Page:Nathaniel Hawthorne (Woodbury).djvu/171

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161
THE SCARLET LETTER

ship in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which he declined. He was sufficiently sure of success to make him remove from Concord to Salem to reside, and early in October he was established again in the old chamber of his youth, having decided to share his mother's house for the present. He spent his time in writing the introductory sketch of the Old Manse, and in seeing the "Mosses" through the press. The appointment lagged, owing to local complications in the party, but an arrangement was finally made which was agreeable to all concerned, so that Hawthorne took office without enmity from disappointed candidates who would have benefited if he had not appeared upon the scene backed by what must have been locally regarded as outside interference. He received notice of his nomination as surveyor on March 23, 1846, and it was described "as decidedly popular with the party," as well as with men of letters and the community; he soon took charge of the office, those who had made way for him were appointed inspectors under him, and he entered on the enjoyment of a salary of twelve hundred dollars.

It was indeed a singular chance of life that had transformed the recluse romancer of the silent Herbert Street house, where for all the years of early manhood he had lived unnoticed and almost unknown, into the high business official of the Custom House, the lofty neighbor of that humble dwelling, on whose wide granite steps, columned