John Adams sat at his desk, a wistful smile accompanying the rhythmic tappings of cane on chair. The hour was nearing ten, and Congress was slowly arriving. The day had not yet begun, yet all John could think of was returning home to blow out candles – even at forty-two, he was still amused by childish birthday traditions. The only shortcoming of this event was that his wife could not join him for it: Martha Jefferson, after visiting with her husband, had continued up to Boston to stay with Abigail, to whom she had taken a liking. Thomas had traveled with her, but returned early, in order to attend to Congressional matters. Martha, having not these obligations, stayed, forcing Abigail to play hostess.

The other delegates were sauntering in now. As a mass of men passed, a package dropped on John's desk. He eyed it, and then ripped off the wrapping paper. The book weighed down in his hands and he discovered a smile plastered across his face. Looking up to see if anyone had noticed this, he saw Ben Franklin watching with mirth. John nodded his thanks, but narrowed his eyes as Dickinson walked by and they shared their obligatory scowls.

John stopped short, however, as Thomas approached his table; he was not expected back until tomorrow.

Thomas bent down, eye level with John. "From your wife," was all he said, giving the small birthday gift to John's cheek.

He strode away, leaving John alone with the moist mark upon his cheek, the best present he had ever received.