"Well, why am I like the Pacific Ocean?"
Several guesses were made, but he shook his head. Some one said:
"We give it up. Tell us, Mark, why are you like the Pacific Ocean?"
"I—don't—know," he drawled. "I was just—asking for information."
The governor of Nevada was generally absent, and Orion Clemens was executive head of the territory. His wife, who had joined him in Carson City, was social head of the little capital, and Brother Sam, with his new distinction and now once more something of a dandy in dress, was society's chief ornament—a great change, certainly, from the early months of his arrival less than three years before.
It was near the end of May, 1864, when Mark Twain left Nevada for San Francisco. The immediate cause of his going was a duel—a duel elaborately arranged between Mark Twain and the editor of a rival paper, but never fought. In fact, it was mainly a burlesque affair throughout, chiefly concocted by that inveterate joker, Steve Gillis, already mentioned in connection with the pipe incident. The new dueling law, however, did not distinguish between real and mock affrays, and the prospect of being served with a summons made a good excuse for Clemens and Gillis to go to San Francisco, which had long attracted them. They were great friends, these two, and presently were living together and working on the same paper, the "Morning Call," Clemens as a reporter and Gillis as a compositor.
Gillis, with his tendency to mischief, was a constant exasperation to his room-mate, who, goaded by some new torture, would sometimes denounce him in feverish terms. Yet they were never anything but the closest friends.
Mark Twain did not find happiness in his new position on the "Call." There was less freedom and more drudgery than he had known on the "Enterprise." His day was spent around the police court, attending fires, weddings, and funerals, with brief glimpses of the theaters at night.
Once he wrote: "It was fearful drudgery—soulless drudgery—and almost destitute of interest. It was an awful slavery for a lazy man."
It must have been so. There was little chance for original work. He had become just a part of a news machine. He saw many public abuses that he wished to expose, but the policy of the paper opposed him. Once, however, he found a policeman asleep on his beat. Going to a near-by vegetable stall, he borrowed a large cabbage-leaf, came back, and stood over the sleeper, gently fanning him. He knew the paper would not publish the policeman's negligence, but he could advertise it in his own way. A large crowd soon collected, much amused. When he thought the audience large enough, he went away. Next day the joke was all over the city.
He grew indifferent to the "Call" work, and, when an assistant was allowed him to do part of the running for items, it was clear to everybody that presently the assistant would be able to do it all.
But there was a pleasant and profitable side to the San Francisco life. There were real literary people there—among them a young man, with rooms upstairs in the "Call" office, Francis Bret Harte, editor of the "Californian," a new literary weekly which Charles Henry Webb had recently founded. Bret Harte was not yet famous, but his gifts were recognized on the Pacific slope, especially by the "Era" group of writers, the "Golden Era" being a literary monthly of considerable distinction. Joaquin Miller recalls, from his diary of that period, having seen Prentice Mulford, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, and others, all assembled there at one time—a remarkable group, certainly, to be dropped down behind the Sierras so long ago. They were a hopeful, happy lot, and sometimes received five dollars for an article, which, of course, seemed a good deal more precious than a much larger sum earned in another way.
Mark Twain had contributed to the "Era" while still in Virginia City, and now, with Bret Harte, was ranked as a leader of the group. The two were much together, and when Harte became editor of the "Californian" he engaged Clemens as a regular contributor at the very fancy rate of twelve dollars an article. Some of the brief chapters included to-day in "Sketches New and Old" were done at this time. They have humor, but are not equal to his later work, and beyond the Pacific slope they seem to have attracted little attention.
In "Roughing It" the author tells us how he finally was dismissed from the "Call" for general incompetency, and presently found himself in the depths of hard luck, debt, and poverty. But this is only his old habit of making a story on himself sound as uncomplimentary as possible. The true version is that the "Call" publisher and Mark Twain had a friendly talk and decided that it was better for both to break off the connection. Almost immediately he arranged to write a daily San Francisco letter for the "Enterprise," for which he received thirty dollars a week. This, with his earnings from the "Californian," made his total return larger than before. Very likely he was hard up from time to time—literary men are often that—but that he was ever in abject poverty, as he would have us believe, is just a good story and not history.
THE DISCOVERY OF "THE JUMPING FROG"
Mark Twain's daily letters to the "Enterprise" stirred up trouble for him in San Francisco. He was free, now, to write what he chose, and he attacked the corrupt police management with such fierceness that, when copies of the "Enterprise" got back to San Francisco, they started a commotion at the city hall. Then Mark Twain let himself go more vigorously than ever. He sent letters to the "Enterprise" that made even the printers afraid. Goodman, however, was fearless, and let them go in, word for word. The libel suit which the San Francisco chief of police brought against the Enterprise advertised the paper amazingly.
But now came what at the time seemed an unfortunate circumstance. Steve Gillis, always a fearless defender of the weak, one night rushed to the assistance of two young fellows who had been set upon by three roughs. Gillis, though small of stature, was a terrific combatant, and he presently put two of the assailants to flight and had the other ready for the hospital. Next day it turned out that the roughs were henchmen of the police, and Gillis was arrested.
Clemens went his bail, and advised Steve to go down to Virginia City until the storm blew over.
But it did not blow over for Mark Twain. The police department was only too glad to have a chance at the author of the fierce "Enterprise" letters, and promptly issued a summons for him, with an execution against his personal effects. If James N. Gillis, brother of Steve, had not happened along just then and spirited Mark Twain away to his mining-camp in the Tuolumne Hills, the beautiful gold watch given to the governor of the Third House might have been sacrificed in the cause of friendship.
As it was, he found himself presently in the far and peaceful seclusion of that land which Bret Harte would one day make famous with his tales of "Roaring Camp" and "Sandy Bar." Jim Gillis was, in fact, the Truthful James of Bret Harte, and his cabin on jackass Hill had been the retreat of Harte and many another literary wayfarer who had wandered there for rest and refreshment and peace. It was said the sick were made well, and the well made better, in Jim Gillis's cabin. There were plenty of books and a variety of out-of-door recreation. One could mine there if he chose. Jim would furnish the visiting author with a promising claim, and teach him to follow the little fan-like drift of gold specks to the pocket of treasure somewhere up the hillside.
Gillis himself had literary ability, though he never wrote. He told his stories, and with his back to the open fire would weave the most amazing tales, invented as he went along. His stories were generally wonderful adventures that had happened to his faithful companion, Stoker; and Stoker never denied them, but would smoke and look into the fire, smiling a little sometimes, but never saying a word. A number of the tales later used by Mark Twain were first told by Jim Gillis in the cabin on Jackass Hill. "Dick Baker's Cat" was one of these, the jay-bird and acorn story in "A Tramp Abroad" was another. Mark Twain had little to add to these stories.
"They are not mine, they are Jim's," he said, once; "but I never could get them to sound like Jim—they were never as good as his."
It was early in December, 1864, when Mark Twain arrived at the humble retreat, built of logs under a great live-oak tree, and surrounded by a stretch of blue-grass. A younger Gillis boy was there at the time, and also, of course, Dick Stoker and his cat, Tom Quartz, which every reader of "Roughing It" knows.
It was the rainy season, but on pleasant days they all went pocket-mining, and, in January, Mark Twain, Gillis, and Stoker crossed over into Calaveras County and began work near Angel's Camp, a place well known to readers of Bret Harte. They put up at a poor hotel in Angel's, and on good days worked pretty faithfully. But it was generally raining, and the food was poor.
In his note-book, still preserved, Mark Twain wrote: "January 27 (1865). —Same old diet—same old weather—went out to the pocket-claim—had to rush back."
So they spent a good deal of their time around the rusty stove in the dilapidated tavern at Angel's Camp. It seemed a profitless thing to do, but few experiences were profitless to Mark Twain, and certainly this one was not.
At this barren mining hotel there happened to be a former Illinois River pilot named Ben Coon, a solemn, sleepy person, who dozed by the stove or told slow, pointless stories to any one who would listen. Not many would stay to hear him, but Jim Gillis and Mark Twain found him a delight. They would let him wander on in his dull way for hours, and saw a vast humor in a man to whom all tales, however trivial or absurd, were serious history.
