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Thursday, December 10, 1891

Thursday, December 10, 1891

5:48 P.M. No light in W.'s room when I approached. Loag with me—I had met him on the boat. Would not go in nor did I press or even present an invitation. "I appreciate both his position and his condition and must not worry him. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, Warrie came up to say a couple of visitors were downstairs. 'Excuse me to them,' says Walt, 'tell them I am a very sick man,' and turned to me to explain: 'What could I say if I did admit them?' I have entire respect for his feeling in that—think it should be regarded religiously." Deserved to see W. greatly more than many who do see him! Mrs. Davis saw me from a window. Came delicately and stood the door ajar for me. On Loag's departure I went in the house and upstairs alone. W. on bed—the room only lighted from the blaze in the stove. W. said, "Come in, Mary—is it you?" "No, not Mary—me—Horace." "Horace? Welcome, Horace, too." "Walt, you don't seem often to mistake my step, even in the dark." "No, I do not, but my senses seem to get duller." I took a chair and moved it up towards the bed. (We had shaken hands: his hand warm.)

W. remarked at once, "I have a letter from Bucke. The book had arrived (the 8th—that was the date): an early trip—it went right through. He says he likes it—that it satisfies him. And it satisfies me, too. Why should it not? It is a very happy job. Oldach, the fellows over there, are to be congratulated. I have sent copies to Johnston and Wallace. They were to go by Saturday's steamer." I too hear from Bucke to effect mentioned by W. Bucke mystified by the Rice note. He forgets Mrs. O'Connor's story. But W. is alive to it. "I hope Tom will seize and clench her." Again of "Leaves of Grass," "An ideal soft cover would be this we have and a paper folded about it, simply, with effect."

I had with me the five copies of Illustrated American. He has not sent Bucke's copy off yet. "This picture is good as any in the papers—as good as any. I rather affect it." Not yet worked at Reeder's parchment. Loag had just told me a good story of Ingersoll, whom he knows well, and on whom he often calls when in New York. A couple of Saturdays ago Loag happened in towards noon and had a good talk. They were on the point of starting off together when Ingersoll seemed suddenly to bethink himself of something. "Say, Loag—I forgot. There are two things I love: whiskey and music. This is my music day. I have only about an hour and a half to get home, get lunch, gather the women together and hunt up the opera. Hadn't we better have our lunch some other day?" Laughing merrily, and Loag too, and Loag of course not minding. W. seemed to think this a great story. "It was very manly, frank, spontaneous—which, of course, was no more than to say it was Ingersoll!"

Warren came in, stirred up the fire a little, lighted the gas. W. directed him to a letter for mailing, then turned to me with some comment about "the satisfactoriness of the drop-light."

I had a number of scraps sent me over from New York by Ketler, which I, sitting down by the light, read to W., who listened and seemed much amused. He remarked, "I think that one fellow is about right: I must be 'a venerable fraud'"—laughing a good deal about it. Said, too, "It moves me to see how Ingersoll's speech travels about—has its effects everywhere! We owe him a great debt: there are senses in which he has handed our cause out to the people."

Then he asks me, "How does the air in this room seem? Pretty pure?" He has asked me this lately every day or two. "Does it smell sick-roomy?" I assured him it did not, that it was full of woodsy odors, from the pile over towards the stove, and now and then of the burning timber, but of nothing more. "That sort o' reassures me," he responded. "I was afraid it might have been worse."

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