Adventures and Letters
Richard Harding Davis
Part 6 out of 7
in all men and in all women, remained as unruffled as if he
had never left his father's farm where he had spent his
childhood. When my father died Richard lost his "kindest and
severest critic" as he also lost one of his very closest
friends and companions.
During the short illness that preceded my brother's death,
although quite unconscious that the end was so near, his
thoughts constantly turned back to the days of his home in
Philadelphia, and he got out the letters which as a boy and as
a young man he had written to his family. After reading a
number of them he said: "I know now why we were such a happy
It was because we were always, all of us, of the same age."
During my brother's life there were four centres from which he
set forth on his travels and to which he returned to finish
the articles for which he had collected the material, or
perhaps to write a novel, a few short stories, or occasionally
a play, but unlike most of the followers of his craft, never
to rest. Indeed during the last twenty-five years of his life
I do not recall two consecutive days when Richard did not
devote a number of hours to literary work. The centres of
which I speak were first Philadelphia, then New York, then
Marion, and lastly Mount Kisco. Happy as Richard had been at
Marion, the quaint little village, especially in winter, was
rather inaccessible, and he realized that to be in touch with
the numerous affairs in which he was interested that his
headquarters should be in or near New York. In addition to
this he had for long wanted a home of his very own, and so
located that he could have his family and his friends
constantly about him. Some years, however, elapsed between
this dream and its realization. In 1903 he took the first
step by purchasing a farm situated in the Westchester Hills,
five miles from Mount Kisco, New York. He began by building a
lake at the foot of the hill on which the home was to stand,
then a water-tower, and finally the house itself. The plans
to the minutest detail had been laid out on the lawn at Marion
and, as the architect himself said, there was nothing left for
him to do but to design the cellar.
Richard and his wife moved into their new home in July, 1905,
and called it Crossroads Farm, keeping the original name of
the place. In later years Richard added various adjoining
parcels of land to his first purchase, and the property
eventually included nearly three hundred acres. The house
itself was very large, very comfortable, and there were many
guest-rooms which every week-end for long were filled by the
jolliest of house-parties. In his novel "The Blind Spot,"
Justus Miles Forman gives the following very charming picture
of the place:
"It was a broad terrace paved with red brick that was stained
and a little mossy, so that it looked much older than it had
any right to, and along its outer border there were bay-trees
set in big Italian terracotta jars; but the bay-trees were
placed far apart so that they should not mask the view, and
that was wise, for it was a fine view. It is rugged country
in that part of Westchester County--like a choppy sea: all
broken, twisted ridges, and abrupt little hills, and piled-up
boulders, and hollow, cup-like depressions among them. The
Grey house sat, as it were, upon the lip of a cup, and from
the southward terrace you looked across a mile or two of
hollow bottom, with a little lake at your feet, to sloping
pastures where there were cattle browsing, and to the far,
high hills beyond.
"There was no magnificence about the outlook--nothing to make
you catch your breath; but it was a good view with plenty of
elbow room and no sign of a neighbor--no huddling--only the
water of the little lake, the brown November hillsides, and
the clean blue sky above. The distant cattle looked like scenic
cattle painted on their green-bronze pasture to give an aspect
of husbandry to the scene."
Although Richard was now comfortably settled, he had of late
years acquired a great dread of cold weather. As soon as
winter set in his mind turned to the tropics, and whenever it
was possible he went to Cuba or some other land where he was
sure of plenty of heat and sunshine. The early part of 1906
found him at Havana, this time on a visit to the Hon. E. V.
Morgan, who was then our minister to Cuba. From Havana he
went to the Isle of Pines.
ISLE OF PINES, March 26th, 1906.
We are just returning from the Isle of Pines. We reached
there after a day on the water at about six on Wednesday,
22nd. They dropped us at a woodshed in a mangrove swamp,
where a Mr. Mason met us with two mules. I must have said I
was going to the island because every one was expecting me.
Until the night before we had really no idea when we would go,
so, to be welcomed wherever we went, was confusing. For four
days we were cut off from the world, and in that time, five
days in all, we covered the entire island pretty thoroughly--
It was one of the most interesting trips I ever took and Cecil
enjoyed it as much as I did. The island is a curious mixture
of palm and pines, one minute it looks like Venezuela and the
next like Florida and Lakewood. It is divided into two
parties of Americans, the "moderates" and the
"revolutionists." The Cubans are very few and are all
employed by the Americans, who own nine-tenths of the Island.
Of course, they all want the U. S. to take it, they differ
only as to how to persuade the senators
to do it. I had to change all my opinions about the
situation. I thought it was owned by land speculators
who did not live there, nor wish to live there, but instead I
found every one I met had built a home and was cultivating the
land. We gave each land company a turn at me, and we had to
admire orange groves and pineapples, grapefruit and coffee
until we cried for help. With all this was the most romantic
history of the island before the "gringos" came. It was a
famous place for pirates and buried treasures and slave pens.
It was a sort of clearing house for slaves where they were
fattened. I do not believe people take much interest in or
know anything about it, but I am going to try and make an
interesting story of it for Collier. It was queer to be so
completely cut off from the world. There was a wireless but
they would not let me use it. It is not yet opened to the
public. I talked to every one I met and saw much that was
pathetic and human. It was the first pioneer settlement Cecil
had ever seen and the American making the ways straight is
very curious. He certainly does not adorn whatever he
touches. But never have I met so many enthusiastics and such
pride in locality. To-night we reach the Hotel Louvre, thank
heaven! where I can get Spanish food again, and not American
ginger bread, and, "the pie like mother used to make." We now
are on a wretched Spanish tug boat with every one, myself
included, very seasick and babies howling and roosters
crowing. But soon that will be over, and, after a short ride
of thirty miles through a beautiful part of the island, we
will be in Havana in time for a fine dinner, with ice. What
next we will do I am not sure. After living in that beautiful
palace of Morgan's, it just needed five days of the "Pinero's"
to make us enjoy life at a hotel-- If we can make connections, I
think I will go over to Santo Domingo, and study up that subject,
too. But, even if we go no where else the trip to the I. of P.
was alone well worth our long journey. I don't know when I have
seen anything as curious, and as complicated a political
existence. Love to all of you dear ones.
HAVANA--April 9, 1906.
ARTHUR BARTLETT MAURICE, ESQ.
MY DEAR MAURICE:
I have just read about myself, in the April Bookman, which I
would be very ungrateful if I did not write and tell you how
much it pleased me. That sounds as though what pleased me
was, obviously, that what you said was so kind. But what I
really mean, and that for which I thank you, was your picking
out things that I myself liked, and that I would like to think
others liked. I know that the men make "breaks," and am sorry
for it, but, I forget to be sorry when you please me by
pointing out the good qualities in "Laquerre," and the bull
terrier. Nothing ever hurt me so much as the line used by
many reviewers of "Macklin" that "Mr. Davis' hero is a cad,
and Mr. Davis cannot see it." Macklin I always thought was
the best thing I ever did, and it was the one over which I
took the most time and care. Its failure was what as Maggie
Cline used to say, "drove me into this business" of play
writing. All that ever was said of it was that it was "A book
to read on railroad trains and in a hammock." That was the
verdict as delivered to me by Romeike from 300 reviewers, and
it drove me to farces. So, I was especially glad
when you liked "Royal Macklin." I tried to make a "hero" who
was vain, theatrical, boasting and selfconscious, but, still
likable. But, I did not succeed in making him of interest,
and it always has hurt me. Also, your liking the "Derelict"
and the "Fever Ship" gave me much pleasure. You see what I
mean, it was your selecting the things upon which I had
worked, and with which I had made every effort, that has both
encouraged and delighted me. Being entirely unprejudiced, I
think it is a fine article, and as soon as I stamp this, I
will read it over again. So, thank you very much, indeed, for
to say what you did seriously, over your own name, took a lot
of courage, and for that daring, and for liking the same
things I do, I thank you many times.
RICHARD HARDING DAVIS.
In reading this over, I find all I seem to have done in it is
to complain because no one, but yourself and myself liked
"Macklin." What I wanted to say is, that I am very grateful
for the article, for the appreciation, although I don't
deserve it, and for your temerity in saying so many kind
things. Nothing that has been written about what I have
written has ever pleased me so much.
R. H. D.
In the spring of 1906 while Richard was on a visit to
Providence, R. I., Henry W. Savage produced a play by Jesse
Lynch Williams and my brother was asked to assist at
rehearsals, a pastime in which he found an enormous amount of
pleasure. The "McCloy" mentioned in the following letter was
the city editor of The Evening Sun when my brother first joined
the staff of that paper as a reporter.
NEW YORK, May 4,1906.
I left Providence Tuesday night and came on to New York
yesterday. Savage and Williams and all were very nice about
the help they said I had given them, and I had as much fun as
though it had been a success I had made myself, and I didn't
have to make a speech, either.
Yesterday I spent in the newspaper offices gathering material
from their envelopes on Winston Churchill, M. P. who is to be
one of my real Soldiers of Fortune. He will make a splendid
one, in four wars, twice made a question; before he was 21
years old, in Parliament, and a leader in BOTH parties
before he was 36. In the newspaper offices they had a lot of
fun with me. When I came into the city room of The Eve.
Sun, McCloy was at his desk in his shirt spiking copy. He
just raised his eyes and went on with his blue pencil. I said
"There's nothing in that story, sir, the man will get well,
and the woman is his wife."
"Make two sticks of it," said McCloy, "and then go back to the
Jefferson police court."
When I sat down at my old desk, and began to write the copy
boy came and stood beside me and when I had finished the first
page, snatched it. I had to explain I was only taking notes.
At The Journal, Sam Chamberlain who used to pay me $500 a
story, touched me on the shoulder as I was scribbling down
notes, and said "Hearst says to take you back at $17 a week."
I said "I'm worth $18 and I can't come for less."
