We went down by train to Cliveden going by Taplow to Maidenhead where Astor had sent his car to meet us. It is a wonderful place and the view of the Thames is a beautiful one. They had been making alterations, bathrooms, and putting white enamel tiles throughout the dungeons. If Dukes lived no more comfortably than those who owned Cliveden, I am glad I was not a Duke. What was most amusing was the servant's room which was quite as smart as any library or study, with fine paintings, arm chairs and writing material. Nannie and Astor were exceedingly friendly and we walked all over the place. It was good to get one's feet on turf again. They sent us back by motor, so we arrived most comfortably. I gave a dinner to the Hopes, Wyndham, Miss Mary Moore, Ashmead-Bartlett and Margaret. Websters could not come. Later, came on here, and had a chat, the Websters coming too. I read Thaw trial.
Early in May Richard and his wife returned to Mount Kisco and my brother at once started in to change his farce "The Galloper" into a musical comedy. It was produced on August 12, at the Astor Theatre, under the title of the "Yankee Tourist," with Raymond Hitchcock as the star. The following I quote from Richard's diary of that date:
Was to have lunched with Ned Stone but he was in court. Met Whigham in street. Impulsively asked him to lunch. Ethel and Jack turned up at Martin's; asked them to lunch. Ethel and I drove around town doing errands, mine being the purchase of tickets for numerous friends. Called on Miss Trusdale to inquire about Harden-Hickey. She wants her to go to the country. Cecil arrived at six. We had a suite of eighty-nine rooms. We dined at Sherry's with Ethel and Jack, Ethel being host. Taft was there. Hottest night ever. I sat with Jack. In spite of weather, play went well. Bonsals, Ethel, Arthur Brisbane were in Cecil's box. Booth Tarkington in Irwin's. Surprise of performance was "Hello, Bill" which Raymond had learned only that morning. Helen Hale helped him greatly with dance. People came to supper at Waldorf, and things went all wrong. Next time I have a first Night I want no friends during or after. Missed the executive ability of Charles Belmont greatly.
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.