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Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

VIII. The Old French War And The Acadian Exiles

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IN the early twilight of Thanksgiving Eve came Laurence, and Clara, and Charley, and little Alice, hand in hand, and stood in a semicircle round Grandfather's chair. They had been joyous throughout that day of festivity, mingling together in all kinds of play, so that the house had echoed with their airy mirth.

Grandfather, too, had been happy though not mirthful. He felt that this was to be set down as one of the good Thanksgivings of his life. In truth, all his former Thanksgivings had borne their part in the present one; for his years of infancy, and youth, and manhood, with their blessings and their griefs, had flitted before him while he sat silently in the great chair. Vanished scenes had been pictured in the air. The forms of departed friends had visited him. Voices to be heard no more on earth had sent an echo from the infinite and the eternal. These shadows, if such they were, seemed almost as real to him as what was actually present,--as the merry shouts and laughter of the children,--as their figures, dancing like sunshine before his eyes.

He felt that the past was not taken from him. The happiness of former days was a possession forever. And there was something in the mingled sorrow of his lifetime that became akin to happiness, after being long treasured in the depths of his heart. There it underwent a change, and grew more precious than pure gold.

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And now came the children, somewhat aweary with their wild play, and sought the quiet enjoyment of Grandfather's talk. The good old gentleman rubbed his eyes and smiled round upon them all. He was glad, as most aged people are, to find that he was yet of consequence, and could give pleasure to the world. After being so merry all day long, did these children desire to hear his sober talk? Oh, then, old Grandfather had yet a place to fill among living men,- or at least among boys and girls!

"Begin quick, Grandfather," cried little Alice; "for pussy wants to hear you."

And truly our yellow friend, the cat, lay upon the hearth-rug, basking in the warmth of the fire, pricking up her ears, and turning her head from the children to Grandfather, and from Grandfather to the children as if she felt herself very sympathetic with them all. A loud purr, like the singing of a tea-kettle or the hum of a spinning-wheel, testified that she was as comfortable and happy as a cat could be. For puss had feasted; and therefore, like Grandfather and the children, had kept a good Thanksgiving.

"Does pussy want to hear me?" said Grandfathers smiling. "Well, we must please pussy, if we can."

And so he took up the history of the chair from the epoch of the peace of 1748. By one of the provisions of the treaty, Louisburg, which the New-Englanders had been at so much pains to take, was restored to the King of France.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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