So he brought up the business manager and had a long wrangle
with him as to whether I should get $18. The business
manager, a Jew gentleman, didn't know me from Adam, and
seriously tried to save the paper a dollar a week. When the
reporters and typewriter girls began to laugh, he got very
mad. It was very funny how soothing was the noise of the
presses, and the bells and typewriters and men yelling "Copy!"
and "Damn the boy!" I could write better than if I had been in
the silence of the farm. It was like being able to sleep as
soon as the screw starts.
During the winter of 1907 the world rang with the reports of
the atrocities in the Congo, and Robert J. Collier, of Collier's
Weekly, asked Richard to go to the Congo and make
an investigation. I do not believe that my brother was ever
in much sympathy with the commission, as he did not feel that
he could afford the time that a thorough investigation demanded.
However, with his wife he sailed for Liverpool on
January 5, 1907, and three weeks later started for Africa.
Regarding this trip, in addition to the letters he wrote to
his family, I also quote from a diary which he had just
started and which he conscientiously continued until his death.
From diary of January 24th, 1907.
Last day in London. Margaret Frazer offered me gun from a
Captain Jenkins of Nigeria. Instead bought Winchester
repeating, hoping, if need it, get one coast. Lunched
Savoy-Lynch, Mrs. Lynch, her sister--very beautiful girl. In
afternoon Sam Sothern and Margaret came in to say "Good bye."
Dined at Anthony Hope's--Barrie and Mrs. Barrie and Jim
Whigham. Mrs. Barrie looking very well, Barrie not so well.
As silent as ever, only talked once during dinner when he told
us about the first of his series of cricket matches between
authors and artists. Did not have eleven authors, so going
along road picked up utter strangers one a soldier in front of
embracing two girls. Said he would come if girls came
too--all put in brake. Mrs. Barrie said the Llewellen Davis'
were the originals for the Darlings and their children in Peter
Pan. They played a strange game of billiards suggested by Barrie
who won as no one else knew the rules and they claimed he
invented them to suit his case. Sat up until three writing
and packing. The dinner was best have had this trip in London.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 11th, 1907.
To-morrow, we will be in Banana, which is the first port in
the Congo. When I remember how far away the Congo seemed from
New York and London, it is impossible to believe we are less
than a day from it. I am so very glad I came. The people who
have lived here for years agree about it in no one fact, so,
it is a go-as-you-please for any one so far as accurate
information is concerned, and I am as likely to be right as
any one else. It has been a pleasant trip and for us will not
be over until some days, for at Matadi, which is up the river,
we will probably live on the steamer as the shore does not
sound attractive. Then I shall probably go on up the river
and after a month or six weeks come back again. At Boma I am
to see the Governor, one of the inspectors on board is to
introduce me, and I have an idea they will make me as
comfortable as possible, so that I may not see anything. Not
that I would be likely to see anything hidden under a year.
Yesterday was the crossing of the Equator. The night before
Neptune, one of the crew, and his wife, the ship's butcher, and a
kroo boy, as black as coal for the heir apparent came over the
side and proclaimed that those who never before had crossed
the Equator must be baptized. We had crossed but I was
perfectly willing to go through it for the fun. The Belgians
went at it as seriously as children, and worked up a grand
succession of events. First we had gymkana races among the
kroo boys. The most remarkable was their placing franc pieces
in tubs of white and red flour, for which the boys dived, they
then dug for more money into a big basket fitted with feathers
and when they came out they were the most awful sights
imaginable. You can picture their naked black bodies and
faces spotted with white and pink and stuck like chickens with
feathers. Then the next day we were all hauled before a court
and judged, and having all been found guilty were condemned to
be shaved and bathed publicly at four. Meantime the Italians,
is it not the picture of them, had organized a revolution
against the Tribunal, with the object of ducking them. They
went into this as though it were a real conspiracy and had
signs and passwords. At four o'clock, in turn they sat us on
the edge of the great tank on the well deck and splashed us
over with paste and then tilted us in. I tried to carry the
Frenchman who was acting as barber, with me but only got him
half in. But Milani, one of the Italians, swung him over his
head plumb into the water. The Frenchman is a rich elephant
hunter who is not very popular. When the revolution broke
loose we all yelled "A bas le Tribunal" "Vivela Revolution"!
and there was awful rough house. I made for the Frenchman and
went in with him and nearly drowned him, and everybody was
being thrown into the tank or held in front of a fire cross.
After dinner there was a grand ceremony, the fourth, in which
certificates were presented by an Inspecteur d'Etat who is on
board, and is a Deputy Governor of a district. Then there was
much champagne and a concert and Cecil and I sat with the
Captain, the Bishop, in his robes and berretta and the two
inspectors and they were very charming to both of us.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 13th, 1907.
We reached Banana yesterday morning, and the mouth of the
Congo, and as the soldier said when he reached the top of San
Juan Hill, "Hell! well here we are!" Banana looks like one of
the dozen little islands in the West Indies, where we would
stop to take on some "brands of bananas," instead of the port
to a country as big as Europe. We went ashore and wandered
around under the palm trees, and took photos, and watched some
men fishing in the lagoons, and we saw a strange fish that
leaps on the top of the water just as a frog jumps on land.
It is certainly hot. Milani and I went in swimming in the
ocean, and got finely cool. Then we paddled the canoe back to
the ship to show the blacks how good we were, and got very
hot, and the blacks charged us a franc for the voyage.
To-morrow we will be in Boma, the capital, which is much of a
place with shops and a lawn tennis court.
BOMA, February 15th.
Boma is more or less laid out and contains the official
residences of the Government. I walked all over it in an
hour, and here you walk very slow. There are
three or four big trading stores AND a tennis court. It is,
however, a dreary place. We called on the missionary and his
wife, but she does not speak English and their point of view
of everything was not cheerful or instructive. Cecil plans to
remain on board while at Matadi and return with this same
boat to Boma. I want her to go home in this boat or in some
other, as I believe Boma most unhealthy and I know it to be
most uncomfortable. She would have to go to a hotel which is
very hot and rough, although it is clean and well run. I am
undecided whether to go up the river for ten days, to where it
crosses the equator, or to leave the upper Congo and go up the
Kasai river. This is off the beaten track, and one may see
something of interest. I will know better what I will do in
an hour, when I get to Matadi.
We are now at Matadi. The Captain invited us to stop on board
and it is well he did. We dine on deck where the wind blows
but the rest of the ship is being cleaned and painted for the
trip North. Four hatches are discharging cargo all at once,
from four in the morning until midnight. Officers and kroo
boys get four hours sleep out of the twenty-four, but I sleep
right through it, so does Cecil. Sometimes they take out iron
rails and then zinc roofs and steel boats, 6000 cases of gin
and 1000 tons of coal. Still, it is much better than in the
Hotel Africa on shore. Matadi is a hill of red iron and the
heat is grand. Everything in this country is grand. The
river is, in places, seven miles wide, the sunsets are like
nothing earthly, and the black people are like brooding
shadows of lost souls, that is, if souls have shadows. Most
of the blacks in this town are "prisoners" with a steel ring
around the neck, and chained in long lines. I leave on the 23d
to go up the Kasai River, because that is where the atrocities
come from and up there there are many missionaries. I don't want
you to think I say this to "calm your fears," but I say it
because it is as true of this place as of every other one in
the world, and that is, that it is as easy to get about here
as it is in Rhode Island. It is not half as dangerous as
automobiling. I have not even felt feverish, neither has
Cecil. I never felt better. Cecil stays on board and goes
back to Boma. There she stops a week and then takes another
ship back to London. She will not wait at Boma for me, at
least, I hope not and cannot imagine her doing so. In any
event, after I start, there will be no way for us to
communicate, and I will act on the understanding that she has
I have two very good boys and both speak English, and are from
Sierra Leone. I take a two-day trip of 200 miles by rail,
then four days by boat up the Kasai and then I may come back
by boat or walk. It depends on how I like it, how long I
stay, for I can hope to see very little, as under a year it
would be impossible to write with authority of this country.
But I'll see more of it than some at home, and I'll hear what
those who have lived here for years have to say. It is
awfully interesting, absolutely different and more uncivilized
than anything I ever saw. But all the time you are depressed
with how little you know and can know of it. I will be here
six weeks or two months and then should get up the coast to
London about the middle of May or sooner.
From diary of February 22nd, 1907.
Spent about the worst night of my life. No mattress, no
pillow. Not space enough for my own cot. Every insect in the
world ate me. After a bath and coffee felt better. It rained
heavily until three P. M. Read Pendennis, and loved it. The
picture of life at Clavering and Fairoaks, and Dr. Portman and
Foker are wonderful. I do not know when I have enjoyed and
admired a work so much. For some reason it is all entirely
new again. I will read them all now in turn. After rain
cleared took my slaves and went after "supplies." Met a King.
I thought he was a witch doctor, and the boys said he was a
dancing man. All his suite, wives and subjects followed,
singing a song that made your flesh creep. At Hatton and
Cookson's bought "plenty chop" for "boys" who were much
pleased. Also a sparklet bottle, some whiskey and two pints
of champagne at 7 francs the pint. Blush to own it was demi
Sec. Also bacon, jam, milk, envelopes, a pillow. Saw some
ivory State had seized and returned. 15 Kilo's. Some taken
from Gomez across street not returned until he gave up half.
No reason given Taylor agent H. & C. why returned Apparently
when called will come down on the ivory question. Cuthbert
Malet, coffee planter, came call on me. Only Englishman still
in Service State. Had much to say which did not want printed
until he out of country which will be in month or two.
Anstrossi has given me side of cabin where there is room for
my cot, so expect to sleep.
STANLEY POOL, Feb. 22nd, 1907.
When you get this, I will be on my way to London.
