The girl ran into the house to get some crumbs of bread, cold potatoes,

and other such scraps as were suitable to the accommodating appetite of

fowls. Returning, she gave a peculiar call, which they seemed to

recognize. The chicken crept through the pales of the coop and ran,

with some show of liveliness, to her feet; while Chanticleer and the

ladies of his household regarded her with queer, sidelong glances, and

then croaked one to another, as if communicating their sage opinions of

her character. So wise, as well as antique, was their aspect, as to

give color to the idea, not merely that they were the descendants of a

time-honored race, but that they had existed, in their individual


capacity, ever since the House of the Seven Gables was founded, and

were somehow mixed up with its destiny. They were a species of

tutelary sprite, or Banshee; although winged and feathered differently

from most other guardian angels.

"Here, you odd little chicken!" said Phoebe; "here are some nice crumbs

for you!"

The chicken, hereupon, though almost as venerable in appearance as its

mother--possessing, indeed, the whole antiquity of its progenitors in

miniature,--mustered vivacity enough to flutter upward and alight on

Phoebe's shoulder.

"That little fowl pays you a high compliment!" said a voice behind


Turning quickly, she was surprised at sight of a young man, who had

found access into the garden by a door opening out of another gable

than that whence she had emerged. He held a hoe in his hand, and,

while Phoebe was gone in quest of the crumbs, had begun to busy himself

with drawing up fresh earth about the roots of the tomatoes.

"The chicken really treats you like an old acquaintance," continued he

in a quiet way, while a smile made his face pleasanter than Phoebe at

first fancied it. "Those venerable personages in the coop, too, seem

very affably disposed. You are lucky to be in their good graces so

soon! They have known me much longer, but never honor me with any

familiarity, though hardly a day passes without my bringing them food.

Miss Hepzibah, I suppose, will interweave the fact with her other

traditions, and set it down that the fowls know you to be a Pyncheon!"

"The secret is," said Phoebe, smiling, "that I have learned how to talk

with hens and chickens."

"Ah, but these hens," answered the young man,--"these hens of

aristocratic lineage would scorn to understand the vulgar language of a

barn-yard fowl. I prefer to think--and so would Miss Hepzibah--that

they recognize the family tone. For you are a Pyncheon?"

"My name is Phoebe Pyncheon," said the girl, with a manner of some

reserve; for she was aware that her new acquaintance could be no other

than the daguerreotypist, of whose lawless propensities the old maid

had given her a disagreeable idea. "I did not know that my cousin

Hepzibah's garden was under another person's care."