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This tale is founded chiefly on facts furnished by the Postmaster-General’s Annual Reports, and gathered, during personal intercourse and investigation, at the General Post-Office of London and its Branches. It is intended to illustrate–not by any means to exhaust–the subject of postal work, communication, and incident throughout the Kingdom.
Once upon a time—only once, observe, she did not do it twice—a widow of the name of Maylands went, in a fit of moderate insanity, and took up her abode in a lonely, tumble–down cottage in the west of Ireland.
Mrs Maylands was very poor. She was the widow of an English clergyman, who had left her with a small family and the smallest income that was compatible with that family’s maintenance. Hence the migration to Ireland, where she had been born, and where she hoped to live economically.
The tumble–down cottage was near the sea, not far from a little bay named Howlin Cove. Though little it was a tremendous bay, with mighty cliffs landward, and jutting ledges on either side, and forbidding rocks at the entrance, which waged continual warfare with the great Atlantic billows that rolled into it. The whole place suggested shipwreck and smugglers.