The rest of my stay here will be on board two boats,
touching at the banks of the Kasai river. One I now am on
takes me up and another takes me down. I will see a great
deal that is strange and it is very interesting. Yesterday,
for example, only an hour before our train reached Gongolo
Station, there were three elephants that wandered across the
track. We were very disappointed not to have seen them. At
the mission house on the way up, I brought the first ice the
mission boys had seen and when I put a piece in the hand of
one, he yelled and danced about as though it were a coal. The
higher up you go the tougher it gets. Back in the jungle, one
can only imagine what it is like. Here all the white men have
black wives, and the way the whip is used on the men is very
different from the lower congo. The boat is about as large as
a touring car, with all the machinery exposed. I am very
comfortable though, with my bed and camp chair, and, books to
read, when one gets tired of this great, dirty river. I,
expect to see hippopotamuses and many crocodiles and to learn
something of the "atrocities" by hearsay. To see for oneself,
would take months. I return from the Kasai district by a boat
like this one, burning wood and with a stern wheel, reaching
Leopoldville, this place, about the 12th of March, and sailing
on the Albertville for Southampton on the 19th of March. So
I should be in London and so very near you by the 8th of
April. Of course, if I take a later boat from here, I will be
just that much later. I am perfectly well, never better. No
fever, no "tired feeling" good appetite, in spite of awful
tough food. From this place money cannot be used and I carry
a bag of salt and rolls of cloth. For a bottle of salt you
get a fowl or a turkey, for a tablespoonful an egg, or a bunch
of fruit. When you write be sure and tell me
ALL your plans for the summer; that is, after you have been
to see us. My dearest love to you all.
From diary of February 27th, 1907.
Saw two hippos. Thought Anstrossi said they were buffalo. So
was glad when I found out what they were. I did not want to
go home without having seen only two dead ones. In a few
minutes I saw two more. Anstrossi fired at them but I did
not, as thought it not the game when one could not recover
them. Before noon saw six in a bunch--and then what I thought
was a spit of rock with a hippo lying on the end of it, turned
out to be fifteen hippos in a line! Burnham has told he had
seen eleven in the Volta in one day. Before one o'clock, I
had seen twenty-six, and, later in the day Anstrossi fired at
another, and shot a hole in the awning. That made
twenty-seven in one day. Also some monkeys.
The hippos were delightful. They seemed so aristocratic, like
gouty old gentlemen, puffing and blowing and yawning, as
though everything bored them.
From diary of February 28th, 1907.
When just going up for coffee, saw what was so big, looking at
it against horizon, thought it must be an elephant. Was a
young hippo. Captain Jensen brought boat within eighty yards
of him, and both Anstrossi and I fired, apparently knocking
him off his legs, for he rolled on his side as though his back
was broken. I missed him the second shot, which struck the
water just in front of him. The other three shots caught him
in the head, in the mouth and ear. He
lay quite still, and the boys rushed out a gang plank and
surrounded him singing and shouting and cutting his tail to
make him bleed and weaken him. They don't die for an hour but
he seemed dead enough, so I went to my cabin to re-load my gun
and my camera. In three minutes I came out, and found the
hippo still quiet. Then he began to toss his head and I shot
him again, to put him out of pain. In return for which he
rolled over into the water and got away. I was mad. Later
saw four more. Just at sunset while taking bath another was
seen on shore. We got within sixty yards of him and all of us
missed him or at least did not hurt him. He then trotted for
the river with his head up and again I must have missed,
although at one place he was but fifty yards away, when he
entered the water, a hundred. I stepped it off later in the
sand. I followed him up and hit him or some one of us hit him
and he stood up on his hind legs. But he put back to land for
the third time. Captain said wait until moon came out. But
though we hunted up to our waists saw none. One came quite
close at dinner. Seven on the day.
CONGO RIVER--March 1, 1907.
I have been up the Congo as far as the Kasai river, and up
that to a place called Dima. There I found myself in a sort
of cul de sac. I found that the rubber plantations I had come
to see, were nine days journey distant. In this land where
time and distance are so differently regarded than with us, a
man tells you to go to Dima to see rubber. He means after
getting to Dima, you must catch a steamer that leaves every
two weeks and travel for five days. But he forgets that
that fact is important to visitors. As he is under contract
to stay here three years, it does not much matter to him how
he spends a month, or so. Dima was two hundred yards square,
and then the jungle. In half an hour, I saw it all, and met
every one in it. They gave me a grand reception, but I could
not spend ten days in Dima. The only other thing I could do
was to take a canoe to the Jesuit Mission where the Fathers
promised me shooting, or, try to catch the boat back to
England that stops at interesting ports. Sooner than stop in
Boma, I urged Cecil to take that boat. So, if I catch it, we
will return together. It is a five weeks journey, and rather
long to spend alone. In any event my letters will go by a
faster boat. I have had a most wonderfully interesting visit,
at least, to me. I hope I can make it readable. But, much of
its pleasure was personal.
I have just had to stop writing this, for what when I get back
to New York will seem a perfectly good reason for interrupting
a letter to even you. A large hippopotamus has just pushed
past us with five baby hippos in front of her. She is shoving
them up stream, and the papa hippo is in the wake puffing and
blowing. They are very plenty here and on the way up stream,
I saw a great many, and every morning and evening went hunting
for them on shore. I wanted the head of a hippopotamus
awfully keenly for the farm. But of the only two I saw on
land, both got away from me. I did not shoot at any I saw in
the water, although the other idiot on board did, because if
you kill them, you cannot recover them, and it seems most
unsportsmanlike. Besides, I was so grateful to them for being
so proud and pompous, and real aristocrats dating back from
the flood. But I was terribly disappointed at losing both of
those I saw on land. One I dropped at the first shot, and the
other I missed, as he was running, to get back into the water.
The one I shot, and that everyone thought was dead, AFTER THE
"BOYS" BEGAN TO CUT HIM UP, decided he was not going to stand for
that, and to our helpless dismay suddenly rolled himself into the
water. If that is not hard luck, I don't know it. All I got was
a bad photograph of him, and I had already decided where I would
hang his head, and how much I would tip the crew for cutting
him up. It was a really wonderful journey. I loved every
minute of it and never was I in better health.
If I only could have known that you knew that I was all right,
but instead you were worrying. The nights were bright
moonlight, and the days were beautiful; full of strange people
and animals, birds and views. We three sat in the little
bridge of the tinpot boat, and smoked pipes and watched the
great muddy river rushing between wonderful banks. There was
the Danish Captain, an Italian officer and the engineer was
from Finland. The Italian spoke French and the two others
English, and I acted as interpreter!! Can you imagine it? I
am now really a daring French linguist. People who understand
me, get quick promotion. If I only could have been able to
tell you all was well and not to be worried. At Kwarmouth I
have just received a wire from Cecil saying she expects to
leave by the slow boat but will stay if I wish it. So, now we
can both go by the slow boat if I can catch it. I hope so.
must have found Boma as bad as it looked. God bless you all.
On April 13, Richard was back in London and in his diary of
that date he writes, "Never so glad to get anywhere. Went to
sleep to the music of motorcars. Nothing ever made me feel so
content and comfortable and secure as their `honk, honk.'"
From diary of April 22nd, 1907.
A blackmailer named H---- called, with photos of atrocities
and letters and films. He wanted 30 Pounds for the lot. I
gave him 3 Pounds for three photos. One letter he showed me
signed Bullinger, an Englishman, said he had put the fear of
God in their hearts by sticking up the chief's head on a pole,
and saying, "Now, make rubber, or you will look like that."
Went to lunch with Pearson but it was the wrong day, and so
missed getting a free feed. Thinking he would turn up, I
ordered a most expensive lunch. I paid for it. Evening went
Patience, which liked immensely and then Duchess of
Sutherland's party to Premiers. Saw Churchill and each
explained his share of the Real Soldiers row.
From diary of April 28th, 1907.
We went down by train to Cliveden going by Taplow to
Maidenhead where Astor had sent his car to meet us. It is a
wonderful place and the view of the Thames is a beautiful one.
They had been making alterations, bathrooms, and putting white
enamel tiles throughout the dungeons. If Dukes lived no more
comfortably than those who owned Cliveden, I am glad I was not
a Duke. What was most amusing was the servant's room which
was quite as smart as any library or study, with fine
paintings, arm chairs and writing material. Nannie and Astor
were exceedingly friendly and we walked all over the place.
It was good to get one's feet on turf again. They sent us
back by motor, so we arrived most comfortably. I gave a
dinner to the Hopes, Wyndham, Miss Mary Moore,
Ashmead-Bartlett and Margaret. Websters could not come.
Later, came on here, and had a chat, the Websters coming too.
I read Thaw trial.
Early in May Richard and his wife returned to Mount Kisco and
my brother at once started in to change his farce "The
Galloper" into a musical comedy. It was produced on August
12, at the Astor Theatre, under the title of the "Yankee
Tourist," with Raymond Hitchcock as the star. The following I
quote from Richard's diary of that date:
Monday, August 12th, 1907.
Was to have lunched with Ned Stone but he was in court. Met
Whigham in street. Impulsively asked him to lunch. Ethel and
Jack turned up at Martin's; asked them to lunch. Ethel and I
drove around town doing errands, mine being the purchase of
tickets for numerous friends. Called on Miss Trusdale to
inquire about Harden-Hickey. She wants her to go to the
country. Cecil arrived at six. We had a suite of eighty-nine
rooms. We dined at Sherry's with Ethel and Jack, Ethel being
host. Taft was there. Hottest night ever. I sat with Jack.
In spite of weather, play went well. Bonsals, Ethel, Arthur
Brisbane were in Cecil's box. Booth Tarkington in Irwin's.
Surprise of performance was "Hello, Bill" which Raymond had
learned only that morning. Helen Hale helped him greatly with
dance. People came to supper at Waldorf, and things went all
wrong. Next time I have a first Night I want no friends during
or after. Missed the executive ability of Charles Belmont
A LONDON WINTER
From the fall of 1907 to that of 1908 Richard divided his time
between Mount Kisco, Marion, and Cuba. In December of 1908 he
sailed for London where he took Turner the artist's old house
in Chelsea for the winter.
Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.
December 25. Christmas Day.
