Liberty [Iowa], January 2nd 1865
Saturday after attending the last short session of the Institute, a load consisting of 3 Well’s, 2 Abraham’s, 3 Alden’s, 2 Bartlett’s, 2 Garrettson’s, 2 Rhodes’ & 1 Walker went to Joel Jones’ where we had a gay skating party, a bountiful supper, & then went to Mitchell’s & spent the evening. Then scattered to Bartlett’s, Tiners & Garrettson’s to sleep. Yesterday morning we rallied again, told Lydia goodbyem & started eastward. Stopped an hour or so at Boyston on the ice & got to Aunt Sallie’s to roast turkey &c. &c. Then all went to the chapel to church, after which we told the rest goodnight & Mag & I walked back.
Liberty, Sunday, January 8th
Have been here with my kind Liberty friends nearly all the week. Monday, went to Becca’s & finished my Institute writing. Tuesday, Meg & I visited Uncle Colin’s. Wednesday afternoon we went to Mr. Blakemore’s to the Aid Society & in the evening John came with the wagon & we went to town & with the school crowd went to Mr. Well’s to supper. Spent a gay evening. I remained in town with the girls all night and fixed my pictures in a frame. Next day came back with John in the evening. Washed some Friday. Yesterday had headache & made mead collar. Alice came out today & we’ve been writing letters. Tis snowing some. The snow looked so tempting we couldn’t stand it so we had the two Baller’s hitched to the sleigh & went to the chapel. Singing was too slow for us & we came back. Called at Dickey’s but found nobody at home.
Mt. Pleasant, January 15th
Last Monday John brought ____ & she to town since when I’ve been staying at Pixley’s working for my board or tinkering for myself. Kitty & Lydia were over Friday & I spent most of the day shopping with them. Kitty was buying the wedding regalia for she & John are to be married. Oh! it seems so strange that John should love a woman well enough to marry her but I think they’ll suit & hope they’ll be happy. We’ve written for Lot to come home to the wedding but don’t know that he can do so yet. Oh! I do hope he will. I’ve to write to him & others of my neglected correspondents today while the folks are gone to church.
Wednesday, January 18th 1865
Doing the best I can this week so far at work. Was just putting the finishing touches to my cloak last night when I was startled by the entrance of John & Mag come to ask me to go to Wells Andrews with them to a party. Mag B. & Julia went along & a gay ride we had. There was quite a large party of young folks & among them several veterans from Co. A [D], 4th [Iowa] Cavalry — [Corp.] Asa Andrews, [Pvt.] Henry Shopbell &c. whom I had long known by reputation but had never met before. Also a Miss Priscilla Andrews of whom I had heard Lot speak. Time passed away lively until after midnight. Then we had a long cold ride back again. I stayed with Maggie B. at the Hall. Got a letter Monday asking me to come & help Miss Packer finish her school. Answered it giving my terms. Also one today from Aunt Mary at Grandpa’s. News good except that Grandmother is very sick.
Pigeon’s, Friday January 28th 1865
More than a week has passed since I scribbled [in my] journal — a week filled with varieties sure. My terms with regard to Miss Packer’s school were accepted & I concluded to come. John was coming over so he got a buggy & brought me along Saturday. Found Lydia Alice & Mr. James Tyner at Bartlett’s where we spent the evening. Then I went home with Lydia. Sunday went to church & in the eve to Jo Frazier’s & came with the girls to school. Monday, found my task rather an easy one, ready laid for me. Went to Clark’s at night & articled with him. To Frazier’s Tuesday eve & we girls all went with Addison to town to lodge. Got letters from Lot & Aunt Mary Parson’s & a very bad cold. Wednesday night went to Mr. Cook’s & last night came here. Wrote to Lot & Isaac, took it to town & brought me letters from Sam & Bro. John.
Monday, January 31st 1865
Friday evening after school went up to Clarkson Frazier’s. Saturday finished my morning dress & had a visit from Lizzie Mitchell & co. Yesterday went over to Bartlett’s & found Lydia there & spent the day. Maggie & I sat up part of the night at Louisa’s who is very sick. Came round with T. C. this morning & found letters from Lot & Kenney waiting me. Oh such good letters. But I am so anxious & troubled. It seems to me I’m half crazy, but suppose time will bring relief of some sort.
