An exuberant furniture
description from Hergescheimer's novel Java Head
, a tale of money, power
, drug addiction and racism
"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 drawing-room 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."
I clipped this passage back when I used to be in the furniture repair
business because the "difficult haircloth seats
" appealed to me, upholstery being a curiously efficient form of torture
for me at the time. I got out of that line and into another one scarcely less torturous
in its own way, but the feel of dark gnarled wood
and the evidence of things unseen
still stick with me now.