Keokuk, August 5th
My Dear Brother:
Annie is well.1 Got your letter, postmarked 5th about two hours ago—come d—d quick, (to be a little profane.)2 Ward and I have held a long consultation, Sunday morning, and the result was that us two have determined to start to Brazil, if possible, in six weeks from now, in order to look carefully into matters there (by the way, I forgot to mention that Annie is well,) and report to Dr. Martin in time for him to follow on the first of March.3 We propose going via. New York. Now, between you and I and the fence you must say nothing about this to Orion, for he thinks that Ward is to go clear through alone, and that I am to stop at New York or New Orleans until he reports. But that don’t suit me. My confidence in human nature does not extend quite that far. I won’t depend upon Ward’s judgment, or anybody’s [else.—]I want to see with my own eyes, and form my own opinion. But you know what Orion is. When he gets a notion into his head, and more especially if it is an erroneous one, the Devil can’t get it out again. So I [ nev knew ]better than to combat his arguments long, but apparently yielded, inwardly determined to go clear through. Ma knows my determination, but even she counsels me to keep it from [Orion. She ]says I can treat him as I did her when I started to St. Louis and went to New York—I can start to New York and go to South America.! (This reminds me that—Annie is well.) Although Orion talks grandly about furnishing me with [ a h fifty ]or a hundred dollars in six weeks, I am not such an ass as to think he will retain the same opinion such an eternity of time—in all probability he will be entirely out of the notion by that [time. Though ]I don’t like to attribute selfish motives to him, you could see yourself that his object in favoring my [wish‸es‸ ing ] was that I might take all the hell of pioneering in a foreign land, and then when everything was placed on a firm basis, and beyond all risk, he could follow himself. But you would soon discover, when the time arrived, that he couldn’t leave Mollie and that [ lu “love ] of a baby.”4 With these facts before my eyes, (I must not forget to say that Annie is well,) I could not depend upon Orion for ten dollars, so I have “feelers” out in several directions, and have already asked for a hundred dollars from one source (keep it to yourself.)5 I will lay on my oars for a while, and see how the wind sets, when I may probably try to get more. Mrs. Creel is a great friend of mine, and has some influence [ over with ]Ma and Orion, though I reckon they would not acknowledge it.6 I am going up there to-morrow, to press her into my service. I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully supplied with South American books. They have Herndon’s [Report. now.] 7 Ward and the Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation [to-night. at ]the office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.
Emma Graham has got home, and Bettie Barrett has gone up the country.8 I may as well remark that Annie is well. I spent Sunday afternoon up there,9 and brought away a [ bo big ]bouquet of Ete’s d—d stinking flowers, (I mean no disrespect [ for to ]her, or her taste,)[.] Any [ sink single ]one of the lot smells worse than a Sebastopol “stink-pot.”10 Between you and I, [ be I] believe that the secret of Ma’s willingness to [ w allow ]me to go to South America lies in the fact that she is afraid I am going to get married! Success to the hallucination. Annie has not heard from the girls yet. I believe the Guards went down to Quincy to-day to escort our first locomotive home.11
P. S. I will just add that Annie is WELL.
Provenance:see McKinney Family Papers, pp. 459–61.
Emendations and textual notes:
else.— • [dash over period]
nev knew • [‘kn’ over ‘nev’]
Orion. She • Orion.— |She
a h fifty • [‘fif’ over ‘a h’]
time. Though • time.— |Though
wish‸es‸ ing • [‘es’ over ‘ing’]
lu • “love [‘“l’ over ‘lu’]
over with • [‘with’ over ‘over’]
Report. now. • Report. now. [deletion implied]
to-night. at • to-night. at [deletion implied]
bo big • [‘bi’ over ‘bo’]
for to • f tor [‘t’ over ‘f’]
sink single • sinkgle [‘g’ over ‘k’]
be I • [‘I’ over ‘be’]
w allow • [‘a’ over ‘w’]