Americana: When Rumor Speaks

Open your ears, for which of you will stop

The vent of hearing when loud Rumor speaks?

—Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2

Somebody told somebody that Mabel Sheehan, 72, who lives alone with her sheep dog in a working-class district of Philadelphia, had bought a car for a friend. Somebody else heard that she had paid for several trips to Puerto Rico for other friends. None of this was true, police said later, but people in the neighborhood began estimating how much money she might have stashed away in her modest row house. Someone guessed $35,000. Someone guessed more. There was even talk...

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