We are settled here in Darkest Chelsea as though we had been
born here. I am thinking of putting in my time of exile by
running for Mayor. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful place in
which to write the last chapters of "Once Upon a Time." The
house is quite wonderful. In Spring and Summer it must be
rarely beautiful. It has trees in front and a yard and a
garden and a squash court: a sort of tennis you play against
the angles of walls covered smooth with cement. Also a studio
as large as a theatre. Outside the trees beat on the windows
and birds chirp there. The river flows only forty feet away,
with great brown barges on it, and gulls whimper and cry, and
aeroplane all day. I have a fine room, and about the only one
you can keep as warm as toast SHOULD be, and in England
Cecil has engaged a teacher, and a model and he is coming
here to work. He is twenty years old, and called the
"boy Sargent." So, as soon as the British public
gets sober, we will begin life in earnest, and both
work hard. I need not tell you how glad I am to be at it. I
was with you all in heart last night and recited as much as I
could remember of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," which
always means Dad to me, as he used to read it to us. How much
he made the day mean to us. I wish I could just slip in for a
kiss, and a hug. But tonight we will all drink to you, and a
few hours later you will drink to us. God bless you all.
A blizzard has swept over London. The last one cost the City
Corporation $25,000!! The last man who contracted to clean
New York of snow was cleaned out by two days of it, to the
tune of $200,000. Still, in spite of our alleged superiority
in all things, one inch of snow in Chelsea can do more to
drive one to drink and suicide than a foot of it "on the
farm." At the farm we threw a ton of coal against it, and lit
log fires and oil lamps, and were warm. Here, they try to
fight it with two buckets of soft chocolate cake called Welch
coal, and the result is you freeze. Cecil's studio is like
one vast summer hotel at Portland Maine in January. You
cannot go near it except in rubber boots, fur coats and woolen
gloves. My room still is the only one that is livable. It is
four feet square, heavily panelled in oak and the coal fire
makes it as warm as a stoke hole. So, I am all right and can
work nicely. Janet Sothern came to lunch today and Cecil and
she in furs went picture gazing. Tomorrow we have Capt. Chule
to dinner. He came up the West coast with us and is accustomed
to a temperature of 120 degrees.
New Year's eve we spend with Lady Lewis where we dine and keep
it up until four in the morning. We will easily be able to
get back here but how we can get a hansom from here to the
great city, I can't imagine. I have seen none in five days.
It is fine to be surrounded by busts of Carlyle, Whistler,
Rosetti and Turner's own, but occasionally you wish for a
taxicab. Tomorrow I am going on a spree to the great city of
London. The novel goes on smoothly, and all is well. I am
still running for Mayor of Chelsea.
Love to you all.
LONDON--January 1, 1909.
I drank your health and Noll's and Charley's last night and so
we all came into the New Year together. I hope it will be as
good for me as the last. Certainly Chas. is coming on well
with another book. It is splendid. I am so very, very glad.
Some of the very best stories anybody has written will be in
his next book.
We dined at the Lewis's. There were 150 at dinner and as we
live in Chelsea now--one might as well be in Brooklyn--we were
a half hour late. Fancy feeling you were keeping 150 people
hungry. I sat at Lady Lewis's table with some interesting men
and one beautiful woman all dressed in glass over pink silk,
and pearls, and pearls and then, pearls. She said "Who am I"
and I said "You look like a girl in America, who used to stand
under a green paper lamp shade up in a farm house in New
Hampshire and play a violin." Whereat there was much applause,
because it seemed she was that girl, the daughter of a Mrs. Van
S----, who wrote short stories. Her daughter was L---- Van S----
now the wife of a baronet and worth five million dollars. The
board we paid then was eight dollars a week. Now, we are dining
with her next Monday and as I insisted on gold plate she said
"Very well, I'll get out the gold plate." But wasn't it dramatic
of me to remember her after twenty two years?
LONDON-February 23, 1909.
George Washington's health was celebrated by drinking it at
dinner. I had been asked to speak at a banquet but for some
strange reason could not see myself in the part. The great
Frohman arrived last night and we are all agitated until he
speaks. If he would only like my plays as some of the actors
do, I would be passing rich. Barrie asked himself to lunch
yesterday and was very entertaining. He told us of a letter
he received from Guy DuMaurier who wrote "An Englishman's
Home" which has made a sensation second to nothing in ten
years. He is an officer stationed at a small post in South
Africa. He wrote Barrie he was at home, very blue and
homesick, and outside it was raining. Then came Barrie's long
cable, at 75 cents a word, saying his play was the success of
the year. He did not know even it had been ACCEPTED. He
shouted to his wife, and they tried to dance but the hut was
too small, so they ran out into the compound and danced in the
rain. Then he sent the Kaffir boys to the mess to bring all
the officers and all the champagne and they did not go to bed
at all. The next day cables, still at three shillings a word
came from papers and magazines and publishers, managers,
syndicates. And, in his letter he says, still not appreciating
what a fuss it has made, "I suppose all it needs now is to be
made a question in the House," when already it has been the text
of half a dozen speeches by Cabinet Ministers, and three
companies are playing it in the provinces. What fun to have a
success come in such a way, not even to know it was being
rehearsed. Today Sargent is here to see what is wrong with
Cecil's picture of Janet. He came early and said he couldn't
tell until he saw Janet, so now he is back again, and both Janet
and Cecil are shaking with excitement. He is the most simple,
kindly genius I ever met. He says the head is very fine and I
guess Cecil suspected that, before she called him in. He says
she must send it to the Royal Academy. I am now going out to
hear more words fall from the great man, and so farewell.
Seymour and I began work yesterday on the Dictator. It went very
smooth. All my love to Noll and to you.
Read the other letter first and then, let me tell you that
when I went out to see Sargent, I found Cecil complaining that
she could not understand just how it was he wanted Janet to
pose. Whereat she handed him a piece of chalk and he made a
sketch of Janet as exquisite as the morning and rubbed his
hands of the charcoal and left it there! It's only worth a
hundred pounds! Can you imagine the nerve of Cecil. I was so
shocked I could only gasp. But, he was quite charming and
begged her to call him next time she got in a scrape, and gave
her his private telephone number.
Fancy having Sargent waiting to be called up to make sketches
for you. I left Janet and Cecil giggling with happiness.
Janet because she had been sketched by him and Cecil because
she has the sketch. It's a three fourths length three feet
high, and he did it in ten minutes. I am now going to ask her
to invite the chef of the Ritz in, to give us a sketch of
cooking a dinner.
In August, 1909, Richard and his wife left Mount Kisco for a
visit to Mr. and Mrs. Clark at Marion. While there my brother
attended and later on wrote an article on the war manoeuvres
held at Middleboro, Massachusetts.
August 16th, 1909.
We had a splendid day to day. I arranged to have Cecil meet
me at eleven at Headquarters in the woods below Middleboro,
and I spent the morning locating different regiments. Then,
after I "met up" with her, I took her in my car. Both she and
Hiller were awfully keen over it, so, we got on splendidly.
And, of course, Hiller's knowledge of the country was
wonderfully convenient. We had great luck in seeing the only
fight of the day, the first one of the war. Indeed, I think
we caused it. There was a troop of cavalry with a Captain who
was afraid to advance. I chided him into doing something, the
umpire having confided to me, he would mark him, if he did
not. But, he did it wrong. Anyway, he charged a barn with 36
troopers and lost every fourth man. In real warfare he would
have lost all his men and all his horses. Cecil and Hiller
pursued in the car at the very heels of the cavalry, and I ran
ahead with the bicycle scouts. It was most exciting. I am going
out again to-morrow. Lots of Love to you all.
August 19th, 1909.
I got in last night too late to write and I am sorry. To-day,
the war came to an end with our army, the Red one, with the
road to Boston open before it. Indeed, when the end came,
they were fighting with their backs to that City, and could
have entered it to-night. I begged both Bliss and Wood to
send in the cavalry just for the moral effect, but they were
afraid of the feeling, that was quite strong. I had much fun,
never more, and saw all that was worth seeing. I was glad to
see I am in such good shape physically, but with the tramping
I do over the farm, it is no wonder. I could take all the
stone walls at a jump, while the others were tearing them
down. I also met hundreds of men I knew and every one was
most friendly, especially the correspondents. Just as I liked
to be on a story with a "star" man when I was a reporter, they
liked having a real "war" correspondent, take it seriously.
They were always wanting to know if it were like the Real
Thing, and as I assured them it was, they were satisfied.
Some incidents were very funny. I met a troop of cavalry this
morning, riding away from the battle, down a crossroad, and
thinking it was a flanking manoeuvre, started to follow them
with the car. "Where are you going?" I asked the Captain.
"Nowhere," he said, "We are dead." An Umpire was charging in
advance of two troops of the 10th down a state road, when one
trooper of the enemy who were flying, turned back and alone
charged the two troops. "You idiot"! yelled the Umpire,
"don't you know you and your horse are shot to pieces?"
"Sure, I know it," yelled the trooper "but, this ---- horse
don't know it."
Early in the fall of 1909 Richard returned from Marion to New
York and went to Crossroads, where for the next three years he
remained a greater part of the time. They were years of great
and serious changes for him. An estrangement of long standing
between him and his wife had ended in their separation early
in 1910, to be followed later by their divorce. In September
of that year my mother died while on a visit to Crossroads.
After my father's death life to her became only a period of
waiting until the moment came when she would rejoin
him--because her faith was implicit and infinite. She could
not well set about preparing herself because all of her life
she had done that and, so, smiling and with a splendid bravery
and patience she lived on, finding her happiness in bringing
cheer and hope and happiness to all who came into the presence
of her wonderful personality. The old home in Philadelphia
was just the same as it had been through her long married
life--that is with one great difference, but on account of
this difference I knew that she was glad to spend her last
days with Richard at Crossroads. And surely nothing that
could be done for a mother by a son had been left undone by
him. Through these last long summer days she sat on the
terrace surrounded by the flowers and the sunshine that she so
loved. Little children came to play at her knee, and old
friends travelled from afar to pay her court.
