there will be no tinge of

superstition in what we figuratively express, by affirming that the

ghost of a dead progenitor--perhaps as a portion of his own

punishment--is often doomed to become the Evil Genius of his family.