a fire is the only bit of wildness left in his house

It was this hour by the dying firelight that the gnomes loved more than any other time. It was then they talked of so many things.

“Funny how a fire makes you want to stare and stare at it,” said Dodder reflectively, blowing out a cloud of tobacco smoke and watching the glow of the red fire’s core; “men are just the same, so the hobgoblins used to tell me. There was a hobgoblin in the old farmhouse which stood where Lucking’s farm now is. He told me they sit, just like we do, staring into the embers. Of course, it is understandable in man, because a fire is the only bit of wildness left in his house; his surroundings are artificial, but a fire makes him think of the days when he lived as we do, out in the open with nothing but caves and hollow trees to shield him from the weather.”

Excerpt from The Little Grey Men by BB.

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