In the winter of 1910-11 my brother visited Aiken, where he
spent several months. The following June he went to London at
the time of King George's coronation, but did not write about
it. Again, in November, 1911, he visited my sister in London,
but returned to New York in January, 1912, and spent a part of
the winter in Aiken and Cuba. At Aiken he found at least
peace and the devotion of loving friends that he so craved,
but in London and Cuba, which once had meant so much to him,
he seemed to have lost interest entirely. But not once during
these years did he cease working, and working hard. On almost
every page of his diary at this period I find such expressions
as "wrote 500 words for discipline." And again "Satisfaction
in work of last years when writing for existence, has been up
to any I ever wrote."
And in spite of all of the trouble of these days, he not only
wrote incessantly but did some of his very finest work.
Personally I have never seen a man make a more courageous
fight. To quote again from his diary of this time: "Early
going to my room saw red sunrise and gold moon. I seemed to
stop worrying about money. With such free pleasures I found I
could not worry. Every day God gives me greater delight in
good things, in beauty, and in every simple exercise and
Twice during these difficult days he went to visit Gouverneur
Morris and his wife at Aiken, and after Richard's death his
old friend wrote of the first of these visits:
"It was in our little house at Aiken, in South Carolina, that
he was with us most and we learned to know him best, and that
he and I became dependent upon each other in many ways.
"Events, into which I shall not go, had made his life very
difficult and complicated. And he who had given so much
friendship to so many people needed a little friendship in
return, and perhaps, too, he needed for a time to live in a
house whose master and mistress loved each other, and where
there were children. Before he came that first year our house
had no name. Now it is called `Let's Pretend.'
"Now the chimney in the living-room draws, but in those first
days of the built-over house it didn't. At least, it didn't
draw all the time, but we pretended that it did, and with much
pretense came faith. From the fireplace that smoked to the
serious things of life we extended our pretendings, until real
troubles went down before them--down and out.
"It was one of Aiken's very best winters, and the earliest
spring I ever lived anywhere. R. H. D. came shortly after
Christmas. The spiraeas were in bloom, and the monthly roses;
you could always find a sweet violet or two somewhere in the
yard; here and there splotches of deep pink against gray cabin
walls proved that precocious peach-trees were in bloom. It
never rained. At night it was cold enough for fires. In the
middle of the day it was hot. The wind never blew, and every
morning we had a four for tennis and every afternoon we rode
in the woods. And every night we sat in front of the fire
(that didn't smoke because of pretending) and talked until the
"He was one of those rarely gifted men who find their chiefest
pleasure not in looking backward or forward, but in what is
going on at the moment. Weeks did not have to pass before it
was forced upon his knowledge that Tuesday, the fourteenth
(let us say), had been a good Tuesday. He knew it the moment
he waked at 7 A. M., and perceived the Tuesday sunshine making
patterns of bright light upon the floor. The sunshine
rejoiced him and the knowledge that even before breakfast
there was vouchsafed to him a whole hour of life. That day
began with attentions to his physical well-being. There were
exercises conducted with great vigor and rejoicing, followed
by a tub, artesian cold, and a loud and joyous singing of
"The singing over, silence reigned. But if you had listened
at his door you must have heard a pen going, swiftly and
boldly. He was hard at work, doing unto others what others
had done unto him. You were a stranger to him; some magazine
had accepted a story that you had written and published it.
R. H. D. had found something to like and admire in that story
(very little perhaps), and it was his duty and pleasure to
tell you so. If he had liked the story very much he would
send you instead of a note a telegram. Or it might be that
you had drawn a picture, or, as a cub reporter, had shown
golden promise in a half column of unsigned print, R. H. D.
would find you out, and find time to praise you and help you.
So it was that when he emerged from his room at sharp eight
o'clock, he was wide-awake and happy and hungry, and whistled
and double-shuffled with his feet, out of excessive energy,
and carried in his hands a whole sheaf of notes and letters
"Breakfast with him was not the usual American breakfast, a
sullen, dyspeptic gathering of persons who only the night
before had rejoiced in each other's society. With him it was
the time when the mind is, or ought to be, at its best, the
body at its freshest and hungriest. Discussions of the latest
plays and novels, the doings and undoings of statesmen, laughter
and sentiment--to him, at breakfast, these things were as
important as sausages and thick cream.
"Breakfast over, there was no dawdling and putting off of the
day's work (else how, at eleven sharp, could tennis be played
with a free conscience?). Loving, as he did, everything
connected with a newspaper, he would now pass by those on the
hall-table with never so much as a wistful glance, and hurry
to his workroom.
"He wrote sitting down. He wrote standing up. And, almost
you may say, he wrote walking up and down. Some people,
accustomed to the delicious ease and clarity of his style,
imagine that he wrote very easily. He did and he didn't.
Letters, easy, clear, to the point, and gorgeously human,
flowed from him without let or hindrance. That masterpiece of
corresponding, the German March through Brussels, was probably
written almost as fast as he could talk (next to Phillips
Brooks, he was the fastest talker I ever heard), but when it
came to fiction he had no facility at all. Perhaps I should
say that he held in contempt any facility that he may have
had. It was owing to his incomparable energy and Joblike
patience that he ever gave us any fiction at all. Every
phrase in his fiction was, of all the myriad phrases he could
think of, the fittest in his relentless judgment to survive.
Phrases, paragraphs, pages, whole stories even, were written
over and over again. He worked upon a principle of elimination.
If he wished to describe an automobile turning in at a gate, he
made first a long and elaborate description from which there
was omitted no detail, which the most observant pair of eyes
in Christendom had ever noted with reference to just such
a turning. Thereupon he would begin a process of
omitting one by one those details which he had been at such
pains to recall; and after each omission he would ask himself,
`Does the picture remain?' If it did not, he restored the
detail which he had just omitted, and experimented with the
sacrifice of some other, and so on, and so on, until after
Herculean labor there remained for the reader one of those
swiftly flashed ice-clear pictures (complete in every detail)
with which his tales and romances are so delightfully and
"But it is quarter to eleven, and this being a time of
holiday, R. H. D. emerges from his workroom happy to think
that he has placed one hundred and seven words between himself
and the wolf who hangs about every writer's door. He isn't
satisfied with those hundred and seven words. He never was in
the least satisfied with anything that he wrote, but he has
searched his mind and his conscience and he believes that
under the circumstances they are the very best that he can do.
Anyway, they can stand in their present order until--after
"A sign of his youth was the fact that to the day of his death
he had denied himself the luxury and slothfulness of habits.
I have never seen him smoke automatically as most men do. He
had too much respect for his own powers of enjoyment and for
the sensibilities, perhaps, of the best Havana tobacco. At a
time of his own deliberate choosing, often after many hours of
hankering and renunciation, he smoked his cigar. He smoked it
with delight, with a sense of being rewarded, and he used all
the smoke there was in it.
"He dearly loved the best food, the best champagne, and the
best Scotch whiskey. But these things were
friends to him, and not enemies. He had toward food and drink
the continental attitude; namely, that quality is far more
important than quantity; and he got his exhilaration from the
fact that he was drinking champagne and not from the
champagne. Perhaps I shall do well to say that on questions
of right and wrong he had a will of iron. All his life he
moved resolutely in whichever direction his conscience
pointed; and although that ever present and never obtrusive
conscience of his made mistakes of judgment now and then, as
must all consciences, I think it can never once have tricked
him into any action that was impure or unclean. Some critics
maintain that the heroes and heroines of his books are
impossibly pure and innocent young people. R. H. D. never
called upon his characters for any trait of virtue, or
renunciation, or self-mastery of which his own life could not
In June of 1912 Richard reported the Republican convention at
Chicago. Shortly after this, on July 8, he married at
Greenwich, Connecticut, Miss Elizabeth Genevieve McEvoy, known
on the stage as Bessie McCoy, with whom he had first become
acquainted in 1908 after the estrangement from his wife.
Richard and his wife made their home at Crossroads, where he
devoted most of his working hours to the writing of short
stories. In August of that year my brother, accompanied by
his wife, returned to Chicago to report the Progressive
convention. During the year 1913 he wrote and produced the
farce "Who's Who," of which William Collier was the star, and
in the fall of the same year spent a month in Cuba, with
Augustus Thomas, where they produced a film version of
"Soldiers of Fortune." In referring to this trip, Thomas wrote at
the time of Richard's death:
"In 1914 a motion-picture company arranged to make a feature
film of the play, and Dick and I went with their outfit to
Santiago de Cuba, where, twenty years earlier, he had found
the inspiration for his story and out of which city and its
environs he had fashioned his supposititious republic of
Olancho. On that trip he was the idol of the company. With
the men in the smoking-room of the steamer there were the
numberless playful stories, in the rough, of the experiences
on all five continents and seven seas that were the
backgrounds of his published tales.
"At Santiago, if an official was to be persuaded to consent to
some unprecedented seizure of the streets, or a diplomat
invoked for the assistance of the Army or the Navy, it was the
experience and good judgment of Dick Davis that controlled the
task. In the field there were his helpful suggestions of work
and make up to the actors, and on the boat and train and in
hotel and camp the lady members met in him an easy courtesy
and understanding at once fraternal and impersonal.
"The element that he could not put into the account and which
is particularly pertinent to this page, is the author of
`Soldiers of Fortune' as he revealed himself to me both with
intention and unconsciously in the presence of the familiar
"For three weeks, with the exception of one or two occasions
when some local dignitary captured the revisiting lion, he and
I spent our evenings together at a cafe table overlooking `The
Great Square,' which he sketches so deftly in its atmosphere
when Clay and the Langhams and Stuart dine there. At one end
of the plaza the President's band was playing native waltzes
that came throbbing through the trees and beating softly above
the rustling skirts and clinking spurs of the senoritas and
officers sweeping by in two opposite circles around the edges
of the tessellated pavements. Above the palms around the
square arose the dim, white facade of the Cathedral, with the
bronze statue of Anduella the liberator of Olancho, who
answered with his upraised arm and cocked hat the cheers of an
"Twenty years had gone by since Dick had received the
impression that wrote those lines, and now sometimes after
dinner half a long cigar would burn out as he mused over the
picture and the dreams that had gone between. From one long
silence he said: `I think I'll come back here this winter and
bring Mrs. Davis with me--stay a couple of months.' What a
fine compliment to a wife to have the thought of her and that
plan emerge from that deep and romantic background.