Saturday, February 11th 1865
Journaling goes slow lately. Should have told all about the wedding long ago but have not felt like writing. But now I must bring up the thread of my story. Went with Richard Puckett to Jo Frazier’s on Saturday evening. Then walked up to Bartlett’s Sunday morning thinking all the way how lonesome I was, going to John Abraham’s wedding afoot & alone. But it just suited my mood. Found Alice & Kitty arranging toilets. After awhile the bridegroom & his friends came & then the ceremony was performed. Then came congratulations with smiles & kisses & tears. Then the dinner & a social afternoon. The Liberty folks were obliged to stay all night on account of not being able to cross the river — ice interfering. A few of us went to Bible Class in the eve, some not being initiated in Quaker ceremonies were highly amused & amusing. Monday morn as early as practicable, the whole wedding party consisting of the relatives of the bride & groom, as many as could be spared from home, the three Alden girls & Mr. Sisson, embarked for Liberty via Oakland. The road was very rough but tongues were smooth & laugh & jest & song slipped off without exertion & the woods & prairies echoed with mirth, notwithstanding the vexations & almost fatal delay at the river & various other back sets. We arrived safe & sound at Aunt Sallies about three o’clock & were heartily welcomed with warm hearts & hands and a luscious dinner after which the spirits never lagged until bedtime & were assisted in their jolly flights by a neat little shiverer from the Liberty “Trundle bed fraternity.”
During the evening John introduced his wife to Henry Harris, his “substitute” direct from Lot & I never was half as badly rigged before. Tuesday morning the Prairie folks, schoolmaam’s &c. started on our return. Reached Salem afternoon. I stopped with Mrs. Bailey, read a dear letter from Lot, called at the Union School, & attended Lodge at night. Walked out to the ‘Roost’ with J. N. Pigeon & was ready to enter upon my duties again & slowly & tediously have wagged through the remainder of the week. Had a spelling school tonight — quite large & orderly — more so than I expected.
Sunday, February 12th 1865
Sat in the back room all day writing to absent friends. The Pigeon girls came home. Saw my honored old friend Achsah after so long a time — four years I guess. We girls went with Nat & Jane to town to church, run across my old Salem friend & we had a gay walk home.
Wednesday, February 15th
Went to a party at Henderson’s Monday evening with Cyrus. Twas a poor affair — not half worth the walk. Yesterday & today have been stormy. Finished piecing my quilt.
Sunday, February 19th 1865
Borrowed ‘Coly’ & went to Chestnut Hill yesterday morn & was present at the last day of Mr. Beard’s school. Spent the night at Wm. Marshall’s. Went with them to church today. A silent Quaker meeting. After dinner, came back to the “roost” through mud almost unfathomable.
Wednesday, February 22nd
Twas so windy Monday eve that I went in the first wagon that came along which was Cook’s. Had headache all night. Last night Wm. Pigeon brought horses to fetch us home. Found a note from Alice in the best of humor & urging my return to Mount Pleasant as soon as possible. Twont be long now — only three days more till I can go. Isaac & I went horseback to town to Lodge. There was none so we stayed at Bailey’s a little while. Heard of the evacuation of Charleston & the capture of Columbia [South Carolina].
Salem, Friday night, Feb. 28th
Oh! what distressing accidents occur. I am now sitting up with little Eugene Bailey who has his left eye put out, shot with an arrow by one of his playfellows. Came up from our last day of school with Addisson. Find the family here usually so gay passing under a dark cloud of sorrow. I’m disappointed too. Wanted a letter so bad & got nothing but a bad valentine.
Mt. Pleasant, Sunday, March 12th.
Journaling has been neglected quite a while but my hands have been too busy for extra scribbling. Saturday, Feb. 25th I came to Mt. Pleasant through one of the most miserable of storms which almost stopped “inland navigation.” Spent Sunday at Philena’s in company with Mr. Carey of Salem, Ohio. The next two days were spent in helping Philena get ready to move. Wednesday they left for Vernon, Iowa. The rest of the week was filled full of work, some of it to help prepare Lydia for her journey. Sunday at church & with Mr. Cary in the eve. Monday Lydia came & put her foot down that she was not going away without visiting Mother, so Mr. Cary left them to go alone. Wednesday, March 8th, we went with Mr. Hitt in the wagon which took Jane Willeford’s coffin to Tippacanoe. I stayed & watched with the corpse & until after the burial next day. We all spent the time rather pleasantly, notwithstanding the severe winter weather until yesterday morn when we walked to Rome & came in on the cars. I got a note from Mr. Clarke offering me their school for the summer. Alice received a letter from home announcing the death of Grandmother. March 4th. Thus the destroyer takes both young & old, but she has gone to a better home. May I be prepared to meet her there! Mag, Kitty, & John spent a short time with us & I read Mag’s letter from Lot — rather a desponding one it was. I must try to send him some cheerful word today. I went with Mrs. Frick to the Lodge last night & had quite a nice time. Met several young friends of other years.