At last, one dreary afternoon, he told them about a frog—a frog that had belonged to a man named Coleman, who had trained it to jump, and how the trained frog had failed to win a wager because the owner of the rival frog had slyly loaded the trained jumper with shot. It was not a new story in the camps, but Ben Coon made a long tale of it, and it happened that neither Clemens nor Gillis had heard it before. They thought it amusing, and his solemn way of telling it still more so.
"I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's better than any other frog," became a catch phrase among the mining partners; and, "I 'ain't got no frog, but if I had a frog, I'd bet you."
Out on the claim, Clemens, watching Gillis and Stoker anxiously washing, would say, "I don't see no pints about that pan o' dirt that's any better than any other pan o' dirt." And so they kept the tale going. In his note-book Mark Twain made a brief memorandum of the story for possible use.
The mining was rather hopeless work. The constant and heavy rains were disheartening. Clemens hated it, and even when, one afternoon, traces of a pocket began to appear, he rebelled as the usual chill downpour set in.
"Jim," he said, "let's go home; we'll freeze here."
Gillis, as usual, was washing, and Clemens carrying the water. Gillis, seeing the gold "color" improving with every pan, wanted to go on washing and climbing toward the precious pocket, regardless of wet and cold. Clemens, shivering and disgusted, vowed that each pail of water would be his last. His teeth were chattering, and he was wet through. Finally he said:
"Jim, I won't carry any more water. This work too disagreeable."
Gillis had just taken out a panful of dirt.
"Bring one more pail, Sam," he begged.
"Jim I won't do it. I'm-freezing."
"Just one more pail, Sam!" Jim pleaded.
"No, sir; not a drop—not if I knew there was a million dollars in that pan."
Gillis tore out a page of his note-book and hastily posted a thirty-day-claim notice by the pan of dirt. Then they set out for Angel's Camp, never to return. It kept on raining, and a letter came from Steve Gillis, saying he had settled all the trouble in San Francisco. Clemens decided to return, and the miners left Angel's without visiting their claim again.
Meantime the rain had washed away the top of the pan of dirt they had left standing on the hillside, exposing a handful of nuggets, pure gold. Two strangers, Austrians, happening along, gathered it up and, seeing the claim notice posted by Jim Gillis, sat down to wait until it expired. They did not mind the rain—not under the circumstances—and the moment the thirty days were up they followed the lead a few pans farther and took out, some say ten, some say twenty, thousand dollars. In either case it was a good pocket that Mark Twain missed by one pail of water. Still, without knowing it, he had carried away in his note-book a single nugget of far greater value the story of "The Jumping Frog."
He did not write it, however, immediately upon his return to San Francisco. He went back to his "Enterprise" letters and contributed some sketches to the Californian. Perhaps he thought the frog story too mild in humor for the slope. By and by he wrote it, and by request sent it to Artemus Ward to be used in a book that Ward was about to issue. It arrived too late, and the publisher handed it to the editor of the "Saturday Press," Henry Clapp, saying:
"Here, Clapp, is something you can use in your paper."
The "Press" was struggling, and was glad to get a story so easily. "Jim Smiley and his jumping Frog" appeared in the issue of November 18, 1865, and was at once copied and quoted far and near. It carried the name of Mark Twain across the mountains and the prairies of the Middle West; it bore it up and down the Atlantic slope. Some one said, then or later, that Mark Twain leaped into fame on the back of a jumping frog.
Curiously, this did not at first please the author. He thought the tale poor. To his mother he wrote:
I do not know what to write; my life is so uneventful. I wish I was back there piloting up and down the river again. Verily, all is vanity and little worth—save piloting.
To think that, after writing many an article a man might be excused for thinking tolerably good, those New York people should single out a villainous backwoods sketch to compliment me on!—"Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog"—a squib which would never have been written but to please Artemus Ward.
However, somewhat later he changed his mind considerably, especially when he heard that James Russell Lowell had pronounced the story the finest piece of humorous writing yet produced in America.
HAWAII AND ANSON BURLINGAME
Mark Twain remained about a year in San Francisco after his return from the Gillis cabin and Angel's Camp, adding to his prestige along the Coast rather than to his national reputation. Then, in the spring of 1866 he was commissioned by the "Sacramento Union" to write a series of letters that would report the life, trade, agriculture, and general aspects of the Hawaiian group. He sailed in March, and his four months in those delectable islands remained always to him a golden memory—an experience which he hoped some day to repeat. He was young and eager for adventure then, and he went everywhere—horseback and afoot—saw everything, did everything, and wrote of it all for his paper. His letters to the "Union" were widely read and quoted, and, though not especially literary, added much to his journalistic standing. He was a great sight-seer in those days, and a persevering one. No discomfort or risk discouraged him. Once, with a single daring companion, he crossed the burning floor of the mighty crater of Kilauea, racing across the burning lava, leaping wide and bottomless crevices where a misstep would have meant death. His open-air life on the river and in the mining-camps had nerved and hardened him for adventure. He was thirty years old and in his physical prime. His mental growth had been slower, but it was sure, and it would seem always to have had the right guidance at the right time.
Clemens had been in the islands three months when one day Anson Burlingame arrived there, en route to his post as minister to China. With him was his son Edward, a boy of eighteen, and General Van Valkenburg, minister to Japan. Young Burlingame had read about Jim Smiley's jumping frog and, learning that the author was in Honolulu, but ill after a long trip inland, sent word that the party would call on him next morning. But Mark Twain felt that he could not accept this honor, and, crawling out of bed, shaved himself and drove to the home of the American minister, where the party was staying. He made a great impression with the diplomats. It was an occasion of good stories and much laughter. On leaving, General Van Valkenburg said to him:
"California is proud of Mark Twain, and some day the American people will be, too, no doubt." Which was certainly a good prophecy.
It was only a few days later that the diplomats rendered him a great service. Report had come of the arrival at Sanpahoe of an open boat containing fifteen starving men, who had been buffeting a stormy sea for forty-three days—sailors from the missing ship Hornet of New York, which, it appeared, had been burned at sea. Presently eleven of the rescued men were brought to Honolulu and placed in the hospital.
Mark Twain recognized the great importance as news of this event. It would be a splendid beat if he could interview the castaways and be the first to get their story in his paper. There was no cable, but a vessel was sailing for San Francisco next morning. It seemed the opportunity of a lifetime, but he was now bedridden and could scarcely move.
Then suddenly appeared in his room Anson Burlingame and his party, and, almost before Mark Twain realized what was happening, he was on a cot and, escorted by the heads of two legations, was on his way to the hospital to get the precious interview. Once there, Anson Burlingame, with his gentle manner and courtly presence, drew from those enfeebled castaways all the story of the burning of the vessel, followed by the long privation and struggle that had lasted through forty-three fearful days and across four thousand miles of stormy sea. All that Mark Twain had to do was to listen and make notes. That night he wrote against time, and next morning, just as the vessel was drifting from the dock, a strong hand flung his bulky manuscript aboard and his great beat was sure. The three-column story, published in the "Sacramento Union" of July 9, gave the public the first detailed history of the great disaster. The telegraph carried it everywhere, and it was featured as a sensation.
Mark Twain and the Burlingame party were much together during the rest of their stay in Hawaii, and Samuel Clemens never ceased to love and honor the memory of Anson Burlingame. It was proper that he should do so, for he owed him much—far more than has already been told.
Anson Burlingame one day said to him: "You have great ability; I believe you have genius. What you need now is the refinement of association. Seek companionship among men of superior intellect and character. Refine yourself and your work. Never affiliate with inferiors; always climb."
This, coming to him from a man of Burlingame's character and position, was like a gospel from some divine source. Clemens never forgot the advice. It gave him courage, new hope, new resolve, new ideals.
Burlingame came often to the hotel, and they discussed plans for Mark Twain's future. The diplomat invited the journalist to visit him in China:
"Come to Pekin," he said, "and make my house your home."
Young Burlingame also came, when the patient became convalescent, and suggested walks. Once, when Clemens hesitated, the young man said:
"But there is a scriptural command for you to go."
"If you can quote one, I'll obey," said Clemens.
