The House of the Seven Gables (Chapter 1, page 1 of 23)

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Chapter 1

Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty
wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various
points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The
street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the old Pyncheon House; and an
elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to
every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon Elm. On my
occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down
Pyncheon Street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these
two antiquities,--the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human
countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and
sunshine, but expressive also, of the long lapse of mortal life, and
accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within. Were these to be
worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest
and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity,
which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the
story would include a chain of events extending over the better part of
two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a
bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could
prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England during a
similar period. It consequently becomes imperative to make short work
with most of the traditionary lore of which the old Pyncheon House,
otherwise known as the House of the Seven Gables, has been the theme.
With a brief sketch, therefore, of the circumstances amid which the
foundation of the house was laid, and a rapid glimpse at its quaint
exterior, as it grew black in the prevalent east wind,--pointing, too,
here and there, at some spot of more verdant mossiness on its roof and
walls,--we shall commence the real action of our tale at an epoch not
very remote from the present day. Still, there will be a connection
with the long past--a reference to forgotten events and personages, and
to manners, feelings, and opinions, almost or wholly obsolete--which,
if adequately translated to the reader, would serve to illustrate how
much of old material goes to make up the freshest novelty of human
life. Hence, too, might be drawn a weighty lesson from the
little-regarded truth, that the act of the passing generation is the
germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit in a far-distant
time; that, together with the seed of the merely temporary crop, which
mortals term expediency, they inevitably sow the acorns of a more
enduring growth, which may darkly overshadow their posterity.

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