one just bursts at last in despair. The whole winter has been & still is ghastly, my mother has been growing steadily worse, the doctor’s tone is always discouraging, there is constant war with that Countess & my father is trying to sue her (with right of course) we expect to leave to move out of the house any minute & there it is, my mother couldn’t be moved if the house were burning….
I should think everyone would consider it dangerous to come near our family….
I never had such a strange feeling before in my life as I have today, I keep blushing at intervals & then feeling resentful—do tell me have you ever acted so that people were frightened away from you & admitted to you afterwards they thought you were insane? If you haven’t I pray you never will. I am in bed half the time nowadays anyway but this minute it seems to me I should like never [to] leave it.
This is not exactly a letter it’s sort of a “please do tell me that you have or that you know someone that had a similar attack,” it seems to me I don’t belong in good society anymore. Very affectionately yrs. C.C. [NY Times, Apr. 22, 2000 “Putting a Happy Face on an Often Unhappy Twain”;Trombley, MTOW 35-6].
Note: Sam was surrounded by incapacited females: Clara was nearing a nervous breakdown, which would fully erupt after her mother’s death; Isabel Lyon was in bed from Feb. 2 to 7 with nervous prostration from the donkey attack; and Livy was still an invalid whose condition was worsening.
Frederick A. Duneka wrote to Sam, hoping to:
“count on two short stories a year” from him. He had arranged in “accordance with your letter to let the Anti-vivisection Society in England have 3000 pamphlets of ‘The Dog’s Tale.’ This will not interfere with making a fine little book of it also, and we hope to sell that in England as well as here.” He noted that Howells was going to England in March, followed soon by Col. Harvey, and hoped they might all get together [MTP]. Sam wrote “Answered” on the env. Followed by “Wants the 2 stories—also 2 stories a year.”
Paola de Plaisant wrote an account to Sam of the donkey-bite to the peasant, Paggiciali Gerdincinco, on Jan 15, losing his thumb and part of his hand. Since the peasant claimed to own the donkey, and knew of its tendency to bite, an inquiry by a judge concluded nothing more could be done, and the Countess Massiglia was not liable [MTP].
February 5 Friday – Sam’s notebook: “3. The Cingalese. 3 pm” [NB 47 TS 6]. Note: the Cingalese were natives of Ceylon descended from its primitives, which makes little sense in this Florentine context; the reference is possibly to another play.
February 6 Saturday – Sam’s notebook: “3d, 4th, 5th, 6th Miss Lyon very ill. / Cabled Dr. Starr at 11 a.m. / Went to bank with Smith & to Mrs. Ryerson’s. Saw Rev. Mr. Alear there. Billiards with Smith. Mrs. Lyon told Clara the donkey had been chased 2 hours—no notice given any one of the danger” [NB 47 TS 6].
George Gregory Smith wrote to Sam, offering suggestions for Isabel Lyon to sue the Countess Massigila, and for Sam to bring suit for loss of services of Miss Lyon [MTP].
February 7 Sunday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to Prof. Pietro Grocco. Livy was getting worse and the good doctor was not always available. Jean Clemens copied the paragraph over in French [MTP].
We find that you were right in your original judgment that you would not be able to give the constant attention to Mrs. Clemens’s case which it would require from the physician who should take personal charge of it. In taking the indicated step, I beg to testify in what high honor we hold your great name & character, & how grateful we have been to you for the exception to your rule which you made in taking personal charge of her case. Mrs. Clemens grieves to lose you, whose face has been a so welcome one to her, but sometimes we cannot have you when we greatly need you, because you are obliged to be away from Florence so much on important consultations—once during a period of five days—a time of great uneasiness for us, but which
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.