Commentary

Disciples


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Saturday, January 2, 1892

     About ten minutes in W.'s bedroom. Lay on his back, asleep, and not appearing to know I was there. To Philadelphia, a busy day. (The champagne had very positively acted upon him.) On my return from Philadelphia in evening—6:30—I stopped in for a few minutes. The day uneventful. McA. pronounced no change visible. Longaker not over at all. I have two letters from Bucke.

     To W.'s again in evening—9:15 P.M. Warren had just been paying W. some attention. I went in and spoke with him. We had

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quite a long talk—the longest for several weeks. He said, "I am glad to see you, Horace—glad, boy."

     H.L.T. : "I have letters from Bucke—two of them. They came today."

     W.: "Then he got home safely?"

     H.L.T.: "Yes, no mishaps. And he speaks of getting down here again before long."

     W.: "Does he? Good!" After a pause, "What are the papers saying about me, Horace?"

     H.L.T.: "The papers hereabout are just now saying practically nothing at all. A week ago they were full of you."

     W.: "Full of me? And I wonder if the folks in New York know anything about this?"

     H.L.T.: "More than we do, almost. The papers over there have outdone ours in sensations."

     W.: "So? Can it be?"

     H.L.T.: "And it was all of a dismal order, too."

     W.: "Well, a week ago there were reasons for it. A week ago I was much nearer death than I am today. But an old, well-knit, strong-timbered keel takes a long time to break up." After a pause, "What did, does, the Critic say?"

     H.L.T.: "Shall we hope to have you many days yet?"

     W.: "Wish for me anything than that, Horace, boy—anything. I can tell you, it is no triumph to get where I am now from where I was a week ago—no triumph—no victory—I do not glory in it. You ought to wish—all our friends ought to wish—as I wish—that this was all over now—all. What does the ship come to, Horace—the old hulk—the useless, clinging old hulk—its last voyage over—its tasks all done?"

     H.L.T.: "The nurse thinks you have had an easier day."

     W.: "I don't know—I don't know. Restless, uneasy—and the awful chokings. In a wine-cellar I knew in New York—a curious cork—it worked automatically—in and out, out and in. Somehow, something in my throat—some obstreperation—it brings back that cork: a dozen times a day it rises up, stifles me, threatens. And then I have the hiccoughs very bad—they interrupt

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everything—sometimes I can hardly talk for them. And then this weakness—and the long hours! No, boy, no, no—it is not triumph, not victory: it is defeat—defeat."

     H.L.T.: "Morris was in New York the other night, to attend the author's reception. He met Stoddard, who is nearly blind."

     W.: "Poor Stoddard! Poor fellow!"

     H.L.T.: "Another item, Walt. A telegram has come here from William Winter."

     This made him open his eyes.

     W.: "From Winter? Oh!" He held my hand all this time and pressed it again and again. "If you write to Doctor, give him my love: and to Ingersoll, too—yes, and to Ned Stedman."

     H.L.T.: "When Doctor Bucke was here a week ago he gave you up."

     W.: "I knew he did: I knew why he was here."

     H.L.T.: "Well, you are tired, Walt, I won't worry you more now."

     W.: "You don't worry me—it is not worry."

     H.L.T.: "Anyway, I will go—I will say good night."

     W.: "Good night, then! We will meet again."

     Twice within the next half hour he called Warrie and had him rub some life into the unfortunate left leg. Then he called to have his position eased. "I expect I shall soon get tired of this, too." Warrie called me to help him in the latter operation. (How sadly the body has lost its old shape and strength!)

     Just as I was leaving, about eleven, he again called Warrie. "Throw a cloth or quilt over my whole bed. It is getting chilly here."

     Mrs. Keller left me her memo running up to 7:00 P.M.


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