Biographies & Memoirs

TWELVE

ACROSS THE RIVER

When the attention she generated in Brooklyn grew to be too much, Hetty began looking for another place to live. With Manhattans high cost of living, the alternative to Brooklyn lay on the western banks of the Hudson River. Hoboken, New Jersey, where Hetty first rented an apartment in 1895, was an unpretentious town of immigrants, mainly of German or Irish descent. Hoboken was a rail and shipping center that since the eighteenth century had offered regular ferry service to lower Manhattan. For years, passengers had made the mile-and-a-half crossing over the Hudson aboard side-wheel steam ferries such as the Morristown and the Montclair, named for New Jersey towns. But forward-thinking Hoboken in 1898 had added to its fleet the Bergen, the world’s first steam ferry with double-screw propulsion, a major advancement in speed and reliability over the plodding side-wheelers.

For Hetty, good ferry service was one of Hoboken’s three main attractions. The other two were cheap rents and relief, if only temporary, from the tax collectors and reporters in Brooklyn. She liked the plain-spoken people and the hard-working, businesslike personality of her new town. Yet while Hoboken served as her primary residence for the rest of her life, she would continue to move restlessly about, from Bellows Falls to boardinghouses and hotels in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Boston, and Morristown, New Jersey. She remained determined never to stay in one place long enough to be pinned as a resident. The annual city directory for Hoboken and neighboring Jersey City lists any number of Greens from the mid-1890s through 1916, the last year of Hetty’s life. There is Abbie Green, a bookkeeper; Hannah Green, a tailor; Margaret Green, a widow; and Clayborne Green, a janitor. But nowhere does the name of the most famous Green appear.

And yet the residents of Hoboken became accustomed to the sight of Hetty on the streets. She rented several apartments over the years, mainly in two buildings located on the northern edge of the city. One was a large, six-story brick structure at 1309 Bloomfield Street. The second was two blocks closer to the river, along Washington Street. The flats Hetty rented were always modest, but the buildings were large, modern for their times, and well-built. Both are still in use. The building on Washington Street was and remains especially prominent, occupying an entire city block between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets. Officially named The Elysian Apartments, it was more popularly known in Hetty’s day as “Yellow Flats” because of the yellowish tint to the brickwork, or, sometimes, as “The Barracks,” presumably because of the military-looking architecture, with parapets adorned with patterned brick.

To ward off the inquisitive, Hetty identified herself as “C. Dewey” on the name tag next to the electric buzzer at the entrance to Yellow Flats. This was her private joke. Dewey was the name of her pet Skye terrier; the “C” stood for “Cutie,” one of the dog’s nicknames. When reporters inevitably tracked her down in Hoboken as they had in Brooklyn, she frequently took the back stairs, ducking down the broad alleyway behind the building and slipping quietly onto the street.

Typical of her quarters during these years was a five-room, steam-heated apartment on the third floor of Yellow Flats, for which she was said to pay $23 per month. The apartment contained a small parlor, perhaps eight by ten feet, lit by one small window and a gas lamp that she kept at the lowest level that would maintain a flame. The room’s mantle was decorated with a large bouquet of imitation American Beauty roses, made from dyed chicken feathers. Hetty proudly told visitors she had bought them in Chicago for a dollar. “I’d have to pay twenty times that for real ones, and they wouldn’t last a week,” she said. “These are good for ten years yet.” Near the flowers were two photographs of Ned, a portrait of herself at twenty-six, and, on the walls, some pictures of dogs and cats. The furnishings were simple—a couch and three chairs arranged around a small table.

Hetty kept to a simple and predictable daily routine. Each morning she awoke early enough to eat a light breakfast in her apartment and make the short walk, rain or shine, to the ferry slip in order to catch the 7 A.M. ferry to Manhattan. She enjoyed the ferry ride—the water reminded her of New Bedford. From the landing at West Fourteenth Street, she rode a public streetcar to the Chemical National Bank offices on Broadway at City Hall Square. She was, invariably, among the first to arrive at the bank. She made her way back to a far corner of the narrow banking room, where she kept a desk near a window. As the bank began to fill up, the line of clerks created a Maginot Line of privacy between Hetty and the bank’s everyday customers. Hetty spent her days cutting bond coupons that were coming due, speaking with representatives of the bank about her investments, and opening her mail, which she arranged to have delivered to the bank rather than her home. Requests for money from individuals and organizations invariably dominated the mail. She disposed of most of these immediately. “If I acknowledged them all,” she told an interviewer, “I’d have almost as many cousins as I have dollars.” When she left the bank to attend to business around Wall Street, she sometimes wore a thin black veil over the brim of her bonnet to avoid being recognized.

She ate a small and hurried lunch at any of several nearby restaurants where she was occasionally recognized despite her veil. Hetty sightings at restaurants became the stuff of legend. A businessman quoted in the Times claimed to have witnessed the following exchange while eating lunch at a downtown restaurant, when a shabbily dressed woman entered and sat down.

“Waiter, I want the best steak you can give me for thirty cents.”

“We have no thirty-cent steaks, madam.”

“No thirty-cent steaks! Haven’t you something you can warm up for me?”

“No, madam.”

“Well, how much is your tea?”

“Ten cents.”

“Ten cents! Well, it isn’t worth it. How much are your stews?”

“Fifteen cents.”

“Can’t you let me have a stew for less than that? “No, madam.”

“Well, you can bring me some tea, some toast without butter, and a stew.”

When the woman had finished eating, she paid thirty cents for her meal (no tip) and walked off muttering that her dinner was worth at most twenty-five. The waiter walked in the other direction, grumbling, and the businessman felt compelled to ask the identity of the diner.

“Hetty Green.”

Other encounters with waiters were equally colorful but less confrontational. When she heard a waiter complain of rheumatism, she offered her trusty cure: “dissolve two raw eggs, shells and all, in a pint of vinegar. Then add the same amount of alcohol and shake thoroughly. Apply to the part that aches and rub well.” The waiter, Louis LaFranche, recalled the incident with fondness and humor years later, when he had become assistant manager at Bostons Hotel Lenox. LaFranche reported that the concoction worked remarkably well for his pains. He also reported dryly that the recipe came “in lieu of a tip.”*

In the evening, Hetty was usually among the last to leave the bank. In the winter, she made her way back to a late ferry and ate dinner at 8 P.M. in her small dining room with Sylvia, or with only Dewey by her side. The dog ate well—rice pudding and beefsteak, rare.

Many of these intimate glimpses of Hetty’s domestic life were recorded by an ambitious young journalist named Leigh Mitchell Hodges. In 1899, Hodges was a $50-a-week staff writer for Ladies’ Home Journal, fresh from the Kansas City Star. Shortly after his arrival, the editor, Edward Bok, decided to test him with an assignment that he deemed impossible—an in-depth interview with the famous Hetty Green. While Hetty tended to be tolerant with reporters who tracked her down in the hallway of a hotel, or in a hearing room, she rarely granted more than a quote in passing. Hodges first attempted to see her at the Chemical Bank, where he announced himself, sent in his card, and received no reply. On the suggestion of a clerk, Hodges waited for Hetty outside the bank until the end of the day, then followed her to the ferry. He waited until she had taken a seat. He approached her and asked if she was Hetty Green. She stared at him and said nothing, He apologized and slunk away. Then he discreetly followed her to her apartment building in Hoboken. A dollar slipped to the janitor revealed the secret of “C. Dewey.” Hodges rang the bell, and waited. There was no response. The dogged young reporter kept this up for a couple of weeks, ringing at different times of the day. Finally, it dawned on him to try the building doorknob. It opened and he walked upstairs to “C. Dewey’s” apartment and knocked.

Hetty, who opened the door, asked sharply, “Who are you and what do you want?” Hodges identified himself, expecting to be thrown unceremoniously out on his ear. Instead, Hetty invited him into her parlor. She respected his doggedness. Once they were seated, the genial reporter thawed her frosty suspicions. She patiently sat and spoke with him for more than two hours, recalling her childhood education in business at the knee of her grandfather and father, her time at finishing school in Boston, and her theories on investments and money.

During the course of the interview, Hodges sat on the couch—“a shabby haircloth sofa”—with Dewey sitting between him and Hetty. Hetty stroked Dewey affectionately during the interview, calling him “dearie.”

Hodges was clearly enamored of Hetty and, like others aware of her fearsome reputation, surprised to find not the dour, sharp-faced woman he had expected, but an oddly youthful woman with a quick sense of humor and, when she let her guard down, a warm smile. “Her face is strong—quite masculine in its character—but her voice is low and womanly,” Hodges reported. “Her deep sunken eyes are of steel gray, with a tinge of blue, and penetrate one as if they were sharpened points of metal. They lose nothing within range, and twinkle with a keen sense of humor that asserts itself more boldly in her conversation. They are as bright as the eyes of a child, and her cheeks are as rosy. If time and care had not drawn deep lines across her forehead and around her mouth one would not believe she was sixty-five years old.”

Hodges asked Hetty why she avoided society when she might have been its queen. “As for society, I believe in it,” she said. “When a young woman, I went out a good deal myself. I don’t think society means what some rich people would have us believe. I’d get very tired of living in one of those great houses in New York, going all night and sleeping all day. They don’t have any real pleasure. It’s intercourse with people that I like.”

While Hetty could be ruthless with her financial enemies, she developed a reputation among many in Hoboken as a friendly neighbor. When a German woman living in the next apartment became ill, Hetty sat up with her at night and nursed her. She gave children in the neighborhood toy banks with a dollar inside. If, after a few weeks, the children brought the banks back with more than a dollar, proof that they were saving rather than spending their money, she would chip in another dollar. When a young couple wrote to her, saying that they had named their baby Hetty in her honor, she mailed the newborn as a gift a toy savings bank with a dollar inside.

She made friends with some prominent Hoboken citizens, including James and Michael Smith, Irish immigrants who had prospered as storekeepers. James Smith was city treasurer, and in time would serve as a witness to the signing of Hetty’s will. Hetty in turn was willing to aid Michael Smith, who had a taste for expensive living. Michael outfitted his brownstone town-house on Hudson Street with inlaid floors, engraved brass fittings, and molded plaster walls and ceilings. Exquisitely carved woodwork covered the length and breadth of the house, reaching a peak of opulence in the dining room, where a massive, hand-carved china cabinet covered an entire wall, and the ceiling was covered in carvings more exquisite still. Even in Hoboken, where there was a steady supply of inexpensive and skilled European labor, Michael Smith’s spending habits left him in need of cash. Smith’s checking records, found decaying in the attic by the current residents of the house, indicate that Smith repaid Hetty at least $1,600 in loans made over a period of several years.

As she had in Bellows Falls, in Hoboken Hetty became a part of the local lore. Perhaps the most enduring story about Hetty in Hoboken involves the time in 1903 when she left the town in a huff after being served a summons by the town recorder for failure to pay a $2 license fee for her dog. Hetty at first claimed that Dewey was licensed in New York and she therefore assumed she did not have to pay a fee in Hoboken. Next she claimed that the dog belonged to Sylvia, who stayed with her only infrequently. The recorder was unmoved. Faced with a maximum $25 fine, Hetty grudgingly sent an acquaintance named Charles Gahagan to the local Health Department to pay the $2. Irked by the incident, Hetty packed for a trip to Chicago, vowing to find another town when she returned. “Mrs. Hetty Green has left Hoboken, and, it is rumored, for good,” the Times reported on April 4. “The experiences Mrs. Green had during the last month or so did not strike her as pleasant, and an intimate friend of hers said yesterday that she was not likely to return to Hoboken to reside.” But distance mollified Hetty’s anger, and return she did.

Three years later, as she boarded a Hoboken streetcar, she found herself short of the proper change. “I’ll pay my fare later at the office,” she told the conductor, according to the Times of January 21, 1906. “That letter carrier sitting opposite will vouch for me.” When the postman nodded, the conductor paid Hetty’s fare himself. The next day, Hetty arrived at the trolley company office with a nickel. She asked for a receipt. The conductor, George Krell, saved the nickel as a souvenir.

In their advancing years, Hetty and Edward found themselves drawn back together. Edward, well into his seventies when Hetty moved to Hoboken in the mid-1890s, was increasingly infirm. With Ned in Texas and Sylvia spending more of her time with Annie Leary in New York and Newport, Hetty turned her attentions to nursing him. Unorthodox as their marriage was, Hetty and Edward had been married for more than 30 years, and Hetty never fully severed the ties of family. Edward still spent much of his time at the Union Club in New York City, but he also from time to time occupied an apartment just above Hetty’s in Hoboken, where she would visit and read to him in the evenings after she returned from New York.

Edward Green’s final years were quiet and uneventful. William Wallace Crapo, the New Bedford lawyer, politician, and businessman who spent much of his life tangled up one way or another with Hetty, saw the two of them together in New York one evening. Crapo had come from New Bedford for a meeting of the directors of a railroad. Hetty, staying temporarily at a boardinghouse in lower Manhattan, sent word to Crapo that she needed to see him on crucial business. Crapo promised to come by at the end of his business day. When he arrived, he found Edward seated quietly with Hetty in the boardinghouse’s sitting room. As Crapo took his seat, Hetty launched into a by-now familiar diatribe against the late Edward D. Mandell, the late Dr. Gordon (Aunt Sylvia’s physician and trustee), and various other New Bedford figures (all of them friends of Crapo’s) whom she considered guilty of financial wrongs. Hetty held a bible and read underlined passages that she felt forecast divine retributions on her enemies. When Crapo realized that the “important business” he’d come for amounted to another chance for Hetty to vent, he settled in and listened patiently until she cooled down.

After a while, Crapo rose to go. Edward, sensing his chance to escape back to his club, rose also. In a few moments the two old men were heading down the steps and into the night. They walked east on Eleventh Street toward Broadway to catch their respective streetcars. As Green boarded his car, he turned to Crapo and said, “Women are queer.” It struck Crapo that they were the first words Green had spoken all night.

William called after him, with a smile, “Some women.”

Hetty and Edward spent the summer of 1900 together in Vermont, in the Tucker House. They were there when news that put a coda on Hetty’s most bitter feud arrived. That summer, in August, Collis P. Huntington and his second wife, Arabella, boarded their private railcar for Raquette Lake, in the Adirondacks, where Huntington owned a sprawling summer home called Pine Knot Lodge, which he had built for $350,000. Still vigorous at seventy-nine and every bit as much a workaholic as Hetty, Huntington spent the morning of August 13 doing business with his secretary, George Miles. In the afternoon, he walked around his property, then took several friends on a cruise aboard his motorboat, Oneonta. In the evening, the Huntingtons invited several guests from neighboring cottages for dinner. In the summertime, the health-conscious Huntington ate no meat (it was “too heating,” he said). He never smoked and preferred tea to alcohol, often boasting never to have so much as tasted strong drink until after his fiftieth birthday. About eleven o’clock, Huntington bade his guests good evening and went to bed. A short time later, Miles and Arabella heard a groan and rushed to his room to find Huntington unconscious. He died shortly before midnight. The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage.

Huntington’s funeral was held at his palatial Fifth Avenue home. The entire Southern Pacific system, every flatcar, passenger car, and locomotive, ground to a halt for seven minutes in his honor. Newport News, Virginia, which Huntington had transformed from a sleepy burg into one of the world’s great shipyards, ceased operation for the day. Newspaper editorials spoke of Huntington’s courage, perseverance, and energy, without reference to his duplicitous and often shady dealings with Congress, his ruthless tactics with competitors, shippers, and farmers. They praised his very real vision and steadfastness in directing an incredible project to completion.

At the Tucker House, Edward heard the news first. Then Hetty burst triumphantly into the room with a newspaper in her hand. “That old devil Huntington is dead,” she said. “Serves him right.”

Edward himself lingered for another two years, living part of the time with Hetty and part on his own. In the summer of 1901, with his health failing rapidly, Edward left for Bellows Falls for the last time. Ned sent his private railroad car from Texas to escort his father on this last journey in style. In Bellows Falls, where Edward was still remembered fondly, visitors streamed in as he lay quietly in bed, looking out his window at the green hills that gave Vermont its name, at the gentle sweep of the Connecticut River, recalling the time when the great Jack Adams fished him out of the canal.

In early October, Green suffered a severe attack of what doctors called inflammation of the kidneys. They gave him only a few days to live. Hetty arrived from New York, joining Sylvia, who had remained by her father’s side for months. Ned came up from Texas and stayed for a few days before returning south, citing business pressures. Hetty, also reluctant to let her business concerns slip, summoned a Chemical Bank secretary and some clerks, who helped her conduct business from a room at the Tucker House. Despite the doctor’s prediction, Green revived somewhat. Hetty traveled to New York when business demanded but mostly stayed on to nurse him. She did whatever she could to keep him comfortable. With the imminent reality of death hanging over the house, a sort of tenderness returned to Hetty and Edward’s relationship. The terrific fights over money were long gone, if not entirely forgotten. They were two old people facing the end of time. Hetty would later recall the time as particularly stressful. Nearly two years after Edward’s death, when a friend from Massachusetts wrote her to complain about her own illness, Hetty, in a letter postmarked January 5, 1904, responded: “Mr. Green’s sickness & death & going up & down [from New York to Vermont] in storms and getting up three times in the night to see if the nurse was awake … I have had my troubles.”

Green died peacefully on March 19, 1902, a Wednesday. He was eighty-one years old. The examiner, A. L. Miner, determined the cause of death as chronic nephritis and heart disease. He was buried the following Saturday afternoon in the little graveyard of Immanuel Church, a stone’s throw from the Tucker House, where he joined several generations of Greens. His pallbearers included four local men and his New York doctor. Ned, still on business in Texas, did not attend his father’s funeral. Hetty was escorted by Frank Green of Boston, one of Edward’s cousins. There were many bouquets from well-wishers, but none was more striking than Hetty’s; she had splurged on a large circle of laurel and Easter lilies. Among the other tributes was a pillow from Sylvia and Ned bearing the word “Father.”

Considering how harsh, strenuous, and limited life could be in the nineteenth century, Green had lived better than most people from Bellows Falls. Town folk who died during the same part of 1902 as Edward included a seventy-one-year-old laborer who broke his spine in a fall and a seventy-five-year-old mason who keeled over from exhaustion while working; along with three children under sixteen and five babies who died at birth. And yet for all the ease and longevity he enjoyed, there was an undeniable melancholy of having lived his life in reverse, making his fortune early and then losing everything by agonizing degrees, until he barely seemed to exist.

At the time of his death, Edward had a little over $5,500 in cash. His estate consisted of a small family house and land in Mandell, Massachusetts, his father’s hometown, valued at $1,500. Other small properties included those taken by foreclosure, most likely by Hetty, in Edward’s name. There was a watch and chain and some rings, valued at $300; and, most poignantly, an oil painting of his mother, valued at $200. In the final tally, Edward Green, who had once boasted a fortune of $750,000, was worth $24,509.75.

The New York Times obituary ran under the headline:

HETTY GREEN’s HUSBAND DEAD

“Excepting for his distinction as the husband of the richest woman in the world, Edward Green was a figure of whom the public knew little,” the obituary noted. “He had been an invalid for many years and lived in retirement at the Green home in Bellows Falls, Vt. Even there people knew little and saw less of him, as all business relating to the household was transacted by his wife.”

In May, less than two months after Edward’s death, Hetty, back to business in New York, walked into the Leonard Street Station of the New York Police Department, accompanied by a clerk from Chemical National Bank, and some of the ever-present cadre of reporters who followed her movements. She announced her desire for a permit to carry a pistol. She had long owned the revolver given to her as a gift by the Californian, but now she wanted to arm herself as she walked the streets.

“I am a rich woman and some people want to kill me,” Hetty told the surprised desk sergeant, Isaac Frank.

When Sergeant Frank asked her if she believed that carrying the pistol would protect her, Hetty replied, “Certainly. And I want everyone to know I have one. Those who have any knowledge of me will not doubt my ability or courage to use it.”

She added, “I can take care of myself under ordinary circumstances, but there have been so many murders of rich people that I feel I ought to be constantly on my guard.”

Hetty then completed an application form. Sergeant Frank was skeptical of Hetty’s need to bear arms; nonetheless, Hetty Green left the Leonard Street Station on May 8 the owner of pistol permit No. 13,854. The Times, which wrote of her application the next day, pointed out that it was rare in New York for a woman to be granted a permit to carry a revolver.

A Times reporter had followed her back to Chemical Bank, where she said, simply, “Yes, I have a revolver. And I know how to use one. I have often been threatened. People know I have money, and think I can be scared out of it. But I can’t.”

As the reporter took notes, Hetty spun out some of her more bizarre claims of threats against her life. She claimed to have been approached in New Bedford by a drunk who demanded $100,000 or would “send me out of town feet foremost as my father had been,” and outside the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn, by a man who later shot and killed a bank president. “If he had acted in the same way toward me I would have driven a hatpin through his brain,” she said. To this she added perhaps her oddest claim to date: that Edward, six weeks dead, had been murdered. “I am satisfied that he was given an overdose of mercury,” she said. Just why someone would want to kill a dying eighty-one-year-old man with hardly any money under his own control, she didn’t say, other than to suggest that “people wanted him out of the way.”

Editorial pages took a dim view of Hetty’s permit. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which had always been among the kinder newspapers in its treatment of Hetty in the past, suggested on May 9 that her permit was symptomatic of an overgunned and slightly screwy city. “The unlawful carrying of pistols, which resulted yesterday in one murder and two suicides in this city, is winked at by the authorities,” the Eagle stated. “If there is a form of penalty for carrying them, there is perfect freedom to buy and sell them, and any thug or burglar can arm himself as heavily as he pleases. Mrs. Hetty Green … has applied for and obtained permission to carry a revolver, with which to shoot lawyers who may become obstreperous in her presence, or to kill people who suspect her of carrying money and jewelry about the streets. The permit should not have been issued.

“Mrs. Green is well on in years. She is suspicious and hostile. Her attitude toward the world is that it is envious and resentful, and will try to take away the wealth she hoards so earnestly. It is the wrong attitude, of course, for the world regards her merely as a curiosity. But so thinking, she is liable to put a false construction on the words and actions of her fellow creatures, and the impulse to shoot may become ungovernable.”

The editorial concluded: “This woman who believes that her father was killed and her daughter injured by lawyers, yet who constantly resorts to the law and so wearies the patience of courts that she must be regarded as a confirmed litigant, is not the kind of person who should be intrusted [sic] with firearms.”

The Times took a similar, if somewhat more lighthearted tone, with an editorial ending: “The applicant did not set forth that she was an expert markswoman, although she left no doubt of her determination to use upon suitable occasions the weapon which she asked to be allowed to wear. It is rather to be hoped that the Sergeant, before he issued the permit, satisfied himself that the pistol would not go off.”

Edward’s death was followed in May 1903 by the death of George G. Williams, the courtly president of Chemical National Bank, one of the few men of finance whom Hetty liked and trusted, and who liked and understood her. He died of a heart disease at his home on West Fifty-eighth Street. He was seventy-seven. The death of Edward and Williams left her feeling increasingly isolated. Hetty had always feared that people were after her money or her life.

She had first vented the fears publicly during the Barling fight nearly a decade earlier. A Times reporter had followed her down Pine Street in December of 1894 and waited for her to finish doing business in a bank. He asked her plainly if the rumors were true, that she feared for her life.

“Yes, it is true,” Hetty said.

“Have you ever been approached or threatened in the street?”

“Yes, many times,” she said. “I am no enemy of the poor people—the people one ordinarily meets in the streets. They would never attack me. I could go everywhere unmolested, at all times, if it were not for the devices of people who have an interest in annoying me.”

These people, she made no secret, were “the hostile executor and trustees of my father’s estate.”

She added, “The newspapers have printed no end of stuff about my going around with a little black bag with a million or two in cash and securities in it. I am convinced that those stories were set afloat by the people I refer to, in expectation that I should be attacked or murdered for my money.”

With that, Hetty opened her fabled black bag.

“You may see for yourself that it contains nothing but letters, the accumulation of correspondence that I get in my business affairs during the day. I always attend to my own correspondence. As a matter of fact, I never carry more than a dollar or two about with me.”

Now, these fears seemed more real to her than ever. Hetty began to suggest openly that her father had been murdered, and her aunt Sylvia as well, all by greedy manipulators after a piece of the family fortune. Her fears peaked when she visited New Bedford, home, as it was, to a high concentration of heirs-in-waiting. When Hetty visited on business she usually stayed at the home of Benjamin Irish, one of the few people she trusted. Irish had been a clerk at the old Isaac Howland Jr. and Company whaling firm. Sylvia had left Irish $15,000 in her will. After the deaths of her aunt and father, and the dissolution of the whaling company, Hetty kept Irish on as her business agent in town, looking after her real estate there. She trusted his honesty and integrity and, significantly, his home was one of the few places in town where she felt no fear in eating a meal. On one occasion in New Bedford, Hetty visited with a friend and distant relation, who subsequently asked her to stay for dinner. Hetty demurred, saying the Irishes were expecting her. She then described for her friend some of the fears and suspicions she had about eating at various homes of relatives around town.

“I’m one of those heirs,” the friend said. “Hetty, you don’t mean to insinuate I would poison you, do you?”

When Hetty tried to smooth her friend’s ruffled feathers, the friend replied, “Humph. I’m going to get only a few hundred dollars out of that old will. If I was going to get thousands, I would consider a proposition to poison you.”

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