February 18 Thursday –
Just a line, to say I see by your letter to one of the girls that we have been giving you a wrong impression of Livy’s condition—too favorable an impression. We haven’t meant to do it, but there ’tis! She is very very far from being as well as she was when she left America. It has been 9 or 10 weeks since she could leave her bed. She can’t eat; the food will not digest. She is pale, she is a shadow, she is very weak. I don’t know how she lives.
I suppose we have been afraid to speak plainly, lest your reply should indicate to her how uneasy we are. There—now you understand. Sometimes mighty fears come upon me & upon the children, no doubt, but
we keep still. I do not reveal my fears to them, they do not reveal their to me, if they have them. No doubt we do want to disburden ourselves to some friendly ear, but we can’t, we mustn’t. We shall lose the courage that keeps us up if we ever open our mouths! / With my best love… [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Frederick A. Duneka, itemizing stories and sketches sent or about to be sent. He added that he would like to “find texts for next year’s 2 short stories before this year is out,” then announced efforts to find a new villa:
For 17 days, now, I have been on the daily hunt for another villa. It has absorbed the most of my time. There are features about this one that make it unsuitable for Mrs. Clemens (who is not as well as she was when she left New York), & I will make a change at any cost, the moment she is well enough to be moved.
I do hope the Colonel & Howells will run over to Florence & eat some lunches with us. I hope the next villa will have a couple of spare rooms in it for friends like those—this one hasn’t one. There is a space in it for a cavalry regiment, horses & all, but not a single solitary spare bed-chamber. Give my love to both of them & ask them to come. I’ll be desperately glad to see them.
Jean is examining a villa to-day, yesterday I examined two, tomorrow Clara & I will examine two more.
Fiske examined 300 before he found one to suit [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: “Yet other marvels! It transpires that the house-sewage goes into cesspools under the house—amost under Mrs. C.’s room! (She came to Italy for her health.) Carbide. The stable is right under her room” [NB 47 TS 6].
The Bystander (London) ran an anonymous article, “Concerning Mark Twain,” p. 824. Tenney: “A somewhat general discussion of MT’s gravity and humor, his social criticism, and the integrity shown when he set to work paying creditors after his bankruptcy. Vigorous in mind and body, MT is ‘one of the most universally recognized and beloved of writers in our tongue.’ On p. 825, a full-page drawing of MT by Thomas Downey [MTJ Bibliographic Issue Number Four 42:1 (Spring 2004) 8].
Sam’s notebook: “Report that Count Massiglia is to arrive from Siam Saturday. Probably not very welcome news for his widow” [NB 47 TS 6]. Note: Count Annibale Raybaudi (Rebaudi) Massiglia (1853-1942), was a diplomat in several countries, but not all at once.
Francis P. Elliott for Washington Magazine wrote to ask Sam if he recalled lending him a paper he had written “to the possibilities of …establishing a postal currency system?” He asked if he might print the article [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the letter “Referred to Mr. Duneka / Mar 2, 1904.”
February 19 Friday – Sam’s notebook: “The peasant whose thumb was bitten off by the Countess’s mad donkey proposes to sue for damages. Recommended to him to Senator Lucchini” [NB 47 TS 6].
February 20 Saturday
February 21 Sunday – Lady Augusta Gregory wrote from Gort, Ireland to Sam, sorry to hear “so sad an account of your dear wife’s health.” Mr. Yeats was sailing home and she had given him Sam’s “kind message.” She was alone there making repairs from a great storm of last year, and would soon go to
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.