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Elisina Grant Richards to Mildred Barnes Bliss, November 8, 1911


Nov. 8th 1911Wednesday.

Dear Mildred

I had somehow determined that you were to come to Europe in November, and therefore your news that you are to be here in February seemed bland at first.Mildred Barnes Bliss, in her letter of September 25, 1910, stated that, "If all goes well, we shall be in Paris by Oct. 1911." Elisina Grant Richards still thought this was a possibility as of her letter of August 8, 1911. However, I have swallowed my disappointment, and I have turned the corner bravely; and I can now start rejoicing over again with as much sincerity and zest as before.

You now understand why I didn’t write to you and tell you what has been done with your money. It has been invested in Grant Richards Limited in the name of my solicitor, Mr. Wainwright, renouncing the interest until the youngest of my childrenGioia Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Richards (1906–1983). is 21. A sum equivalent to the interest is to be disposed of yearly for the children’s benefit, according to Mr. Wainwright’s decision—acting, of course, as your representative.

I think dear Mildred that is the best and most skilful way of achieving what we are trying for. I am sure you will be glad to know that the investment was a great assistance at a time when heavy demands are made on the business, that is to say at the very beginning of the autumn publishing season. Wainwright came over to Paris and spent a day with Royall and me, and I think I have thoroughly grasped the situation of affairs. I had one great blow: Gerard has been taken away from school, soi-disant,“Supposedly.” because his eyes needed a rest. Still, even in this, I would rather know it than believe him falsely to be still at school, so I am glad in every way that Wainwright came over.

I am so very sorry for you, dear Mildred, and with you, in the loss you have sustained.The death of her stepsister, Cora Fanny Barnes. She suffered a nervous breakdown and eventually committed suicide. See “Miss Barnes Killed By Fall on Birthday; Suicide the Police Say, but Coroner Feinberg Says 70-Foot Drop Was Accidental; Recently Recovered from a Nervous Breakdown, and Just Returned from an Auto Tour of New England,” New York Times, September 30, 1911. I have an all-powerful instinct for silence when I am hurt, so I can readily understand that you should feel no heart to write. Believe me, I think I always understand you.

In January and February we shall be in Paris. Be sure you let me know when to expect you, because it will be a very great day, and it mustn’t steal on us unawares. My particular reason may be a heaven-sent idea, and I feel severe towards the smile you shed upon it. I won’t tell you any more about it now, as it won’t bear telling. But you shall hear when we meet.

We have been 3 weeks at Simancas, which is a god-forsaken group of mudhouses proudly sheltered by an old castleBuilt in 1521 and extensively altered before 1563 by Juan de Herrera, Alonso Berruguete, and Juan Gómez de Mora. built of good grey stone, in which Philip IIPhilip II (1527–1598), king of Spain. saw fit to establish the chief archives of Spain. He and his successors looked upon state matters as family secrets, with the result that it is still necessary to lay siege to the castle and do penance outside the walls, as for a sin of lèse majestéA crime against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state. against their majesties now in heaven. The penance and its peculiar nature is imposed by the people who keep the parador.The hotel of the castle. Their habits were quite too much for two English-speaking ladies who turned up while we were there. The poor things ate little besides hard boiled eggs and van Houten’s cocoa. As we passed through their sitting-room on our way to a large dish of bacalao"Dried and salted codfish." seasoned with garlic and pimientos, they used to show us a few brown specks at the bottom of a cup and say “Look, this is turtle soup.” Or else they used to sit with a bottle of anchovies between them and plan the next day’s meal, rather drawing on their imagination for the elements of it. One day they were full of elation: they had ordered a chicken. A Spanish chicken,—just imagine, Pita Pita by name, whom we both knew quite intimately since last spring. Pita Pita had led a hard life, and her turbulent spirit was sheltered by a hardy physique. I believe she made a bad meal, and even the rice thrown into her pot took a long time to cook. The arrieros“Mule drivers.” who stay at the parador for a night, and ourselves, managed very well on national dishes. The two ladies were left behind when we came to Madrid, and I cannot tell you the end of the story. Perhaps it only bears alluding to.

We hope to be back in Paris in a week or ten days. Dear little William tries to stand and to walk, and has 10 teeth, which seem to me either too many or too little; but I daresay he knows best. He is very well, and is a very intelligent and lovable little godson to have.

Please give my kindest messages to Robert—and tell him that for the sake of posterity he must write his dispatches very plainly!

My best love to you dear Mildred.

Always yours,


Associated Places: Madrid (Spain); Simancas (Spain)