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I can be of little help to you, but I think there are some things which I should confide to you.
1. I am enclosing a letter from Mary Virginia3.
Please read marked passage. Neither Edith4 nor
I can remember that Douglass5 said anything
about a will on that occasion6. The
three of us were laughing and talking here together, and it is very possible he may
have said something that neither Edith nor I caught. Mary Virginia must have heard
him make some such statement – she would not lie, but neither Edith nor I heard it.
He might have said some such thing merely as a figure of speech – to illustrate the
fact that he
had been really worried. But in quoting a
man who can no longer speak for himself, I must state exactly what I remember
hearing him say and what I do not remember.
2. Douglass asked me to go down with him to Tiffany's to select a present for
Miss Rogers7 – he had already been there
himself. He took me to a show case full of bracelets, but they all happened to be
extraordinarily ugly. There really was not a very pretty bracelet in the place. I
noticed, however, a case full of really beautiful rings – not the awfully expensive
kind – prettily blended stones and lovely settings. I said quite innocently, "Why
not get a ring?" – I really was not pumping him; I am a poor detective. But he shut
one eye and screwed up his face a little and said, "No, no, that's a little too, too
pointed." I laughed and said, "Oh, you mean decisive." "That's it," he replied, and
I laughed and said, "same old fox", which seemed rather to please him. For the two
summers when I saw a good deal of Miss Rogers at the –2–sanitarium8, I honestly saw nothing objectionable about her. She was
competent at her job, not stupid, had good manners and was more attractive than
Douglass' other girls. (Wait till you see the Edith9 to whom he made a bequest!) Douglass was rushing Miss Rogers
pretty hard, and she admired him very much. His lovely way with his mother10 was enough to win any woman's heart. He told
me, when he said good-bye to me the spring before Mother died, that he thought he
might marry Miss Rogers, and I told him I
could see nothing against it.
Now, six or seven years of courtship is pretty hard on any young woman who has to
make her own living. I think she lost her position at Las Encinas because there was
"talk", owing to Douglass. When I knew her I certainly believe that she was no "gold
digger", but she waslike any other girl who
has found the man she wants I should say loves,
not "wants"and tries to make him believe she
willcan make him
happy. In the six or seven years which have elapsed since I first knew her and used
to take longtrips with the two of them, she
may have deteriorated very much. That constant demand for sympathy and affection-which-gets-nowhere, is very hard on a young woman. Her position now is
certainly much worse in every way than when she first knew Douglass. She has lost
several positions, has been "talked about", has passed from the twenties into the
thirties, which is against her professionally and matrimonially. I hope he was very
generous to her during his lifetime, for the bequest in his will seems to me
insufficient recognition. During the years when Jessica11 and Elsie12 were giving
him lots of perplexity (these seem to be the two personsmost offended), Miss Rogers was giving him the kind of
companionship and sympathy he liked. If Douglass was very generous to her, I am
glad. She did more than any of us to make him comfortable. I think we ought to look
at the matter as human beings. How would you like one of your own daughters13 to be played
with like that, always expecting to be married next year? I am enclosing a letter
from Elsie which needs no comment. When I knew Miss Rogers, –3–she was a
nice, straight girl, and she believed
altogether in Douglass' affection – which was undoubtedly real affection .,—though it
led nowhere for her.
3. Now there is something I hate to tell you, and yet I feel I ought to. In every
letter that Jim14 has written me since he left
Kearney15 and joined Douglass, there has
been a strong taint of disloyalty – except in the last letter, written after Douglass was dead. At first and for years
after, he was always complaining that Douglass had given him a few hundred dollars
to throw sand in his eyes and cheat him out of his share of FATHER16'S ESTATE – which he seemed to think very
.! I wrote trying to reassure him, telling him I would give
Douglass the management of my ownsavings at
any moment. Secondly, all his later letters – there were not many, he wrote about
twice a year – were full of complaints of his being held down and made a mere hired
man, when he knew as much about the oil business as anybody. He said repeatedly that
the oil business required no knowledge,
orno intelligence of any kind. It was pure luck, and he intended to play
around with the little fellows, the under-dogs who had not had the luck of Douglass
and his partners17.
I know, Roscoe, these letters
of Jims' from Jim would have great
influence with you if I had only saved them, but that little taint of ingratitude
and disloyalty was like an ugly smell to me. I would keep the letters for a few
days, try to answer them, then tear them up. There are many good qualities about
Jim. When I am with him, I always feel a peculiar and special tenderness for him.
But he tremendously overrates his own ability, and his is continuously nagged on by
a wife18 who is full of petty ambitions,
and who has developed a much more venomous nature than ever her old mother19 had. Ethel was patient with Jim for
a long time, I know ,; but when she turned, she turned not to vinegar but to
hydrochloric acid. I am not judging her, but it is up to you, your father's son, to
see that these furious and self-seeking women do not attack Miss Rogers –4–tooth and nail
and do her more harm than our family has alreadydone her. Father would not have dealt fiercely with her. If she
has another will tucked away somewhere, properly executed, as an honorable man you
will have to see justice done. I am almost sure she hasn't. Elsie's hypothesis, that
she encouraged him to drink these last five or six months, is so absurd. We know now
that he knew he had a bad heart and the game might be up any time. One sort of man
would lie in bed and read and eat toast. He wasn't that sort. When he had drunk a
few cocktails or a bottle of champa ygne, that dark shadow withdrew to a
distance – did not seem so close, and he could talk to Miss Rogers about his rosy
plans for the future and how he meant togo
abroad on the Queen Mary. I thinkIt was to
get rid of that fear that he has been using himself up for the last year or so.
4. Now Roscoe, usually I keep peoples' secrets, especially when they are secrets I
ashamed to read. But I think you ought to know how vacillating and unappreciative
favors and how weak Jim is – under his queer kind of conceit. I hope you will not
try to give either him or Jack20 much
authority, but will trust rather to the experience and to thepossible, even probable, integrity of Douglass'
partners – whom he trusted so much. Jack is a dear fellow but – no feels noresponsibility, happy-go-lucky. You
can't make men over after they are thirty-five. Don't put Jim up against any
important men – Roy Oatman21, Russell Amack22, etc., etc.were always his kind. I know Doug's partners are not
exactly Harvard men, but they
business, have proved it.
and Jim says there is nothing
whatever about the business to know.
This is the last letter I shall write you on this subject. As soon as I am well
enough, I will get off to Grand Manan23,
where I have no typewriter and nobody who can take dictation from me. But when you
talk about "developing" Jim and Jack, I think I ought to ask you to sit down and
–5–And I feel that I ought to give you this
important sidelight on Jim; that he is not loyal, and never while Douglass was living did he write a nice letter about
him – only fault finding and distrustful ones.
Jim is sweet with his children, poor lad, but I don't believe he is much fonder of them than Douglass was. Doug's face used to glow and his voice was just full of feeling whenever he spoke of those children.
When I knew her Miss Rogers was not looking about
for a man—most of the young men at the sanitarium disliked her. She was
extremely good at her job, and wanted to make a real career of it. When I went
off on a three day trip down to Caliente24 she never said or did anything that made me feel that
she was a cheap sort. She was then a frank, fresh, rather intelligent Western
girl; I never her saw her throw a soft look at
Douglass, or hold his hand in the car, or languish. She behaved like a well
brought up girl. I am sorry (Oh this pen!) I am sorry if her life has been spoiled. Deal
in this case as Father would have done.
Destroy Elsie's letter after you have read it