"Very well; the Bible says: 'If any man require thee to walk a mile, go with him Twain.'"
The walk was taken.
Mark Twain returned to California at the end of July, and went down to Sacramento. It was agreed that a special bill should be made for the "Hornet" report.
"How much do you think it ought to be, Mark?" asked one of the proprietors.
Clemens said: "Oh, I'm a modest man; I don't want the whole 'Union' office; call it a hundred dollars a column."
There was a general laugh. The bill was made out at that figure, and he took it to the office for payment.
"The cashier didn't faint," he wrote many years later, "but he came rather near it. He sent for the proprietors, and they only laughed in their jolly fashion, and said it was robbery, but 'no matter, pay it. It's all right.' The best men that ever owned a paper." 
 "My Debut as a Literary Person."
MARK TWAIN, LECTURER
In spite of the success of his Sandwich Island letters, Samuel Clemens felt, on his return to San Francisco, that his future was not bright. He was not a good, all-round newspaper man—he was special correspondent and sketch-writer, out of a job.
He had a number of plans, but they did not promise much. One idea was to make a book from his Hawaiian material. Another was to write magazine articles, beginning with one on the Hornet disaster. He did, in fact, write the Hornet article, and its prompt acceptance by "Harper's Magazine" delighted him, for it seemed a start in the right direction. A third plan was to lecture on the islands.
This prospect frightened him. He had succeeded in his "Third House" address of two years before, but then he had lectured without charge and for a church benefit. This would be a different matter.
One of the proprietors of a San Francisco paper, Col. John McComb, of the "Alta California," was strong in his approval of the lecture idea.
"Do it, by all means," he said. "Take the largest house in the city, and charge a dollar a ticket."
Without waiting until his fright came back, Mark Twain hurried to the manager of the Academy of Music, and engaged it for a lecture to be given October 2d (1866), and sat down and wrote his announcement. He began by stating what he would speak upon, and ended with a few absurdities, such as:
A SPLENDID ORCHESTRA is in town, but has not been engaged.
Also A DEN OF FEROCIOUS WILD BEASTS will be on exhibition in the next block. A GRAND TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION may be expected; in fact, the public are privileged to expect whatever they please. Doors open at 7 o'clock. The trouble to begin at 8 o'clock.
Mark Twain was well known in San Francisco, and was pretty sure to have a good house. But he did not realize this, and, as the evening approached, his dread of failure increased. Arriving at the theater, he entered by the stage door, half expecting to find the place empty. Then, suddenly, he became more frightened than ever; peering from the wings, he saw that the house was jammed—packed from the footlights to the walls! Terrified, his knees shaking, his tongue dry, he managed to emerge, and was greeted with a roar, a crash of applause that nearly finished him. Only for an instant—reaction followed; these people were his friends, and he was talking to them. He forgot to be afraid, and, as the applause came in great billows that rose ever higher, he felt himself borne with it as on a tide of happiness and success. His evening, from beginning to end, was a complete triumph. Friends declared that for descriptive eloquence, humor, and real entertainment nothing like his address had ever been delivered. The morning papers were enthusiastic.
Mark Twain no longer hesitated as to what he should do now. He would lecture. The book idea no longer attracted him; the appearance of the "Hornet" article, signed, through a printer's error, "Mark Swain," cooled his desire to be a magazine contributor. No matter—lecturing was the thing. Dennis McCarthy, who had sold his interest in the "Enterprise," was in San Francisco. Clemens engaged this honest, happy-hearted Irishman as manager, and the two toured California and Nevada with continuous success.
Those who remember Mark Twain as a lecturer in that early day say that on entering he would lounge loosely across the platform, his manuscript —written on wrapping-paper and carried under his arm—looking like a ruffled hen. His delivery they recall as being even more quaint and drawling than in later life. Once, when his lecture was over, an old man came up to him and said:
"Be them your natural tones of eloquence?"
In those days it was thought proper that a lecturer should be introduced, and Clemens himself used to tell of being presented by an old miner, who said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I know only two things about this man: the first is that he's never been in jail, and the second is, I don't know why."
When he reached Virginia, his old friend Goodman said, "Sam, you don't need anybody to introduce you," and he suggested a novel plan. That night, when the curtain rose, it showed Mark Twain seated at a piano, playing and singing, as if still cub pilot on the "John J. Roe:"
"Had an old horse whose name was Methusalem, Took him down and sold him in Jerusalem, A long time ago."
Pretending to be surprised and startled at the burst of applause, he sprang up and began to talk. How the audience enjoyed it!
Mark Twain continued his lecture tour into December, and then, on the 15th of that month, sailed by way of the Isthmus of Panama for New York. He had made some money, and was going home to see his people. He had planned to make a trip around the world later, contributing a series of letters to the "Alta California," lecturing where opportunity afforded. He had been on the Coast five and a half years, and to his professions of printing and piloting had added three others—mining, journalism, and lecturing. Also, he had acquired a measure of fame. He could come back to his people with a good account of his absence and a good heart for the future.
But it seems now only a chance that he arrived at all. Crossing the Isthmus, he embarked for New York on what proved to be a cholera ship. For a time there were one or more funerals daily. An entry in his diary says:
"Since the last two hours all laughter, all levity, has ceased on the ship—a settled gloom is upon the faces of the passengers.
"But the winter air of the North checked the contagion, and there were no new cases when New York City was reached."
Clemens remained but a short time in New York, and was presently in St. Louis with his mother and sister. They thought he looked old, but he had not changed in manner, and the gay banter between mother and son was soon as lively as ever. He was thirty-one now, and she sixty-four, but the years had made little difference. She petted him, joked with him, and scolded him. In turn, he petted and comforted and teased her. She decided he was the same Sam and always would be—a true prophecy.
He visited Hannibal and lectured there, receiving an ovation that would have satisfied even Tom Sawyer. In Keokuk he lectured again, then returned to St. Louis to plan his trip around the world.
He was not to make a trip around the world, however—not then. In St. Louis he saw the notice of the great "Quaker City" Holy Land excursion —the first excursion of the kind ever planned—and was greatly taken with the idea. Impulsive as always, he wrote at once to the "Alta California," proposing that they send him as their correspondent on this grand ocean picnic. The cost of passage was $1.200, and the "Alta" hesitated, but Colonel McComb, already mentioned, assured his associates that the investment would be sound. The "Alta" wrote, accepting Mark Twain's proposal, and agreed to pay twenty dollars each for letters. Clemens hurried to New York to secure a berth, fearing the passenger-list might be full. Furthermore, with no one of distinction to vouch for him, according to advertised requirements, he was not sure of being accepted. Arriving in New York, he learned from an "Alta" representative that passage had already been reserved for him, but he still doubted his acceptance as one of the distinguished advertised company. His mind was presently relieved on this point. Waiting his turn at the booking-desk, he heard a newspaper man inquire:
"What notables are going?"
A clerk, with evident pride, rattled off the names:
"Lieutenant-General Sherman, Henry Ward Beecher, and Mark Twain; also, probably, General Banks."
It was very pleasant to hear the clerk say that. Not only was he accepted, but billed as an attraction.
The "Quaker City" would not sail for two months yet, and during the period of waiting Mark Twain was far from idle. He wrote New York letters to the "Alta," and he embarked in two rather important ventures —he published his first book and he delivered a lecture in New York City.
Both these undertakings were planned and carried out by friends from the Coast. Charles Henry Webb, who had given up his magazine to come East, had collected "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches," and, after trying in vain to find a publisher for them, brought them out himself, on the 1st of May, 1867. It seems curious now that any publisher should have declined the little volume, for the sketches, especially the frog story, had been successful, and there was little enough good American humor in print. However, publishing was a matter not lightly undertaken in those days.
Mark Twain seems to have been rather pleased with the appearance of his first book. To Bret Harte he wrote:
The book is out and is handsome. It is full of . . . errors....but be a friend and say nothing about those things. When my hurry is over, I will send you a copy to pizen the children with.
The little cloth-and-gold volume, so valued by book-collectors to-day, contained the frog story and twenty-six other sketches, some of which are still preserved in Mark Twain's collected works. Most of them were not Mark Twain's best literature, but they were fresh and readable and suited the taste of that period. The book sold very well, and, while it did not bring either great fame or fortune to its author, it was by no means a failure.
