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. Mary Catherine Hellen, LCA’s niece who lived with the Adams family, was the
object of affection of all three of the Adams boys. She had become engaged to GWA
in 1823, but when JA2 returned home after having been expelled from Harvard, she
transferred her interest to him. Early in 1824 the observant and tolerant LCA
noticed that Mary was “playing a game which no one ever comprehend[s] but the initiated,”
meaning probably that her niece was flirting with
CFA. See LCA to GWA, 7 Dec. 1823, and 1 Jan. 1824, Adams
; entries for 19
May, below; Bemis, JQA
, 2:116, 118.