Story type: Essay
To the guidance of the legislative councils; to the assistance of the executive and subordinate departments; to the friendly co-operation of the respective State Governments; to the candid and liberal support of the people, so far as it may be deserved by honest industry and zeal, I shall look for whatever success may attend my public service; and knowing that “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain,” with fervent supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I commit, with humble but fearless confidence, my own fate and the future destinies of my country.
Nine miles south of Boston, just a little back from the escalloped shores of Old Ocean, lies the village of Braintree. It is on the Plymouth post-road, being one of that string of settlements, built a few miles apart for better protection, that lined the sea, Boston being crowded, and Plymouth full to overflowing, the home-seekers spread out north and south.
In Sixteen Hundred Twenty, when the first cabin was built at Braintree, land that was not in sight of the coast had actually no value. Back a mile, all was a howling wilderness, with trails made by wild beasts or savage men as wild. These paths led through tangles of fallen trees and tumbled rocks, beneath dark, overhanging pines where winter’s snows melted not till midsummer, and the sun’s rays were strange and alien. Men who sought to traverse these ways had to crouch and crawl or climb. Through them no horse or ox or beast of burden had carried its load.
But up from the sea the ground rose gradually for a mile, and along this slope that faced the tide, wind and storm had partly cleared the ground, and on the hillsides our forefathers made their homes. The houses were built facing either the east or the south. This persistence to face either the sun or the sea shows a last, strange rudiment of paganism, making queer angles now that surveyors have come with Gunter’s chain and transit, laying out streets and doing their work.
A mile out, north of Braintree, on the Boston road, came, in Sixteen Hundred Twenty-five, one Captain Wollaston, a merry wight, and thirty boon companions, all of whom probably left England for England’s good. They were in search of gold and pelf, and all were agreed on one point: they were quite too good to do any hard work. Their camp was called Mount Wollaston, or the Merry Mount. Our gallant gentlemen cultivated the friendship of the Indians, in the hope that they would reveal the caves and caverns where the gold grew lush and nuggets cumbered the way; and the Indians, liking the drink they offered, brought them meal and corn and furs.
And so the thirty set up a Maypole, adorned with bucks’ horns, and drank and feasted, and danced like fairies or furies, the livelong day or night. So scandalously did these exiled lords behave that good folks made a wide circuit ’round to avoid their camp.
Preaching had been in vain, and prayers for the conversion of the wretches remained unanswered. So the neighbors held a convention, and decided to send Captain Miles Standish with a posse to teach the merry men manners.
Standish appeared among the bacchanalians one morning, perfectly sober, and they were not. He arrested the captain, and bade the others begone. The leader was shipped back to England, with compliments and regrets, and the thirty scattered. This was the first move in that quarter in favor of local option.
Six years later, the land thereabouts was granted and apportioned out to the Reverend John Wilson, William Coddington, Edward Quinsey, James Penniman, Moses Payne and Francis Eliot.
And these men and their families built houses and founded “the North Precinct of the Town of Braintree.”
Between the North Precinct and the South Precinct there was continual rivalry. Boys who were caught over the dead-line, which was marked by Deacon Penniman’s house, had to fight. Thus things continued until Seventeen Hundred Ninety-two, when one John Adams was Vice-President of the United States. Now this John Adams, lawyer, was the son of John Adams, honest farmer and cordwainer, who had bought the Penniman homestead, and whose progenitor, Henry Adams, had moved there in Sixteen Hundred Thirty-six. John Adams, Vice-President, afterwards President, was born there in the Penniman house, and was regarded as a neutral, although he had been thrashed by boys both from the North and from the South Precinct. But at the last, there is no such thing as neutrality.
John Adams sided with the boys from the North Precinct, and now that he was in power it occurred to him, having had a little experience in the revolutionary line, that for the North Precinct to secede from the great town of Braintree would be but proper and right.
The North Precinct had six stores that sold W.I. goods, and a tavern that sold W.E.T. goods, and it should have a post-office of its own.
So John Adams suggested the matter to Richard Cranch, who was his brother-in-law and near neighbor. Cranch agitated the matter, and the new town, which was the old, was incorporated. They called it Quincy, probably because Abigail, John’s wife, insisted upon it. She had named her eldest boy Quincy, in honor of her grandfather, whose father’s name was Quinsey, and who had relatives who spelled it De Quincey, one of which tribe was an opium-eater.