The "hurry" mentioned in Mark Twain's letter to Bret Harte related to his second venture—that is to say, his New York lecture, an enterprise managed by an old Comstock friend, Frank Fuller, ex-Governor of Utah. Fuller, always a sanguine and energetic person, had proposed the lecture idea as soon as Mark Twain arrived in New York. Clemens shook his head.
"I have no reputation with the general public here," he said. "We couldn't get a baker's dozen to hear me."
But Fuller insisted, and eventually engaged the largest hall in New York, the Cooper Union. Full of enthusiasm and excitement, he plunged into the business of announcing and advertising his attraction, and inventing schemes for the sale of seats. Clemens caught Fuller's enthusiasm by spells, but between times he was deeply depressed. Fuller had got up a lot of tiny hand-bills, and had arranged to hang bunches of these in the horse-cars. The little dangling clusters fascinated Clemens, and he rode about to see if anybody else noticed them. Finally, after a long time, a passenger pulled off one of the bills and glanced at it. A man with him asked:
"Who's Mark Twain?"
"Goodness knows! I don't."
The lecturer could not ride any farther. He hunted up his patron.
"Fuller," he groaned, "there isn't a sign—a ripple of interest."
Fuller assured him that things were "working underneath," and would be all right. But Clemens wrote home: "Everything looks shady, at least, if not dark." And he added that, after hiring the largest house in New York, he must play against Schuyler Colfax, Ristori, and a double troupe of Japanese jugglers, at other places of amusement.
When the evening of the lecture approached and only a few tickets had been sold, the lecturer was desperate.
"Fuller," he said, "there'll be nobody in Cooper Union that night but you and me. I am on the verge of suicide. I would commit suicide if I had the pluck and the outfit. You must paper the house, Fuller. You must send out a flood of complimentaries!"
"Very well," said Fuller. "What we want this time is reputation, anyway —money is secondary. I'll put you before the choicest and most intelligent audience that was ever gathered in New York City."
Fuller immediately sent out complimentary tickets to the school-teachers of New York and Brooklyn—-a general invitation to come and hear Mark Twain's great lecture on the Sandwich Islands. There was nothing to do after that but wait results.
Mark Twain had lost faith—he did not believe anybody in New York would come to hear him even on a free ticket. When the night arrived, he drove with Fuller to the Cooper Union half an hour before the lecture was to begin. Forty years later he said:
"I couldn't keep away. I wanted to see that vast Mammoth Cave, and die. But when we got near the building, I saw all the streets were blocked with people and that traffic had stopped. I couldn't believe that these people were trying to get to the Cooper Institute—but they were; and when I got to the stage, at last, the house was jammed full—packed; there wasn't room enough left for a child.
"I was happy and I was excited beyond expression. I poured the Sandwich Islands out on those people, and they laughed and shouted to my entire content. For an hour and fifteen minutes I was in paradise."
So in its way this venture was a success. It brought Mark Twain a good deal of a reputation in New York, even if no financial profit, though, in spite of the flood of complimentaries, there was a cash return of something like three hundred dollars. This went a good way toward paying the expenses, while Fuller, in his royal way, insisted on making up the deficit, declaring he had been paid for everything in the fun and joy of the game.
"Mark," he said, "it's all right. The fortune didn't come, but it will. The fame has arrived; with this lecture and your book just out, you are going to be the most-talked-of man in the country. Your letters to the 'Alta' and the 'Tribune' will get the widest reception of any letters of travel ever written."
AN INNOCENT ABROAD, AND HOME AGAIN
It was early in May—the 6th—that Mark Twain had delivered his Cooper Union lecture, and a month later, June 8, 1867, he sailed on the "Quaker City," with some sixty-six other "pilgrims," on the great Holy Land excursion, the story of which has been so fully and faithfully told in "The Innocent Abroad."
What a wonderful thing it must have seemed in that time for a party of excursionists to have a ship all to themselves to go a-gipsying in from port to port of antiquity and romance! The advertised celebrities did not go, none of them but Mark Twain, but no one minded, presently, for Mark Twain's sayings and stories kept the company sufficiently entertained, and sometimes he would read aloud to his fellow-passengers from the newspaper letters he was writing, and invite comment and criticism. That was entertainment for them, and it was good for him, for it gave him an immediate audience, always inspiring to an author. Furthermore, the comments offered were often of the greatest value, especially suggestions from one Mrs. Fairbanks, of Cleveland, a middle-aged, cultured woman, herself a correspondent for her husband's paper, the "Herald". It requires not many days for acquaintances to form on shipboard, and in due time a little group gathered regularly each afternoon to hear Mark Twain read what he had written of their day's doings, though some of it he destroyed later because Mrs. Fairbanks thought it not his best.
All of the "pilgrims" mentioned in "The Innocents Abroad" were real persons. "Dan" was Dan Slote, Mark Twain's room-mate; the Doctor who confused the guides was Dr. A. Reeves Jackson, of Chicago; the poet Lariat was Bloodgood H. Cutter, an eccentric from Long Island; "Jack" was Jack Van Nostrand, of New Jersey; and "Moult" and "Blucher" and "Charlie" were likewise real, the last named being Charles J. Langdon, of Elmira, N. Y., a boy of eighteen, whose sister would one day become Mark Twain's wife.
It has been said that Mark Twain first met Olivia Langdon on the "Quaker City," but this is not quite true; he met only her picture—the original was not on that ship. Charlie Langdon, boy fashion, made a sort of hero of the brilliant man called Mark Twain, and one day in the Bay of Smyrna invited him to his cabin and exhibited his treasures, among them a dainty miniature of a sister at home, Olivia, a sweet, delicate creature whom the boy worshiped.
Samuel Clemens gazed long at the exquisite portrait and spoke of it reverently, for in the sweet face he seemed to find something spiritual. Often after that he came to young Langdon's cabin to look at the pictured countenance, in his heart dreaming of a day when he might learn to know its owner.
We need not follow in detail here the travels of the "pilgrims" and their adventures. Most of them have been fully set down in "The Innocents Abroad," and with not much elaboration, for plenty of amusing things were happening on a trip of that kind, and Mark Twain's old note-books are full of the real incidents that we find changed but little in the book. If the adventures of Jack, Dan, and the Doctor are embroidered here and there, the truth is always there, too.
Yet the old note-books have a very intimate interest of their own. It is curious to be looking through them to-day, trying to realize that those penciled memoranda were the fresh first impressions that would presently grow into the world's most delightful book of travel; that they were set down in the very midst of that historic little company that frolicked through Italy and climbed wearily the arid Syrian hills.
It required five months for the "Quaker City" to make the circuit of the Mediterranean and return to New York. Mark Twain in that time contributed fifty two or three letters to the "Alta California" and six to the "New York Tribune," or an average of nearly three a week—a vast amount of labor to be done in the midst of sight-seeing. And what letters of travel they were! The most remarkable that had been written up to that time. Vivid, fearless, full of fresh color, humor, poetry, they came as a revelation to a public weary of the tiresome descriptive drivel of that day. They preached a new gospel in travel literature—the gospel of seeing honestly and speaking frankly—a gospel that Mark Twain would continue to preach during the rest of his career.
Furthermore, the letters showed a great literary growth in their author. No doubt the cultivated associations of the ship, the afternoon reading aloud of his work, and Mrs. Fairbanks's advice had much to do with this. But we may believe, also, that the author's close study of the King James version of the Old Testament during the weeks of travel through Palestine exerted a powerful influence upon his style. The man who had recited "The Burial of Moses" to Joe Goodman, with so much feeling, could not fail to be mastered by the simple yet stately Bible phrase and imagery. Many of the fine descriptive passages in "The Innocents Abroad" have something almost Biblical in their phrasing. The writer of this memoir heard in childhood "The Innocents Abroad" read aloud, and has never forgotten the poetic spell that fell upon him as he listened to a paragraph written of Tangier:
"Here is a crumbled wall that was old when Columbus discovered America; old when Peter the Hermit roused the knightly men of the Middle Ages to arm for the first Crusade; old when Charlemagne and his paladins beleaguered enchanted castles and battled with giants and genii in the fabled days of the olden time; old when Christ and His disciples walked the earth; stood where it stands to-day when the lips of Memnon were vocal and men bought and sold in the streets of ancient Thebes."
