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Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

I. The Chair In The Firelight

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1692-1763. "O GRANDFATHER, dear Grandfather," cried little Alice, "pray tell us some more stories about your chair!"

How long a time had fled since the children bad felt any curiousity to hear the sequel of this venerable chair's adventures! Summer was now past and gone, and the better part of autumn likewise. Dreary, chill November was howling out of doors, and vexing the atmosphere with sudden showers of wintry rain, or sometimes with gusts of snow, that rattled like small pebbles against the windows.

When the weather began to grow cool, Grandfather's chair had been removed from the summer parlor into a smaller and snugger room. It now stood by the side of a bright, blazing wood-fire. Grandfather loved a wood-fire far better than a grate of glowing anthracite, or than the dull heat of an invisible furnace, which seems to think that it has done its duty in merely warming the house. But the wood-fire is a kindly, cheerful, sociable spirit, sympathizing with mankind, and knowing that to create warmth is but one of the good offices which are expected from it. Therefore it dances on the hearth, and laughs broadly throughout the room, and plays a thousand antics, and throws a joyous glow over all the faces that encircle it.

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In the twilight of the evening the fire grew brighter and more cheerful. And thus, perhaps, there was something in Grandfather's heart that cheered him most with its warmth and comfort in the gathering twilight of old age. He had been gazing at the red embers as intently as if his past life were all pictured there, or as if it were a prospect of the future world, when little Alice's voice aroused him. "Dear Grandfather," repeated the little girl, more earnestly, "do talk to us again about your chair."

Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice had been attracted to other objects for two or three months past. They had sported in the gladsome sunshine of the present, and so had forgotten the shadowy region of the past, in the midst of which stood Grandfather's chair. But now, in the autumnal twilight, illuminated by the flickering blaze of the wood-fire, they looked at the old chair, and thought that it had never before worn such an interesting aspect. There it stood in the venerable majesty of more than two hundred years. The light from the hearth quivered upon the flowers and foliage that were wrought into its oaken back; and the lion's head at the summit seemed almost to move its jaws and shake its mane.

"Does little Alice speak for all of you?" asked Grandfather. "Do you wish me to go on with the adventures of the chair?'

"Oh yes, yes, Grandfather!" cried Clara. "The dear old chair! How strange that we should have forgotten it so long!"

"Oh, pray begin, Grandfather," said Laurence, "for I think, when we talk about old times, it should be in the early evening, before the candles are lighted. The shapes of the famous persons who once sat in the chair will be more apt to come back, and be seen among us, in this glimmer and pleasant gloom, than they would in the vulgar daylight. And, besides, we can make pictures of all that you tell us among the glowing embers and white ashes."

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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