Hawthorne in Salem Search Hawthorne in Salem





Facebook Page
[Home]  

The Scarlet Letter > Page
Previous Page Custom House Home Next Page   Audio Reading of Page

THE CUSTOM-HOUSE

the breath of official life, within a month after the extermina-
ting angel had come up the Custom-House steps. According
to the received code in such matters, it would have been
nothing short of duty, in a politician, to bring every one of
those white heads under the axe of the guillotine. It was
plain enough to discern, that the old fellows dreaded some
such discourtesy at my hands. It pained, and at the same time
amused me, to behold the terrors that attended my advent; to
see a furrowed cheek, weather-beaten by half a century of
storm, turn ashy pale at the glance of so harmless an individ-
ual as myself; to detect, as one or another addressed me, the
tremor of a voice, which, in long-past days, had been wont
to bellow through a speaking-trumpet, hoarsely enough to
frighten Boreas himself to silence. They knew, these excel-
lent old persons, that, by all established rule,–and, as re-
garded some of them, weighed by their own lack of efficiency
for business,–they ought to have given place to younger
men, more orthodox in politics, and altogether fitter than
themselves to serve our common Uncle. I knew it too, but
could never quite find in my heart to act upon the knowledge.
Much and deservedly to my own discredit, therefore, and
considerably to the detriment of my official conscience, they
continued, during my incumbency, to creep about the
wharves, and loiter up and down the Custom-House steps.
They spent a good deal of time, also, asleep in their accus
tomed corners, with their chairs tilted back against the wall;
awaking, however, once or twice in a forenoon, to bore one
another with the several thousandth repetition of old sea-
stories, and mouldy jokes, that had grown to be pass-words and
countersigns among them.

The discovery was soon made, I imagine, that the new
Surveyor had no great harm in him. So, with lightsome hearts,
and the happy consciousness of being usefully employed,–
in their own behalf, at least, if not for our beloved country,–
these good old gentlemen went through the various formalities

The Scarlet Letter > Page
Previous Page Custom House Home Next Page   Audio Reading of Page
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11939/


About US Privacy Policy Copyright Credits Site Map Site Help