Excerpts from Chapter 7, "The Guest," of The House of the Seven Gables,
which focus on Phoebe
Phoebe and Hepzibah spent considerable time in the kitchen,
preparing and eating meals and probably staying warm by the fire. On the occasion
of Clifford's return after a 30-year absence in prison, the two women prepared
a feast for his first full meal in freedom.
. . . Hepzibah's small and ancient table, supported on its slender
and graceful legs, and covered with a cloth of the richest damask, looked
worthy to be the scene and centre of one of the cheerfullest of parties.
The vapor of the broiled fish arose like incense from the shrine of a barbarian
idol, while the fragrance of the Mocha might have gratified the nostrils
of a tutelary Lar, or whatever power has scope over a modern breakfast-table.
Phoebe's Indian cakes were the sweetest offering of all,--in their hue
befitting the rustic altars of the innocent and golden age,--or, so brightly
yellow were they, resembling some of the bread which was changed to glistening
gold, when Midas tried to eat it. The butter must not be forgotten,--butter
which Phoebe herself had churned, in her own rural home, and brought it
to her cousin as a propitiatory gift,--smelling of clover-blossoms, and
diffusing the charm of pastoral scenery through the dark-panelled parlor.
All this, with the quaint gorgeousness of the old China cups and saucers,
and the crested spoons, and a silver cream-jug (Hepzibah's only other article
of plate, and shaped like the rudest porringer), set out a board at which
the stateliest of old Colonel Pyncheon's guests need not have scorned to
take his place. But the Puritan's face scowled down out of the picture,
as if nothing on the table pleased his appetite.(Chapter
7- "The Guest" in The House of the Seven Gables) "