To ANNIE ADAMS FIELDS
[late December, 1864], Philadelphia
My dear, dear Annie
When I came home your letter was here. It has been waiting for me for some time. It was such a happy home-coming, Annie. We brought my sister Emmy with us—then I was still enough weak to feel my heart beat and the tears come at a little petting—and they did pet me. Carrie and the children had brightened and cheered the house into a little feast[,] trimmed our rooms with wood-leaves and ferns because I like them— Clarke had arranged his gift as a surprise for me before he followed me to Wheeling, and facing me in the book-case was your letter. Maybe it was all this that made me think you never had written so before—and be touched so deeply by it. It was so thoughtful in you to wish me to come now—and if I could I would have accepted the held-out hand as eagerly as it was offered. You must know that, if your instinct teaches you at all, how dear you are to me, Annie.
I never felt before how hard it was to justify my right to love as since I was sick nor how beyond all hope God has blessed me— Sometimes I have a terror, Annie that it will all disappear like a dream—that I will become suddenly indifferent to you all— I am foolish to speak in this way but I cannot help it. I could not go, dear—for one reason. I am not yet strong enough to risk another journey. Since I came home I have had another return of the dysentery—and then my sister’s stay will be short and I must do all I can to show her my new home while she is here. I will hope to come and see you for a day sometime this winter, though. Clarke and I often talk of it. There is so much I sometimes feel as if I must say to you that one cannot write without chilling it out of meaning.
Thank Mr. Fields for his note. That time will do very well for the story. I am anxious to write a short Christmas story if I can, to please Clarke . He suggested the last you know—and Christmas is to him such a holy time. We wished to be married on that day, if we could— I will let you know if I am able to do it in a week or two, and if so will “J.T.F.” hold a place for it in The January number? 
I can write but a note now. I want this letter to go by the next mail. Good bye my own dear friend. How dear you are to me I never have told you, nor how tenderly I feel every new word and sign of your love to me and mine. Clarke feels it as I do—this last more than all. He sends his love and says indeed we will come before spring. Remember us both to Mr. Fields. Emmy sends her love to you, Annie too. Will send again. I have a good deal to say to you  of ourselves dear but must wait until another day.
1. RHD had taken the baby and traveled to Washington, PA, to console her widowed mother who was staying with her sister, Rebecca Leet Wilson Blaine (1789-1866).even though she has barely recovered her health, has the baby, and is taking care of her elderly mother and aunt
2. Emilie Mary Harding (Gow) (1842-1904).
3. RHD’s sister-in-law, Carrie Davis Cooper, with whom the Davises have been living.
4. “Stephen Yarrow.”
5. No story by RHD appeared in the January 1865 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, but she did publish “A New Year’s Story” in Peterson’s Magazine that month. It is likely the January issue of the Atlantic was already going to press at this time.
Richard Harding Davis Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia