February 15 Monday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to Susan Crane.
Susy dear, I have selected from Orion’s library 175 or 200 books & requested that they be shipped to you—& I said “Send the bill of costs to me, here, or to Mrs. Crane—either will do.” If the bill goes to you, ask Charley to pay it out of Livy’s money but be careful to charge it as “sundries” in her monthly account, or some such non-committal word, for Livy does not know of the death. You can put the boxes in my study or in the barn until you build your next house.
Very strange & wonderful, how Livy sinks down until our pulses stand still & we think the time is closing down upon us irrevocably—& next morning she is a bird again!
As per to-day. Yet yesterday I came near adding a page after my letter to Charley had been read by Livy—a page to say privately, “We are in deep uneasiness here.”
I do wish we could get her back into the wheel-chair once more & see her look as she looked 9 weeks ago—but that is away off! / Love to you such a much! [MTP].
Leila Gittings and Mary (not further identified) visited Jean, Miss Lyon and Clara (and possibly Sam) but was disappointed in being unable to see Livy, who was too ill to receive visitors; Leila suffered from a cold [Feb. 16 from Gittings].
February 16 Tuesday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto Sam wrote to Lady Augustus Gregory.
Dear Lady Gregory: / I wish to thank you for the quaint & beautiful stories, & for remembering us again. It is a time of sorrow for us, & fear; for this remorseless illness has wasted Mrs. Clemens to a shadow in this dreary year & a half of suffering, & there is no cheer in life, no promise, or only a little; & that little only comes & goes, shining out one day to fall into shadow the next. I do not know what life is for.
I hope Mr. Yeats is being well treated in our country; we should try to treat him well if we were there & rid of this heavy weight of distress. We keep him most pleasantly in mind, & you also, & we send our friendliest greetings & good wishes to you both [MTP].
Note: See Gribben 278 under Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland. Arranged and Put into English by Lady Gregory (London: 1904). Gribben also mentions Gregory’s incoming to Twain of Feb. 21.
Sam previewed two villas for a possible move. Livy was not improving, and the troubles with the Countess Massiglia, the cavernous and likely drafty Villa di Quarto all led to the search for a new home
[Feb. 17 to Duneka].
Sam’s notebook: “Curious dream last night—that our former cook came frightened & said, ‘The Countess has bitten the murderous donkey & it is dead’” [NB 47 TS 6].
Leila Gittings wrote from Florence to Livy, disappointed Livy wasn’t well enough to see her the day
before. “How I do appreciate the beautiful pen you sent me by Mr Clemens….Jean and Miss Lyon made it very
pleasant for Mary and me, and I was glad to have had a little glimpse of Clara.” She described the boarding house where she was staying [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “This may interest & amuse you. I am so sorry you have had such a bad cold. Use the formaline. It is good.”
Ed Towse for Mercantile Printing, Honolulu, Hawaii, wrote to Sam: “Can you spare the time to tell me about the enclosed? I do not find it in your ‘complete works’” [MTP]. Note: No enclosure is in the file. Sam wrote “Ans” on the letter.
February 17 Wednesday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to Susan Crane.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.