The artist put his finger on the contrivance to which he had referred.
In former days, the effect would probably have been to cause the
picture to start forward. But, in so long a period of concealment, the
machinery had been eaten through with rust; so that at Holgrave's
pressure, the portrait, frame and all, tumbled suddenly from its
position, and lay face downward on the floor. A recess in the wall was
thus brought to light, in which lay an object so covered with a
century's dust that it could not immediately be recognized as a folded
sheet of parchment. Holgrave opened it, and displayed an ancient deed,
signed with the hieroglyphics of several Indian sagamores, and
conveying to Colonel Pyncheon and his heirs, forever, a vast extent of
territory at the Eastward.
"This is the very parchment, the attempt to recover which cost the
beautiful Alice Pyncheon her happiness and life," said the artist,
alluding to his legend. "It is what the Pyncheons sought in vain,
while it was valuable; and now that they find the treasure, it has long
"Poor Cousin Jaffrey! This is what deceived him," exclaimed Hepzibah.
"When they were young together, Clifford probably made a kind of
fairy-tale of this discovery. He was always dreaming hither and
thither about the house, and lighting up its dark corners with
beautiful stories. And poor Jaffrey, who took hold of everything as if
it were real, thought my brother had found out his uncle's wealth. He
died with this delusion in his mind!"
"But," said Phoebe, apart to Holgrave, "how came you to know the
"My dearest Phoebe," said Holgrave, "how will it please you to assume
the name of Maule? As for the secret, it is the only inheritance that
has come down to me from my ancestors. You should have known sooner
(only that I was afraid of frightening you away) that, in this long
drama of wrong and retribution, I represent the old wizard, and am
probably as much a wizard as ever he was. The son of the executed
Matthew Maule, while building this house, took the opportunity to
construct that recess, and hide away the Indian deed, on which depended
the immense land-claim of the Pyncheons. Thus they bartered their
eastern territory for Maule's garden-ground."
"And now" said Uncle Venner "I suppose their whole claim is not worth
one man's share in my farm yonder!"
"Uncle Venner," cried Phoebe, taking the patched philosopher's hand,
"you must never talk any more about your farm! You shall never go
there, as long as you live! There is a cottage in our new garden,--the
prettiest little yellowish-brown cottage you ever saw; and the
sweetest-looking place, for it looks just as if it were made of
gingerbread,--and we are going to fit it up and furnish it, on purpose
for you. And you shall do nothing but what you choose, and shall be as
happy as the day is long, and shall keep Cousin Clifford in spirits
with the wisdom and pleasantness which is always dropping from your