At the end of the story a large portion of the mountain is going to collapse on the Notch in the White Hills where the family is living, killing all of them, including the enthusiastic young guest who is staying overnight. Hawthorne provides numerous descriptive passages to foreshadow that this is going to happen sooner or later. The reader is strongly inclined to wonder why this family could be so foolhardy as to set up a permanent home and business establishment in this dangerous location. Even in the first paragraph, Hawthorne foreshadows approaching disaster:
They dwelt in a cold spot and a dangerous one, for a mountain towered above their heads, so steep, that the stones would often rumble down its sides and startle them at midnight.
That is the last sentence of the first paragraph; the first sentence of the paragraph also begins with a less portentious foreshadowing:
One Spetember night a family had gathered round their hearth, and piled it high with the driftwood of mountain...
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