Mark Twain returned to America to find himself, if not famous, at least in very high repute. The "Alta" and "Tribune" letters had carried his name to every corner of his native land. He was in demand now. To his mother he wrote:
"I have eighteen offers to lecture, at $100 each, in various parts of the Union—have declined them all . . . . Belong on the "Tribune" staff and shall write occasionally. Am offered the same berth to-day on the 'Herald,' by letter."
He was in Washington at this time, having remained in New York but one day. He had accepted a secretaryship from Senator Stewart of Nevada, but this arrangement was a brief one. He required fuller freedom for his Washington correspondence and general literary undertakings.
He had been in Washington but a few days when he received a letter that meant more to him than he could possibly have dreamed at the moment. It was from Elisha Bliss, Jr., manager of the American Publishing Company, of Hartford, Connecticut, and it suggested gathering the Mediterranean travel-letters into a book. Bliss was a capable, energetic man, with a taste for humor, and believed there was money for author and publisher in the travel-book.
The proposition pleased Mark Twain, who replied at once, asking for further details as to Bliss's plan. Somewhat later he made a trip to Hartford, and the terms for the publication of "The Innocents Abroad" were agreed upon. It was to be a large illustrated book for subscription sale, and the author was to receive five per cent of the selling price. Bliss had offered him the choice between this royalty and ten thousand dollars cash. Though much tempted by the large sum to be paid in hand, Mark Twain decided in favor of the royalty plan—"the best business judgment I ever displayed," he used to say afterward. He agreed to arrange the letters for book publication, revising and rewriting where necessary, and went back to Washington well pleased. He did not realize that his agreement with Bliss marked the beginning of one of the most notable publishing connections in American literary history.
OLIVIA LANGDON. WORK ON THE "INNOCENTS"
Certainly this was a momentous period in Mark Twain's life. It was a time of great events, and among them was one which presently would come to mean more to him than all the rest—the beginning of his acquaintance with Olivia Langdon.
One evening in late December when Samuel Clemens had come to New York to visit his old "Quaker City" room-mate, Dan Slote, he found there other ship comrades, including Jack Van Nostrand and Charlie Langdon. It was a joyful occasion, but one still happier followed it. Young Langdon's father and sister Olivia were in New York, and an evening or two later the boy invited his distinguished "Quaker City" shipmate to dine with them at the old St. Nicholas Hotel. We may believe that Samuel Clemens went willingly enough. He had never forgotten the September day in the Bay of Smyrna when he had first seen the sweet-faced miniature—now, at last he looked upon the reality.
Long afterward he said: "It was forty years ago. From that day to this she has never been out of my mind."
Charles Dickens gave a reading that night at Steinway Hall. The Langdons attended, and Samuel Clemens with them. He recalled long after that Dickens wore a black velvet coat with a fiery-red flower in his buttonhole, and that he read the storm scene from "David Copperfield" —the death of James Steerforth; but he remembered still more clearly the face and dress and the slender, girlish figure of Olivia Langdon at his side.
Olivia Langdon was twenty-two years old at this time, delicate as the miniature he had seen, though no longer in the fragile health of her girlhood. Gentle, winning, lovable, she was the family idol, and Samuel Clemens was no less her worshiper from the first moment of their meeting.
Miss Langdon, on her part, was at first rather dazed by the strange, brilliant, handsome man, so unlike anything she had known before. When he had gone, she had the feeling that something like a great meteor had crossed her sky. To her brother, who was eager for her good opinion of his celebrity, she admitted her admiration, if not her entire approval. Her father had no doubts. With a keen sense of humor and a deep knowledge of men, Jervis Langdon was from that first evening the devoted champion of Mark Twain. Clemens saw Miss Langdon again during the holidays, and by the week's end he had planned to visit Elmira—soon. But fate managed differently. He was not to see Elmira for the better part of a year.
He returned to his work in Washington—the preparation of the book and his newspaper correspondence. It was in connection with the latter that he first met General Grant, then not yet President. The incident, characteristic of both men, is worth remembering. Mark Twain had called by permission, elated with the prospect of an interview. But when he looked into the square, smileless face of the soldier he found himself, for the first time in his life, without anything particular to say. Grant nodded slightly and waited. His caller wished something would happen. It did. His inspiration returned.
"General," he said, "I seem to be slightly embarrassed. Are you?"
Grant's severity broke up in laughter. There were no further difficulties.
Work on the book did not go so well. There were many distractions in Washington, and Clemens did not like the climate there. Then he found the "Alta" had copyrighted his letters and were reluctant to allow him to use them. He decided to sail at once for San Francisco. If he could arrange the "Alta" matter, he would finish his work there. He did, in fact, carry out this plan, and all difficulties vanished on his arrival. His old friend Colonel McComb obtained for him free use of the "Alta" letters. The way was now clear for his book. His immediate need of funds, however, induced him to lecture. In May he wrote Bliss:
"I lectured here on the trip (the Quaker City excursion) the other night; $1,600 in gold in the house; every seat taken and paid for before night."
He settled down to work now with his usual energy, editing and rewriting, and in two months had the big manuscript ready for delivery.
Mark Twain's friends urged him to delay his return to "the States" long enough to make a lecture tour through California and Nevada. He must give his new lecture, they told him, to his old friends. He agreed, and was received at Virginia City, Carson, and elsewhere like a returning conqueror. He lectured again in San Francisco just before sailing.
The announcement of his lecture was highly original. It was a hand-bill supposed to have been issued by the foremost citizens of San Francisco, a mock protest against his lecture, urging him to return to New York without inflicting himself on them again. On the same bill was printed his reply. In it he said:
"I will torment the people if I want to. It only costs them $1 apiece, and, if they can't stand it, what do they stay here for?"
He promised positively to sail on July 6th if they would let him talk just this once.
There was a good deal more of this drollery on the bill, which ended with the announcement that he would appear at the Mercantile Library on July 2d. It is unnecessary to say that the place was jammed on that evening. It was probably the greatest lecture event San Francisco has ever known. Four days later, July 6, 1868, Mark Twain sailed, via Aspinwall, for New York, and on the 28th delivered the manuscript of "The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrim's Progress," to his Hartford publisher.
THE VISIT TO ELMIRA AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
Samuel Clemens now decided to pay his long-deferred visit to the Langdon home in Elmira. Through Charlie Langdon he got the invitation renewed, and for a glorious week enjoyed the generous hospitality of the beautiful Langdon home and the society of fair Olivia Langdon—Livy, as they called her—realizing more and more that for him there could never be any other woman in the world. He spoke no word of this to her, but on the morning of the day when his visit would end he relieved himself to Charlie Langdon, much to the young man's alarm. Greatly as he admired Mark Twain himself, he did not think him, or, indeed, any man, good enough for "Livy," whom he considered little short of a saint. Clemens was to take a train that evening, but young Langdon said, when he recovered:
"Look here, Clemens, there's a train in half an hour. I'll help you catch it. Don't wait until tonight; go now!"
Mark Twain shook his head.
"No, Charlie," he said, in his gentle drawl. "I want to enjoy your hospitality a little longer. I promise to be circumspect, and I'll go to-night."
That night after dinner, when it was time to take the train, a light two-seated wagon was at the gate. Young Langdon and his guest took the back seat, which, for some reason, had not been locked in its place. The horse started with a quick forward spring, and the seat with its two occupants described a circle and landed with force on the cobbled street.
Neither passenger was seriously hurt—only dazed a little for the moment. But to Mark Twain there came a sudden inspiration. Here was a chance to prolong his visit. When the Langdon household gathered with restoratives, he did not recover at once, and allowed himself to be supported to an arm-chair for further remedies. Livy Langdon showed especial anxiety.
He was not allowed to go, now, of course; he must stay until it was certain that his recovery was complete. Perhaps he had been internally injured. His visit was prolonged two weeks, two weeks of pure happiness, and when he went away he had fully resolved to win Livy Langdon for his wife.
