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Thursday, December 24, 1891

Thursday, December 24, 1891

This morning at nine Harned and I came to W.'s together. The old will was read by Harned and directions given by W. for the new. Harned then went home to draw it. An hour after Harned went away W. gave me some supplementary directions. Then Harned came down at 10:30 just as I was sending a note to him. Embodied the new provisions and took the will upstairs to W. to be executed. Harned had brought with him Thomas B. Hall and Henry Hollishead—his clerks—as witnesses. About eleven we were all in W.'s bedroom, viz., the above two witnesses, Warren, Harned, W. and self. Harned read the will. W. wanted one clause of it struck out—that namely in which his gold watch is left to Harry Stafford—but when he found that to do this the will would need to be rewritten, he said, "Never mind, let it go," and Harned finished the reading. W. was then lifted up—sitting position—on edge of bed, by Warrie. Harned handed him the pen and with some difficulty he signed his name. He immediately fell back upon the pillow exhausted: closed his eyes and lay for a time pale and almost collapsed. After a little Harned said to him, "It is necessary Walt for you to declare that this is your last will and testament and to request these two persons, Mr. Hollishead and Mr. Hall, to sign their names as witnesses," to which he said, "I do." Harned then, "Walt, it's necessary for you to say that in so many words: you must say, I declare this to be my last will and testament," and then with a very strong, clear voice he said, "I declare this to be my last will and testament." Then casting his eyes towards Hall and Hollishead, who were at the foot of the bed, he said, "I request you to sign as witnesses," which they immediately did, in his presence and the presences of each other. Then Harned turned around to say, "Now, Walt, you've got nothing to worry about. This is entirely according to law and everything is all right." W. noticed the two witnesses were about to leave the room and he attempted to raise his hand and wave a good-bye and exclaimed, "Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!" After which Harned and Bucke left the room.

Have seen Eakins, who will superintend cast should we send word. O'Donovan and Murray also will come over. Eakins showed me a hand (W.'s) already done, "but not first-rate: he trembled so when it was done." Variously about—writing letters, sending telegrams. To Camden towards seven, taking tea first then hurrying to Harned's, where Bucke was—hastening thence to W.'s.

Found from Bucke and Harned that they had succeeded in getting the will through. Harned first got the material for W.—the substance of the changes—went back to his office, wrote them up, then returned to 328 with his two clerks, Hollishead and Hall, as witnesses. Harned says scene intensely dramatic when W. signed. Hesitated, exhausted, between signatures—finally, however, achieving it. Leaves Mrs. Davis $1000 instead of $250, and use of 328 for a year; leaves Warren $200; fastens the literary executorship more closely. Harned kept the old will, which is entirely superseded. W. much relieved when this work all done—instantly relapsed into worst shape from absolute overexhaustion. Sat up on bed to write. Burroughs thought the signature "as good as ever." Harned and Bucke did not. W. broke it off in the middle, then restarted.

9 P.M. W. won't take any more medicine (had refused it twice before).

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