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Skeleton

There is a skeleton in every house. Something to annoy and to be kept out of sight. That is my skeleton—my trouble, the “crook in my lot.”

A woman had an only son who obtained an appointment in India, but his health failed, and his mother longed for his return. One day he wrote a letter to his mother, with this strange request. “Pray, mother, get someone who has no cares and troubles to make me six shirts.” The widow hunted in vain for such a person, and at length called upon a lady who told her to go with her to her bedroom. Being there she opened a closet which contained a human skeleton. “Madam,” said the lady, “I try to keep my trouble to myself, but every night my husband compels me to kiss that skeleton.” She then explained that the skeleton was once her husband's rival, killed in a duel. “Think you I am happy?” The mother wrote to her son, and the son wrote home: “I knew when I gave the commission that everyone had his cares, and you, mother, must have yours. Know then that I am condemned to death, and can never return to England. Mother, mother! there is a skeleton in every house.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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