Monday, March 13th
The girls are gone & I’m so lonely.
Tuesday, March 14th
Crazy Beck & I washed. It stormed all day.
Wednesday — sowed on my new calico dress.
Thursday — put out washing. John came & took me to Liberty to enjoy the sugar making which we did as well as weather would permit. Friday in camp all day, were waterbound & obliged to go to Mr. Cure’s for shelter at night. Saturday I was sick & had to leave. Came up to Becca’s & stayed over night. Sunday — a beautiful day but too muddy for going out. Spent in talking, reading & eating sugar. Monday I finished my dress & set my yellow quilt. Kate came. Tuesday, made & scraped my blanket. Wednesday, March 22nd. we girls came to town. I got Mag’s, John’s, & Kitty’s photographs & numerous letters. Have finished my pink quilt.
Saturday, March 25.
Have spent the past three days at work, watching & anxious to hear from the loved & absent. Today news came from the soldier but nothing from the girls & I am so anxious.
Sunday, 26th [March] 1865
Mrs. Pixley went away to her brothers yesterday eve & left me for housekeeper. After household arrangements were settled, I attended the funeral services of Bishop Hamline, then went out to see Sarah Johnson but she was not at home so I came back & stopped to see Mrs. Lockwood (Mollie Barnes). Mr. Pixley & I to church at night.
Monday, March 27th 1865
Has rained all day so I could not wash so I’ve sowed. Another letter came from Lot but none from the girl & tis two weeks since they started.
Jones. Sunday, April 2nd
With usual housekeeping cares & sowing, I was busy until Thursday. Then came over to Salem to Bailey’s. Attended school on Friday & in the evening came with friends to Mitchell’s. Yesterday morning came here.
Pigeon’s. Monday, April 3rd 1865
School commenced today with eleven scholars. Joel brought me out through the rain. A. J. Newby (just out of the army) & his lady called to say ‘good morning.’
Sunday, April 16th 1865
Two weeks have passed since I last wrote here. Two weeks of quiet, actice, pleasant labor to me. School has done finely. Everything goes on well so far. At intermissions I’ve read “Pollack’s Course of Time” & sowing of evenings has been on my Chair Pin Cushion & white dress. Pleasant word from the girls & other friends has come & been returned, & while all has passed so peaceably here, Oh what commotion has filled the country. The day my school commenced, that great stronghold of treason — Richmond — fell. Then followed the chase, the capture, and surrender & parole of the Army of Northern Virginia. Oh! how every loyal heart rejoiced. Last Sunday the churches all over our land resounded with the joyful songs of praise to “Him who giveth us the victory” & tears of gratitude spoke the thankfulness of hearts too full for utterance. Today, the sun shines brighter but his beams fall on a nature clothed in deepest mourning & well may we mourn for it seems in the very hour of our glorious triumphs, the Powers of evil gain ascendancy. Our noble & honored President, after guiding the ship of state through the terrible storm of rebellion, when he seemed just on the point of landing her in the Port of Peace, is suddenly struck down by the hand of an assassin — a miserable wretch who would give his own life & soul for the sake of murdering one of God’s noblest men, & William H. Seward too has felt the assassin’s knife. It seems too horrible for belief & yet tis true. Yesterday the telegraph sent the sorrowful tidings over the land & it falls a heavy black pall on every heart. I cannot write of it.
Friday Morn, April 21st
Bro. John called to see me last night. We are having a brisk snow storm this morning. Evening. It has snowed all day, melting as fast as it fell. John went away & returned with Lorenzo & we have spent a very pleasant evening. How fast the boys are getting to be men.
