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PREFACE.

To record the singular incidents that occurred around me, and sketch the striking histories which awakened my interest, was a favorite employment during a professional career of nine years. Out of the many-colored webs of life thus collected the narratives that compose this volume are woven. Fiction has lent but few embellishing touches. Truth is left to proclaim her own strangeness. Should this work achieve the object contemplated, its readers will receive a more correct impression of some unlaurelled laborers for the public amusement than is generally entertained. Between them and the every-day world the curtain of prejudice has fallen in impenetrable folds. From its fatal shadow those alone who climb to the highest pinnacles of fame emerge. Yet among

the most lowly of the proscribed band there are many whose lives bear witness that Heaven plants its flowers and scatters its pearls in unexpected places. Look for them, you who judge rashly, before you pronounce that they have no existence there!

Ravenswood, October 27th, 1855.

ANNA CORA RITCHIE.

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