miserable at heart but outwardly smiling, & telling her happy mother what good times Jean was having, coasting & carrying on out in the snow with the Dodges these splendid winter days!
Consider it. Jean was taken the evening of Dec. 22d. Ever since then Clara has had to give her mother a detailed account of Jean’s day, every afternoon; & keep Jean out of doors the most of the time; & tell how fresh she is looking; & how she doesn’t show fatigue; & dresses warmly; & is obediently careful & doesn’t get overheated—& a lot more. And then Livy goes into bursts of wonder & admiration over Clara’s faithful guardianship of Jean, & especially her marvelous tact in beguiling that wilful child to do the sane & right thing. “It is perfectly wonderful, Clara, how do you do it, you gifted little thing!” & goes on & deluges poor Clara with undeserved praises that boil her down & disintegrate her & wash her away till there is nothing left of her but a small wad of contrition & shame. And she’s always trembling, on the inside, lest her mother flash out on her & say—
“Why, Clara, you told me it was Christmas she went to the dance, now you say it was Christmas-Eve.” Clara’s invention is on the rack all the time, & in various ways. A day or two ago she had to give Mark
Hamburg a headache which he hadn’t had. Her mother thought it so inhospitable not to ask him to play on the piano, & was distressed about it. (The piano is close to Jean’s room.) On Sunday she inadvertently tallied only 3 at the lunch-table: herself, John Howells, & me.
“Where was Jean?”
“Well—strictly speaking, she doesn’t count. She was in one of her thinking moods, & didn’t say a word.” On Monday—without stirring from the house—Clara did these various things: she received from her mother a list of shoppings to do in New York; put on company dress (for a lunch party); carried loving messages to the hostess (Mrs. Hapgood); went to New York; took the car to her music lesson; took a cab thence to Mrs. Hapgood’s because it was wetting & snowing; returned in a cab after the luncheon; was to be home in time for her watch (3.30); was home on time, & appeared in the sick-room with the shopping-purchases in her hands (she had sent Miss Lyon to New York for them); & sat down & told her mother all the conversation of the lunch-table; & when required to furnish the menu, did it (a thing Livy always requires)—& slipped up on one little detail: little-neck clams, or some other thing that was out of season—I think it was clams. Livy inquired sharply into that, & Clara furnished a properer dish at the same price. I wish
I was the father of a hundred liars like Clara.
Joe, Livy is the happiest person you ever saw. And she has had it all to herself for a whole week. What a week! So full of comedy & pathos & tragedy!
Jean had a good night last night, & she is doing as well as in the circumstances can be expected.
Joe, don’t let those people invite me—I couldn’t go. I have canceled all engagements, & shan’t accept another for a year.
There’ll be a full report of that dinner—issued by Col. Harvey as a remembrancer—& of course he will send it to all the guests. If he should overlook you—which he won’t—let me know.
The episode detailed in my Xmas story happened in our York cottage 3 years ago; it was told me there by Howells, on our verandah; & I wrote it up while Livy lay prostrate in the room where that mother died— happy in the belief that her daughter was well, & not suspecting that she had been buried from the house a few days before.
With great love to all of you / Mark
Soon my brief visit is due. I’ve just been up, listening at Livy’s door. For the first time in months I heard her break into one of her girlish old-time laughs. With a word I could freeze the blood in her veins [MTP]. Note: Sam added a long P.S. at 4:30 p.m. with more examples of deception to Livy.
Harper & Brothers sent Clemens a statement dated Dec. 31 showing $9,307.80 in royalties for subscription sets, and $3,277.53 for other book royalties [1902 Financials file MTP].
Susan Crane wrote to Sam, part of which is lost.
Dear “Holy Samuel,” / Your record of Clara’s attainments in the art of lying is a most interesting production, and I hastened to town with it, that Charlie too might enjoy the story of Clara’s skill.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.