The Little Brown House on The Albany Road

The Little Brown House on The Albany Road by George Sheldon

THE transformation is wonderful; it seems almost a work of magic. The story of Aladdin's Lamp cannot be wholly a myth. The sky no longer looks through a gaping roof to a yawning cellar. The rain, the hail and snow no longer enter as if welcome guests. Warp and woof, fashioned and dyed in the Orient, supplants the rubbish on the rotting floors. Stuffs, rich and rare, flow from walls no longer black with smoke and grime. Festoons, rivaling in texture those from the loom of the spider, which they displace, show artistic taste and delight the eye. Pictures and works of art fill every "coigne of vantage."

Gone the staggering partitions; gone the low, brown, ragged ceiling. The long slanting rafters are in full view. The massive chimney and the rotund oven stand displayed. Kitchen and bedroom, pantry and parlor have disappeared in one generous whole. Through the narrow windows, inviting streams of soft light from elegant lamps are sent abroad into the night towards every point of the compass. The genii of the place preside over cheerful hospitality within, where so lately a sad spirit of seclusion and gloomy content held sway. No contrast could be greater. In the yellow light, thrown fitfully out from the burning logs in the huge fireplace, graceful forms flit to and fro, appearing and disappearing with the fantastic shadows upon the red wainscoted wall. Sweet music is heard, soft and weird, as if afar off, and stories are told of witches urging their broomstick steeds across the stormy midnight sky to festive meetings in uncanny nooks with still more uncanny folk.

The Antiquary sits upon the hearthstone and muses. The change seems so unreal and bewildering; he cannot draw the line, and the past will mingle with the present. He watches the sparks and the curling smoke as they rise towards boundless space, and voices of the unseen catch his responsive ear. He hears, in the mouth of the cavernous oven hard by, whisperings and wailings from the spirits of the past,—the household familiars. Driven from old haunts they have crowded the oven for shelter, as one of the few undesecrated spots. "We claim," they say, "recognition before our final departure. Behold what we bring, and record what you will." And the Antiquary sees a shadowy procession

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