Now, when Abigail made a suggestion, John usually heeded it. For Abigail was as wise as she was good, and John well knew that his success in life had come largely from the help, counsel and inspiration vouchsafed to him by this splendid woman. And the man who will not let a woman have her way in all such small matters as naming of babies or towns is not much of a man.
So the town was named Quincy, and brother-in-law Cranch was appointed its first postmaster. Shortly after, the Boston “Centinel” contained a sarcastic article over the signature, “Old Subscriber,” concerning the distribution of official patronage among kinsmen, and the Eliots and the Everetts gossiped over their back fences.
At this time Abigail lived in the cottage there on the Plymouth road, halfway between Braintree and Quincy, but she got her mail at Quincy.
The Adams cottage is there now, and the next time you are in Boston you had better go out and see it, just as June and I did one bright October day.
June has lived within an hour’s ride of the Adams’ home all her blessed thirty-two sunshiny summers; she also boasts a Mayflower ancestry, with, however, a slight infusion of Castle Garden, like myself, to give firmness of fiber–and yet she had never been to Quincy.
The John and Abigail cottage was built in Seventeen Hundred Sixteen, so says a truthful brick found in the quaint old chimney. Deacon Penniman built this house for his son, and it faces the sea, although the older Penniman house faces the south. John Adams was born in the older house; but when he used to go to Weymouth every Wednesday and Saturday evening to see Abigail Smith, the minister’s daughter, his father, the worthy shoemaker, told him that when he got married he could have the other house for himself.
John was a bright young lawyer then, a graduate of Harvard, where he had been sent in hopes that he would become a minister, for one-half the students then at Harvard were embryo preachers. But John did not take to theology.
He had witnessed ecclesiastical tennis and theological pitch and toss in Braintree that had nearly split the town, and he decided on the law. One thing sure, he could not work: he was not strong enough for that–everybody said so. And right here seems a good place to call attention to the fact that weak men, like those who are threatened, live long. John Adams’ letters to his wife reveal a very frequent reference to liver complaint, lung trouble, and that tired feeling, yet he lived to be ninety-two.
The Reverend Mr. Smith did not at first favor the idea of his daughter Abigail marrying John Adams. The Adams family were only farmers (and shoemakers when it rained), while the Smiths had aristocracy on their side. He said lawyers were men who got bad folks out of trouble and good folks in. But Abigail said that this lawyer was different; and as Mr. Smith saw it was a love-match, and such things being difficult to combat successfully, he decided he would do the next best thing–give the young couple his blessing. Yet the neighbors were quite scandalized to think that their pastor’s daughter should hold converse over the gate with a lawyer, and they let the clergyman know it as neighbors then did, and sometimes do now. Then did the Reverend Mr. Smith announce that he would preach a sermon on the sin of meddling with other folk’s business. As his text he took the passage from Luke, seventh chapter, thirty-third verse: “For John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, he hath a devil.”
The neighbors saw the point, for a short time before, when the eldest daughter, Mary, had married Richard Cranch (the man who was to achieve a post-office), the community had entered a protest, and the Reverend Mr. Smith had preached from Luke, tenth chapter, forty-second verse: “And Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” So there, now!
And John and Abigail were married one evening at early candlelight, in the church at Weymouth. The good father performed the ceremony, and nearly broke down during it, they say, and then he kissed both bride and groom.
The neighbors had repaired to the parsonage and were eating and drinking and making merry when John and Abigail slipped out by the back gate, and made their way, hand in hand, in the starlight, down the road that ran through the woods to Braintree. When near the village they cut across the pasture-lot and reached their cottage, which for several weeks they had been putting in order. John unlocked the front door, and they entered over the big, flat stone at the entry, and over which you may enter now, all sunken and worn by generations of men gone. Some whose feet have pressed that doorstep we count as the salt of the earth, for their names are written large on history’s page. Washington rode out there on horseback, and while his aide held his horse, he visited and drank mulled cider and ate doughnuts within. Hancock came often, and Otis, Samuel Adams and Loring used to enter without plying the knocker.
Through the earnest work of William G. Spear, the cottage has now been restored and fully furnished, as near like it was then as knowledge, fancy and imagination can devise.
When we reached Quincy we saw a benevolent-looking old Puritan, and June said, “Ask him!”
“Can you tell me where we can find Mr. Spear, the antiquarian?” I inquired.
