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Part II. Nathaniel Hawthorne

X. Thomas Hutchinson

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NOW THAT Grandfather had fought through the old French War, in which our chair made no very distinguished figure, he thought it high time to tell the children some of the more private history of that praiseworthy old piece of furniture.

"In 1757," said Grandfather, "after Shirley had been summoned to England, Thomas Pownall was appointed governor of Massachusetts. He was a gay and fashionable English gentleman, who had spent much of his life in London, but had a considerable acquaintance with America. The new governor appears to have taken no active part in the war that was going on; although, at one period, he talked of marching against the enemy at the head of his company of cadets. But, on the whole, he probably concluded that it was more befitting a governor to remain quietly in our chair, reading the newspapers and official documents."

"Did the people like Pownall?" asked Charley.

"They found no fault with him," replied Grandfather. "It was no time to quarrel with the governor when the utmost harmony was required in order to defend the country against the French. But Pownall did not remain long in Massachusetts. In 1759 he was sent to be governor of South Carolina. In thus exchanging one government for another, I suppose he felt no regret, except at the necessity of leaving Grandfather's chair behind him."

"He might have taken it to South Carolina," observed Clara.

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"It appears to me," said Laurence, giving the rein to his fancy, "that the fate of this ancient chair was, somehow or other, mysteriously connected with the fortunes of old Massachusetts. If Governor Pownall had put it aboard the vessel in which he sailed for South Carolina, she would probably have lain wind-bound in Boston Harbor. It was ordained that the chair should not be taken away. Don't you think so, Grandfather?"

"It was kept here for Grandfather and me to sit in together," said little Alice, "and for Grandfather to tell stories about."

"And Grandfather is very glad of such a companion and such a theme," said the old gentleman, with a smile. "Well, Laurence, if our oaken chair, like the wooden palladium of Troy, was connected with the country's fate, yet there appears to have been no supernatural obstacle to its removal from the Province House. In 1760 Sir Francis Bernard, who had been' governor of New Jersey, was appointed to the same office in Massachusetts. He looked at the old chair, and thought it quite too shabby to keep company with a new set of mahogany chairs and an aristocratic sofa which had just arrived from London. He therefore ordered it to be put away in the garret."

The children were loud in their exclamations against this irreverent conduct of Sir Francis Bernard. But Grandfather defended him as well as he could. He observed that it was then thirty years since the chair had been beautified by Governor Belcher. Most of the gilding was worn off by the frequent scourings which it had undergone beneath the hands of a black slave. The damask cushion, once so splendid, was now squeezed out of all shape, and absolutely in tatters, so many were the ponderous gentlemen who had deposited their weight upon it during these thirty years.

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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