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A Belated Guest
Willam Dean Howells

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A BELATED GUEST 

It is doubtful whether the survivor of any order of things finds
compensation in the privilege, however undisputed by his contemporaries,
of recording his memories of it.  This is, in the first two or three
instances, a pleasure.  It is sweet to sit down, in the shade or by the
fire, and recall names, looks, and tones from the past; and if the
Absences thus entreated to become Presences are those of famous people,
they lend to the fond historian a little of their lustre, in which he
basks for the time with an agreeable sense of celebrity.  But another
time comes, and comes very soon, when the pensive pleasure changes to the
pain of duty, and the precious privilege converts itself into a grievous
obligation.  You are unable to choose your company among those immortal
shades; if one, why not another, where all seem to have a right to such
gleams of this 'dolce lome' as your reminiscences can shed upon them?
Then they gather so rapidly, as the years pass, in these pale realms,
that one, if one continues to survive, is in danger of wearing out such
welcome, great or small, as met ones recollections in the first two or
three instances, if one does one's duty by each.  People begin to say,

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