“The which?” said the son of Priscilla Mullins.
“Mr. Spear, the antiquarian,” I repeated.
“It’s not Bill Spear who keeps a secondhand-shop, you want, mebbe?”
“Yes; I think that is the man.”
And so we were directed to the “secondhand-shop,” which proved to be the rooms of the Quincy Historical Society. And there we saw such a wondrous collection of secondhand stuff that, as we looked and looked, and Mr. Spear explained, and gave large slices of Colonial history, June, who is a Daughter of the American Revolution, gushed a trifle more than was meet.
Nothing short of a hundred years will set the seal of value on an article for Mr. Spear, and one hundred fifty is more like it. On his walls are hats, caps, spurs, boots and accouterments used in the Revolutionary War. Then there are candlesticks, snuffers, spectacles, butter-molds, bonnets, dresses, shoes, baby-stockings, cradles, rattles, aprons, butter-tubs made out of a solid piece, shovels to match, andirons, pokers, skillets and blue china galore.
“Bill Spear” himself is quite a curiosity. He traces a lineage to the well-known Lieutenant Seth Spear, of Revolutionary fame, and back of that to John Alden, who spoke for himself. The bark on the antiquarian, is rather rough; and I regret to say that he makes use of a few words I can not find in the “Century Dictionary,” but as June was not shocked I managed to stand it. On further acquaintance I concluded that Mr. Spear’s bruskness was assumed, and that beneath the tough husk there beats a very tender heart. He is one of those queer fellows who do good by stealth and abuse you roundly if accused of it.
For twenty-five years Mr. Spear has been doing little else but studying Colonial history, and making love to old ladies who own clocks and skillets given them by their great-grandmammas. There is no doubt that Spear has dictated clauses in a hundred wills devising that William G. Spear, Custodian of the Quincy Historical Society, shall have snuffers and biscuit-molds.
At first, Mr. Spear collected for his own amusement and benefit, but the trouble grew upon him until it became chronic, and one fine day he realized that he was not immortal, and when he should die, all his collection, which had taken years to accumulate, would be scattered. And so he founded the Quincy Historical Society, incorporated by a perpetual charter, with Charles Francis Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, as first president.
Then, the next thing was to secure the cottage where John and Abigail Adams began housekeeping, and where John Quincy was born. This house has been in the Adams family all these years and been rented to the firm of Tom, Dick and Harry, and any of their tribe who would agree to pay ten dollars a month for its use and abuse. Just across the road from the cottage lives a fine old soul by the name of John Crane. Mr. Crane is somewhere between seventy and a hundred years old, but he has a young heart, a face like Gladstone and a memory like a copy-book. Mr. Crane was on very good terms with John Quincy Adams, knew him well and had often seen him come here to collect rent. He told me that during his recollection the Adams place had been occupied by full forty families. But now, thanks to “Bill Spear,” it is no longer for rent.
The house has been raised from the ground, new sills placed under it, and while every part–scantling, rafter, joist, crossbeam, lath and weatherboard–of the original house has been retained, it has been put in such order that it is no longer going to ruin.
From the ample stores of his various antiquarian depositories Mr. Spear has refurnished it; and with a ripe knowledge and rare good taste and restraining imagination, the cottage is now shown to us as a Colonial farmhouse of the year Seventeen Hundred Fifty. The wonder to me is that Mr. Spear, being human, did not move his “secondhand-shop” down here and make of the place a curiosity-shop. But he has done better.
As you step across the doorsill and pass from the little entry into the “living-room,” you pause and murmur, “Excuse me.” For there is a fire on the hearth, the tea-kettle sings softly, and on the back of a chair hangs a sunbonnet. And over there on the table is an open Bible, and on the open page is a pair of spectacles and a red, crumpled handkerchief. Yes, the folks are at home: they have just stepped into the next room–perhaps are eating dinner. And so you sit down in an old hickory chair, or in the high settle that stands against the wall by the fireplace, and wait, expecting every moment that the kitchen-door will creak on its wooden hinges, and Abigail, smiling and gentle, will enter to greet you. Mr. Spear understands, and, disappearing, leaves you to your thoughts–and June’s.
John and Abigail were lovers their lifetime through. Their published letters show a oneness of thought and sentiment that, viewed across the years, moves us to tears to think that such as they should at last feebly totter, and then turn to dust. But here they came in the joyous springtime of their lives; upon this floor you tread the ways their feet have trod; these walls have echoed to their singing voices, listened to their counsels, and seen love’s caress.
