It was a mistake. When I came down in the morning a gray & aged wreck, & went over the figures again, I found that in some unaccountable way (unaccountable to a business man but not to me,) I had multiplied the totals by‘ 2. By God I dropped 75 years on the floor where I stood!
Do you know it affected me as one is affected when he wakes out of a hideous dream & finds that it was only a dream. It was a great comfort & satisfaction to me to call the daughters to a private meeting of the Board again & say “You need not worry any more; our outgo is only a third more than our income; in a few months your mother will be out of her bed & on her feet again—then we shall drop back to normal & be all right.”
Certainly there is a blistering & awful reality about a well-arranged unreality. It is quite within the possibilities that two or three nights like that night of mine could drive a man to suicide. He could refuse to re-examine the figures, they would revolt him so, & he could go to his death unaware that there was nothing serious about them. I cannot get that night out of my head, it was so vivid, so real, so ghastly. In any other year of these 33 the relief would have been simple: go where you can cut your cloth to fit your income. You can’t do that when your wife can’t be moved, even from one room to the next.
Clara spells the trained nurse afternoons; I am allowed to see Mrs. Clemens 20 minutes twice a day & write her two letters a day provided I put no news in them. No other person ever sees her except the physician & now & then a nerve-specialist from New York. She saw there was something the matter that morning, but she got no facts out of me. But that is nothing—she hasn’t had anything but lies for 8 months. A fact would give her a relapse.
The doctor & a specialist met in conspiracy five days ago, & in their belief she will by & by come out of this as good as new, substantially. They ordered her to Italy for next winter—which seems to indicate that by autumn she will be able to undertake the voyage. So Clara is writing a Florence friend to take a look around among the villas for us in the regions near that city. It seems early to do this, but John Bergheim thought it would be wise.
He & his wife lunched with us here yesterday. They have been abroad in Havana 4 months, & they sailed for England this morning. He said I would get back my original £5,000, & 10,000 shares in the International,
he thought it would be business common-sense to sell 5,000 of them if ever their value rose to double what they cost me‘, & hold on to the other 5,000.
I am enclosing an order for half of my (your) Founders shares. You are not to refuse them this time, though you have done it twice before. They are yours, not mine, & for your family’s sake if not your own you cannot in these cloudy days renounce this property which is so clearly yours & theirs. You have been generous long enough; be just, now—to yourself. Mr. Rogers is off yachting for 5 or 6 weeks, & the shares are in his safe—I’ll get them when he returns.
The head of the house joins me in warmest greetings & remembrances to you & Mrs. Mac Alister [MTP]. Note: for some reason Sam forgot to post this letter, and did not discover it until May 8. He then made updates.
Sam also wrote to The Plasmon Syndicate. “Sir: Please transfer to J. Y. W. Mac Alister, Esq half of my Founders Shares, this authorization to be returned to me as soon as I can get & forward to you the certificates” [MTP]. Note: see NB entry below.
Sam also wrote to H.H. Rogers.
By George, if I had known! For this good while I have been afraid to go near you lest I shed a blue cloud over you. I had a pretty large one on hand. I supposed our expenses were away beyond what we could stand.
It was a mistake. I have examined the check-books several times, & it always come disastrously out the same way. It was because, for some reason not known to me,—I always multiplied the totals by 2. I have got it right, at last, & am not blue anymore, now. I find that since Mrs. Clemens was taken sick our expenses are only $8000 or $9000 a year more than we can afford. I do not mind that—at least I don’t mind it enough to be blue about it. If you were back now, I wouldn’t be afraid to infect you. We had a conspiracy of physicians the day you sailed, & they decided that Mrs. Clemens must spend next winter in a moderate climate—Italy. That looks as if they expect her to be able to stand the voyage by fall. I believe she is making actual progress at last. The idea of going abroad has cheered her up & is good for her, for she is not deceived about our expenses here, in spite of all our lying. She says I will not be satisfied unless I can take you along, but I have
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.