Colonel Pyncheon, a stern Massachusetts magistrate who, during the famous witchcraft trials of the seventeenth century, sent to his death a man whose property he coveted for himself. Cursed by his innocent victim, the colonel died on the day his big new house, the House of the Seven Gables, built on his victim’s land, was officially opened to guests.
Matthew Maule, Colonel Pyncheon’s victim, who swore that his unjust accuser should drink blood, as Colonel Pyncheon did when he died.
Thomas Maule, the son of Matthew Maule. As the head carpenter building the House of the Seven Gables, young Maule took an opportunity to build a secret recess in which was hidden the deed by which the Pyncheons hoped to claim a vast domain in Maine.
Jaffrey Pyncheon, one of Colonel Pyncheon’s nineteenth century descendants and a man like his ancestor in many ways. A judge, a member of Congress at one time, a member of many boards of directors, and an aspirant to the governorship of his state, he is a rich man who through his own efforts has multiplied the fortune he inherited from his uncle. Although he tries to present himself in a good light, Jaffrey Pyncheon is a hard man and not entirely honest. He destroys one of his uncle’s wills that names his cousin Clifford as heir, and he stands by while his cousin is wrongly sent to prison for a murder he did not commit. Convinced that his wronged cousin knows of additional family wealth hidden by their uncle, Jaffrey threatens the broken man with confinement in an insane asylum if the hiding place of the remaining wealth is not revealed. Fortunately for his cousin, Jaffrey dies of natural causes induced by emotion while making his threats.
Clifford Pyncheon, Jaffrey’s unfortunate cousin, who serves a thirty-year prison term for...
(The entire section is 810 words.)