There is no surplus furniture nor display nor setting forth of useless things. Every article you see has its use. The little shelf of books, well-thumbed, displays no “Trilby” nor “Quest of the Golden Girl”–not an anachronism any where. Curtains, chairs, tables, and the one or two pictures–all ring true. In the kitchen are washtubs and butter-ladles and bowls; and the lantern hanging by the chimney, with a dipped candle inside, has a carefully scraped horn face. It is a lanthorn. In the cupboard across the corner are blue china and pewter spoons and steel knives, with just a little polished-brass stuff sent from England. Down in the cellar, with its dirt walls, are apples, yellow pumpkins and potatoes–each in its proper place, for Abigail was a rare good housekeeper. Then there is a barrel of cider, with a hickory spigot and an inviting gourd. All tells of economy, thrift, industry and the cunning of woman’s hands.
In the kitchen is a funny cradle, hooded, and cut out of a great pine log. The little mattress and the coverlet seem disturbed, and you would declare the baby had just been lifted out, and you listen for its cry. The rocker is worn by the feet of mothers whose hands were busy with needles or wheel as they rocked and sang. And from the fact that it is in the kitchen, you know that the servant-girl problem then had no terrors.
Overhead hang ears of corn, bunches of dried catnip, pennyroyal and boneset, and festooned across the corner are strings of dried apples.
Then you go upstairs, with conscience pricking a bit for thus visiting the house of honest folks when they are away, for you know how all good housewives dislike to have people prying about, especially in the upper chambers–at least June said so!
The room to the right was Abigail’s own. You would know it was a woman’s room. There is a faint odor of lavender and thyme about it, and the white and blue draperies around the little mirror, and the little feminine nothings on the dresser, reveal the lady who would appear well before the man she loves.
The bed is a high, draped four-poster, plain and solid, evidently made by a ship-carpenter who had ambitions. The coverlet is light blue, and matches the draperies of windows, dresser and mirror. On the pillow is a nightcap, in which even a homely woman would be beautiful.
There is a clothespress in the corner, into which Mr. Spear says we may look. On the door is a slippery-elm button, and within, hanging on wooden pegs, are dainty dresses; stiff, curiously embroidered gowns they are, that came from across the sea, sent, perhaps, by John Adams when he went to France, and left Abigail here to farm and sew and weave and teach the children. June examined the dresses carefully, and said the embroidery was handmade, and must have taken months and months to complete. On a high shelf of the closet are bandboxes, in which are bonnets, astonishing bonnets, with prodigious flaring fronts. Mr. Spear insisted that June should try one on, and when she did we stood off and declared the effect was a vision of loveliness. Outside the clothespress, on a peg, hangs a linsey-woolsey every-day gown that shows marks of wear. The waist came just under June’s arms, and the bottom of the dress to her shoe-tops.
We asked Mr. Spear the price of it, but the custodian is not commercial. In a corner of the room is a cedar chest containing hand-woven linen.
By the front window is a little, low desk, with a leaf that opens out for a writing-shelf. And here you see quill-pens, fresh nibbed, and ink in a curious well made from horn. Here it was that Abigail wrote those letters to her lover-husband when he attended those first and second Congresses in Philadelphia; and then when he was in France and England, those letters in which we see affection, loyalty, tales of babies with colic, brave, political good sense, and all those foolish trifles that go to fill up love-letters, and, at the last, are their divine essence and charm.
Here, she wrote the letter telling of going with their seven-year-old boy, John Quincy, to Penn’s Hill to watch the burning of Charlestown; and saw the flashing of cannons and rising smoke that marked the battle of Bunker Hill. Here she wrote to her husband when he was minister to England, “This little cottage has more comfort and satisfaction for you than the courts of royalty.”
But of all the letters written by that brave woman none reveals her true nobility better than the one written to her husband the day he became President of the United States. Here it is entire:
Quincy, 8 February, 1797
“The sun is dressed in brightest beams,
To give thy honors to the day.”
“And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season. You have this day to declare yourself head of a Nation. And now, O Lord, my God, Thou hast made Thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this Thy so great a people, were the words of a royal Sovereign; and not less applicable to him who is invested with the Chief Magistracy of a nation, though he wear not a crown, nor the robes of royalty.