Cold & stormy as winter. It looks pitiful to see the verdure which had come out so hopefully withering in the pinching frost. Isaac took Sarah, Pheobe, & me to Achsah’s where we had a nice visit & a quilting. Ella & Lizzie Frazier were there. Weather cleared up this evening. Hope winter is over. There’ll be frost tonight though.
Pigeon’s. Sunday, April 30th 
Another week is past & finds me sad & lonely. Oh! so sad for no good word has come to me from my noble lover & tis more than a month since I received the last kind letter. I ought to be patient & cheerful & hopeful for though he is far way on the shores of the Gulf, his mission there seems almost fulfilled. The long prayed for end seems fast approaching. Oh! that it may hasten!
Tuesday night Cyrus came & took me to Lodge. Bro. John and Lorenzo Lewelling were initiated. Oh! I hope it will prove to them a stronger tie to bind them together & to truth & virtue. Afterward, I with some others took degrees. I pray that I may faithfully keep the vows I have taken & discharge the duties I have assumed. Tis a noble work & claims my very earnest & careful attention. We are having almost constant rain & mud this spring, & it makes a school teaching disagreeable. School prospers enough — no particular trouble so far. Thursday was Fast day & I had no school, but was confined to the house by rain. Made it up by teaching yesterday. News not very exciting this week except the account of the finding & shooting of Booth — the murderer of Lincoln.
Wednesday, May 10th 1865
I have been quite unwell almost ever since I came to the prairie this time & this, with bad weather, gloomy news, & the absence of letters from Lot, conspire to make me very melancholy, so I am little company for others & poor comfort to myself. Friday eve I went to Mr. Bailey’s & though that is a sad place on account of Eugene’s blindness, I think it helped me some. Sunday I was at Valley Sunday School & Mr. Bartlett’s to dinner. Was at Elihu Frazier’s at night. Addison has been very sick. School is still increasing though just half done. Walked to Lodge last night with Isaac.
Sunday, May 21st 1865
We have pleasant weather this past week & everything seems more cheerful. Have visited some of my patrons to put in the time & for a few days have helped Sarah quilt. News is first rate lately. Jeff Davis is caught & in Washington by this time, I suppose. A little letter came from Lot at last. He was safe & well to May 1st & I may as well be cheerful over it. I am spending today writing letters.
Sunday, May 28th
Have spent the “out of school” hours this week in quilting for myself until yesterday when I went with a number of my scholars to Salem to learn the art of chanting on our new outline maps. Have been particularly blest with news from almost all directions this week — all good & cheerful. I wonder if the “Dark days” are not about over. The long four years of dread & suffering will soon be only as a horrible dream which is followed by the blissful awakening to many hearts. But alas! Upon how many it has settled a black pall never to be lifted in this world. Oh our Father! Comfort the stricken ones.
Monday, June 5th 1865
Got a horse & went down to Mother’s Saturday morning and with them attended Quarterly Meeting. Mary came down in the evening from Glasgow. Had a right good time. The preachers were Elder Worthington & Bro. Gibson with whom I was acquainted at Beery’s.
Thursday, June 15th 1865
Oh! I’m so lonely & sad! drifting on in darkness. When! Oh when will light & rest & peace come to me. The world seems dark & cold & if it were not for one little precious hope, my soul would wither & die in this barren clime. That hope seems almost expiring lately. Tis so long to wait — & then I deserve so little. Why should I have even that. I get rebellious sometimes. My life has been one constant scene of ‘Hope deferred’ — of pleasure in the future. I almost wish to lay it down or get away from myself. In a fit of desperation last Saturday evening, I went to see my afflicted friend Lucinda & hers, so much greater, & have managed to keep away from home & myself most of the time since by calling among my patrons. Got hold of Marian Harlan’s “Hidden Path” & quite lost myself for awhile. Now I’m back in the chamber that has been my home? for three of the weariest months of my weary life. Twont be mine much longer. One week more & I’ll have no title to it or anything else on this prairie & I’ll go without much regret though many friends are kind.
Mt. Pleasant, Tuesday, July 4th 1865
Another & the most glorious of all our National Birthdays is upon us. My poor journal which has been long neglected must be neglected still.
