mad in pursuit: letters from james & orpha, summer of '26

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James can't afford to swoon. His world is at risk of crashing because of a stubborn old Irishman.

Postmarked Monday 8.4.26, from James in Lynbrook NY

Wednesday morning

Monday the digger failed again to appear. Yesterday he came, and we scooped all day under the hottest sun of the season. Today, which would finish the excavating, he didnít come, much to my dismay. He is subject to some sort of gizzard attacks, so he says, although I suspect about three days work a week are a genteel sufficiency for one who has as pronounced a Stevensonian flair as he has.

Iím in an amazing financial jam Ė one that couldnít happen again in a million times Ė something wholly unexpected. Itís about the sale of property which was in process when I told you our building depended on it. The buyer is still anxious to get it, but the old buzzard from whom we bought it refuses to take what we owe him on it, even though thereís no possible way he can get the property back, and heíll have to take the money anyway in three months. He even refuses $250.00 extra as a present. Until we can get him to accept what is due him we canít give a clear title to the property; and the contract calls for final settlement tomorrow; either we take in about $14,000 cash tomorrow or we pay back $1,000, losing $500 commission which has been irrevocably paid to a broker. I wonít know until midnight tonight how things are going Ė my Pop is running around today with a dazzling roll of bills in his pocket, trying to get it accepted by the old, contrary, Irishman. Itís mainly stubbornness that keeps the old bird from taking it, but it plays heck with our operation.

My Pop is running around today with a dazzling roll of bills in his pocket.

I havenít heard from you since last Saturday. Do you thinks you might be able to come here in about a week or less? I didnít write Monday or yesterday, as I was waiting for the business matter to get settled, but since itís hung off so long I thought Iíd better tell you the state of colloidal suspension Iím in.

About tomorrow night Iíll have something more definite to write Ė meanwhile revolve in your mind the idea of coming here next Tuesday. I have a complete stock of timetables, and will let you know about connections. You see if we get the cellar dug tomorrow, forms in Friday and Saturday, cement poured Monday and Tuesday, Iíll have a few days of time off while the concrete hardens.

Youíll next get a letter from me on Saturday; it will be either a melancholy chronicle of a one in a million tough break, or a missive of more serene note, telling of profit finally made, though slightly modified by the necessity of a shared rake-off.

Whichever it is, it will be full of hopes and plans for your coming Ė you for whom wanting is as a held breath Ė you whom the passage of an endless month will make forever of one weave with my spirit, my mind, and my body.





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