"The picture people began their film with a showing of the
`mountains which jutted out into the ocean and suggested
roughly the five knuckles of a giant's hand clenched and lying
flat upon the surface of the water.' That formation of the
sea wall is just outside of Santiago. `The waves tunnelled
their way easily enough until they ran up against those five
mountains and then they had to fall back.' How natural for one
of us to be unimpressed by such a feature of the landscape and
yet how characteristic of Dick Davis to see the elemental
fight that it recorded and get the hint for the whole of the
engineering struggle that is so much of his book.
"We went over those mountains together, where
two decades before he had planted his banner of romance. We
visited the mines and the railroads and everywhere found some
superintendent or foreman or engineer who remembered Davis.
He had guessed at nothing. Everywhere he had overlaid the
facts with adventure and with beauty, but he had been on sure
footing all the time. His prototype of MacWilliams was dead.
Together we visited the wooden cross with which the miners had
marked his grave.
VERA CRUZ AND THE GREAT WAR
Late in April, 1914, when war between the United States and
Mexico seemed inevitable Richard once more left the peace and
content of Crossroads and started for Vera Cruz, arriving
there on April 29. He had arranged to act as correspondent
for a syndicate of newspapers, and as he had for long been
opposed to the administration's policy of "watchful waiting"
was greatly disappointed on his arrival at the border to learn
of the President's plan of mediation. He wrote to his wife:
CRUZ, April 24, 1914.
We left today at 5.30. It was a splendid scene, except for
the children crying, and the wives of the officers and
enlisted men trying not to cry. I got a stateroom to myself.
With the electric fan on and the airport open, it is about as
cool as a blast furnace. But I was given a seat on the left
of General Funston, who is commanding this brigade, and the
other officers at the table are all good fellows. As long as
I was going, I certainly had luck in getting away as sharply
as I did. One day's delay would have made me miss this
transport, which will be the first to land troops.
A dreadnaught joined us today, the Louisiana. I wirelessed
the Admiral asking permission to send a press despatch via his
battleship, and he was polite in reply, but firm. He said "No."
There are four transports and three torpedo boats and the
battleship. We go very slowly, because we must keep up with one
of the troop ships with broken engines. At night it is very
pretty seeing the ships in line, and the torpedo boats winking
their signals at each other. I am writing all the time or
reading up things about the army I forget and getting the new
dope. Also I am brushing up my Spanish. Jack London is on
board, and three other correspondents, two of whom I have met on
other trips, and one "cub" correspondent. He was sitting beside
London and me busily turning out copy, and I asked him what he
found to write about. He said, "Well, maybe I see things you
fellows don't see." What he meant was that what was old to us
was new to him, but he got guyed unmercifully.
April 27, 1914.
The censor reads all I write, and so do some half-dozen
Mexican cable clerks and 60 (sixty) correspondents. So when I
cable "love," it MEANS devotion, adoration, and worship;
loyalty, fidelity and truth, wanting you, needing you, unhappy
for you. It means ALL that.
VERA CRUZ, April 30, 1914.
This heat--humid and moist--would sweat water out of a chilled
steel safe; so imagine what it does to me with all the awful
winter's accumulation of fat. I hate to say it, but I LIKE
these Mexicans--much better than Cubans, or Central Americans.
They are human, kindly; it is only the politicians and bandits
like Villa who give them a bad name. But, though they ought to
hate us, whenever I stop to ask my way they invite me to come in
and have "coffee" and say, "My house is yours, senor," which
certainly is kind after people have taken your town away from
you and given you another flag and knocked your head off if
you did not salute it. I now have a fine room. The Navy
moved out today and I got the room of the paymaster. It faces
the plaza and the cathedral. I burned a candle there today
for our soon meeting. The priests all had run away, so I had
to hunt up the candle, and pay the money into the box marked
for that purpose, but the Lord does not run away, and He will
see we soon meet.
Yesterday I went out on the train that brings in refugees and
saw the Mexicans. They had on three thousand cartridges, much
hair, hats as high as church steeples, and lots of dirt. The
Selig Moving Picture folks took many pictures of us and
several "stills," in which the war correspondent was shown
giving cigarettes to the brigands. Also, I had a wonderful
bath in the ocean off the aviation camp. I borrowed a suit
from one of the aviators, and splashed and swam around for an
hour. My! it was good. It reminded me of my dear Bessie,
because the last time I was in the ocean was with her.
Maybe you know what is going on, but we do not. So I just
hustle around all day trying to find news as I did when I was
a reporter. It is hot enough here even for me, and I have
lost about eight pounds of that fat I laid in during our North
VFRA CRUZ-May 8, 1914.
Today, when Wilson ordered Huerta not to blockade Tampico
which was an insult to Mediators and the act of a bully and a
coward, AND a declaration of war, we all got on our ponies
to "advance." Then came word Huerta would not blockade. It
is like living in a mad house. We all are hoping mediators
refuse to continue negotiations. If they have self respect
that is what they will do. Tonight if Wilson and Huerta ran
for President, Huerta would get all our votes. He may be an
uneducated Indian, but at least he is a man. However, that
makes no never mind so far as to my getting back. The reason
I cannot return is because I have "credentials." It is not
that they want ME here, but they want my credentials here.
The administration is using, as I see it, the privilege of
having a correspondent at the front as a club. It says until
war is declared it won't issue any more. So those syndicates
who have no correspondent and the papers forming them, are
afraid to attack or to criticise the administration for fear
they will be blacklisted. And those who have a correspondent
with his three thousand dollar signed and sealed pass in his
pocket aren't taking any chance on losing him. So, I see
before me an endless existence in Vera Cruz.
On May 7 Richard started for Mexico City where, if possible,
he intended to interview Huerta. At Pasco de Macho he was
arrested, but afterward was allowed to proceed to Mexico City.
Here he was again arrested, and without being allowed to
interview Huerta was sent back the day after his arrival to
Of this Vera Cruz experience John N. Wheeler, a friend of
Richard's and the manager of the syndicate which sent him to
Mexico, wrote the following after my brother's death:
"Richard Harding Davis went to Vera Cruz for a newspaper
syndicate, and after the first sharp engagement in the Mexican
seaport there was nothing for the correspondent to do but kill
time on that barren, low lying strip of Gulf coast, hemmed in
on all sides by Mexicans and the sea, and time is hard to kill
there. Yet there was a story to be got, but it required nerve
to go after it.
"In Mexico City was Gen. Huerta, the dictator of Mexico. If a
newspaper could get an interview with him it would be a
`scoop,' but the work was inclined to be dangerous for the
interviewer, since Americans were being murdered rather
profusely in Mexico at the time in spite of the astute
assurances of Mr. Bryan, and no matter how substantial his
references the correspondent was likely to meet some
temperamental and touchy soldier with a loaded rifle who would
shoot first and afterward carry his papers to some one who
could read them.
"One of the newspapers taking the stories by Mr. Davis from
the syndicate had a staff man at Vera Cruz as well, and
thought to `scoop' the country by sending this representative
to see Huerta, in this way `beating' even the other
subscribers to the Davis service. An interview in Mexico City
was consequently arranged and the staff man was cabled and
asked to make the trip. He promptly cabled his refusal, this
young man preferring to take no such chances. It was then
suggested that Mr. Davis should attempt it. By pulling some
wires at Washington it was arranged, through the
Brazilian and English Ambassadors at the Mexican capital, for
Mr. Davis to interview President Huerta, with safe conduct
(this being about as safe as nonskid tires) to Mexico City.
Mr. Davis was asked if he would make the trip. In less than
two hours back came this laconic cable:
"`Leaving Mexico City to-morrow afternoon at 3 o'clock.'
"That was Richard Harding Davis--no hesitancy, no vacillation.
He was always willing to go, to take any chance, to endure
discomfort and all if he had a fighting opportunity to get the
news. The public now knows that Davis was arrested on this
trip, that Huerta refused to make good on the interview, and
that it was only through the good efforts of the British
Ambassador at the Mexican capital he was released. But Davis
"There was an echo of this journey to the Mexican capital
several months later after the conflict in Europe had been
raging for a few weeks. Lord Kitchener announced at one stage
of the proceedings he would permit a single correspondent,
selected and indorsed by the United States Government, to
accompany the British army to the front. Of course, all the
swarm of American correspondents in London at the time were
eager for the desirable indorsement. Mr. Davis cabled back
the conditions of his acceptance. Immediately Secretary of
State Bryan was called in Washington on the long-distance
"`Lord Kitchener has announced,' the Secretary of State was
told, `that he will accept one correspondent with the British
troops in the field, if he is indorsed by the United States
Government. Richard Harding Davis, who is in London,
represents a string of the strongest newspapers in the United
States for this syndicate, and we desire the indorsement of the
State Department so he can obtain this appointment.'
"`Mr. Davis made us some trouble when he was in Mexico,'
answered Mr. Bryan. `He proceeded to the Mexican capital
without our consent and I will have to consider the matter
very carefully before indorsing him. His Mexican escapade
caused us some diplomatic efforts and embarrassment.' (What
the Secretary of State did to bring about Mr. Davis's release
on the occasion of his Mexican arrest is still a secret of the
"Mr. Bryan did not indorse Mr. Davis finally, which was well,
since Lord Kitchener of Khartum kept the selected list of
correspondents loafing around London on one pretext or another
so long they all became disgusted and went without an official
pass from `K. of K.' As soon as Mr. Davis was told he would
not be appointed he proceeded to Belgium and returned some of
the most thrilling stories written on this conflict at great
May 13, 1914.
MY DEAREST ONE:
DO NOT BLAME me for this long delay in writing. God knows I
wanted every day to "talk" to you. But we were on the
"suspect" list, and to make even a note was risky. The way I
did it was to exclaim over the beauty of some flower or tree,
and then ask the Mexican nearest me to write the name of it
HIMSELF in MY notebook. Then I would say, "In English
that would be----" and I would pretend to write beside it the
English equivalent, but really would write the word that was
the key to what I wished to remember. So,
you see, a letter at that rate of progress was impossible. It
was a case of "Can't get away to cable you today; police won't
let me!" However, we are all safe at home again. As a matter
of fact, I had a most exciting time, and am dying to tell you
the "insie" story. But the one I sent the papers must serve.
