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The House of the Seven Gables

19. Alice's Posies
UNCLE VENNER, trundling a wheelbarrow, was the earliest person stirring in the
neighborhood the day after the storm.
Pyncheon Street, in front of the House of the Seven Gables, was a far pleasanter scene
than a by-lane, confined by shabby fences, and bordered with wooden dwellings of the
meaner class, could reasonably be expected to present. Nature made sweet amends, that
morning, for the five unkindly days which had preceded it. It would have been enough to
live for, merely to look up at the wide benediction of the sky, or as much of it as was
visible between the houses, genial once more with sunshine. Every object was agreeable,
whether to be gazed at in the breadth, or examined more minutely. Such, for example,
were the well-washed pebbles and gravel of the sidewalk; even the sky-reflecting pools in
the centre of the street; and the grass, now freshly verdant, that crept along the base of the
fences, on the other side of which, if one peeped over, was seen the multifarious growth
of gardens. Vegetable productions, of whatever kind, seemed more than negatively
happy, in the juicy warmth and abundance of their life. The Pyncheon Elm, throughout its
great circumference, was all alive, and full of the morning sun and a sweet-tempered little
breeze, which lingered within this verdant sphere, and set a thousand leafy tongues a-
whispering all at once. This aged tree appeared to have suffered nothing from the gale. It
had kept its boughs unshattered, and its full complement of leaves; and the whole in
perfect verdure, except a single branch, that, by the earlier change with which the elm-
tree sometimes prophesies the autumn, had been transmuted to bright gold. It was like the
golden branch that gained AEneas and the Sibyl admittance into Hades.
This one mystic branch hung down before the main entrance of the Seven Gables, so nigh
the ground that any passer-by might have stood on tiptoe and plucked it off. Presented at
the door, it would have been a symbol of his right to enter, and be made acquainted with
all the secrets of the house. So little faith is due to external appearance, that there was
really an inviting aspect over the venerable edifice, conveying an idea that its history
must be a decorous and happy one, and such as would be delightful for a fireside tale. Its
windows gleamed cheerfully in the slanting sunlight. The lines and tufts of green moss,
here and there, seemed pledges of familiarity and sisterhood with Nature; as if this human
dwelling-place, being of such old date, had established its prescriptive title among
primeval oaks and whatever other objects, by virtue of their long continuance, have
acquired a gracious right to be. A person of imaginative temperament, while passing by
the house, would turn, once and again, and peruse it well: its many peaks, consenting
together in the clustered chimney; the deep projection over its basement-story; the arched
window, imparting a look, if not of grandeur, yet of antique gentility, to the broken portal
over which it opened; the luxuriance of gigantic burdocks, near the threshold; he would
note all these characteristics, and be conscious of something deeper than he saw. He
would conceive the mansion to have been the residence of the stubborn old Puritan,
Integrity, who, dying in some forgotten generation, had left a blessing in all its rooms and