[Manchester—Tuesday, 12 September 1871]

Tuesday, Sepr 12. The earth is terribly dry, the wells begin to show bottom, water is sent for as far as Boston for certain houses (by rail), but in the meantime one beautiful day succeeds another, the apples hang ripe and odorous upon the heavy weighted trees, the air has a breath of the cool east while the sun shines with the fervor of summer. I have passed two long mornings in the orchards by the sea doing little or nothing but observe, and wonder at the loveliness by which I was surrounded.

Yesterday J. went to Portsmouth and I was alone until after noon when Miss Anne Whitney who was passing Sunday here, Mr. & Mrs B. and myself took a long walk across Lobster Cove together. Miss W. is a real country girl, tough and strong and affectionate toward everything that goes. J. entertained us much when he returned at night. He went for the purpose of trying to persuade his old aunt Mrs Howe to live comfortably in Portsmouth for the rest of her life instead of going to Boston away from kith and kin & taking a room up two flights with no one to take care of her when she is ill. All his care was for nothing as I predicted before he went. The old lady prefers her Boston church and Boston independence, and he found there was no use in attempting to alter her plans. Foiled in this he went about to see his old school-fellows. “Gundy Got” and “Shirley Clemmens” were not to be found! But he surprised many a grey-haired man with school reminiscences. “Jim, do you dye your hair you rogue” said one. A relative where he dined said to him—“O James I wish you knew Mary Ann! She does have such beautiful thoughts”. His queer pictures of their household economy, servants, thrift, etc. are well worth hearing him reproduce but I can not do them justice here. He fell in with an old Sea-captain on the train who at once became conversational on the subject of Hamburgh a city he had lately visited in his last voyage. He was so impressed with the interest of his subject that he went on without let or hindrance until J. reached Portsmouth on the same fertile theme. Dear J.’s real interest in what interests another so carries away among these simple talkers that he hears more in one day than most travellers can do in a year.

We were much entertained by the absurdity of a tale Miss Mary Bartol told us three days ago. She left a drop of port wine on the table which a fly drank and immediately began to reel about in a highly intoxicated and absurd manner, whereat another fly coming up watched with astonishment the behavior of his comrade Ah! said J. after we had laughed over the absurdity of this conception “What a minute drop of astonishment, a fly’s astonishment must be!”

Tonight while I write J. has gone to hear a Temperance Lecture by a woman at the Town Hall. He begins to think of his own first appearance with slight nervous apprehension.

A letter from Joaquin Miller! A queer epistle enough but so friendly and hearty that we were delighted with it.


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