Vol 3 Section 0167

1898                                                                            123

January 11 Tuesday – At the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, Livy wrote for Sam to Samuel E. Moffett.

“Your Uncle wants me to say that he desires you to keep the letter that I sent you entirely private” [MTP].

Note: This refers to Livy’s letter of Jan 6. She added that Sam did not want it counted on that he would commit to any submissions for Hearst’s newspapers; did not want to appear as a “telegraphic reporter to any news paper,” nor did he want Moffett to “mention the subject of the letter to Mr. Hearst or any one.”

To get the above message to Moffett faster Livy also wrote for Sam to ask Frank Marshall White to cable Moffett: “Reveal contents our letter to no body. Wait.” Livy cited the “so very expensive” cost of sending cables from Vienna as reason for requesting the favor [MTP].

January 12 Wednesday – At the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, Sam wrote to Henry Loomis Nelson, editor at Harper’s Weekly (1894-1898) .

If I had two short stories, I would send one to you & the other to a periodical where there’s an old half-way promise of mine to some-day-or-other furnish a short story—a half-promise which will probably never materialize. When a sudden impulse kicks me into attempting a short story, & the attempt succeeds to my satisfaction (which is unspeakably seldom) I’m perfectly ready & willing to part with it at customary rates. But I have to have the kick. Without it I shouldn’t ever care to make the attempt. For it usually takes 2 weeks & 3 false starts to get such a thing planned out in what you recognize to be the right way, & then half or all of another week to flutter it from the pen. Then it makes 5,000 to 10,000 words, & those are what you are paid for; $100 to $150 per 1000 words. The short story is the worst paid of all forms of literature.

N.B. 1. A poor short story isn’t worth printing.

N B. 2. A good short story is a novel in the cradle.

Often when I take it out of the cradle to play with it, I take a liking to it & raise it. That is what happened with a number of my books.

N.B. 3. In the cradle it is worth a few hundred dollars—maybe a thousand. Raised, it can be worth (Huck Finn is a case in point) forty-eight thousand.

So, you see, I never go prowling after a short story; it has to come prowling after me. For I am dam wise in my generation, & very very thoughtful.

By gracious I wish you had come to Vienna. I’d give anything to see an old friendly face [MTP]. Note: Sam misdated this letter as 1897, Hotel Metropole.

January 13 Thursday Sam’s notebook: “Jan 13 ’98 Sent 3 fables to Century” [NB 42 TS 53].

At the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, Austria, Sam replied to Henry C. Robinson’s Dec. 29, 1897 letter.

It was good to hear from you. And good that you have liked the book well enough to pay it that finest of compliments, disseminating it not by lending but by outlay of cash. (I filled out that page, but had to destroy it because the madame edited it out. Privately, you know, she’s so dam particular. As like as not she would edit this one out, too, if I should leave it lying around.)* (in left margin of second page: * You see, dear Mr. Robinson, how I have to watch him. Sincerely yours O.L. Clemens)

Your picture of the [Monday Night] Club! I can see it; & it makes me old. I suppose I attended it for the first time in Nov. or Dec. ’71, when I was a lad of 36. Susy was not born, then; nor Clara, of course; and Franklin—why, Franklin was young in those distant times. What business has Charley Clark to be sporting his irreverent fun in this graveyard? And Twichell—grandfather Twichell in these late years—hard of hearing & asleep under the disconnected mumblings of the mummies. Let’s get away from this subject.

Sam related he was taking the afternoon off to answer letters to strangers (though none are extant) which he wrote, “pile up & presently get to weighing heavy on my soul.” The family liked Vienna and the weather—the people but not the streets which were torn up for installing gas lines. He closed with the line

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.