These casual and somewhat chaotic memoirs of days long past are not offered to the nobility and gentry as coldly objective history. They are, on the contrary, excessively subjective, and the record of an event is no doubt often bedizened and adulterated by my response to it. I have made a reasonably honest effort to stick to the cardinal facts, however disgraceful to either the quick or the dead, but no one is better aware than I am of the fallibility of human recollection. Fortunately, I have been able to resort, at many points, to contemporary inscriptions, for my people have lived in one house in Baltimore since 1883, and when I returned to it in 1936, after five years of absence, and began to explore it systematically, I found its cupboards and odd corners full of family memorabilia. My mother, who died in 1925, was one of those old-fashioned housewives who never threw anything away, and in the years following her death my sister apparently made only slow progress in excavating and carting off her interminable accumulations. Moreover, I found that my father, ordinarily no cherisher of archives, had nevertheless preserved, for some reasons unknown, a file of household bills running from the year of his marriage to the early nineties -- not a complete file, by any means, but still one showing many well-chosen and instructive specimens.
I have mined this file diligently, and found a number of surprises in it. One is the discovery that my memory was
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