Letter 055, pg. 2
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away from you. I wanted to have you continue as my agent on the novel, because it was being handled personally by you and Margot [Johnson]—and I had confidence in both of you. I did not hold against you in any way the fact that the novel had not yet been sold—because I knew you had both done your best and I realize the difficulties connected with that novel perhaps even better than you do. But when I asked you whether you wished to continue with the novel, you told me you did not. You said that you did not want to handle the novel further because I made it impossible for you to sell it. When I asked “Why?” you answered—here are your exact words, Ann, I remember them because they made a deep impression on me and I’ll remember them all my life—“Why? Why? You always ask me why. I can’t answer you. I don’t go by reasons, I act upon instinct.” That, Ann, was the epitaph on our relations. There was nothing I could say after that. Words are an instrument of reason, and instincts are unanswerable. So our interview ended right there, and this was our understanding on the novel. You added only that you wished to continue to represent “Night of January 16th” and such rights in my other things as you had sold.
This, then, is a complete account of our conversation and agreement. You will not find one statement in it which is incorrect in any way, if you carefully recall the conversation yourself.
Since then I sent you a formal letter stating the terms of our agreement. I believe you resented the fact that I did not mention the 2½ per cent in [the] case of the Paramount deal. I did not mention it, because that was not a condition of our agreement. The agreement was that the play returns to me completely. The 2½ per cent was my own offer—subject to the new agent finding a producer who wished to use the Paramount deal. Since then, I have found that there is no Paramount deal; that is, when the new agent found a producer who was interested and who approached Paramount—the studio said that they had not committed themselves at all, that they would only send a script of the play to the West Coast and that they would probably agree to furnish half the backing. So none of us knows at present how this will come out and whether there even will be any Paramount deal to discuss. It is possible that we are disagreeing over nothing. My point at present is only that legally you have returned my play to me without any further claims upon it by you. I made no agreement with my new agent until after I had spoken to you on April 21st. Then I made the agreement with her on the basis of my agreement with you. And that is the agreement by which we all must abide now in all fairness.
I do not doubt your honesty in this matter. But what I do resent is that Miss Sorsby then tried to step in by telephoning me several times and by taking the attitude that she had to bargain with me over terms, particularly over the Paramount deal. I had never dealt before with Miss Sorsby personally and I had never even considered her as my agent on the play. YOU were my agent, and any connection she had with the play was only as your representative or assistant, not mine. I resented—violently and emphatically—her attempt to bargain with me the last time she telephoned me. When I stated to her that you and I had already reached a definite agreement, she took the position which amounted to calling me a liar, an attitude of “well, it’s your word against mine.” Do you see what happens when a third party steps in? I don’t know what she thought or why, but I think it was simply