Sunday July 9th 1865
I must retrospect a little. Friday June 23rd I finished my school at Oak Hall. Had a picnic & good time generally. Saturday went to Hillsborough for my pay & moved to Jones’. Sunday at Quaker Meeting. Monday 26th missed the hack & visited the Salem Union School & Henderson’s. Tuesday 27th, came to Mt. Pleasant & washed some & shopped with Maggie Abraham. Wednesday 28th, came to Mrs. Frick’s & finding they needed help as Mrs. Frick is very sick, I went to work & have continued so to do since. Friday 30th, attended closing exercises of Union School. The 4th [of July] I spent the morning at home with Lucinda. Mrs. Goan watched with her in the afternoon & I went to the grove awhile & enjoyed seeing the folks first rate. Mag came with me to supper & in the eve I took a hasty promenade with her round the square & back to my duty. Spent the eve writing to Lot while the people looked at fireworks. Friday eve, the 7th, I was surprised by the sudden appearance of Cousins Mary & Frank T. from Zanesville [Ohio]. Was glad to see them & spent the time very agreeably until this morning. Uncle Asa came to take them to Canaan. I wanted to go along badly but could not leave here. I’m tied pretty close but do not care for that. Want to be busy at work for twould be a burden to have time to think much. Should like to visit some wit them though.
Mt. Pleasant, Thursday, July 27th 1865
Well, here I am in town again & alone. Spent last week & part of this visiting with my cousins. Were at Jone’s mother’s Traps & Uncle Leonard’s & had a real good time. Came in Tuesday morning in spite of Big Creek for we are having a very wet time — rain every other day & streams very high. Found a bundle of letters each & Uncle Asa & family & we made a party to the Asylum. Yesterday they left John Kerr who was up on business & I attended them to the cars. While we were gone to Salem, Mrs. Frich died. I was sorry I hadn’t stayed with her & the care on my mind detracted much from the pleasure my friends visit should have given. Her death has caused another change in my plans. What will come next I’m sure I do not know.
Liberty, August 9th 1865
Well I’ve almost put in two week more & of small importance has been the events though interesting enough as they passed. Tuesday August 1st I attended the black people’s celebration of President Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation with Meg & Mr. Dick Shipman, & in the evening came out here. Wednesday we were visited by Jennie Andrews & Lizzie Mitchell. Next day we went to Becca’s & romped, swung, & tetered until Friday morning. Stayed with Sarah until Mary Beery came for me. May & I went home with her in the evening. Saturday there was to have been a grand picnic as the closing scene of Jane’s school, but twas badly interfered with by the rain. Sunday we went to Sunday School class & prayer. Monday, washed & went to Abbe’s. Had a gay moonlight visit to Leander’s new house. Yesterday Jane brought me up on horseback. Today we have attended so sad a funeral. [James] Monroe Housel [1847-1865] was smothered while sleeping in the barn. Monday night, August 7th, the joists gave way & let a mow full of oats onto him. What a horrible accident. There was a large funeral. Seven wagons from Tippacanoe. There are reports that the 4th [Iowa] Cavalry are to be at home in a short time. Don’t know certain but are anxiously waiting the next news.
Thursday, August 10th 1865
Stayed with Sarah until afternoon, then Mag & I went to Andrew’s to a singing, but few were present. Mr. Pelier saw us safely home by moonlight.
Friday August 11th
Got on Balla & went to town after news which we were all anxious to hear. At the Post Office, I got what it would be very pleasant to believe a letter from Lot confirming the report that they were to be immediately mustered out & that they would be at home soon. But alas! this was contradicted by late telegrams countermanding the order to muster out. After assiduous inquiry, I was obliged to come back with nothing certain. Letters also from Lydia & John all right. Mrs. Pixley’s girl is sick & gone & she wants me to come & stay with her. Guess I’ll go tomorrow.
Friday, August 18th 1865
This is my twenty-fourth birthday. How fast time flies but none too fast to suit me for a few more days will bring my lover home from the war & I’m not very patient waiting for them to be gone. One would think for the years today numbers, I ought to have outlived all girlish heart flutters but I am almost as foolish as ever for though my feet & hands are very busy about my work, my mind is far away & I’ve no time or thought for scribbling today.
