My dear Theo,
Today, Saturday, I had a visit from Rappard, and I’m glad that now he has been here. He also asked after you with great interest.
He saw the drawings I’m doing for C.M. among other things, and they seem to please him, especially a large one of the courtyard or back yard at the house where Sien’s mother lives.1 I would like you to see that one, as well as another of a carpenter’s shed and yard with small figures at work.2 The perspective is rather more complicated than in the Laan van Meerdervoort I sent you,3 and I’ve laboured long and hard on it.
I must tell you that these days I’m already out of doors by 4 o’clock in the morning, because during the day it’s too difficult to be on the street on account of the passers-by and the urchins, and because that’s the best time to see the broad outlines while things still have tone.
But, old chap, this has been an anxious fortnight for me. When I wrote to you around the middle of May,4 all I had left was 3 or 3.50 guilders after paying the baker. I had practically nothing else to eat but dry black bread with a little coffee, and Sien too. Because we’d bought linen for her baby and she’d been to Leiden &c.
The rent is due on 1 June, and I have nothing, literally nothing. I hope you’ll send something.
A week ago I was terribly weak due to constant sleeplessness. But now I’m making good progress with several drawings, so that the order for C.M. is well advanced, and as a result I’m in better spirits, I’m somewhat calmer again. Still, old chap, write to me soon and save me from the landlord,5 because, as you know, their kind brook no delay.
Rappard’s visit cheered me up; he seems to be working hard.
He gave me 2.50 guilders because he saw a tear in a drawing and said, you should have that repaired. I know, I said, but I haven’t got the money and the drawing must be sent off. Then he said straightaway that he’d be glad to give it to me, and I could have had more but I didn’t want to, and I gave him a pile of woodcuts and a drawing6 in return. It was one of those meant for C.M., and so I was very glad to be able to get it repaired, because it was the best of them all.
That same drawing may be sold later for 50 guilders or so, and now — I hadn’t got the money to have a tear in it repaired.
I do hope, brother, that you don’t think badly of Sien and me. That lass has put up with my disagreeable side, and in many respects she understands me better than others.
She’s so willing to help in everything that I can’t tell you how useful she is to me. If I get angry while she’s posing or about something else, she knows how to take it, and has seen that it doesn’t go deep with me. Equally, if I fret or grumble about something that isn’t going well, she often manages to calm me down, which I couldn’t do myself.
And she’s thrifty and accepts our piece of black bread if need be, without becoming despondent. And so do I, as long as we get by.
I hope that you’ve received the drawings I sent around 10 May, I think, two dozen in a portfolio.7 I’ve heard nothing about it yet.
1r:4 I do wish there were a few more people I could do work for on the same sort of conditions as for C.M. And above all that C.M. perseveres, for these drawings are much better than the first, and gradually I’ll produce even better ones.
And at that price, he can’t go wrong.
You know all about it: I’ll be in good spirits as long as you don’t desert me because of Sien. I’m at work on the dot of 4, so with a little sympathy from those who know me I’ll get on top of things.
I’m hoping for your letter. Accept a handshake in thought, but above all write soon and save me from the landlord.