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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.
by the side of his dead sister, —­a wind centuries old.  As I wrote on mechanically, I became conscious of a presence in the room, though I did not lift my eyes from the paper on which I wrote.  Gradually I came to know that my grandmother—­dead so long ago that I laughed at the idea—­was in the room.  She stood beside her old-fashioned spinning-wheel, and quite near me.  She wore a plain muslin cap with a high puff in the crown, a short woolen gown, a white and blue checked apron, and shoes with heels.  She did not regard me, but stood facing the wheel, with the left hand near the spindle, holding lightly between the thumb and forefinger the white roll of wool which was being spun and twisted on it.  In her right hand she held a small stick.  I heard the sharp click of this against the spokes of the wheel, then the hum of the wheel, the buzz of the spindles as the twisting yarn was teased by the whirl of its point, then a step backwards, a pause, a step forward and the running of the yarn upon the spindle, and again a backward step, the drawing out of the roll and the droning and hum of the wheel, most mournfully hopeless sound that ever fell on mortal ear.  Since childhood it has haunted me.  All this time I wrote, and I could hear distinctly the scratching of the pen upon the paper.  But she stood behind me (why I did not turn my head I never knew), pacing backward and forward by the spinning-wheel, just as I had a hundred times seen her in childhood in the old kitchen on drowsy summer afternoons.  And I heard the step, the buzz and whirl of the spindle, and the monotonous and dreary hum of the mournful wheel.  Whether her face was ashy pale and looked as if it might crumble at the touch, and the border of her white cap trembled in the June wind that blew, I cannot say, for I tell you I did not see her.  But I know she was there, spinning yarn that had been knit into hose years and years ago by our fireside.  For I was in full possession of my faculties, and never copied more neatly and legibly any manuscript than I did the one that night.  And there the phantom (I use the word out of deference to a public prejudice on this subject) most persistently remained until my task was finished, and, closing the portfolio, I abruptly rose.  Did I see anything?  That is a silly and ignorant question.  Could I see the wind which had now risen stronger, and drove a few cloud-scuds across the sky, filling the night, somehow, with a longing that was not altogether born of reminiscence?

In the winter following, in January, I made an effort to give up the use of tobacco,—­a habit in which I was confirmed, and of which I have nothing more to say than this:  that I should attribute to it almost all the sin and misery in the world, did I not remember that the old Romans attained a very considerable state of corruption without the assistance of the Virginia plant.

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