When Mary is away, Ephraim and Esther always take care to reassure her that the Plymouth house is functioning perfectly well in her absence. They understand her anxieties at being away from home and leaving her husband, son, and daughter to fend for themselves, and emphasize that they are handling the situation and that she should focus on her trip. Ephraim’s letter, which includes a brief note from Esther, has to walk a fine line, assuring her that she is not urgently needed while also communicating how much she is missed. During this time, they lived at Sarah Plympton’s house on Leyden Street; Ephraim refers to their landlady as “Mrs. P.” in this letter.
Plymouth, Ma. Sun. noon. Sept. 13. 1856.
Dear Mary, I have not writen you before this week as we thot you might possibly appear Saturday evening.
We get along nicely —Mrs. P. thinks occasionly (I suppose) that the good lady is missing—though we don’t know that there is difference enough to talk or even think about. You was very kind to write me again so soon & tomorrow (Monday) we hope to hear again.
Cousin Susan came again last evening & is here today. — As I said before, if you were here you would hardly know that you were not. I have been busy at the field harvesting potatoes, beans &c. when I could leave.
Aunt Lucy is doing very well. Mrs. Talbot was buried wednesday. I wonder if you have such delightful weather yet—we have & we hope the storms will stay away till you get home, & we expect to hear something about return this week. It does not seem possible that you have been away a fortnight & I expect you will have something new & interesting to tell me about your journey for the next Fifty years—me “going to sea” will be no touch to it—shan’t you publish a book? — Your discription up the the Hudson was equal to way [?] of late Lady’s Traveler. I think you must have some cooler weather there by this time. We have not required a fire yet. I don’t know but I am growing fat as I have double rations—do just as I have a mind to & am expecting a pair of fat rosy cheeks to kiss when you return. I think Esta makes quite a Smirk house keeper & Jas. does not find any fault with her nor anybody else.
I really wish we could manufacture some good interesting news but ‘tis a real dry time for that now, so you must be content with a little small bundle of “small talk” well seasoned with that choisest of Sweet Herbs (Marjoram). Cousin Susan says “give my Love (marjoram) to her” & maybe some of the Children (our own dearest) will either have a word to say or send at this time. I shall have a small space for thiers. Remaining yours Affectionately E.S.
P.S. Sun. eve. I went to walk this afternoon & I am now here alone. I thot I would Finish. Esta has gone to Church. Jas. is out. Mrs. P. has gone to sit by the fire a few minutes as she has a slight cold in her head. It is not cool at all & we have not wanted a fire yet. Mrs. G. is full as well as she was when you left & everything goes on there perfectly quiet. Cousin Sally has just been in. Those girls visiting here in town prevent her from coming here to stay. & really I see no need of it & I dont think Esta cares about it.
I am just going to add a few lines by way of How’dy’e’do. We get along nicely. Cousin S. is here for a few days. Anna went home last week. I am having my Teeth done. I hope when you get home some good fairy will invite me to go somewhere. Cousin Sally is downstairs so I guess I won’t write any more now. All goes on well, stay just as long as you want to.
Yours in great haste,
We were in hopes you would return soon enough to enjoy some of our Bartlett pears, but I suppose you will make it up in peaches. I have got some specs, but they make my letter look as if it was written with sticks or old rusty nails, which is the case, dipd in mud. I will find something better next time—hope you will not be offended, as I know it is bad enough at best. Our bill of fare has been made out just as if you were here—we had today as nice a Roast Beef as ever was. Yesterday, Fried Fish. & one day this week we had two pairs chickins stewed (small ones) done very nice & we ate them all up. I think Mary takes more pains now to have things come on in order now she has all the responsibility.