"It did, indeed!" answered the artist, smiling. "If I were a believer
in ghosts,--and I don't quite know whether I am or not,--I should have
concluded that all the old Pyncheons were running riot in the lower
rooms, especially in Miss Hepzibah's part of the house. But it is very
"Yes, Miss Hepzibah will be apt to over-sleep herself, after being
disturbed, all night, with the racket," said Uncle Venner. "But it
would be odd, now, wouldn't it, if the Judge had taken both his cousins
into the country along with him? I saw him go into the shop yesterday."
"At what hour?" inquired Holgrave.
"Oh, along in the forenoon," said the old man. "Well, well! I must go
my rounds, and so must my wheelbarrow. But I'll be back here at
dinner-time; for my pig likes a dinner as well as a breakfast. No
meal-time, and no sort of victuals, ever seems to come amiss to my pig.
Good morning to you! And, Mr. Holgrave, if I were a young man, like
you, I'd get one of Alice's Posies, and keep it in water till Phoebe
"I have heard," said the daguerreotypist, as he drew in his head, "that
the water of Maule's well suits those flowers best."
Here the conversation ceased, and Uncle Venner went on his way. For
half an hour longer, nothing disturbed the repose of the Seven Gables;
nor was there any visitor, except a carrier-boy, who, as he passed the
front doorstep, threw down one of his newspapers; for Hepzibah, of
late, had regularly taken it in. After a while, there came a fat
woman, making prodigious speed, and stumbling as she ran up the steps
of the shop-door. Her face glowed with fire-heat, and, it being a
pretty warm morning, she bubbled and hissed, as it were, as if all
a-fry with chimney-warmth, and summer-warmth, and the warmth of her own
corpulent velocity. She tried the shop-door; it was fast. She tried
it again, with so angry a jar that the bell tinkled angrily back at her.
"The deuce take Old Maid Pyncheon!" muttered the irascible housewife.
"Think of her pretending to set up a cent-shop, and then lying abed
till noon! These are what she calls gentlefolk's airs, I suppose! But
I'll either start her ladyship, or break the door down!"
She shook it accordingly, and the bell, having a spiteful little temper
of its own, rang obstreperously, making its remonstrances heard,--not,
indeed, by the ears for which they were intended,--but by a good lady
on the opposite side of the street. She opened the window, and
addressed the impatient applicant.
"You'll find nobody there, Mrs. Gubbins."
"But I must and will find somebody here!" cried Mrs. Gubbins,
inflicting another outrage on the bell. "I want a half-pound of pork,
to fry some first-rate flounders for Mr. Gubbins's breakfast; and, lady
or not, Old Maid Pyncheon shall get up and serve me with it!"