Mark Twain now went to Hartford to look after his book proofs, and there for the first time met the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, who would become his closest friend. The two men, so different in many ways, always had the fondest admiration for each other; each recognized in the other great courage, humanity, and sympathy. Clemens would gladly have remained in Hartford that winter. Twichell presented him to many congenial people, including Charles Dudley Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and other writing folk. But flattering lecture offers were made him, and he could no longer refuse.
He called his new lecture "The Vandal Abroad," it being chapters from the forthcoming book, and it was a great success everywhere. His houses were crowded; the newspapers were enthusiastic. His delivery was described as a "long, monotonous drawl, with fun invariably coming in at the end of a sentence—after a pause." He began to be recognized everywhere—to have great popularity. People came out on the street to see him pass.
Many of his lecture engagements were in central New York, no great distance from Elmira. He had a standing invitation to visit the Langdon home, and went when he could. His courtship, however, was not entirely smooth. Much as Mr. Langdon honored his gifts and admired him personally, he feared that his daughter, who had known so little of life and the outside world, and the brilliant traveler, lecturer, author, might not find happiness in marriage. Many absurd stories have been told of Mark Twain's first interview with Jervis Langdon on this subject, but these are without foundation. It was an earnest discussion on both sides, and left Samuel Clemens rather crestfallen, though not without hope. More than once the subject was discussed between the two men that winter as the lecturer came and went, his fame always growing. In time the Langdon household had grown to feel that he belonged to them. It would be only a step further to make him really one of the family.
There was no positive engagement at first, for it was agreed between Clemens and Jervis Langdon that letters should be sent by Mr. Langdon to those who had known his would-be son-in-law earlier, with inquiries as to his past conduct and general character. It was a good while till answers to these came, and when they arrived Samuel Clemens was on hand to learn the result. Mr. Langdon had a rather solemn look when they were alone together.
Clemens asked, "You've heard from those gentlemen out there?"
"Yes, and from another gentlemen I wrote to concerning you."
"They don't appear to have been very enthusiastic, from your manner."
"Well, yes, some of them were."
"I suppose I may ask what particular form their emotion took."
"Oh, yes, yes; they agree unanimously that you are a brilliant, able man —a man with a future, and that you would make about the worst husband on record."
The applicant had a forlorn look. "There is nothing very evasive about that," he said.
"Haven't you any other friend that you could suggest?"
"Apparently none whose testimony would be valuable."
Jervis Langdon held out his hand.
"You have at least one," he said. "I believe in you. I know you better then they do."
The engagement of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and Olivia Lewis Langdon was ratified next day, February 4, 1869. To Jane Clemens her son wrote: "She is a little body, but she hasn't her peer in Christendom."
THE NEW BOOK AND A WEDDING
Clemens closed his lecture tour in March with a profit of something more than eight thousand dollars. He had intended to make a spring tour of California, but went to Elmira instead. The revised proofs of his book were coming now, and he and gentle Livy Langdon read them together. Samuel Clemens realized presently that the girl he had chosen had a delicate literary judgment. She became all at once his editor, a position she held until her death. Her refining influence had much to do with Mark Twain's success, then and later, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude. Through that first pleasant summer these two worked at the proofs and planned for their future, and were very happy indeed.
It was about the end of July when the big book appeared at last, and its success was startling. Nothing like it had ever been known before. Mark Twain's name seemed suddenly to be on every tongue—his book in everybody's hands. From one end of the country to the other, readers were hailing him as the greatest humorist and descriptive writer of modern times. By the first of the year more than thirty thousand volumes had been sold. It was a book of travel; its lowest price was three and a half dollars; the record has not been equaled since. In England also large editions had been issued, and translations into foreign languages were under way. It was and is a great book, because it is a human book —a book written straight from the heart.
If Mark Twain had not been famous before, he was so now. Indeed, it is doubtful if any other American author was so widely known and read as the author of "The Innocents Abroad" during that first half-year after its publication.
Yet for some reason he still did not regard himself as a literary man. He was a journalist, and began to look about for a paper which he could buy-his idea being to establish a business and a home. Through Mr. Langdon's assistance, he finally obtained an interest in the "Buffalo Express," and the end of the year 1869 found him established as its associate editor, though still lecturing here and there, because his wedding-day was near at hand and there must be no lack of funds.
It was the 2d of February, 1870, that Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon were married. A few days before, he sat down one night and wrote to Jim Gillis, away out in the Tuolumne Hills, and told him of all his good fortune, recalling their days at Angel's Camp, and the absurd frog story, which he said had been the beginning of his happiness. In the five years since then he had traveled a long way, but he had not forgotten.
On the morning of his wedding-day Mark Twain received from his publisher a check for four thousand dollars, his profit from three months' sales of the book, a handsome sum.
The wedding was mainly a family affair. Twichell and his wife came over from Hartford—Twichell to assist Thomas K. Beecher in performing the ceremony. Jane Clemens could not come, nor Orion and his wife; but Pamela, a widow now, and her daughter Annie, grown to a young lady, arrived from St. Louis. Not more than one hundred guests gathered in the stately Langdon parlors that in future would hold so much history for Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon—so much of the story of life and death that thus made its beginning there. Then, at seven in the evening, they were married, and the bride danced with her father, and the Rev. Thomas Beecher declared she wore the longest gloves he had ever seen.
It was the next afternoon that the wedding-party set out for Buffalo. Through a Mr. Slee, an agent of Mr. Langdon's, Clemens had engaged, as he supposed, a boarding-house, quiet and unpretentious, for he meant to start his married life modestly. Jervis Langdon had a plan of his own for his daughter, but Clemens had received no inkling of it, and had full faith in the letter which Slee had written, saying that a choice and inexpensive boarding-house had been secured. When, about nine o'clock that night, the party reached Buffalo, they found Mr. Slee waiting at the station. There was snow, and sleighs had been ordered. Soon after starting, the sleigh of the bride and groom fell behind and drove about rather aimlessly, apparently going nowhere in particular. This disturbed the groom, who thought they should arrive first and receive their guests. He criticized Slee for selecting a house that was so hard to find, and when they turned at last into Delaware Avenue, Buffalo's finest street, and stopped before a handsome house, he was troubled concerning the richness of the locality.
They were on the steps when the door opened and a perfect fairyland of lights and decoration was revealed within. The friends who had gone ahead came out with greetings to lead in the bride and groom. Servants hurried forward to take bags and wraps. They were ushered inside; they were led through beautiful rooms, all newly appointed and garnished. The bridegroom was dazed, unable to understand the meaning of it all—the completeness of their possession. At last his young wife put her hand upon his arm.
"Don't you understand, Youth?" she said—that was always her name for him. "Don't you understand? It is ours, all ours—everything—a gift from father."
But still he could not quite grasp it, and Mr. Langdon brought a little box and, opening it, handed them the deeds.
Nobody quite remembers what was the first remark that Samuel Clemens made, but either then or a little later he said:
"Mr. Langdon, whenever you are in Buffalo, if it's twice a year, come right here. Bring your bag and stay overnight if you want to. It sha'n't cost you a cent."
MARK TWAIN IN BUFFALO
Mark Twain remained less than two years in Buffalo—a period of much affliction.
In the beginning, prospects could hardly have been brighter. His beautiful home seemed perfect. At the office he found work to his hand, and enjoyed it. His co-editor, J. W. Larned, who sat across the table from him, used to tell later how Mark enjoyed his work as he went along —the humor of it—frequently laughing as some new absurdity came into his mind. He was not very regular in his arrivals, but he worked long hours and turned in a vast amount of "copy"—skits, sketches, editorials, and comments of a varied sort. Not all of it was humorous; he would stop work any time on an amusing sketch to attack some abuse or denounce an injustice, and he did it in scorching words that made offenders pause. Once, when two practical jokers had sent in a marriage notice of persons not even contemplating matrimony, he wrote:
"This deceit has been practised maliciously by a couple of men whose small souls will escape through their pores some day if they do not varnish their hides."
