The House of the Seven Gables (Chapter 8, page 1 of 18)


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Chapter 8

Phoebe, on entering the shop, beheld there the already familiar face of
the little devourer--if we can reckon his mighty deeds aright--of Jim
Crow, the elephant, the camel, the dromedaries, and the locomotive.
Having expended his private fortune, on the two preceding days, in the
purchase of the above unheard-of luxuries, the young gentleman's
present errand was on the part of his mother, in quest of three eggs
and half a pound of raisins. These articles Phoebe accordingly
supplied, and, as a mark of gratitude for his previous patronage, and a
slight super-added morsel after breakfast, put likewise into his hand a
whale! The great fish, reversing his experience with the prophet of
Nineveh, immediately began his progress down the same red pathway of
fate whither so varied a caravan had preceded him. This remarkable
urchin, in truth, was the very emblem of old Father Time, both in
respect of his all-devouring appetite for men and things, and because
he, as well as Time, after ingulfing thus much of creation, looked
almost as youthful as if he had been just that moment made.

After partly closing the door, the child turned back, and mumbled
something to Phoebe, which, as the whale was but half disposed of, she
could not perfectly understand.

"What did you say, my little fellow?" asked she.

"Mother wants to know" repeated Ned Higgins more distinctly, "how Old
Maid Pyncheon's brother does? Folks say he has got home."

"My cousin Hepzibah's brother?" exclaimed Phoebe, surprised at this
sudden explanation of the relationship between Hepzibah and her guest.
"Her brother! And where can he have been?"

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