Alice Dyer Russell, born in 1881, was an author from Pasadena, California, and an old friend of the Folletts. She was married to Bert Russell (1874-1933), a patent lawyer, and they had two daughters: Elisabeth and Phoebe. (A third daughter, Mary, died the year Barbara was born, having lived only two years.) Barbara wrote regularly to A.D.R. between her return east in March, 1930, until her disappearance in 1939. They are simply wonderful letters, and I’ll be posting all the ones I have, in chronological order, starting with this one describing work on Helen’s “Magic Portholes.”
The MS is nearly FINISHED!!!!! The heart’s blood has all been shed, and nothing is left now to do but to add a few finishing touches. We’ve been here two months now, and our rent expires, so we are going out into one of those delightful little one-horse villages in the Virginia backwoods, to spend a week of sheer rest, walks, and finishing touches, before we sail for New York. We’ve earned it, don’t you think? At least, Helen has.
Mine somewhat materialized last Monday–that is, the puny coined, earthly little dream somewhat materialized–when I got a sort of a job. I was in Pelham until Sunday noon, then I suddenly became very tired of sitting like a fisherman at his lines, with nothing biting at any one of them. And I decided I’d have to change and be like a Tahitian fisherman who taked spear in hand and dives after his prey, instead of waiting for it.
Having allowed the dentist to put a gold inlay into a tooth, having written, delivered, and been paid for three synopses, having seen Helen off for New Haven again (thereby making three trips back and forth from here to town in the course of the day, via that devastating subway), and having, alone and in peace at last, partaken of my bowl of soup and crust of bread–having done all this, and being still quite alive, I will now proceed (oh, luxury!) to sit down and quietly, and in leisurely fashion, write a letter to you.
Well, ‘ere I ham, as one might say. Your letter arrived a rather shocking long time ago (it’s make my heart beating like a earth shocking), and I would be ‘shamed if I weren’t so almighty damn-fired hell-bent busy. You see, I am no longer begging for work, I am in work up to my ears, and over them at times. Yes, I have bearded New York in its lair. I find it not so appalling, in fact I rather like it, as one likes some colossal piece of machinery; and struggling into the sardine-packed express “L” at quarter to nine in the morning is almost exhilarating.
I am taking advantage of this unfathomable holiday (Columbus Day, I think) to write to you. The last few days (extending from last Monday to last Saturday) have been as momentous as any days have been for a long time–in fact, so momentous that I haven’t recovered from their effects yet–not by a long shot. However, lest you die of suspense, let me proceed.
I heard from your own particular Mate just before your letter arrived, in which he remarked that he had been handing you a “raw deal”–that was how he expressed it. But if, as you say, he is to be happier and healthier because of the change, I don’t call it a “raw deal” at all. That’s just what you would want, isn’t it? I mean, let me quickly say, Under the Circumstances. Of course it is not, NOT as it should be to have a part of oneself drifting about on the other side of the continent from one, is it? But I should think that Washington would be immeasurably more pleasant to live in then Detroitmich, as we write it in shorthand. And Air Mail across is remarkably rapid, though, of course, not rapid enough.
Well! Here we am, as you might say. It really has become a rather usual occurrence, all this moving around, yet still, it has not lost a certain spice. This is really a grand little apartment of three rooms, and we have our own old furniture, and a whole bookcase full of books (the pick of the flock) and a little kitchen which is concealed behind two vast doors; and I can’t imagine a better place for us to live in———-that is, all things considered, and seeing things as they are, my boy, as Chester used to say to Marlow.