“My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my petitions to Heaven are that the things which make for peace may not be hidden from your eyes. My feelings are not those of pride or ostentation upon the occasion.
“They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important trusts, and numerous duties connected with it. That you may be enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your
It was in this room that Abigail waited while British soldiers ransacked the rooms below and made bullets of the best pewter spoons. Here her son who was to be President was born.
John Quincy Adams was six years old when his father kissed him good-by and rode away for Philadelphia with John Hancock and Samuel Adams (who rode a horse loaned him by John Adams). Abigail stood in the doorway holding the baby, and watched them disappear in the curve of the road. This was in August, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four. Most of the rest of that year Abigail was alone with her babies on the little farm. It was the same next year, and in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-six, too, when John Adams wrote home that he had made the formal move for Independency and also nominated George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the army; and he hoped things would soon be better.
Those were troublous times in which to live in the vicinity of Boston. There were straggling troops passing up and down the Plymouth road every day. Sometimes they were redcoats and sometimes buff and blue, but all seemed to be very hungry and extremely thirsty, and the Adams household received a great deal more attention than it courted. The master of the house was away, but all seemed to know who lived there, and the callers were not always courteous.
In such a feverish atmosphere of unrest, children evolve quickly into men and women, and their faces take on the look of thought where should be only careless, happy, dimpled smiles. Yes, responsibility matures, and that is the way John Quincy Adams got cheated out of his childhood.
When eight years of age, his mother called him the little man of the house. The next year he was a post-rider, making a daily trip to Boston with letter-bags across his saddlebows.
When eleven years of age, his father came home to say that some one had to go to France to serve with Jay and Franklin in making a treaty.
“Go,” said Abigail, “and God be with you!” But when it was suggested that John Quincy go, too, the parting did not seem so easy. But it was a fine opportunity for the boy to see the world of men, and the mother’s head appreciated it even if her heart did not. And yet she had the heroism that is willing to remain behind.
So father and son sailed away; and little John Quincy added postscripts to his father’s letters and said, “I send my loving duty to my mamma.”
The boy took kindly to foreign ways, as boys will, and the French language had no such terrors for him as it had for his father. The first stay in Europe was only three months, and back they came on a leaky ship.
But the home-stay was even shorter than the stay abroad, and John Adams had again to cross the water on his country’s business. Again the boy went with him.
It was five years before the mother saw him. And then he had gone on alone from Paris to London to meet her. She did not know him, for he was nearly eighteen and a man grown. He had visited every country in Europe and been the helper and companion of statesmen and courtiers, and seen society in its various phases. He spoke several languages, and in point of polish and manly dignity was the peer of many of his elders. Mrs. Adams looked at him and then began to cry, whether for joy or for sorrow she did not know. Her boy had gone, escaped her, gone forever, but, instead, here was a tall young diplomat calling her “mother.”
There was a career ahead for John Quincy Adams–his father knew it, his mother was sure of it, and John Quincy himself was not in doubt. He could then have gone right on, but his father was a Harvard man, and the New England superstition was strong in the Adams heart that success could only be achieved when based on a Harvard parchment.
So back to Massachusetts sailed John Quincy; and a two-year course at Harvard secured the much-desired diploma.
From the very time he crawled over this kitchen-floor and pushed a chair, learning to walk, or tumbled down the stairs and then made his way bravely up again alone, he knew that he would arrive. Precocious, proud, firm, and with a coldness in his nature that was not a heritage from either his father or his mother, he made his way.
It was a zigzag course, and the way was strewn with the flotsam and jetsam of wrecked parties and blighted hopes, but out of the wreckage John Quincy Adams always appeared, calm, poised and serene. When he opposed the purchase of Louisiana it looks as if he allowed his animosity for Jefferson to put his judgment in chancery. He made mistakes, but this was the only blunder of his career. The record of that life expressed in bold stands thus:
1767–Born May Eleventh.
1776–Post-rider between Boston and Quincy.
1778—At school in Paris.
1780–At school in Leyden.
1781–Private Secretary to Minister to Russia.
1787—Graduated at Harvard.
1794–Minister at The Hague.
1797–Married Louise Catherine Johnson, of Maryland.
1797–Minister at Berlin.
1802–Member of Massachusetts State Senate.
1803–United States Senator.
1806–Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard
1809–Minister to Russia.
