To ANNIE ADAMS FIELDS
[summer 1864], Point Pleasant, NJ
My dear Annie,
I am afraid to leave the house after night on the baby’s account, so although the moon is shining without and mosquitoes raging within I sit down for a quiet talk with you. I am impatient for you to see our boy. That is, to love him, which will need a long series of seeings[?]— I think you would like to aid in the morning bath and the nightly putting to sleep—and could comprehend the ever fresh pleasure I find in both. Best of all, I think, when half asleep, he looks up terrified in my arms, and finding who has him, nestles down with a bright little smile— You wanted nursery —don’t let me weary you— I don’t know if you are used to a flat shore where you go—and know the effect of the rising sea mists moving slowly over these marches—on a dark gray day it is a new feature in scenery to me—, and has an indescribably weird and dreary effect—they look like gigantic ghosts, passing on their way to some council in Hades— The people about here are superstitious, as most of those who have anything to do with the sea are, & have all sorts of odd stories and customs. One bit of natural history I liked which Clarke picked up among them—of a certain bird which stands on the shore on dark nights & shows a phosphoric light under his wing to tempt fish of deep waters inland. Isn’t that an appropriate story for ‘wrackers’—for we are not far from the land of the ‘Barnegat pirates.’ But enough of this stale life, only to add that it is making us all as fat and lazy as we hoped.
I need not tell you how we enjoyed your good letter Annie. Clarke read it on the way home from the village—could not wait for me. Then we had a second reading. If you could have seen how like water in a dry land it was you would send us another draught and very soon. We brought down some books—for both of us had fallen far behind the current of books that must be—glanced over—while I was sick. When are the Atlantic stories to be out? Or are they? Remember we are in a real exile if I seem shamefully ignorant & by the way Annie will you send us the list of contributors to the next Atlantic? I hate guess work. Did you hear of Mrs. Stowe’s adventure in Phila? That is the behind the curtain news of it, some of our matter of fact friends opened their innermost eyes of wonder but we, having heard of what had gone before, kept our own council. I must stop— Sending Clarke’s love and my own to both. The mosquitoes are . Do write a long letter, dear, this time— Yours, R
1. The Davises’ first child, Richard Harding Davis, who was born in April.
2. RHD will soon use this locale for a series of stories set on the New Jersey shore.
3. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), author and abolitionist.