In May he considerably increased his income by undertaking a department called "Memoranda" for the new "Galaxy" magazine. The outlook was now so promising that to his lecture agent, James Redpath, he wrote:
"DEAR RED: I'm not going to lecture any more forever. I've got things ciphered down to a fraction now. I know just about what it will cost to live, and I can make the money without lecturing. Therefore, old man, count me out."
And in a second letter:
"I guess I'm out of the field permanently. Have got a lovely wife, a lovely house bewitchingly furnished, a lovely carriage, and a coachman whose style and dignity are simply awe-inspiring, nothing less; and I'm making more money than necessary, by considerable, and therefore why crucify myself nightly on the platform! The subscriber will have to be excused, for the present season, at least."
The little household on Delaware Avenue was indeed a happy place during those early months. Neither Clemens nor his wife in those days cared much for society, preferring the comfort of their own home. Once when a new family moved into a house across the way they postponed calling until they felt ashamed. Clemens himself called first. One Sunday morning he noticed smoke pouring from an upper window of their neighbor's house. The occupants, seated on the veranda, evidently did not suspect their danger. Clemens stepped across to the gate and, bowing politely, said:
"My name is Clemens; we ought to have called on you before, and I beg your pardon for intruding now in this informal way, but your house is on fire."
It was at the moment when life seemed at its best that shadows gathered. Jervis Langdon had never accepted his son-in-law's playful invitation to "bring his bag and stay overnight," and now the time for it was past. In the spring his health gave way. Mrs. Clemens, who adored him, went to Elmira to be at his bedside. Three months of lingering illness brought the end. His death was a great blow to Mrs. Clemens, and the strain of watching had been very hard. Her own health, never robust, became poor. A girlhood friend, who came to cheer her with a visit, was taken down with typhoid fever. Another long period of anxiety and nursing ended with the young woman's death in the Clemens home.
To Mark Twain and his wife it seemed that their bright days were over. The arrival of little Langdon Clemens, in November, brought happiness, but his delicate hold on life was so uncertain that the burden of anxiety grew.
Amid so many distractions Clemens found his work hard. His "Memoranda" department in the "Galaxy" must be filled and be bright and readable. His work at the office could not be neglected. Then, too, he had made a contract with Bliss for another book "Roughing It"—and he was trying to get started on that.
He began to chafe under the relentless demands of the magazine and newspaper. Finally he could stand it no longer. He sold his interest in the "Express," at a loss, and gave up the "Memoranda." In the closing number (April, 1871) he said:
"For the last eight months, with hardly an interval, I have had for my fellows and comrades, night and day, doctors and watchers of the sick! During these eight months death has taken two members of my home circle and malignantly threatened two others. All this I have experienced, yet all the time have been under contract to furnish humorous matter, once a month, for this magazine .... To be a pirate on a low salary and with no share of the profits in the business used to be my idea of an uncomfortable occupation, but I have other views now. To be a monthly humorist in a cheerless time is drearier."
AT WORK ON "ROUGHING IT"
The Clemens family now went to Elmira, to Quarry Farm—a beautiful hilltop place, overlooking the river and the town—the home of Mrs. Clemens's sister, Mrs. Theodore Crane. They did not expect to return to Buffalo, and the house there was offered for sale. For them the sunlight had gone out of it.
Matters went better at Quarry Farm. The invalids gained strength; work on the book progressed. The Clemenses that year fell in love with the place that was to mean so much to them in the many summers to come.
Mark Twain was not altogether satisfied, however, with his writing. He was afraid it was not up to his literary standard. His spirits were at low ebb when his old first editor, Joe Goodman, came East and stopped off at Elmira. Clemens hurried him out to the farm, and, eagerly putting the chapters of "Roughing It" into his hands, asked him to read them. Goodman seated himself comfortably by a window, while the author went over to a table and pretended to write, but was really watching Goodman, who read page after page solemnly and with great deliberation. Presently Mark Twain could stand it no longer. He threw down his pen, exclaiming:
"I knew it! I knew it! I've been writing nothing but rot. You have sat there all this time reading without a smile—but I am not wholly to blame. I have been trying to write a funny book with dead people and sickness everywhere. Oh, Joe, I wish I could die myself!"
"Mark," said Goodman, "I was reading critically, not for amusement, and so far as I have read, and can judge, this is one of the best things you have ever written. I have found it perfectly absorbing. You are doing a great book!"
That was enough. Clemens knew that Goodman never spoke idly of such matters. The author of "Roughing It" was a changed man—full of enthusiasm, eager to go on. He offered to pay Goodman a salary to stay and furnish inspiration. Goodman declined the salary, but remained for several weeks, and during long walks which the two friends took over the hills gave advice, recalled good material, and was a great help and comfort. In May, Clemens wrote to Bliss that he had twelve hundred manuscript pages of the new book written and was turning out from thirty to sixty-five per day. He was in high spirits. The family health had improved—once more prospects were bright. He even allowed Redpath to persuade him to lecture again during the coming season. Selling his share of the "Express" at a loss had left Mark Twain considerably in debt and lecture profits would furnish the quickest means of payment.
When the summer ended the Clemens family took up residence in Hartford, Connecticut, in the fine old Hooker house, on Forest Street. Hartford held many attractions for Mark Twain. His publishers were located there, also it was the home of a distinguished group of writers, and of the Rev. "Joe" Twichell. Neither Clemens nor his wife had felt that they could return to Buffalo. The home there was sold—its contents packed and shipped. They did not see it again.
His book finished, Mark Twain lectured pretty steadily that winter, often in the neighborhood of Boston, which was lecture headquarters. Mark Twain enjoyed Boston. In Redpath's office one could often meet and "swap stories" with Josh Billings (Henry W. Shaw) and Petroleum V. Nasby (David R. Locke)—well-known humorists of that day—while in the strictly literary circle there were William Dean Howells, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Bret Harte (who by this time had become famous and journeyed eastward), and others of their sort. They were all young and eager and merry, then, and they gathered at luncheons in snug corners and talked gaily far into the dimness of winter afternoons. Harte had been immediately accorded a high place in the Boston group. Mark Twain as a strictly literary man was still regarded rather doubtfully by members of the older set—the Brahmins, as they were called—but the young men already hailed him joyfully, reveling in the fine, fearless humor of his writing, his wonderful talk, his boundless humanity.
Mark Twain closed his lecture season in February (1872), and during the same month his new book, "Roughing It," came from the press. He disliked the lecture platform, and he felt that he could now abandon it. He had made up his loss in Buffalo and something besides. Furthermore, the advance sales on his book had been large.
"Roughing It," in fact, proved a very successful book. Like "The Innocents Abroad," it was the first of its kind, fresh in its humor and description, true in its picture of the frontier life he had known. In three months forty thousand copies had been sold, and now, after more than forty years, it is still a popular book. The life it describes is all gone-the scenes are changed. It is a record of a vanished time—a delightful history—as delightful to-day as ever.
Eighteen hundred and seventy-two was an eventful year for Mark Twain. In March his second child, a little girl whom they named Susy, was born, and three months later the boy, Langdon, died. He had never been really strong, and a heavy cold and diphtheria brought the end.
Clemens did little work that summer. He took his family to Saybrook, Connecticut, for the sea air, and near the end of August, when Mrs. Clemens had regained strength and courage, he sailed for England to gather material for a book on English life and customs. He felt very friendly toward the English, who had been highly appreciative of his writings, and he wished their better acquaintance. He gave out no word of the book idea, and it seems unlikely that any one in England ever suspected it. He was there three months, and beyond some notebook memoranda made during the early weeks of his stay he wrote not a line. He was too delighted with everything to write a book—a book of his kind. In letters home he declared the country to be as beautiful as fairyland. By all classes attentions were showered upon him—honors such as he had never received even in America. W. D. Howells writes:
"In England rank, fashion, and culture rejoiced in him. Lord mayors, lord chief justices, and magnates of many kinds were his hosts; he was desired in country houses, and his bold genius captivated the favor of periodicals, that spurned the rest of our nation."
He could not make a book—a humorous book—out of these people and their country; he was too fond of them.
