Sam then told about his article published in the Christmas Harper’s (“Is it Heaven? or Hell?”) and on the lying that had to take place in his own house, very much the same as in the story, on Christmas Day, due to Jean’s illness and Livy still being a shut-in, though improving to the point where he got to see her ten minutes a day. He related almost letting Jean’s illness slip and of Clara’s control.
The other day Mrs. Clemens said to Clara, “I don’t believe I have heard Jean romp down the back stairs for weeks—why, I am certain I haven’t.” Clara said,
“She is afraid of disturbing you; she always goes down the main stairs, now.” “Tell her she is a dear good thoughtful child, & I think it is lovely of her.” There—isn’t it tragedy & comedy strangely mixed? [MTP].
Sam also wrote of “having tragedy & comedy curiously mixed, under this roof,” to Hélène Elisabeth Picard, whom he often addressed as “France,” as she was the Juggernaut Club member for that country. Otherwise, his letter here covers the same ground as his to Muriel Pears of this day (above) [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Theodore Weld Stanton.
I recall the matter. You were to say for the Messrs. Fischer to go ahead; that I was willing. Miss Marbury has charge of all my dramatic business of a serious sort, therefore I have asked her to put herself in communication with Mr. Bienstock and arrange the matter.
We hear a good deal about [Joseph] Verey these latter months, from London. He has descended to the grade of hog, (he hadn’t far to go) and is dying like one. But he was a mighty good courier in 1878, and had some trifle of value remaining when he took me down the Rhone [MTP].
Howard E. Wright wrote from NYC to Sam. “I am in receipt of your cheque for $9500 on account of your subscription to Plasmon Shares. Those shares will now be issued to you together with shares to cover your previous payments of $5000 and $500.” In reply to Sam’s request for a statement of affairs from the company, Wright had written Samuel Bergheim to solicit such a statement, which he said was the “right of all shareholders” [MTP]. Note: Wright had erred in asking before for only $500 when he meant $5,000.
January 15 Thursday – At night in Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote a note to Livy:
Ship ahoy! helm-alee! hard aport!—There, steady! let her go off a point!—luff, & bring her to the wind! I’m reading before-the-mast sailor-yarns, dearest, & am full of the salt sea & the great winds & the
wonders of the deep. They couldn’t understand me at dinner, they are land-lubbers & ignorant. Sleep well, dearest of the dear—I love you [MTP].
David A. Munro wrote to Sam.
“I had no exalted opinion of McCrackan, but I did not suppose that he could descend to that. But Christian Science—however much it may do for the physical health of the mass of its adherents—seems to have a queer effect on those who are charged with the task of fostering it through the press.” Munro enclosed a clipping, “which pretends to represent your views on the subject” (of Christian Science). “I have been retailing at large one sentence from your letter received yesterday, as an almost perfect illustration of the value of erasure as a literary device. The sentence is: ‘That old witch is getting mighty cautious.’ You could not have said it half as effectively if you had said or written it right out” [MTP].
Sam wrote check # 25 to American Plasmon Co. for $9,500, and noted “Endorsed, ‘The American Plasmon Co., R.W. Ashcroft, Treasurer” [NB 46 TS 5].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.