From the fall of 1907 to that of 1908 Richard divided his time between Mount Kisco, Marion, and Cuba. In December of 1908 he sailed for London where he took Turner the artist's old house in Chelsea for the winter.
Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. December 25. Christmas Day. DEAR MOTHER:
We are settled here in Darkest Chelsea as though we had been born here. I am thinking of putting in my time of exile by running for Mayor. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful place in which to write the last chapters of "Once Upon a Time." The house is quite wonderful. In Spring and Summer it must be rarely beautiful. It has trees in front and a yard and a garden and a squash court: a sort of tennis you play against the angles of walls covered smooth with cement. Also a studio as large as a theatre. Outside the trees beat on the windows and birds chirp there. The river flows only forty feet away, with great brown barges on it, and gulls whimper and cry, and aeroplane all day. I have a fine room, and about the only one you can keep as warm as toast SHOULD be, and in England never is.
Cecil has engaged a teacher, and a model and he is coming here to work. He is twenty years old, and called the "boy Sargent." So, as soon as the British public gets sober, we will begin life in earnest, and both work hard. I need not tell you how glad I am to be at it. I was with you all in heart last night and recited as much as I could remember of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," which always means Dad to me, as he used to read it to us. How much he made the day mean to us. I wish I could just slip in for a kiss, and a hug. But tonight we will all drink to you, and a few hours later you will drink to us. God bless you all.
A blizzard has swept over London. The last one cost the City Corporation $25,000!! The last man who contracted to clean New York of snow was cleaned out by two days of it, to the tune of $200,000. Still, in spite of our alleged superiority in all things, one inch of snow in Chelsea can do more to drive one to drink and suicide than a foot of it "on the farm." At the farm we threw a ton of coal against it, and lit log fires and oil lamps, and were warm. Here, they try to fight it with two buckets of soft chocolate cake called Welch coal, and the result is you freeze. Cecil's studio is like one vast summer hotel at Portland Maine in January. You cannot go near it except in rubber boots, fur coats and woolen gloves. My room still is the only one that is livable. It is four feet square, heavily panelled in oak and the coal fire makes it as warm as a stoke hole. So, I am all right and can work nicely. Janet Sothern came to lunch today and Cecil and she in furs went picture gazing. Tomorrow we have Capt. Chule to dinner. He came up the West coast with us and is accustomed to a temperature of 120 degrees.
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.