'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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October 2, 2011

Morning



      Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table. We come to it freshly, in the dewy youth of the day, and when our spiritual and sensual elements are in better accord than at a later period, of being fully enjoyed, without any very grievous reproaches, whether gastric or conscientious... The thoughts, too, that run around the ring of familiar guests, have a piquancy and mirthfulness, and oftentimes a vivid truth, which more rarely find their way into the elaborate intercourse of dinner. Hepzibah's small and ancient table, supported on its slender and graceful legs, and covered with a cloth of the richest damask, looked worthy to be the scene and centre of one of the cheerfullest of parties. The vapor of the broiled fish arose like incense from the shrine of a barbarian idol, while the fragrance of the Mocha might have gratified the nostrils of a tuteleary Lar, or whatever power has scope over a modern breakfast table. Phoebe's Indian cakes were the sweetest offerings of all -- in their hue, befitting the rustic altars of the innocent and golden age -- or, so brightly yellow were they, resembling some of the bread which was changed to glistening gold when Midas tried to eat it.  The butter must not be forgotten -- butter which Phoebe herself had churned, and brought it to her cousin as a propitiatory gift -- smelling of clover blossoms, and diffusing the charm of pastoral scenery though the dark-panelled parlor. All this, with the quaint gorgeousness of the old China cups and saucers, and the crested spoons, and a silver cream jug (Hepzibah's only other article of plate, and shaped like the rudest porringer) set out a board, at which the stateliest of old Colonel Pyncheon's guests need not have scorned to take his place. But the Puritan's face scowled down out of the picture, as if nothing on the table pleased his appetite.
        By way of contributing what grace she could, Phoebe gathered some roses and a few other flowers, possessing either scent or beauty, and arranged them in a glass-pitcher, which, having long ago lost its handle, was so much the fitter to be a flower-vase. The early sunshine -- as fresh as that which peeped into Eve's bower, while she and Adam sat at breakfast there -- came twinkling through the branches of the pear-tree and fell quite across the table. All was now ready. There were chairs and plates for three. A chair and plate for Hepzibah, and the same for Phoebe: -- but what other guest did her cousin look for?
from The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne {Chapter VII}

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