Skip to main content

Monday, February 22, 1892

Monday, February 22, 1892

At W.'s 10:10 A.M. Asleep. Sat in next room and wrote letters. Towards eleven came his rap-rap, and we were all immediately astir. Mrs. Keller went for his breakfast. Warrie and I brought up bed and set up in his room. When he saw me he exclaimed, "Oh Horace, good morning!" But was not inclined to talk. Closed his eyes as if not curious and yet we detected him opening them when we were not looking. Once as we worked Warrie, whose back was turned to W., whispered to me, "Is he looking?" and as I quickly squinted I found he was indeed, with both eyes wide open.

Mrs. K. to W.: "They think of putting up your new bed today."

W.: "Oh!"

Mrs. K.: "You will like it."

W.: "What time is it?"

Mrs. K.: "About eleven—yes, it's ten minutes after. Hope you've made up some of your lost rest by a good morning's sleep."

W.: "I feel a little ease—pretty miserable."

Mrs. K.: "I'm going to make the new bed up and Warrie can put you into it before he goes to sleep."

W.: "Oh!"

Would say no more—ate ahead—looking bad. I passed in and out. Mrs. Keller sat on bed holding tray. He silent—yet seeming to enjoy his food, too.

Mrs. Davis: "Feel able to be moved?"

W.: "I guess I do."

Mrs. D.: "How's everything—first rate?"

W.: "Oh!"

Mrs. D.: "You look pretty well."

W.: "Well, I've had a little sleep for a couple of hours."

We proceeded with work. Mrs. Keller made the new bed. We took beds and set them side by side. Warrie standing between said to W., "Mr. Whitman, we are ready to move you." "Oh!" "Do you think you can stand it?" "Oh yes! I guess so." The coverings removed. He put his arms about Warrie's neck. I stood over at the other bed with blankets suspended. "Ready Mr. Whitman?" asked Warrie. And to me, "Ready Horace?" And W. answered, "Yes," as I did, and Warrie laboriously lifted him, turned round and dropped his burden in the new bed, I at the same instant letting the blankets fall on W., who was paler for an instant and closed his eyes. "How did it go?" "All right, I think." We then put the new bed on the old spot. Warrie asked, "How's it now?" And W. responded, "I seem to have a little headache—that is all." So that after all the thing was not a shock to him. Then W. said to me, "While you are here and it is daylight perhaps we had better do that little business together—sign the contract." I was glad enough to hear this and went at once to the next room to my overcoat, bringing the contracts back with me. "There are two," I said. "One for you, one for us." He then asked me, "Is it long? Read it. Is it long?" And after saying, "No, it is short," I read, he listening intently. When done I asked, "Do you wish to make any suggestions?" "No, nothing. Warrie, bring my glasses," which Warrie did, likewise bringing the rest, asking W., "Shall I lift you up?" "No, it will do as I am." He rejected the first dip of ink as "too thick, sandy," but succeeded well enough with the second, though the signatures were both hesitating and uneven. When done I handed him Webster's $100 check, which he folded up. "Put it in the stamp box, will you Horace?" And there it lays now. I filled in dates to contract, and Warrie witnessed. Then he asked me, "What did you bring over the green books for?" "To make up your dozen." But wishes a dozen perfect, latest copies. "These are latest." In one respect McKay had not respected his suggestion—to separate the "complete 1892" and this W. had observed. The other changes had been made. W. said, "Bound to have his own way!"—half-twitted, half-smiling. Told him Wallace wished two. "Send them," he said. I passed out into the next room—was working there. Soon I heard him call Mrs. Keller and went in. "Oh! Horace! Have you the morning paper?" I found and took him Record and Press. He lay back in bed and read. We had wondered if he would scratch and bang the footboard of the new bed as he had the old. I suggested, "Rig up a bell—let him call that way." Meantime, Warrie had spread a thick blanket over the footboard. W. saw it. "What's that left for, Warrie?" At which Warrie told him outright and made the suggestion of the bell. W. thereupon saying, "That would be the best of all." We at once set to work to rig up the bell, which we suspended in the hallway and from which we led a cord through the door, over to a nail against the western wall and thence down directly to W.'s pillow. He tried it several times for us. "I can't hear it in here," he remarked, yet the sound was perceptible to us in his room and to Mrs. Davis down in the kitchen. I gave him Leo Evans' letter to read. He read with great attention, finally wishing to know, "Who is the man? I don't know him or of him," adding however, "The letter is gratifying, anyway." He admitted to us, "The new bed works well: I don't know but I feel easier on it." And as we worked taking apart the old bed, he asked, "What are you going to do with that? Oh! I would put it down in the yard or smash it up—use it for kindling wood." But we decided not to destroy it.

Mentioned to W. two letters from Johnston and Wallace this morning, but he manifested little interest, except for saying, "Good fellows—always faithful!" Several times as we worked about I had little passages with him. Once his question was, "Any news?" And again, "You hear from the Colonel? He is a phenomenal man!" And his allusions to Doctor always loving. As to our book of essays, he felt he could "not worry over it," he having "got past it." "These bad days sapping all the life, ambition out of me—I am no longer eligible for the least work." By and by he seemed suddenly to grow pale, put aside letters and papers and relapsed—from that time on dozing. This was about noon. I went to Philadelphia.

Today's Inquirer [article] undoubtedly written by Jefferys, of whom W. says, "I like him: he is as good as any of them: treat him well."

4:20 P.M. Back at 328. W. in room, asleep still. They had not aroused him for his dinner. But towards five Mrs. Keller going in, he was wakened and she then asked him if he would have his meal, to which he said, "Yes, at once." And having some, asked for more (an unusual experience). I was in and shook hands with him again—not staying. He asked after the weather and asked, "How is the city today? Busy? Yes, I suppose the world is busy." Then quiet—never a word to Mrs. K., except for necessity, and most of his replies in "Ohs!"

Back to top