The Wrecker

Page 99

"My poor Loudon," it began, "I labour far into the night getting our affairs in order; you could not believe their vastness and complexity. Douglas B. Longhurst said humorously that the receiver's work would be cut out for him. I cannot deny that some of them have a speculative look. God forbid a sensitive, refined spirit like yours should ever come face to face with a Commissioner in Bankruptcy; these men get all the sweetness knocked right out of them. But I could bear up better if it weren't for press comments. Often and often, Loudon, I recall to mind your most legitimate critiques of the press system. They published an interview with me, not the least like what I said, and with JEERING comments; it would make your blood boil, it was literally INHUMANE; I wouldn't have written it about a yellow dog that was in trouble like what I am. Mamie just winced, the first time she has turned a hair right through the whole catastrophe. How wonderfully true was what you said long ago in Paris, about touching on people's personal appearance! The fellow said--" And then these words had been scored through; and my distressed friend turned to another subject. "I cannot bear to dwell upon our assets. They simply don't show up. Even Thirteen Star, as sound a line as can be produced upon this coast, goes begging. The wreck has thrown a blight on all we ever touched. And where's the use? God never made a wreck big enough to fill our deficit. I am haunted by the thought that you may blame me; I know how I despised your remonstrances. O, Loudon, don't be hard on your miserable partner. The funny-dog business is what kills. I fear your stern rectitude of mind like the eye of God. I cannot think but what some of my books seem mixed up; otherwise, I don't seem to see my way as plain as I could wish to. Or else my brain is gone soft. Loudon, if there should be any unpleasantness, you can trust me to do the right thing and keep you clear. I've been telling them already, how you had no business grip and never saw the books. O, I trust I have done right in this! I knew it was a liberty; I know you may justly complain; but it was some things that were said. And mind you, all legitimate business! Not even your shrinking sensitiveness could find fault with the first look of one of them, if they had panned out right. And you know, the Flying Scud was the biggest gamble of the crowd, and that was your own idea. Mamie says she never could bear to look you in the face, if that idea had been mine, she is SO conscientious!

"Your broken-hearted


The last began without formality:--

"This is the end of me commercially. I give up; my nerve is gone. I suppose I ought to be glad; for we're through the court. I don't know as ever I knew how, and I'm sure I don't remember. If it pans out--the wreck, I mean--we'll go to Europe, and live on the interest of our money. No more work for me. I shake when people speak to me. I have gone on, hoping and hoping, and working and working, and the lead has pinched right out. I want to lie on my back in a garden and read Shakespeare and E. P. Roe. Don't suppose it's cowardice, Loudon. I'm a sick man. Rest is what I must have. I've worked hard all my life; I never spared myself; every dollar I ever made, I've coined my brains for it. I've never done a mean thing; I've lived respectable, and given to the poor. Who has a better right to a holiday than I have? And I mean to have a year of it straight out; and if I don't, I shall lie right down here in my tracks, and die of worry and brain trouble. Don't mistake. That's so. If there are any pickings at all, TRUST SPEEDY; don't let the creditors get wind of what there is. I helped you when you were down; help me now. Don't deceive yourself; you've got to help me right now, or never. I am clerking, and NOT FIT TO CYPHER. Mamie's typewriting at the Phoenix Guano Exchange, down town. The light is right out of my life. I know you'll not like to do what I propose. Think only of this; that it's life or death for


"P.S. Our figure was seven per cent. O, what a fall was there! Well, well, it's past mending; I don't want to whine. But, Loudon, I do want to live. No more ambition; all I ask is life. I have so much to make it sweet to me! I am clerking, and USELESS AT THAT. I know I would have fired such a clerk inside of forty minutes, in MY time. But my time's over. I can only cling on to you. Don't fail


Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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