I promised myself I would give the FIRST soldier, marine and
sailor I met on returning a cigar, and the first sailor was
the CHAPLAIN OF THE FLEET, Father Reany. But he took the
cigar and gave me his blessing. I am now burning candles to
St. Rita. What worried me the MOST was how worried YOU
would be; and I begged Palmer not to send the story of our
first arrest. But other people told of it, and he had to
forward it. You certainly made the wires BURN! and had the
army guessing. One officer said to me, "I'm awfully sorry to
see you back. If you'd only have stayed in jail another day
your wife would have had us all on our way to Mexico." And
the censor said, "My God! I'm glad you're safe! Your wife has
MADE OUR LIVES HELL!" And quite right, too, bless you!
None of us knows anything, but it looks to me that NOTHING
will induce Wilson to go to war. But the Mexicans think we
ARE at war, and act accordingly. They may bring on a
conflict. That is why I am making ready in case we advance
and that is why I cabled today for the rest of my kit. I have
a fine little pony, and a little messenger boy who speaks
Spanish, to look after the horse, and me.
And now, as to your LETTERS, they came to-day, five of them,
COUNT 'EM, and the pictures did make me laugh. I showed
those of the soldier commandeering the vegetables to Funston
and he laughed. And, I did love the flowers you sent no
matter HOW homesick they made me! (Oh). I do not want a camera.
I have one, and those fancy cameras I don't understand.
The letters you forwarded were wonderfully well selected. I
mean, those from other people. One of them was from Senator
Root telling me Bryan is going to reward our three heroic
officers who jumped into the ocean. I know you will be glad.
There are NO mosquitoes! Haven't met up with but three and
THEY are not COMING BACK.
I send you a picture of my room from the outside. From the
inside the view is so "pretty." Across the square is the
cathedral and the trees are filled with birds that sing all
night, and statues, and pretty globes. The band plays every
night and when it plays "Hello, Winter Time," I CRY for you.
I paid the band-master $20 to play it, and it is WORTH IT.
I sit on the balcony and think of you and know just what you
are doing, for there is only an hour and a half difference.
That is, when with you it is ten o'clock with me it is
eight-thirty. So when you and Louise are at dinner you can
know I am just coming in from my horseback ride to bathe and
"nap." And when at eight-thirty you are playing the Victor, I
am drinking a cocktail to you, and shooing away the Colonels
and Admirals who interfere with my ceremony of drinking to my
VERA CRUZ, May 20th, 1914.
I got SUCH a bully letter yesterday from you, written long
ago from the Webster. It said you missed me, and it said you
loved me, and there were funny pictures of you reading the war
and peace news each with a different expression, and you told
me about Padrigh and how he runs down the road. It made me
very sad and homesick, but very glad to feel I was so missed.
Also you told me cheerful falsehoods about my Tribune
stories. I know they are no good, and as they are no good,
the shorter the better, but I like to be told they are good.
Anyway, I sat down at once and wrote a long screed on Vera
Cruz and the sleepy people that five here.
We all live on the sidewalk under the stone porch. Every
night a table is reserved and by my orders ALL chairs,
except mine, are removed. So no one can sit down and bore me
while I am dining. Another trick I have to be left alone is
to carry a big roll of cable blanks, and I pretend to write
out cables if anyone tries to talk. Then I beckon the
messenger (he always sits in the plaza) and say "File that!"
and he goes once around the block and reports back that it is
"filed." If the bore renews the attack I write another cable,
and the unhappy messenger makes another tour. The band plays
from seven to eight every night. There are five bands, and I
saw no reason why there should not be music every evening.
After a day in this dirty hotel or dirty city a lively band
helps. Funston agreed, but forgot, until after three nights
with no band, I wrote him a letter. It was signed by fake
names, asking if he couldn't get nineteen German musicians
into a bandstand how could he hope to get ten thousand
soldiers into Mexico City. So now we have a band each night.
That is all my day. After dinner I sit at table and the men
bring up chairs, or else I go to some other table. There are
some damn fool women here who are a nuisance, and they now
have dancing in the hotel adjoining, but I don't know them,
except to bow, and I approve of the tango parties because it
keeps them away from the sidewalk. They ire "refugees," the
sort of folks you meet at Ocean Grove, or rather DON'T meet!
All love to you, and give Patrigh a pat from his Uncle Richard
for looking after you and looking for me, and remember me to
Louise and Shu and everything at home. I love you so.
VERA CRUZ, May 28, 1914.
I want to be home to see the daisy field with you. That knee
you nearly busted tobogganing when the daisy field was an
iceberg is now recovered.
The one and all came this morning and as I expected it was all
full of love from you. I DID get happiness out of the
thought you put in it. And all done in an hour. The
underclothes made me weep. I could get none here. Not
because Mexicans are not as large as I am, but because no
Mexican of any size would wear 'em. So I've had to wash the
few that the washer-woman didn't destroy myself. And when I
saw the lot you sent! It was like a white sale! Also the
quinine which I tasted just for luck, and the soap in the
little violet wrapper made me quite homesick. Especially was
I glad to get socks and pongee suits, and shirts. I really
was getting desperate. God knows what I would have done
I want to see you so much, and I want to see you in the same
setting of other days, I want to walk with you in the daisy
field, and in the laurel blossoms, and clip roses. But to be
with you I'd be willing to walk on broken glass. Not you,
too. Just me.
VERA CRUZ--June 4, 1914.
DEAR OLD MAN:
I am awfully sorry for your sake, you could not get away. Of
course for myself I am glad that I am to see you and Dai. At
least, I hope I am. God alone knows when we will get out of
here. I am sick of it. Next time I go to war both armies must
fight for two months before I will believe they mean it, and
BEFORE I WILL BUDGE.
It is true I am getting good money, but also there is
absolutely NOTHING to write about. Bryan doesn't know that
unless he talks by code every radio on sixteen ships can read
every message he sends to these waters. And the State
Department saying it could not understand the Hyranga giving
up her cargo is a damn silly lie. No one is so foolish as to
think the Chester and Tacomah let her land those arms
under their guns unless they had been told to submit to it.
And yet today, we get papers of the 29th in which Bryan says
he has twice cabled Badger for information, when for a week
Badger has been reading Bryan's orders to consuls to let the
arms be landed. Can you beat that? This is an awful place,
and if I don't write it is because I hate to harrow your
feelings. It is a town of flies, filth and heat. John
McCutcheon is the only friend I have seen, and he sensibly
lives on a warship. I can't do that, as cables come all the
time suggesting specials, and I am not paid to loaf. John is
here on a vacation, and can do as he pleases. But I ride
around like any cub reporter. And there is no news. Since I
left home I have not talked five minutes to a woman "or mean
to!" The Mexican women are a cross between apes and squaws.
Of all I have seen here nothing has impressed me so as the
hideousness of the women, girls, children, widows,
grandmothers. And the refugees, as Collier would say it, are
"terrible!" I live a very lonely existence. I find it works
out that way best. And at the same time all the correspondents
are good friends, and I don't find that there is
one of them who does not go out of his way to SHOW he is
friendly. What I CAN'T understand is why no one at home
never guesses I might like to read some of my own stories. . . .
Of these days in Vera Cruz John T. McCutcheon wrote the
following shortly after Richard's death:
"Davis was a conspicuous figure in Vera Cruz, as he inevitably
had been in all such situations. Wherever he went, he was
pointed out. His distinction of appearance, together with a
distinction in dress, which, whether from habit or policy, was
a valuable asset in his work, made him a marked man. He
dressed and looked the `war correspondent,' such a one as he
would describe in one of his stories. He fulfilled the
popular ideal of what a member of that fascinating profession
should look like. His code of life and habits was as fixed as
that of the Briton who takes his habits and customs and games
and tea wherever he goes, no matter how benighted or remote
the spot may be.
"He was just as loyal to his code as is the Briton. He
carried his bath-tub, his immaculate linen, his evening
clothes, his war equipment--in which he had the pride of a
connoisseur--wherever he went, and, what is more, he had the
courage to use the evening clothes at times when their use was
conspicuous. He was the only man who wore a dinner coat in
Vera Cruz, and each night, at his particular table in the
crowded `Portales,' at the Hotel Diligencia, he was to be
seen, as fresh and clean as though he were in a New York or
Each day he was up early to take the train out to the `gap,'
across which came arrivals from Mexico City. Sometimes a good
`story' would come down, as when the long-heralded and
long-expected arrival of Consul Silliman gave a first-page
`feature' to all the American papers.
"In the afternoon he would play water polo over at the navy
aviation camp, and always at a certain time of the day his
`striker' would bring him his horse and for an hour or more he
would ride out along the beach roads within the American lines."
. . . . . . . . .
On June 15 Richard sailed on the Utah for New York, arriving
there on the 22d. For a few weeks after his return he
remained at Mount Kisco completing his articles on the Mexican
situation but at the outbreak of the Great War he at once
started for Europe, sailing with his wife on August 4, the day
war was declared between England and Germany.
On Lusitania--August 8, 1914.
We got off in a great rush, as the Cunard people received
orders to sail so soon after the Government had told them to
cancel all passengers, that no one expected to leave by her,
and had secured passage on the Lorraine and St. Paul.
They gave me a "regal" suite which at other times costs $1,000
and it is so darned regal that I hate to leave it. I get
sleepy walking from one end of it to the other; and we have
open fires in each of the three rooms. Generally when one goes
to war it is in a transport or a troop train and the person of
the least importance is the correspondent. So, this way of going
to war I like. We now are a cruiser and are slowly being painted
grey, and as soon as they got word England was at war all
lights were put out and to find your way you light matches.
