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

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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

been worthless."

"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

secret?"

"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

lips!"