I got your letters late last night and they made me pretty solemn. It is an awfully solemn thing to have people care for you like that and to care for them as I do. I can't tell you how much I love you. You don't know how much the pain of worrying you for a month has meant to me, but I have talked it all out with myself, and left it to God and I am sure I am doing right. As Mrs. Crown said, "There's a whole churchful up here praying for you," and I guess that will pull me through. Of course, dear, dear Mother thought she was cross with me. She could not be cross with me, and her letter told me how much she cared, that was all, and made me be extra careful. But I need not promise you to be careful. You have an idea I am a wild, filibustering, hot-headed young man. I am not. I gave the guides to understand their duty was to keep us out of danger if we had to walk miles to avoid it. We are men of peace, going in, as real estate agents and coffee-planters and drummers are going in on every steamer, to attend to our especial work and get out again quick. I have just as strong a prejudice against killing a man as I have against his killing me.
Lots and lots of love. Don't get scared if you don't hear for a month, although we will try to get our stories back once a week, but you know we are at the convenience of the Cubans who will pocket our despatches and money and not take the long trip back. Thank dear Dad for his letter full of good advice. It was excellent. Remington and Michelson are good men and I like them immensely. Already we are firm friends.
KEY WEST--January 1, 1897. DEAR MOTHER:
As you will know by my telegram we are either off on a safe sea going boat or waiting for one. There is no turning back from here and the only reason I thought of doing so was the knowledge of the way you would suffer and worry. I argued it out that it was selfish in me to weigh my getting laughed at and paragraphed as the war correspondent that always Turned Back against a month of uneasiness for you, but later I saw I could not do it much as I love you for the element of danger to me is non-existent; it is merely an exciting adventure and you will have to believe me and not worry but be a Spartan mother. I would not count being laughed at and the loss of my own self respect if I really thought there was great danger, but I do not. You will not lose me and if I go now I can sit still next time and say "I have done better things than that." If I had not gone it would have meant that I would have had to have done just that much harder a stunt next time to make people forget that I had failed in this one. Now do cheer up and believe in the luck of Richard Harding Davis and the British Army. We have carte blanche from The Journal to buy or lease any boat on the coast and I rocked them for $1000 in advance payment because of the delay over the Vamoose.
I am so happy at thinking I am going, I could not have faced anyone had I not, although we had nothing to do with the failure, we tried to cross fairly in the damn tub and it was her captain who put back. I lay out on the deck and cried when he refused to go ahead, we had waited so long. The Cubans and Remington and Michelson had put on all their riding things but fortunately I had not and so was spared that humiliation. What I don't know about the Fine Art of Filibustering now is unnecessary. I find many friends of my Captain Boynton or "Capt. Burke." Tonight the officers of the Raleigh give me a grand dinner at which I wear a dress suit and make speeches--they are the best chaps I ever met in the Navy. Lots of love and best wishes to Dad and to Nora for a happy, happy New Year. You know me and you know my conscience but it would not let me go back in order to save you anxiety so you won't think me selfish. God bless you.
KEY WEST, January 2nd, 1897. DEAR FAMILY:
I have learned here that the first quality needed to make a great filibuster is Patience, it is not courage, or resources or a knowledge of the Cuban Coast line, it is patience. Anybody can run a boat into a dark bayou and dump rifles on the beach and scurry away to sea again but only heroes can sit for a month on a hotel porch or at the end of a wharf, and wait. That is all we do and that is my life at Key West. I get up and half dress and take a plunge in the bay and then dress fully and have a greasy breakfast and then light a huge Key West cigar, price three cents and sit on the hotel porch with my feet on a rail-- Nothing happens after that except getting one's boots polished as the two industries of this place are blacking boots and driving cabs. I have two boys to black mine at the same time every morning and pay the one who does his the better of the two-- It generally ends in a fight so that affords diversion-- Then a man comes along, any man, and says, "Remmington's looking for you" and I get up and look for Remington. There is only a triangle of streets where one can find him and I call at "Josh" Curry's first and then at Pendleton's News Store and read all the back numbers of the Police Gazette for the hundredth time and then call here at the Custom House and then look in at the Cable office, where Michaelson lives sending telegrams about anything or nothing and that brings me back to the hotel porch again, where I have my boots shined once more and then go into mid-day dinner. In the meanwhile Remington is looking for me a hundred yards in the rear. He generally gets to "Josh's" as I leave the Custom House-- In the afternoon I study Spanish out of a text book and at three take a bicycle ride, at five I call at the garrison to take tea with the doctor and his wife, who is sweeter than angel's ever get to be with a miniature angel of a baby called Martha. I wait until retreat is sounded and the gun is fired at sunset and having commented unfavorably on the way the soldiers let the flag drop on the grass instead of catching it on the arms as a bluejacket does, I ride off to the bay for another bath-- Then I take the launch to the Raleigh and dine with the officers and rejoice in the clean fresh paint and brass and decks and the lights and black places of a great ship of war, than which nothing is more splendid. We sit on the quarter-deck and smoke and play the guitar and I go home again, in time for bed. I vary this programme occasionally by spending the morning on the end of a wharf watching another man fish and reading old novels and the "Lives of Captain Walker" and "Captain Fry of the Virginius," two great books from each of which I am going to write a short story like the one of the Alamo or of the Jameson Raid-- The life of Walker I found on the Raleigh and the life of Captain Fry with all the old wood cuts and the newspaper comments of the time at a book store here. I don't know when we shall get away but it is no use kicking about it, Michaelson is doing all he can and the new tug will be along in a week anyway. I shall be so glad to get to Cuba that I will dance with glee. DICK.
MATANZAS, January 15th, 1897. DEAR MOTHER: