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    The winds carried the thousands of rumors floating in the town’s outskirts to its kernel and centers, until every little cottage up or down the street, whether beside or beyond, whispered its echoes to all heeding ears. Not that there had been any inattentive ears to be found guilty of not resounding the call for gossip in the town of Mudfog. Certainly not! For the sake of slander and gossip, all the people of Mudfog shared an unbreakable connection: tied by wonted feelings of superiority, and immaterial curiosity to every little detail or secret that the air breathes from the locks, cracks and gaps in the walls of neighboring houses or even far off suburban at that.

    Among those rumors, there was a particularly appetizing patch of gossip: relating to the arrival of a peculiar lady to Mudfog’s soon. All the townspeople went into riots because of this, and the usually barren and soundless town suddenly came to life. Workers used their work as an excuse to frequent the outskirts for a grind at the freshest piece of information he can lay his hands on- and so deliver the tidings on a silver plate to their eagerly awaiting wives at home. Meanwhile, the laboring gentlemen hit the bars: drinking to their hearts’ content and blathering falsified fantasies to their audiences about the woman in concern.

    ‘A young lady,’ one of them said, ‘sweet as pie and a beauty at that!’ ‘Ran away from home,’ the other said in feigned mourning, ‘sad business, but what can we do about it? It’s a loyalty free world!’ The rumors, not confining themselves to only this much, reached the ears of the knitting grandmothers: who, on hearing the news, assembled at their headquarters, with yarn and nail at hand, rocking chairs at their bottoms: armed with senses keener than a hound’s! Why, even the homeless old man, though bad of hearing offered a comfortable commodity for this gossip in his waxed ears and seemed unusually attentive: always gazing carefully in the direction of the streets, as if expecting a ghost to pop out suddenly!

    In regards to the root of all this gossip, however; she was trekking through the countryside, heading onwards town. She was a hooded figure, and much less could be seen of her features up close. But the pain with which that figure treaded was obvious to the onlooker from her occasional, awkward waddling on the soles of her feet. And the distance which she travelled must have been far; for her clothes had been worn out and tattered.

    Even so, she did not halt in her way, and walked on with a renewed sense of purpose in her gleaming, green eyes: intent upon a goal, which she would stake pain for the sake of achieving Wary of the tiny heart beating inside her bosom, she salvaged strength from the small living creature’s will to live; allowing her to surpass the threshold of her own tenacity and so continue on her journey: if for an instant wavering and forsaking herself, but never forsaking the unborn infant’s right to live. On arriving at the town of Mudfog, the anonymous lady counted her own share of coins, and drew on a locket inside her pocket: disclosing it for an instant but immediately putting it back. She looked all over town for a place to stay and asked a near passerby a question or two, regarding a suitable premises and a consultant doctor’s location.

    Just so, she went all over town and the bank of rumors kept expanding in the number and size of deposits. Although the townspeople kept their peace in front of the lady, her stories were always put on the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lady, however, had not yet settled anywhere, and this of course cashed in more deposits in the town’s “Gossip Bank”. The reasons for this issue remained a mystery to the townspeople that they could not solve. All they could do was leave it up to their highly imaginative minds to conjure up unsupportable conjectures that would not serve to enlighten the dullest of human hearts.

    Meanwhile, the lady had been a direct witness to the troubling relations between man and child in Mudfog. I say man and child, without inferring to any discrimination based on age, instead children or paupers-as anciently recorded in the hollow pages of town customs- had been treated like an entirely different species of creatures, who’s distinguishing qualities can only mount up to pauper, pauper and pauper. Though disturbed by this image, the lady contended herself to look for other places to live. Unbeknownst to her, time had been running quite short, and the boy’s time to start his life in this world of sorrow and trouble was inevitably going to begin soon, regardless of her wishes where that would be.

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