1811–Nominated and confirmed by Senate as Judge of Supreme Court of the United States; declined.
1814–Commissioner at Ghent to treat for peace with Great Britain.
1815–Minister to Great Britain.
1817–Secretary of State.
1825–Elected President of the United States.
1830–Elected a Member of Congress, and represented the district for seventeen years.
1848–Stricken with paralysis February Twenty-first in the Capitol, and died the second day after.
* * * * *
“Aren’t we staying in this room a good while?” said June; “you have sat there staring out of that window looking at nothing for just ten minutes, and not a word have you spoken!”
Mr. Spear had disappeared into space, and so we made our way across the little hall to the room that belonged to Mr. Adams. It was in the disorder that men’s rooms are apt to be. On the table were quill-pens and curious old papers with seals on them, and on one I saw the date, June Sixteenth, Seventeen Hundred Sixty-eight–the whole document written out in the hand of John Adams, beginning very prim and careful, then moving off into a hurried scrawl as spirit mastered the letter. There is a little hair-covered trunk in the corner, studded with brass nails, and boots and leggings and canes and a jackknife and a bootjack, and, on the window-sill, a friendly snuffbox. In the clothespress were buff trousers and an embroidered coat, and shoes with silver buckles, and several suits of every-day clothes, showing wear and patches.
On up to the garret we groped, and bumped our heads against the rafters. The light was dim, but we could make out more apples on strings, and roots and herbs in bunches hung from the peak. Here was a three-legged chair and a broken spinning-wheel, and the junk that is too valuable to throw away, yet not good enough to keep, but “some day may be needed.”
Down the narrow stairway we went, and in the little kitchen, Sammy, the artist, and Mr. Spear, the custodian, were busy at the fireplace preparing dinner. There is no stove in the house, and none is needed. The crane and brick oven and long-handled skillets suffice. Sammy is an expert camp-cook, and swears there is death in the chafing-dish, and grows profane if you mention one. His skill in turning flapjacks by a simple manipulation of the long-handled griddle means more to his true ego than the finest canvas.
June offered to set the table, but Sammy said she could never do it alone, so together they brought out the blue china dishes and the pewter plates. Then they drew water at the stone-curbed well with the great sweep, carrying the leather-baled bucket between them.
I was feeling quite useless and asked, “Can’t I do something to help?”
“There is the lye-leach–you might bring out some ashes and make some soft soap,” said June pointing to the ancient leach and soap-kettle in the yard, the joys of Mr. Spear’s heart.
Sammy stood at the back door and pounded on the dishpan with a wooden spoon to announce that dinner was ready. It was quite a sumptuous meal: potatoes baked in the ashes, beans baked in the brick oven, coffee made on the hearth, fish cooked in the skillet, and pancakes made on a griddle with a handle three feet long.
Mr. Spear had aspirations toward an apple-pie and had made violent efforts in that direction, but the product being dough on top and charcoal on the bottom we declined the nomination with thanks.
June suggested that pies should be baked in an oven and not cooked on a pancake griddle. The custodian thought there might be something in it–a suggestion he would have scorned and scouted had it come from me.
To change the rather painful subject, Mr. Spear began to talk about John and Abigail Adams, and to quote from their “Letters,” a volume he seems to have by heart.
“Do you know why their love was so very steadfast, and why they stimulated the mental and spiritual natures of each other so?” asked June.
“No, why was it?”
“Well, I’ll tell you: it was because they spent one-third of their married life apart.”
“Yes, and in this way they lived in an ideal world. In all their letters you see they are always counting the days ere they will meet. Now, people who are together all the time never write that way, because they do not feel that way–I’ll leave it to Mr. Spear!”
But Mr. Spear, being a bachelor, did not know. Then the case was referred to Sammy, and Sammy lied and said he had never considered the subject.
“And would you advise, then, that married couples live apart one-third of the time, in the interests of domestic peace?” I asked.
“Certainly!” said June, with her Burne-Jones chin in the air. “Certainly; but I fear you are the man who does not understand; and anyway I am sure it will be much more profitable for us to cultivate the receptive spirit and listen to Mr. Spear–such opportunities do not come very often. I did not mean to interrupt you, Mr. Spear; go on, please!”
And Mr. Spear filled a clay pipe with natural leaf that he crumbled in his hand, and deftly picking a coal from the fireplace with a shovel one hundred fifty years old, puffed five times silently, and began to talk.
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