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An Old Woman's Tale - (From: "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches") by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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By Nathaniel Hawthorne


In the house where I was born, there used to be an old woman crouching
all day long over the kitchen fire, with her elbows on her knees and her
feet in the ashes. Once in a while she took a turn at the spit, and she
never lacked a coarse gray stocking in her lap, the foot about half
finished; it tapered away with her own waning life, and she knit the
toe-stitch on the day of her death. She made it her serious business
and sole amusement to tell me stories at any time from morning till
night, in a mumbling, toothless voice, as I sat on a log of wood,
grasping her cheek-apron in both my hands. Her personal memory included
the better part of a hundred years, and she had strangely jumbled her
own experience and observation with those of many old people who died in
her young days; so that she might have been taken for a contemporary of
Queen Elizabeth, or of John Rogers in the Primer. There are a thousand
of her traditions lurking in the corners and by-places of my mind, some
more marvellous than what is to follow, some less so, and a few not
marvellous in the least, all of which I should like to repeat, if I were
as happy as she in having a listener. But I am humble enough to own,
that I do not deserve a listener half so well as that old toothless
woman, whose narratives possessed an excellence attributable neither to
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