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Chapter 23: the alphabet as a barrier There lies before me a document more than two centuries old, signed by the daughter of a Puritan clergyman, a woman who was also a minister's wife. She had what Dr. Holmes called Brahmin blood, for she probably descended, in the sixth generation, from the sister of Chaucer the poet, an ancestress described in the English family tree as Caterina, soror Galfridi Chaucer, celeberrimi poetae Anglicani. This descendant of Caterina lived in Salem, Massachusetts, during the witch period; and it is on record that some of the poor imprisoned creatures petitioned that their cases might be taken from the jurisdiction of the courts and referred to her for decision. She reared a large family, and many conspicuous men in church and state, army and navy, all over this land, are descended from her. The great and almost startling peculiarity of the commonplace legal document which bears her name is that, like many mothers in Israel of that period, she did