Sam then related his May 11 reading Howells’ current story (see entry), and interrupted the letter for 5 o’clock tea for Mr. and Mrs. Charlemagne Tower arriving with “plenty of Americans.” The Towers were leaving to take a diplomatic post in Russia. After the tea Sam returned to this letter:
715 p.m. It’s over; 30 nice people & rather creditable to the human race: Mr & Mrs Tower; the new Minister & his wife; the Secretary of Legation; the Naval (& Military) Attaché; several English ladies; an Irish lady; a Scotch lady; an English newspaper-heifer (who is a good soul—a damned good soul, in fact—but wasn’t invited & didn’t know it was a private orgy); a particularly nice young Austrian baron who wasn’t invited but came & went supposing it was the usual thing & wondered at the unusually large gathering; two other Austrians & several Americans who were also in his fix; the old Baronin Langenau, the only Austrian invited;—the rest were Americans. It made just a comfortable crowd in our parlor, with an overflow into Clara’s through the folding doors. I don’t enjoy teas, & am daily spared them by Mrs. Clemens, but this was a pleasant one. I had only one accident. The old Baronin Langenau is a person I have a strong fondness for, for we violently disagree on some subjects & as violently agree upon others: for instance, she is temperance & I am not; she has religious beliefs & feelings & I have none; (she’s a Methodist!) she is a democrat & so am I; she is woman’s rights & so am I; she is laborers’ rights & approves trade unions & strikes, & that is me. And so-on. After she was gone an English lady whom I greatly like, began to talk sharply against her for contributing money, time, labor, & public expression of favor to a strike that is on (for an 11-hour day) in the silk factories of Bohemia—& she caught me unprepared & betrayed me into over-warm argument. I am sorry; for she didn’t know anything about the subject, & I did; & one should be gentle with the ignorant, for they are the chosen of God [MTHL 2: 694-9]. Note: Baroness Langenau of Amelie (née Haffner) (1833-1902). Charlemagne Tower was replaced by Addison Harris of Indianapolis.
May 13 Saturday – At the Hotel Krantz in Vienna, Austria, Sam finished his May 12 letter to William Dean Howells. Livy and Theodor Leschetizky and an “English lady” chaperoned a group of 24 young people to Semmering, a lower-Austrian town famous for its skiing. Sam wrote it took three hours each way and he had little interest in going. During the letter writing someone telephoned him from Semmering, but he directed that a message be taken—he supposed the message was how lovely it was in Semmering and that an outbound train would leave in a half hour should he want to take it. He also included this episode from earlier in the day:
I was out walking at noon today, in splendid summer weather, & came dreaming around the corner of a palace, & found myself fenced off by a long leather strap; I traced the strap leftward & found a sweet young lady holding the end of it; I traced it to starboard, then, & found a prodigious dog hitched to that end. He probably thought it was his palace, for he had one leg up & was washing it down. I was embarrassed, but those others were not. I waited a second or two, not knowing just what to do, then backed away & pulled out around the Fraulein & departed. She & the string were barring the whole sidewalk. I went a little piece, then stopped to observe. That dog was loaded for bear; & before he had accomplished his relief, a woman, a boy, then a man, then another man, had all been obliged to turn out & deploy around the young lady. They ought to water that dog at home. It would have made a curious picture if I had had a Kodak & courage enough to use it. I felt a good deal of resentment against that girl for making me do all the blushing & embarrassing by myself, there before the public, when by rights it was her place to do it [MTHL 2: 694-9].
Possibly Sam had begun another version of The Mysterious Stranger; he closed the long letter, heading the last section “6 p.m.”
For several years I have been intending to stop writing for print as soon as I could afford it. At last I can afford it, & have put the pot-boiler pen away. What I have been wanting was a chance to write a book without reserves—a book which should take account of no one’s feelings, no one’s prejudices, opinions, beliefs, hopes, illusions, delusions; a book which should say my say, right out of my heart, in the plainest language & without a limitation of any sort. I judged that that would be an unimaginable luxury, heaven on earth. There
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.