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[39] The small excess of married women includes those whose husbands are for some reason residing in other States or who have been deserted. The excess of single women, which is small for a State of more than a million and a half of people, is due in part to the families where the brothers “go West” and the sisters stay at home, but far more to the factory system of the State, which is always importing young women from beyond the borders. The main discrepancy lies in the vast preponderance of widows over widowers, there being in Massachusetts 73,527 of the former, and only 20,624 of the latter. This, again, is due to several causes: the great annual losses of life in seaport towns, the factory system again, and the natural tendency of women left widowed to return to the home of their youth. At any rate, these facts make short work of the “anxious and aimless” theory, since no widow can belong to the latter class, at least if she has children. Indeed, the statistics leave it an open question whether the supply of spinsters is in any of our States sufficient-whether we do not suffer from a deficit rather than from an excess of maiden aunts.

To decide this question we must remember that there is in any community an immense and constant demand for this class. They are the natural stopgaps, the flying buttresses, the emergency lectures,

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