The House of the Seven Gables (Chapter 4)

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Chapter 4 : Page 1 of 14

Towards noon, Hepzibah saw an elderly gentleman, large and portly, and
of remarkably dignified demeanor, passing slowly along on the opposite
side of the white and dusty street. On coming within the shadow of the
Pyncheon Elm, he stopt, and (taking off his hat, meanwhile, to wipe the
perspiration from his brow) seemed to scrutinize, with especial
interest, the dilapidated and rusty-visaged House of the Seven Gables.
He himself, in a very different style, was as well worth looking at as
the house. No better model need be sought, nor could have been found,
of a very high order of respectability, which, by some indescribable
magic, not merely expressed itself in his looks and gestures, but even
governed the fashion of his garments, and rendered them all proper and
essential to the man.

Without appearing to differ, in any tangible
way, from other people's clothes, there was yet a wide and rich gravity
about them that must have been a characteristic of the wearer, since it
could not be defined as pertaining either to the cut or material. His
gold-headed cane, too,--a serviceable staff, of dark polished
wood,--had similar traits, and, had it chosen to take a walk by itself,
would have been recognized anywhere as a tolerably adequate
representative of its master. This character--which showed itself so
strikingly in everything about him, and the effect of which we seek to
convey to the reader--went no deeper than his station, habits of life,
and external circumstances. One perceived him to be a personage of
marked influence and authority; and, especially, you could feel just as
certain that he was opulent as if he had exhibited his bank account, or
as if you had seen him touching the twigs of the Pyncheon Elm, and,
Midas-like, transmuting them to gold.


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