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“ [146] before the face of the Highest and pointing to his work: happy, thrice happy man, with all his sorrow”

The close of her seventieth year was a notable milestone on the long road. May found her still carrying full sail; a little more tired after each exertion, a little puzzled at the occasional rebellion of “Sister body,” her hard-worked “A. B.,” ; but not yet dreaming of taking in a reef.

The seventieth birthday was a great festival. Maud, inviting Oliver Wendell Holmes to the party, had written, “Mamma will be seventy years young on the 27th. Come and play with her!”

The Doctor in his reply said, “It is better to be seventy years young than forty years old!”

Dr. Holmes himself was now eighty years old. It was in these days that she went with Laura to call on him, and found him in his library, a big, bright room, looking out on the Charles River, books lining the walls, a prevailing impression of atlases and dictionaries open on stands. The greeting between the two was pleasant to see, their talk something to remember. “Ah, Mrs. Howe,” said the Autocrat, “you at seventy have much to learn about life. At eighty you will find new vistas opening in every direction!”

Ten years later she was reminded of this. “It is true!” she said.

At parting he kissed her, which touched her deeply.

He was in another mood when they met at a reception shortly after this. “Ah! Mrs. Howe,” he said, “you see I still hang on as one of the old wrecks!”

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Julia Ward Howe (2)
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