The House of the Seven Gables
13. Alice Pyncheon
THERE was a message brought, one day, from the worshipful Gervayse Pyncheon to
young Matthew Maule, the carpenter, desiring his immediate presence at the House of the
"And what does your master want with me?" said the carpenter to Mr. Pyncheon's black
servant. "Does the house need any repair? Well it may, by this time; and no blame to my
father who built it, neither! I was reading the old Colonel's tombstone, no longer ago than
last Sabbath; and, reckoning from that date, the house has stood seven-and-thirty years.
No wonder if there should be a job to do on the roof."
"Don't know what massa wants," answered Scipio. "The house is a berry good house, and
old Colonel Pyncheon think so too, I reckon;--else why the old man haunt it so, and
frighten a poor nigga, As he does?"
"Well, well, friend Scipio; let your master know that I'm coming," said the carpenter with
a laugh. "For a fair, workmanlike job, he'll find me his man. And so the house is haunted,
is it? It will take a tighter workman than I am to keep the spirits out of the Seven Gables.
Even if the Colonel would be quiet," he added, muttering to himself, "my old grandfather,
the wizard, will be pretty sure to stick to the Pyncheons as long as their walls hold
"What's that you mutter to yourself, Matthew Maule?" asked Scipio. "And what for do
you look so black at me?"
"No matter, darky." said the carpenter. "Do you think nobody is to look black but
yourself? Go tell your master I'm coming; and if you happen to see Mistress Alice, his
daughter, give Matthew Maule's humble respects to her. She has brought a fair face from
Italy,--fair, and gentle, and proud,--has that same Alice Pyncheon!"
"He talk of Mistress Alice!" cried Scipio, as he returned from his errand. "The low
carpenter-man! He no business so much as to look at her a great way off!"
This young Matthew Maule, the carpenter, it must be observed, was a person little
understood, and not very generally liked, in the town where he resided; not that anything
could be alleged against his integrity, or his skill and diligence in the handicraft which he
exercised. The aversion (as it might justly be called) with which many persons regarded
him was partly the result of his own character and deportment, and partly an inheritance.
He was the grandson of a former Matthew Maule, one of the early settlers of the town,
and who had been a famous and terrible wizard in his day. This old reprobate was one of
the sufferers when Cotton Mather, and his brother ministers, and the learned judges, and