New Year's eve we spend with Lady Lewis where we dine and keep it up until four in the morning. We will easily be able to get back here but how we can get a hansom from here to the great city, I can't imagine. I have seen none in five days. It is fine to be surrounded by busts of Carlyle, Whistler, Rosetti and Turner's own, but occasionally you wish for a taxicab. Tomorrow I am going on a spree to the great city of London. The novel goes on smoothly, and all is well. I am still running for Mayor of Chelsea.
LONDON--January 1, 1909. DEAR MOTHER:
I drank your health and Noll's and Charley's last night and so we all came into the New Year together. I hope it will be as good for me as the last. Certainly Chas. is coming on well with another book. It is splendid. I am so very, very glad. Some of the very best stories anybody has written will be in his next book.
We dined at the Lewis's. There were 150 at dinner and as we live in Chelsea now--one might as well be in Brooklyn--we were a half hour late. Fancy feeling you were keeping 150 people hungry. I sat at Lady Lewis's table with some interesting men and one beautiful woman all dressed in glass over pink silk, and pearls, and pearls and then, pearls. She said "Who am I" and I said "You look like a girl in America, who used to stand under a green paper lamp shade up in a farm house in New Hampshire and play a violin." Whereat there was much applause, because it seemed she was that girl, the daughter of a Mrs. Van S----, who wrote short stories. Her daughter was L---- Van S---- now the wife of a baronet and worth five million dollars. The board we paid then was eight dollars a week. Now, we are dining with her next Monday and as I insisted on gold plate she said "Very well, I'll get out the gold plate." But wasn't it dramatic of me to remember her after twenty two years?
LONDON-February 23, 1909. DEAR MOTHER:
George Washington's health was celebrated by drinking it at dinner. I had been asked to speak at a banquet but for some strange reason could not see myself in the part. The great Frohman arrived last night and we are all agitated until he speaks. If he would only like my plays as some of the actors do, I would be passing rich. Barrie asked himself to lunch yesterday and was very entertaining. He told us of a letter he received from Guy DuMaurier who wrote "An Englishman's Home" which has made a sensation second to nothing in ten years. He is an officer stationed at a small post in South Africa. He wrote Barrie he was at home, very blue and homesick, and outside it was raining. Then came Barrie's long cable, at 75 cents a word, saying his play was the success of the year. He did not know even it had been ACCEPTED. He shouted to his wife, and they tried to dance but the hut was too small, so they ran out into the compound and danced in the rain. Then he sent the Kaffir boys to the mess to bring all the officers and all the champagne and they did not go to bed at all. The next day cables, still at three shillings a word came from papers and magazines and publishers, managers, syndicates. And, in his letter he says, still not appreciating what a fuss it has made, "I suppose all it needs now is to be made a question in the House," when already it has been the text of half a dozen speeches by Cabinet Ministers, and three companies are playing it in the provinces. What fun to have a success come in such a way, not even to know it was being rehearsed. Today Sargent is here to see what is wrong with Cecil's picture of Janet. He came early and said he couldn't tell until he saw Janet, so now he is back again, and both Janet and Cecil are shaking with excitement. He is the most simple, kindly genius I ever met. He says the head is very fine and I guess Cecil suspected that, before she called him in. He says she must send it to the Royal Academy. I am now going out to hear more words fall from the great man, and so farewell. Seymour and I began work yesterday on the Dictator. It went very smooth. All my love to Noll and to you.
Read the other letter first and then, let me tell you that when I went out to see Sargent, I found Cecil complaining that she could not understand just how it was he wanted Janet to pose. Whereat she handed him a piece of chalk and he made a sketch of Janet as exquisite as the morning and rubbed his hands of the charcoal and left it there! It's only worth a hundred pounds! Can you imagine the nerve of Cecil. I was so shocked I could only gasp. But, he was quite charming and begged her to call him next time she got in a scrape, and gave her his private telephone number.
Fancy having Sargent waiting to be called up to make sketches for you. I left Janet and Cecil giggling with happiness. Janet because she had been sketched by him and Cecil because she has the sketch. It's a three fourths length three feet high, and he did it in ten minutes. I am now going to ask her to invite the chef of the Ritz in, to give us a sketch of cooking a dinner.