Java Head

Joseph Hergesheimer
Java Head, by Joseph

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Title: Java Head
Author: Joseph Hergesheimer

Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9865] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on October 25,
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
HEAD ***

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and PG Distributed

By Joseph Hergesheimer

It is only the path of pure simplicity which guards and preserves the
spirit. CHWANG-TZE

from Dorothy and Joseph Hergesheimer

Very late indeed in May, but early in the morning, Laurel Ammidon lay

in bed considering two widely different aspects of chairs. The day
before she had been eleven, and the comparative maturity of that age
had filled her with a moving disdain for certain fanciful thoughts which
had given her extreme youth a decidedly novel if not an actually
adventurous setting. Until yesterday, almost, she had regarded the
various chairs of the house as beings endowed with life and character;
she had held conversations with some, and, with a careless exterior not
warranted by an inner dread, avoided others in gloomy dusks. All this,
now, she contemptuously discarded. Chairs were--chairs, things to sit
on, wood and stuffed cushions.
Yet she was slightly melancholy at losing such a satisfactory lot of
reliable familiars: unlike older people, victims of the most
disconcerting moods and mysterious changes, chairs could always be
counted on to remain secure in their individual peculiarities.
She could see by her fireplace the elaborately carved teakwood chair
that her grandfather had brought home from China, which had never
varied from the state of a brown and rather benevolent dragon; its claws
were always claws, the grinning fretted mouth was perpetually fixed for
a cloud of smoke and a mild rumble of complaint. The severe waxed
hickory beyond with the broad arm for writing, a source of special
pride, had been an accommodating and precise old gentleman. The
spindling gold chairs in the drawingroom were supercilious creatures at
a king's ball; the graceful impressive formality of the Heppelwhites in
the dining room belonged to the loveliest of Boston ladies. Those with
difficult haircloth seats in the parlor were deacons; others in the
breakfast room talkative and unpretentious; while the deep easy-chair
before the library fire was a ship. There were mahogany stools, dwarfs
of dark tricks; angry high-backed things in the hall below; and a
terrifying shape of gleaming red that, without question, stirred hatefully
and reached out curved and dripping hands.
Anyhow, such they had all seemed. But lately she had felt a growing
secrecy about it, an increasing dread of being laughed at; and now,
definitely eleven, she recognized the necessity of dropping such
pretense even with herself. They were just chairs, she rerepeated; there

was an end of that.
The tall clock with the brass face outside her door, after a premonitory
whirring, loudly and firmly struck seven, and Laurel wondered whether
her sisters, in the room open from hers, were awake. She listened
attentively but there was no sound of movement. She made a noise in
her throat, that might at once have appeared accidental and been
successful in its purpose of arousing them; but there was no response.
She would have gone in and frankly waked Janet, who was not yet
thirteen and reasonable; but experience had shown her that Camilla,
reposing in the eminence and security of two years more, would permit
no such light freedom with her slumbers.
Sidsall, who had been given a big room for herself on the other side of
their parents, would greet anyone cheerfully no matter how tightly she
might have been asleep. And Sidsall, the oldest of them all, was nearly
sixteen and had stayed for part of
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