You can imagine the effect of this Ritz Carlton idea of a ship
wrapped in darkness. Gerald Morgan is on board, he is also
accredited to The Tribune, and Frederick Palmer. I do not
expect to be allowed to see anything but will try to join a
French army. I will leave Bessie near London with Louise at
some quiet place like Oxford or a village on the Thames. We
can "take" wireless, but not send it, so as no one is sending
and as we don't care to expose our position, we get no news.
We are running far North and it is bitterly cold. I think
Peary will sue us for infringing his copyrights.
I will try to get in touch with Nora. I am worried lest she
cannot get at her money. As British subjects no other thing
should upset them. Address me American Embassy, London.
I send such love to you both. God bless you.
Richard arrived in Liverpool August 13, and made arrangements
for his wife to remain in London. Unable to obtain
credentials from the English authorities, he started for
Brussels and arrived there in time to see the entry of the
German troops, which he afterward described so graphically.
Indeed this article is considered by many to be one of the
finest pieces of descriptive writing the Great War has
For several days after Brussels had come under the
control of the Germans Richard remained there and then
decided to go to Paris as the siege of the French
capital at the time seemed imminent. He and his friend
Gerald Morgan, who was acting as the correspondent of the
London Daily Telegraph, decided to drive to Hal and from
there to continue on foot until they had reached the English
or French armies where they knew they would be among friends.
At Hal they were stopped by the German officials and Morgan
wisely returned to Brussels. However, Richard having decided
to continue on his way, was promptly seized by the Germans and
held as an English spy. For a few days he had a most exciting
series of adventures with the German military authorities and
his life was frequently in danger. It was finally due to my
brother's own strategy and the prompt action of our Ambassador
to Belgium, Brand Whitlock, that he was returned to Brussels
and received his official release.
On August 27, Richard left Brussels for Paris on a train
carrying English prisoners and German wounded, and en route
saw much of the burning and destruction of Louvain.
BRUSSELS, August 17, 1914.
Write me soon and often! All is well here so long as I know
you are all right, so do not fail to tell me all, and keep me
in touch. If _I_ do not write much it is because letters do
not get through always, and are read. But you know I love
you, and you know twice each day I pray for you and wish for
you all the time. I feel as though I had been gone a month.
Gerald Morgan and I got in last night; this is a splendid new
hotel; for $2.50 I get a room and bath like yours on the
"royal suite," only bigger. This morning the minister did
everything he could for us. There are about twenty Americans who
want credentials. They say they will take no Americans, but to
our minister they said they would make exception in favor of
three, so I guess the three will be John McCutcheon, Palmer and
myself. John and I, if anyone gets a pass, are sure. With the
passes we had, Gerald and I started out in a yellow motor,
covered with flags of the Allies, and saw a great deal. How I
wished you were with me, you would so have loved it. The country
is absolutely beautiful. We were stopped every quarter mile to
show our passes and we got a working idea of how it will be.
Tonight I dined with Mr. Whitlock, the minister, and John
McCutcheon came in and Irving Cobb. John and I will get together
and go out. All you need is a motor car and you can go pretty
much everywhere, EXCEPT near where there is fighting. So what I
am to do to earn my wages I don't know. I am now going to bed
and I send my darlin' all love. Today I sent you a wire. If
it got to you let me know. Take such good care of yourself.
Remember me to Louise, and, WRITE ME. All love, DEAR, DEAR
one. My wife and my sweetheart.
The following is the last letter that got through.
BRUSSELS, August 21, 1914.
I cannot say much, as I doubt if this will be opened by you.
The German army came in and there was no fighting and I am
very well. I am only distressed at not being able to get
letters from you, and not being able to send them. I will write
a long one, and hold it until I am sure of some way by which it
can reach you.
YOU KNOW WHAT I WOULD SAY.
Mrs. Davis had waited in London to meet Richard on his return
from the war, but a misunderstanding as to the date of his
return, coupled with her strong sense of duty to his interests
at home, gave occasion for the letter which follows:
LONDON, August 31, 1914.
Not since the Herald Square days have I had such a blow as
when I drove up to 10 Clarges, and found you gone! IT WAS
NOBODY'S FAULT! YOU WERE SO RIGHT to go; and I COULD NOT
COME. I am so distressed lest it was my cable saying I could
not get back that decided you to go before the fifth. But
Ashford says it was not. He tells me the cable came at
THREE in the morning and that you had arranged to be called
at six-thirty in order to leave for Scotland. So, for sending
that cable I need not blame myself too much. I sent you so
many messages I do not know which got through. But I think it
must have been one saying I could not return in time to see
you before the fifth. THEN, no trains were running. The
very NEXT DAY the Germans started a troop train, and I took
it. The reason I could not come by automobile was because I
had a falling out with the "mad dogs" and they would not give
me a pass. So Evans, with whom I was to motor to Holland, got
through Friday afternoon and sent the cable. As soon as I
reached Holland, I cabled I was coming and kept on
telegraphing every step of the journey, which lasted three
I telegraphed last from Folkestone; even telling you what to
have for my supper. As you directed, Ashford opened the
cables, and when I drove up, he was at the door in tears. He
had made a light in your rooms and, of course, as I looked up
I thought you still were in them. When they told me I was a
day late, I cried, too. It was the bitterest disappointment I
ever knew. I had taken the very first train out of Brussels,
the one with the wounded, and for three days had been having
one hell of a time. But I kept thinking of seeing you, and
hearing your dear voice. So the trip did not matter. I was
only thinking of SEEING YOU, and thanking God I was shut of
the dirty Germans. We had nothing to eat, and we slept on the
floor of the train, the Germans kept us locked in, and, all
through even Holland, we were under arrest. But nothing
mattered, because I was so happy at thought of meeting you.
As I said neither of us was at fault. You just HAD to go,
and I could NOT COME. But, you can feel how I felt to learn
you were at sea.
I was so glad I could use your old rooms. I went to the table
where you used to write and was so glad I could at least be as
near to you as that. No other place in London could have held
me that night. Not Buckingham Palace. I found little things
you had left. I loved even the funny pictures on the wall
because we had talked of them together. It was ROTTEN,
ROTTEN luck. But only the Germans and their hellish war were
to blame. I drove straight to the cable office, and tried to
wireless you, knowing you would feel glad to know I was well,
and safe and sound. But the cable people could not send my
message. You were then out of reach of wireless, on the Irish
coast. And for nine days there was no way to tell you I had
come back as fast as trains and boats and the dirty Germans
would let me. Oh, my dear, dear one, HOW I LOVE you. If
only I could have seen you for just five minutes. As it was,
I thought for five days more we would be together. What I
shall do now, I don't know. I must go back with either the
French or the English until my contract expires, and then, I
can join you. Tomorrow I am trying to see Asquith and
Churchill to get with the army. And I will at once return
across the channel. But, do not worry! I will never again
let a German come within ONE MILE of me! After this,
between me and the Germans, there will be some hundreds of
thousands of English or French. So after this reaches you I
will soon be on my way HOME. Don't worry. Get James back
and Amelia and everyone else who can make you comfortable, and
trust in the good Lord. I have your cross and St. Rita around
my neck, and in spite of what the Kaiser says, God is looking
after other people than Germans. Certainly he has taken good
care of me. And he will guard you, and our "blessed" one.
And in a little time, dear, DEAR heart, I will be back, and
I will become a grocer. God love you and keep you, as he
does. And you will never know HOW I LOVE YOU! Good night,
dearest, sweetheart and wife! I am writing this at your
table, and, thanking God you are going to the farm, and to
peace and happiness. I SEND YOU ALL THE LOVE IN ALL THE WORLD.
LONDON, September 3rd.
MY DEAREST ONE:
It was a full moon again tonight and I think you were on deck
and saw it, because by now, you have passed the four days at sea
and should be in the St. Lawrence. So I knew you saw the moon,
too, and I sent you a kiss, via it. It was just over St. James
Palace but also it was just over you.
Today has been a day of worries. Wheeler cabled that the
papers wanted me to be "neutral" and not write against the
Germans. As I am not interested in the German vote, or in
advertising of German breweries (such a hard word to SAY) I
thought, considering the EXCLUSIVE stories I had sent them,
instead of kicking, they ought to be sending me a few
bouquets. Especially, as I got cables from Gouvey, Whigham,
Scribner's and others congratulating me on the anti-German
stories. So I cabled Wheeler to tell papers of his syndicate,
dictation from them as to what I should write was
"unexpected," that they could go to name-of-place censored and
that if he wished I would release him from his contract
tonight. Considering that without credentials I was with
French, Belgian and German armies and saw entry of Germans
into Brussels and sacking of Louvain and got arrested as a
spy, they were a bit ungrateful. I am now wondering WHAT I
would have seen HAD I HAD credentials.
I saw Anthony Hope at the club last night. He had to go back
to the country, so I dined alone on English oysters. Fancy
anyone being NEUTRAL in this war! Germany dropping bombs in
Paris and Antwerp on women and churches and scattering mines
in the channel where they blow up fishermen and burning the
cathedrals! A man who now would be neutral would be a coward.
Good night, NEAR, DEAR, DEAR one. It has been several weeks
since I had sleep, so if I rave and wander in my letters
forgive me. You know how I am thinking of you. God bless you.
God keep you for me.
Your husband who loves you SO!
LONDON, September 7th.
I just got your cable saying you were at the farm, and well!
HOW HAPPY IT MADE ME! I cabled you to Quebec, and to Mt.
Kisco, and when two days passed and I heard nothing, today I
was scared, so I cabled Gouvey to look after you, and also to
Wheeler. I went to the Brompton Oratory today, which is the
second most important church here (the cardinal lives at
Westminster) and burned the BIGGEST CANDLE they had for you
and the "blessing." A big woman all in black was kneeling in
the little chapel and when I could not get the candle to stand
up, she beckoned to one of the priests, and he ran and fixed
it. Then she went on praying. And WHO do you think she
was? Queen Amelie of Portugal, you see her pictures in the
Tattler and Sphere opening bazaars. So she must be very
good or she would not be saying her prayers all alone with the
poor people and seeing that my Bessie's candle was burning. I
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