One summer day a luncheon was held in Dublin, New Hampshire, in the home of Mrs Parsons who had ‘asked some twenty people, all outstanding in various walks of life, to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Culture, science, art, wealth, politics, achievement all were represented.’ ‘Most of those present at this luncheon party knew a little of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life history, and, presumably, were expecting a dissertation from Him on the Bahá’í Cause. The hostess had suggested to the Master that He speak to them on the subject of Immortality. However, as the meal progressed, and no more than the usual commonplaces of common society were mentioned, the hostess made an opening, as she thought, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak on spiritual things. ‘His response to this was to ask if He might tell them a story, and He related one of the Oriental tales, of which He had a great store and at its conclusion all laughed heartily.
‘The ice was broken. Others added stories of which the Master’s anecdote had reminded them. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His face beaming with happiness, told another story, and another. His laughter rang through the room. He said that. . . It is good to laugh. Laughter is a spiritual relaxation. When they were in prison, He said, and under the utmost deprivation and difficulties, each of them at the close of the day would relate the most ludicrous event which had happened. Sometimes it was a little difficult to find one but always they would laugh until the tears would run down their cheeks. Happiness, He said, is never dependent upon material surroundings, otherwise how sad those years would have been. As it was they were always in the utmost state of joy and happiness.’ That was the nearest He came to talking about the Bahá’í message but the effect on those present was undoubtedly greater than any ‘learned dissertation would have caused in them’. ‘After the guests had gone, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was leaving for His hotel, He came close to His hostess and asked her, with a little wistful smile, almost, she was used to say, like a child seeking approbation, if she were pleased with Him.’