MY DEAR COUSIN:—I should be very glad to write a story, as you request, for the benefit of the Essex Institute, or for any other purpose that might be deemed desirable by my native townspeople. But it is now many years since the epoch of the "Twice-Told Tales," and the "Mosses from an Old Manse"; and my mind seems to have lost the plan and measure of those little narratives, in which it was once so unprofitably fertile. I can write no story, therefore; but (rather than be entirely wanting to the occasion) I will endeavor to describe a spot near Salem, on which it was once my purpose to locate such a dreamy fiction as you now demand of me.
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