August 12 Tuesday – In York Harbor, Maine Livy suffered a severe attack. Some sources cite this as a heart attack. Robert Hirst of the Mark Twain Project in an Oct. 26, 1983 letter calls it “a serious attack of asthma.” Livy also had a heart condition.
Sam’s notebook: At 7 a.m. Livy taken violently ill. Telephoned, & Dr. Lambert was here in ½ hour. She could not breathe—was likely to stifle. Also she had severe palpitation. She believed she was dying. I also believed it [NB 45 TS 23].
In his Aug. 13 to Rogers, Sam described the crisis:
Matters reached a culminating point at 7 a. m., yesterday [Aug. 12], when Mrs. Clemens said she was dying & I was not able to doubt it. But by 7.30 we had the doctor, & he took heroic measures. Before noon the case had ceased to be immediately alarming, though the danger was not past, & will not be past until we know the attack is not merely suspended but over.
He also included news of daughter Clara, who came and took charge just in time:
Clara arrived from Europe last night, & this doctors decided that she could see her mother a moment. They thought it might be good medicine. It proved so [MTP].
In Kittery Point, Maine, William Dean Howells wrote to Sam.
Mrs. Clemens had better write to John at N.Y. He won’t be here before September. Sorry he doesn’t know as to meet Clara.
I am coming soon to see you with another piece to read.
The Whitlocks were simply enchanted with their call [MTHL 2: 744]. Note: Livy likely wanted to consult John Howells in designing an addition to the Tarrytown house.
In Sam’s long letter to the Western Union President written after Aug. 27, he mentioned several episodes of poor service, this day being one:
the 12th of August
a member of my family telegraphed me at noon from New Haven; the message was
delivered to me here four hours & a
quarter afterward—thirty minutes too late for me to perform the somewhat
important act requested of me by the message [MTP]. Note: Sam crossed out “my daughter,” to hide this was daughter Clara returning from Europe; likely the
sudden and perhaps unauthorized trip by Clara was not something, on second
thought, that he wanted publicized. Some biographers have made much of Clara’s
trip as openly rebellious.
The Denver Post sent a telegram to Sam. “The Denver Library managers have excluded ‘Huckleberry Finn’ on request certain local preachers who claim that book is immoral and sacrilegious. Will you kindly wire this paper what you think of this action” [MTP]. Note: it reached Sam the afternoon of Aug. 13.
August 13 Wednesday – In York Harbor, Maine Sam replied to Charles S. Fairchild’s Aug. 10
inquiry about the 14 W. 10th house for rent. It was “well enough, for a dam’d old rack-heap,” but he disdained the agent, “Something S. Brown,” whom he thought dishonest, and the owners, who were in Paris and who had left “one of the Christliest book-heaps” he knew of in the house [MTP].
Sam also wrote to H.H. Rogers about the crisis of the prior day for Livy (see entry) and included.
“We have a pair of excellent physicians. One is an osteopath with an allopathic diploma & training, & the other is a New York M. D. They work together. One comes several times a day & the other stays all night”
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.