Cash liabilities--(so much) Cash assets--(so much)
I can perceive the condition of the business at a glance, then, and that will be sufficient.
Here we never see a newspaper, but even if we did I could not come anywhere near appreciating or correctly estimating the tempest you have been buffeting your way through--only the man who is in it can do that-- but I have tried not to burden you thoughtlessly or wantonly. I have been wrought and unsettled in mind by apprehensions, and that is a thing that is not helpable when one is in a strange land and sees his resources melt down to a two months' supply and can't see any sure daylight beyond. The bloody machine offered but a doubtful outlook--and will still offer nothing much better for a long time to come; for when Davis's "three weeks" is up there's three months' tinkering to follow I guess. That is unquestionably the boss machine of the world, but is the toughest one on prophets, when it is in an incomplete state, that has ever seen the light. Neither Davis nor any other man can foretell with any considerable approach to certainty when it will be ready to get down to actual work in a printing office.
Three days after the foregoing letter was written he wrote, briefly:
"Great Scott but it's a long year-for you and me! I never knew the almanac to drag so. At least since I was finishing that other machine.
"I watch for your letters hungrily--just as I used to watch for the cablegram saying the machine's finished; but when 'next week certainly' swelled into 'three weeks sure' I recognized the old familiar tune I used to hear so much. Ward don't know what sick- heartedness is--but he is in a way to find out."
Always the quaint form of his humor, no matter how dark the way. We may picture him walking the floor, planning, scheming, and smoking--always smoking--trying to find a way out. It was not the kind of scheming that many men have done under the circumstances; not scheming to avoid payment of debts, but to pay them.
Aug. 14, '93 DEAR MR. HALL,--I am very glad indeed if you and Mr. Langdon are able to see any daylight ahead. To me none is visible. I strongly advise that every penny that comes in shall be applied to paying off debts. I may be in error about this, but it seems to me that we have no other course open. We can pay a part of the debts owing to outsiders--none to the Clemenses. In very prosperous times we might regard our stock and copyrights as assets sufficient, with the money owing to us, to square up and quit even, but I suppose we may not hope for such luck in the present condition of things.