It has already been observed, that, in the basement story of the gable

fronting on the street, an unworthy ancestor, nearly a century ago, had

fitted up a shop. Ever since the old gentleman retired from trade, and

fell asleep under his coffin-lid, not only the shop-door, but the inner

arrangements, had been suffered to remain unchanged; while the dust of

ages gathered inch-deep over the shelves and counter, and partly filled

an old pair of scales, as if it were of value enough to be weighed. It

treasured itself up, too, in the half-open till, where there still

lingered a base sixpence, worth neither more nor less than the

hereditary pride which had here been put to shame. Such had been the

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state and condition of the little shop in old Hepzibah's childhood,

when she and her brother used to play at hide-and-seek in its forsaken

precincts. So it had remained, until within a few days past.

But now, though the shop-window was still closely curtained from the

public gaze, a remarkable change had taken place in its interior. The

rich and heavy festoons of cobweb, which it had cost a long ancestral

succession of spiders their life's labor to spin and weave, had been

carefully brushed away from the ceiling. The counter, shelves, and

floor had all been scoured, and the latter was overstrewn with fresh

blue sand. The brown scales, too, had evidently undergone rigid

discipline, in an unavailing effort to rub off the rust, which, alas!

had eaten through and through their substance. Neither was the little

old shop any longer empty of merchantable goods. A curious eye,

privileged to take an account of stock and investigate behind the

counter, would have discovered a barrel, yea, two or three barrels and

half ditto,--one containing flour, another apples, and a third,

perhaps, Indian meal. There was likewise a square box of pine-wood,

full of soap in bars; also, another of the same size, in which were

tallow candles, ten to the pound. A small stock of brown sugar, some

white beans and split peas, and a few other commodities of low price,

and such as are constantly in demand, made up the bulkier portion of

the merchandise. It might have been taken for a ghostly or

phantasmagoric reflection of the old shop-keeper Pyncheon's shabbily

provided shelves, save that some of the articles were of a description

and outward form which could hardly have been known in his day. For

instance, there was a glass pickle-jar, filled with fragments of

Gibraltar rock; not, indeed, splinters of the veritable stone

foundation of the famous fortress, but bits of delectable candy, neatly

done up in white paper. Jim Crow, moreover, was seen executing his

world-renowned dance, in gingerbread. A party of leaden dragoons were

galloping along one of the shelves, in equipments and uniform of modern

cut; and there were some sugar figures, with no strong resemblance to

the humanity of any epoch, but less unsatisfactorily representing our

own fashions than those of a hundred years ago. Another phenomenon,

still more strikingly modern, was a package of lucifer matches, which,

in old times, would have been thought actually to borrow their

instantaneous flame from the nether fires of Tophet.