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The story follows the narrator's descent into madness after her Doctor husband confines her to the upstairs bedroom of a rented house after diagnosing female hysteria. The title refers to her growing obsession with only source of stimulation in the room. This is an early piece of American feminist literature which condemns the treatment of women by the 19th century medical establishment.
This work was transcribed as part of a proofread-a-thon at the GLAM Boot Camp, which was held at the National Archives in Washington D.C. during April 2013. Prior to that it existed as only an unsupported import from Project Gutenberg. During the proofreading process it was discovered that the previous version contained numerous errors, including a missing line of text. The current and featured version is fully supported by page scans and has been validated as matching the text of the 1901 printed edition.
IT is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity, — but that would be asking too much of fate!
Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.
Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?
John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.
Although every European traveler who has glided down the Mississippi at the rate of ten miles an hour has told his tale of the squatters, yet none has given any other account of them than that they are "a sallow, sickly-looking sort of miserable being," living in swamps and subsisting on pignuts, Indian corn, and bear's flesh. It is obvious, however, that none but a person acquainted with their history, manners, and condition can give any real information respecting them.
The individuals who become squatters choose that sort of life of their own free will. They mostly remove from other parts of the United States after finding that land has become too high in price, and they are persons who, having a family of strong and hardy children, are anxious to enable them to provide for themselves. They have heard from good authorities that the country extending along the great streams of the West is of all parts of the Union the richest in its soil, the growth of its timber, and the abundance of its game; that, besides, the Mississippi is the great road to and from all the markets in the world; and that every vessel borne by its waters affords to settlers some chance of selling their commodities, or of exchanging them for others. (Read on...)