The Evening


Though he doesn't attend the meeting, Adam narrates what he heard took place there: among the topics discussed were the count of weapons being kept in town, the Reverend's decision to quote Maccabees so frequently when those books are considered apocrypha, and whether or not a town newspaper was viable. The topic of a newspaper turned into a debate between the pro-Samuel Adams radicals and anti-Samuel Adams egalitarians, as Adams stressed the importance of such an organ. Moses Cooper spoke in favor of the newspaper, as he imagined himself in the role of editor. The meeting concluded with a discussion of whether or not minutes should be kept, and Moses spoke passionately about the importance of keeping such records - something he recounted in detail to his wife afterwards, even though she disapproved of the denunciations he made in the process.

While the meeting was taking place, Adam walked to the Simmons place to visit Ruth. Cousin Simmons was the town blacksmith and had broke off relations with his brothers when they decided to invest in slavers. Arriving at the Simmons home, Adam is greeted by Mrs. Simmons and her widow sister Susan, who were reading the Book of Job aloud from the Bible; they feed him sweet carrot pie and ask him to read from the Book of Judges, but Ruth came down and told them Adam was there to visit him. The two are permitted to take a walk outside, as Mrs. Simmons feels such a walk is safer when the grass is wet and cold rather than dry during the daytime. Adam had known Ruth since they were children, but only recently have they fallen in love. However, Adam is still vexed when Ruth brings up the topic of marriage, as it's not something he wishes to consider yet.

During their walk, Mrs. Spencer sees them and expresses her disapproval. Adam apologizes to Mrs. Spencer as they pass her, leading to a discussion between himself and Ruth about his father and how he kept Adam from attending the Committee meeting. Ruth asks him to be patient, as he is only fifteen and still needs time to mature. Adam mentions working for Uncle Ishmael Jamison, prompting Ruth to ask if he's the smuggler with a colored wife in Jamaica. Adam grows angry with this, declaring it a false rumor; after the two argue for a while, Adam suddenly kisses her. Ruth is surprised by the kiss and the look he gives her afterward, but they were standing in front of the Hyams' well house and Mrs. Hyam overhears them, sending them away. Ruth asks if Adam is serious about going to sea, pointing out his father would disapprove; Adam does not see the problem in this. Ruth counters that she would be the loneliest girl in Massachusetts if he went away, and this made Adam feel good as they returned to her house.

Returning to his own home, Adam finds Levi cleaning Adam's fowling gun. He grows angry at this but Sarah Cooper points out that it needed cleaning and Adam had been neglecting it. Levi asks questions about the gun, asking what would happen if it was loaded with a musket ball instead of bird shot, then goes on to talk about shooting a redcoat soldier with a proper rifle. Sarah scolds him for talking in such a manner, but Levi protests that all the boys in school are talking of how many redcoats they'll kill when the war comes. Sarah sends both to bed, though Adam protests he's four years older than his brother. Adam cannot go to sleep and overhears his father coming home and recounting what happened at the Committee meeting, recounted earlier in this chapter. Sarah tells her husband about the incident with their sons and Adam's gun, adding that Adam is still just a boy and she shouldn't have been so harsh. Moses counters that Adam should think about being a man, prompting Sarah to mention that Adam thinks he hates him. Moses is surprised by this but Granny backs this up, adding that Moses takes after his stern father - and her dead husband - in pigheaded stubbornness and pride. Granny goes upstairs and berates Adam for his own lapses, then Adam again eavesdrop on the conversation downstairs, as Moses defends his mother against Sarah's accusations of disrespect towards him. Moses decides to rethink his treatment of Adam, then the two relax by having Sarah read Pilgrim's Progress aloud. Adam is finally able to go to sleep, emotionally moved by what he witnessed.


There is a sense of paired narratives as Adam spends time with Ruth while his father attends the Committee meeting. As the next chapter shows, another kind of pairing may also be drawn, as the British prepare to march from Boston to Concord. As the familial tension and the broader historical tensions start to weave together in this chapter, the question of Adam's maturity remains open at this point. However, the reader's understanding of Moses and his attitude towards his son softens from the harsher portrait in the first chapter: he is seen as truly caring for his children, but is simply unsure of how to express what he feels.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".