May 6 Friday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence, Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Sam to I. Goldsmith Proctor, thanking him for the offer of Villa Granduchessa, which Sam had seen and found charming, but it was “not entirely suited to his needs” [MTP].
I. Goldsmith Proctor wrote from Florence to Sam about a possible villa for the Clemenses [MTP].
May 7 Saturday – Charles J. Langdon wrote to Livy, enclosing a statement to May 1 [MTP].
May 8 Sunday – Sam’s notebook: “Asked Dr. Kirch for his 3-months’ bill, & got it: $900! It is robbery. / Told
Miss Lyon to ask him to put it in lire—which he did: 4,500—& he was embarrassed. $900 is about 4,630 lire. The man
is a hog” [NB 47 TS 10]. Note: Sam would enjoin lawyers in a squabble over the billing.
May 9 Monday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to Muriel M. Pears.
It’s a long time, dear Miss Muriel—but I have not been lazy, only holding my hands & waiting; waiting to see the patient “turn the corner;” that corner which keeps on breathing the word of promise to our ear & breaking it to our hope. Always it is going to be turned this time, sure, & we get the patient out of the bed & into a chair, & think next day will find her wheeling the garden paths. But not so. It is back to bed again after 20 minutes, to spend another month there, with another 20-minute adventure (no, epoch!) at the end of it. This has lasted for long, now, & sometimes we have frights that turn us cold.
Yes, I wish we could hope to see England in the summer, but how could it ever be? We have taken a furnished villa for the summer-months in the hills 20 miles from here—to move the madam to it? No—to make her think such a thing may happen, & so keep her courage from perishing. We went through all the motions: examined the house searchingly, took it, paid for it, & privately bade it good-bye, no member of this beleaguered family ever seriously expecting to see it again. But the effect upon the madam is distinctly helpful. To have postponed could have made her suspicious. We have backed our loud hopes & wordy encouragements with acts. Acts are the things that convince.
It is nearly noon & no call yet; which means that I am not to be allowed my 2-minute visit to the sick-room to-day. (This happens, these days, after a bad night.) So I will give up waiting for the call, & get me to the work which sweeps this world away & puts me in one which no one has visited but me—nor will, for this book is not being written for print, & is not going to be published. But first I will have one look out of the window, for the shining spread of the valley & the blue hills beyond are adorably beautiful in the pouring sunlight to-day. Good-bye, the best of luck to you! (No, not the best, the next best—I spoke unheedfully.) / Sincerely & affectionately … [MTP].
Sam also replied to H.H. Rogers’ Apr. 22:
I wish I could find a pulpit that could rationally excuse & justify Nature’s atrocities—such as persecuting
harrassing & torturing unoffending people like Mrs. Randall [HHR’s mother-in-law] & Mrs. Clemens months & years to no valuable end. I cannot keep my temper when I think of those wanton & unforgivable malignities; & as I think of them several times a day I lose my temper pretty often. I have not told Mrs. Clemens of Mrs. Roger’s bereavement; it will be weeks yet, no doubt, before we can begin again to tell her things that can touch her feelings. If the doctor allows me to see her to-day she will be sure to ask me if I have heard from you, for she knows by instinct when a letter from you is due, although we never let her see any letters nowadays; I shall have to say I have a letter—& then go on & invent, saying you wrote only to say you & New York are getting along about as usual & no more to report.
I keep on hunting for villas, for it looks as if I was sure she would be able to be moved by & by, & so it helps to keep her courage up. Also I hired a summer-villa 20 miles from here for the same reason. It doesn’t look as if we could ever move her there, but Clara & I pretend with all our might.
I shan’t tell any one you & Mrs. Rogers are coming over, but I tell you it’s splendid news! for I do long for the faces of old friends. I stick close to the house except when obliged to go to town—which does not often happen—and it does get deadly lonesome on the days when the pen refuses to go & I can’t work. It’s a
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.