"I must have lived fully three years in that secluded school-house hearth," said he, "drinking thirstily of the ever-flowing fount of limpid knowledge before me."
The Professor discovered me in the act of crawling across the hearth, and before I could escape he had caught me between his thumb and forefinger.
But where was Silas Marner while this strange visitor had come to his hearth? He was in the cottage, but he did not see the child.
Turning towards the hearth, where the two logs had fallen apart, and sent forth only a red uncertain glimmer, he seated himself on his fireside chair, and was stooping to push his logs together, when, to his blurred vision, it seemed as if there were gold on the floor in front of the hearth.
The light from the hearth
quivered upon the flowers and foliage that were wrought into its oaken back; and the lion's head at the summit seemed almost to move its jaws and shake its mane.
Nowadays the host does not admit you to his hearth, but has got the mason to build one for yourself somewhere in his alley, and hospitality is the art of keeping you at the greatest distance.
I was surprised to see how thirsty the bricks were which drank up all the moisture in my plaster before I had smoothed it, and how many pailfuls of water it takes to christen a new hearth. I had the previous winter made a small quantity of lime by burning the shells of the Unio fluviatilis, which our river affords, for the sake of the experiment; so that I knew where my materials came from.
"Alcinous," said he, "it is not creditable to you that a stranger should be seen sitting among the ashes of your hearth
; every one is waiting to hear what you are about to say; tell him, then, to rise and take a seat on a stool inlaid with silver, and bid your servants mix some wine and water that we may make a drink offering to Jove the lord of thunder, who takes all well disposed suppliants under his protection; and let the housekeeper give him some supper, of whatever there may be in the house."
She sat down on the hearth
herself without waiting to be asked.
She had struck a light; the wood was already in a blaze; and truly, when contrasted with the darkness, the wild tumult of the tempest without, that peaceful glow which began to beam on the now animated hearth
, seemed very cheering.
It wouldn't allow itself to be adjusted on the top bar; it wouldn't hear of accommodating itself kindly to the knobs of coal; it WOULD lean forward with a drunken air, and dribble, a very Idiot of a kettle, on the hearth
. It was quarrelsome, and hissed and spluttered morosely at the fire.
Looking in at the door, after knocking in vain, I saw her sitting on the hearth
in a ragged chair, close before, and lost in the contemplation of, the ashy fire.