"I foresee that there is little probability of mygetting the first chapter ready by the 15th,although I have a resolute purpose to write it bythe end of the month. It will be in time for theFebruary number, if it turns out fit forpublication at all. As to the title, we mustdefer settling that till the book is fully written,and meanwhile I see nothing better than to callthe series of articles 'Fragments of a Romance.'This will leave me to exercise greater freedom asto the mechanism of the story than I otherwisecan, and without which I shall probably getentangled in my own plot. When the work iscompleted in the magazine, I can fill up the gapsand make straight the crookednesses, and christenit with a fresh title. In this untried experimentof a serial work I desire not to pledge myself, orpromise the public more than I may confidentlyexpect to achieve. As regards the sketch ofThoreau, I am not ready to write it yet, but willmix him up with the life of The Wayside, andproduce an autobiographical preface for thefinished Romance. If the public like that sort ofstuff, I too find it pleasant and easy writing,and can supply a new chapter of it for every newvolume, and that, moreover, without infringingupon my proper privacy. An old Quaker wrote me,the other day, that he had been reading myIntroduetion to the 'Mosses' and the 'ScarletLetter,' and felt as if he knew me better thanhis best friend; but I think he considerablyoverestimates the extent of his intimacy with me.
On Monday, the 28th of March, Hawthorne came totown and made my house his first station on ajourney to the South for health. I was greatlyshocked at his invalid appearance, and he seemedquite deaf. The light in his eye was beautiful asever, but his limbs seemed shrunken and his usualstalwart vigor utterly gone. He said to me with apathetic voice, "Why does Nature treat us likelittle children! I think we could bear it all ifwe knew our fate; at least it would not make muchdifference to me now what became of me." Towardnight he brightened up a little, and his deliciouswit flashed out, at intervals, as of old; but hewas evidently broken and dispirited about hishealth. Looking out on the bay that was sparklingin the moonlight, he said he thought the moonrather lost something of its charm for him as hegrew older. He spoke with great delight of alittle story, called "Pet Marjorie," and said hehad read it carefully through twice, every word ofit. He had much to say about England, andobserved, among other things, that "the extentover which her dominions are spread leads her tofancy herself stronger than she really is; butshe is not to-day a powerful empire; she is muchlike a squash-vine, which runs over a whole garden,but, if you cut it at the root, it is at oncedestroyed." At breakfast, next morning, he spokeof his kind neighbors in Concord, and said Alcottwas one of the most excellent men he had everknown. "It is impossible to quarrel with him,for he would take all your harsh words like asaint."
So, to Schmidt, came the Little Sister of the Prisoners,--hair of gold like the maize silk, teeth as white and regular as its pearly grains, lips as scarlet as the poppy, skin like rose petals upon creme, and brave wide grey eyeslike the skies of morning. She came thrice a week, bringing chocolate, oranges, lemons, paper, postage stamps, testaments and other books, little paper bags of tobacco, and such like cravings. The bags of tobacco were more in demand than the testaments, It is a pity, but it is true. Elsa Bauer, daughter of the very, very, very rich brewer, Hermann Bauer. Motherless. She went her way, and old Hermann went his, making more and more money, so that his big, sleek, dappled horses in brass-mounted trappings could not have hauled his gold if it was put into one of those wonderful sacks we read of in Grimm. Her way lay toward the prisons and hospitals, for she took with a literalness which her friends thought comic Christ's exhoration to visit the sick and those in prison. 2b1af7f3a8