"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

quiet now."

"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.

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"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

comes back."

"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!"