Excerpt from Chapter 5 that provides Hepzibah's version of Alice's fate
and the ways that she senses Alice's presence around the house
When the customer was gone, Hepzibah talked rather vaguely, and at great
length, about a certain Alice Pyncheon, who had been exceedingly beautiful
and accomplished in her lifetime, a hundred years ago. The fragrance of
her rich and delightful character still lingered about the place where
she had lived, as a dried rosebud scents the drawer where it has withered
and perished. This lovely Alice had met with some great and mysterious
calamity, and had grown thin and white, and gradually faded out of the
world. But, even now, she was supposed to haunt the House of the Seven
Gables, and, a great many times,--especially when one of the Pyncheons
was to die,--she had been heard playing sadly and beautifully on the harpsichord.
One of these tunes, just as it had sounded from her spiritual touch, had
been written down by an amateur of music; it was so exquisitely mournful
that nobody, to this day, could bear to hear it played, unless when a great
sorrow had made them know the still profounder sweetness of it.
"Was it the same harpsichord that you showed me?" inquired Phoebe.
"The very same," said Hepzibah. "It was Alice Pyncheon's harpsichord.