Monday, August 28th 1865
There has been too much joy lately to admit of scribbling, but the journal must go on. Last week was one of anxious yet hopeful waiting. Thursday I went with Hiram Andrews & sisters to the Sunday School celebration at Hickory Grove, took dinner with Uncle Asa’s & in the eve came home in a hurry with John on horseback to meet the 5th [Iowa] Cavalry but were disappointed. Mag remained with me overnight & the next morning found us early at the depot looking out and at last they came. Yes, thank God, the four years of waiting are over & happiness again dawns upon us. This joy cannot be written, can only be felt. Sunday was spent riding with him, my own true soldier — a soldier no longer. We went to see Mother & make arrangements about a wedding for that is to come soon. I seem like one in a pleasant dream. Can hardly realize that the time I have so long hoped & prayed for has come. Oh my Heavenly Father, make me thankful for they great Mercy! for Thou only has given it all. Of course I am busy. Mrs. Pixley is sick & I’ve plenty to do. Haves stolen an hour from sleep to tell Lydia of my happiness. Oh how I wish she was here now.
Saturday, September 2nd 1865
Have spent the week busily at work. Got a black woman to do the housework on Thursday which have me liberty to sow for myself. Yesterday morn the long looked for Bro. Sam came, Mary with him, & in the P.M. we went to Canaan. Aunt is quite sick. Had a pleasant visit nevertheless. Came back past camp meeting ground & stopped to eleven o’clock services.
Sunday, September 3rd 1865
Attended camp meeting with the Abraham family. It seemed quite old fashioned.
Sunday October 1st 1865
Here is my old journal again. No time to write.
On Wednesday, September 13th, by favor of Rev. H. W. Thomas, I became Mrs. Lot Abraham.
Monday, September 18th began life as a farmer’s wife by picking the geese.
Wednesday & Thursday, September 27th & 28th, spent in Burlington at the State Fair.
Sunday, October 15th. Had visit from Uncle Charles Abraham & family.
Monday, October 23d. Mag & Mother Abraham started to Ohio to spend the winter leaving Kittie, Susie & I housekeepers.
Sunday, October 29th
Attended funerals of Mrs. Morehead & Wesley Cornic with Lot & Susie in wagon. Wrote to Mag & Lydia in the eve & press a few minutes for journaling which has been sadly neglected since I was married. I’m too full of practical pleasures to deal much in fanciful or ideal ones.
Sunday, November 5th, 1865
Kittie, Susie & I sit by the fire today while our boys wander over the farm. Weather very pleasant but cool. Has been blustery during the week. I have been busy with usual household chores — picking geese, quilting comfort, or making cront. extra. Are not done making sorghum yet & we have hired men to do for, Quite a change in my life for me but a happy one from Schoolma’am to housewife; from a lonely life among strangers to a home with those I love dearest; from hope deferred to glad fruition. Ought I not to be thankful? Indeed I am. Have been compiling scrapbook & writing to Aunt Mary Alden.
Sunday, November 12th, 1865
At home all day. Mr. & Mrs. Tyner visiting us. Also Misses Bachelder & Housel. Wrote to Aunt B. B. Am looking for a visit Uncle B. G.
Sunday, November 19th, 1865
All the family except Mother A. & Mag are gathered at home & a turkey roasted in honor of the birth of John’s son.
Monday, November 27th
Just returned from a visit to Mother.
Tuesday, November 28th
Weather cloudy and cool. Some rain and snow last night. The fine weather is done, I expect. Indian Summer gone. Girls washing. John gone to town & we gathering corn slowly.
Sunday, December 3rd 1865
This is one of the dark days spent by me in quiet at home. Raining some but not enough to keep the boys in the house.
Sunday, December 10th
Started about 11 a.m. from A. G. J.’s. Drove slowly over rough roads for sleighing and arrived at Lieut. Oggs about noon. Found them looking for us. Spent the P. M. in old style visiting and took a sleigh ride at night, returning late to stay all night with the Lieut. & his seemingly contented little family in their cabin.
Sunday, December 17th
Cloudy, gloomy weather. No snow. We rode to Mr. Berry’s about noon. Went to the School House to meeting. Then back & stayed till bedtime & rode home in the cold.
Sunday, December 24th
Keeping house at home alone while the rest have gone over the river to hunt Christmas. Warm & pleasant. Snow all melting off.
New Years Eve,
Up late all alone old fashion. Lot gone to Illinois. Been writing letters some. Warm & clear. This is a good time for making good resolutions to begin the New Year. Better than the last. Hope I may improve in many respects.