Mabel Loomis's first reference to Emily Dickinson came in a letter to her parents of November 6, 1881, only two months after she arrived in Amherst. It had not taken her long to pick up the gossip.
I must tell you about the character of Amherst. It is a lady whom the people call the Myth. She is a sister of Mr. Dickinson, & seems to be the climax of all the family oddity. She has not been outside of her own house in fifteen years, except once to see a new church, when she crept out at night, & viewed it by moonlight. No one who calls upon her mother & sister ever see her, but she allows little children once in a great while, & one at a time, to come in, when she gives them cake or candy, or some nicety, for she is very fond of little ones. She writes finely, but no one ever sees her. Her sister, who was at Mrs. Dickinson's party, invited me to come & sing to her mother some time and I promised to go & if the performance pleases her, a servant will enter with wine for me, or a flower, & perhaps her thanks; but just probably the token of approval will not then, but a few days after, some dainty present will appear for me at twilight. People tell me that the myth will hear every note she will be near, but unseen. . . . Isn't that like a book? So interesting.Quoted in The Life of Emily Dickinson, Vol. 1, by Richard B. Sewall (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974).