Vol 3 Section 0049
Sam wrote he was further along on FE than he thought but would write a deal more than necessary. “I have lost yesterday & to-day. Tired. Also, stupid. But it won’t last” [MTHHR 262].
Note: Sam undoubtedly sent Bliss’ letter off within a few days, if not sooner. Bliss may have been confused about assignment to Livy for the renewal, or for some reason simply dragged his feet; Sam repeated his request for renewal on Jan. 30, Mar. 19, and May 31. Six months from the “legally ripe” date of Jan. 29, 1897 was the legal limit. See source, p.263n2&3. FE and it’s prospective profits undoubtedly gave Sam a bit of leverage on Bliss for exercising the contract and the renewal. Editors for MTHHR chose to substitute “and” for “&” in Clemens’ letters to Rogers. Here and forward, MTP transcriptions were followed and the “&” signs were usually replaced. MTHHR is still cited as accessibility for the reader is easier than making a trip to Berkeley.
Sam also replied to the Jan. 18 of J. Woulfe Flanagan, his neighbor at 21 Tedworth Square, who had complained of Clara Clemens’ piano practicing. Sam found it to be “a difficult situation,” and explained that Clara did not play for amusement but to practice for lessons; the family could not live in a hotel; nor could they move the piano to any other wall, so had to be on the wall common to their respective flats. He added:
You perceive that my situation is embarrassing. And this is not all, nor the worst. As my daughter’s health improves, her teacher will require her to begin her practice much earlier than she does now.
I am sure I do not know what to do. I have taken the house until July 1st, with the privilege of keeping it a year after that time. …Can you suggest anything? I shall be glad to examine it; & if possible, fall in with it
Sam also wrote to Francis H. Skrine, whom Sam had met in Calcutta in early 1896. Sam was glad to hear from Skrine (letter not extant) but sorry to hear that Mrs. Skrine (Helen Lucy Stewart Skrine) had been ill. He wrote that since their bereavement he was the only well one in the family. Sam’s option to renew the flat now seemed up in the air, perhaps due to complaints about Clara’s piano playing:
We shall be in London a while yet, but not at the above address very long, I suppose. We think of seeking a place in the country, in May, but we may go to the continent We are restless & unsettled. We had a charted course; we have none now. We are derelicts—& derelicts are indifferent to what may happen.
I wish we could be at home to make you welcome; but we cannot look upon that house yet [MTP].
Note: Sam’s lease on the Tedworth Sq. flat expired July 1, so writing of leaving earlier suggests a sudden change of course. With the loss of Susy, the plans and health of the remaining daughters became uppermost in his concerns. The Skrines were not in London, but were planning on a trip to America
Sam also replied to Joe Twichell (no recent letters from Twichell are extant) frankly confessing things and with a tone he often used with Twichell, whom he admired greatly in spiritual matters. Joe was undoubtedly sensitive to the family’s mourning and had probably sent a short note asking if Sam wanted him to write, respecting his wishes if he wished to remain secluded. Sam’s reply illuminates his mood, sorrows and struggles at this time:
Do I want you to write me? Indeed I do. I do not want other people to write, but I do want you to do it. The others break my heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates. And you know the secret places of our hearts. You know our life— the outside of it—as the others do—& the inside of it—which they do not. You have seen our whole voyage. You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail, & the flag at the peak; & you see us now, chartless, adrift— derelicts; battered, water-logged, our sales a ruck of rags, our pride gone….
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.