Elementary Novels

Rapacini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Giovanni left his home lot of years ago. He decided to ride to the north of the country for study. He rented a small cheap room on the third floor of the old house which was musty and dark. The house itself was large and beautiful as a real palace. Previously, this house belonged to one ancient noble family. Today, there was only one old woman who earned a living by renting rooms to students. From a small dirty window in his room, Giovanni could see a large, beautiful garden in the courtyard. Once he asked an old woman if this garden belonged to her. But she replied that the owner of a garden was a famous man. His name was Rappaccini. He used plants from the garden in his research. This doctor lived in a small old brown house nearby.

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Rapacini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Many years ago a young man named Giovanni Guasconti left his home in Naples to study in Northern Italy. He rented a small room on the top floor of a dark and ancient palace. Long ago the building had belonged to a noble family. Now an old woman, Seniora Lisabetta rented its rooms to students at the University of Padua. Giovanni’s room had a small window. From it he could see a large garden that had many plants and flowers.

“Does the garden belong to you?” he asked Seniora Lisabetta one day.

Rapacini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Oh, no,” she said quickly. “That garden belongs to the famous doctor Giacomo Rapacini. People say he uses those plants to make strange kinds of medicine. He lives in that small brown house in the garden with his daughter Beatrice.”

Giovanni often sat by his window to look at the garden. He had never seen so many different kinds of plants. They all had enormous green leaves and magnificent flowers in every color of the rainbow. Giovanni’s favorite plant was in a white marble vase near the house. It was covered with big purple flowers.

One day when Giovanni was looking out his window he saw an old man in a black cape walking in the garden. The old man was tall and thin. His face was an unhealthy yellow color. His black eyes were very cold. The old man wore thick gloves on his hands and a mask over his mouth and nose. He walked carefully among the plants as if he were walking among wild animals or poisonous snakes. Although he looked at the flowers very closely he did not touch or smell any of them.

When the old man arrived at the plant with the big purple flowers he stopped. He took off his mask and called loudly, “Beatrice! Come help me!”

“I’m coming, Father. What do you want?” answered a warm young voice from inside the house…

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