England fairly reveled in Mark Twain. At one of the great banquets, a roll of the distinguished guests was called, and the names properly applauded. Mark Twain, busily engaged in low conversation with his neighbor, applauded without listening, vigorously or mildly, as the others led. Finally a name was followed by a great burst of long and vehement clapping. This must be some very great person indeed, and Mark Twain, not to be outdone in his approval, stoutly kept his hands going when all others had finished.
"Whose name was that we were just applauding?" he asked of his neighbor.
But it was no matter; they took it all as one of his jokes. He was a wonder and a delight to them. Whatever he did or said was to them supremely amusing. When, on one occasion, a speaker humorously referred to his American habit of carrying a cotton umbrella, his reply that he did so "because it was the only kind of an umbrella that an Englishman wouldn't steal," was repeated all over England next day as one of the finest examples of wit since the days of Swift.
He returned to America at the end of November; promising to come back and lecture to them the following year.
 From "My Mark Twain," by W. D. Howells.
A NEW BOOK AND NEW ENGLISH TRIUMPHS
But if Mark Twain could find nothing to write of in England, he found no lack of material in America. That winter in Hartford, with Charles Dudley Warner, he wrote "The Gilded Age." The Warners were neighbors, and the families visited back and forth. One night at dinner, when the two husbands were criticizing the novels their wives were reading, the wives suggested that their author husbands write a better one. The challenge was accepted. On the spur of the moment Warner and Clemens agreed that they would write a book together, and began it immediately.
Clemens had an idea already in mind. It was to build a romance around that lovable dreamer, his mother's cousin, James Lampton, whom the reader will recall from an earlier chapter. Without delay he set to work and soon completed the first three hundred and ninety-nine pages of the new story. Warner came over and, after listening to its reading, went home and took up the story. In two months the novel was complete, Warner doing most of the romance, Mark Twain the character parts. Warner's portion was probably pure fiction, but Mark Twain's chapters were full of history.
Judge Hawkins and wife were Mark Twain's father and mother; Washington Hawkins, his brother Orion. Their doings, with those of James Lampton as Colonel Sellers, were, of course, elaborated, but the story of the Tennessee land, as told in that book, is very good history indeed. Laura Hawkins, however, was only real in the fact that she bore the name of Samuel Clemens's old playmate. "The Gilded Age," published later in the year, was well received and sold largely. The character of Colonel Sellers at once took a place among the great fiction characters of the world, and is probably the best known of any American creation. His watchword, "There's millions in it!" became a byword.
The Clemenses decided to build in Hartford. They bought a plot of land on Farmington Avenue, in the literary neighborhood, and engaged an architect and builder. By spring, the new house was well under way, and, matters progressing so favorably, the owners decided to take a holiday while the work was going on. Clemens had been eager to show England to his wife; so, taking little Sissy, now a year old, they sailed in May, to be gone half a year.
They remained for a time in London—a period of honors and entertainment. If Mark Twain had been a lion on his first visit, he was hardly less than royalty now. His rooms at the Langham Hotel were like a court. The nation's most distinguished men—among them Robert Browning, Sir John Millais, Lord Houghton, and Sir Charles Dilke—came to pay their respects. Authors were calling constantly. Charles Reade and Wilkie Collins could not get enough of Mark Twain. Reade proposed to join with him in writing a novel, as Warner had done. Lewis Carroll did not call, being too timid, but they met the author of "Alice in Wonderland" one night at a dinner, "the shyest full-grown man, except Uncle Remiss, I ever saw," Mark Twain once declared.
Little Sissy and her father thrived on London life, but it wore on Mrs. Clemens. At the end of July they went quietly to Edinburgh, and settled at Veitch's Hotel, on George Street. The strain of London life had been too much for Mrs. Clemens, and her health became poor. Unacquainted in Edinburgh, Clemens only remembered that Dr. John Brown, author of "Rab and His Friends," lived there. Learning the address, he walked around to 23 Rutland Street, and made himself known. Doctor Brown came forthwith, and Mrs. Clemens seemed better from the moment of his arrival.
The acquaintance did not end there. For a month the author of "Rab" and the little Clemens family were together daily. Often they went with him to make his round of visits. He was always leaning out of the carriage to look at dogs. It was told of him that once when he suddenly put his head from a carriage window he dropped back with a disappointed look.
"Who was it?" asked his companion. "Some one you know?"
"No, a dog I don't know."
Dr. John was beloved by everybody in Scotland, and his story of "Rab" had won him a world-wide following. Children adored him. Little Susy and he were playmates, and he named her "Megalopis," a Greek term, suggested by her great, dark eyes.
Mark Twain kept his promise to lecture to a London audience. On the 13th of October, in the Queen's Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, he gave "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands." The house was packed. Clemens was not introduced. He appeared on the platform in evening dress, assuming the character of a manager, announcing a disappointment. Mr. Clemens, he said, had fully expected to be present. He paused, and loud murmurs arose from the audience. He lifted his hand and the noise subsided. Then he added, "I am happy to say that Mark Twain is present and will now give his lecture." The audience roared its approval.
He continued his lectures at Hanover Square through the week, and at no time in his own country had he won such a complete triumph. He was the talk of the streets. The papers were full of him. The "London Times" declared his lectures had only whetted the public appetite for more. His manager, George Dolby (formerly manager for Charles Dickens), urged him to remain and continue the course through the winter. Clemens finally agreed that he would take his family back to America and come back himself within the month. This plan he carried out. Returning to London, he lectured steadily for two months in the big Hanover Square rooms, giving his "Roughing It" address, and it was only toward the end that his audience showed any sign of diminishing. There is probably no other such a lecture triumph on record.
Mark Twain was at the pinnacle of his first glory: thirty-six, in full health, prosperous, sought by the world's greatest, hailed in the highest places almost as a king. Tom Sawyer's dreams of greatness had been all too modest. In its most dazzling moments his imagination had never led him so far.
BEGINNING "TOM SAWYER"
It was at the end of January, 1874, when Mark Twain returned to America. His reception abroad had increased his prestige at home. Howells and Aldrich came over from Boston to tell him what a great man he had become —to renew those Boston days of three years before—to talk and talk of all the things between the earth and sky. And Twichell came in, of course, and Warner, and no one took account of time, or hurried, or worried about anything at all.
"We had two such days as the aging sun no longer shines on in his round," wrote Howells, long after, and he tells how he and Aldrich were so carried away with Clemens's success in subscription publication that on the way back to Boston they planned a book to sell in that way. It was to be called "Twelve Memorable Murders," and they had made two or three fortunes from it by the time they reached Boston.
"But the project ended there. We never killed a single soul," Howells once confessed to the writer of this memoir.
At Quarry Farm that summer Mark Twain began the writing of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." He had been planning for some time to set down the story of those far-off days along the river-front at Hannibal, with John Briggs, Tom Blankenship, and the rest of that graceless band, and now in the cool luxury of a little study which Mrs. Crane had built for him on the hillside he set himself to spin the fabric of his youth. The study was a delightful place to work. It was octagonal in shape, with windows on all sides, something like a pilot-house. From any direction the breeze could come, and there were fine views. To Twichell he wrote:
"It is a cozy nest, and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storm sweeps down the remote valley and the lightning flashes behind the hills beyond, and the rain beats on the roof over my head, imagine the luxury of it!"
He worked steadily there that summer. He would begin mornings, soon after breakfast, keeping at it until nearly dinner-time, say until five or after, for it was not his habit to eat the midday meal. Other members of the family did not venture near the place; if he was wanted urgently, a horn was blown. His work finished, he would light a cigar and, stepping lightly down the stone flight that led to the house-level, he would find where the family had assembled and read to them his day's work. Certainly those were golden days, and the tale of Tom and Huck and Joe Harper progressed. To Dr. John Brown, in Scotland, he wrote:
"I have been writing fifty pages of manuscript a day, on an average, for some time now, .. . . and consequently have been so wrapped up in it and dead to everything else that I have fallen mighty short in letter-writing."
But the inspiration of Tom and Huck gave out when the tale was half finished, or perhaps it gave way to a new interest. News came one day that a writer in San Francisco, without permission, had dramatized "The Gilded Age," and that it was being played by John T. Raymond, an actor of much power. Mark Twain had himself planned to dramatize the character of Colonel Sellers and had taken out dramatic copyright. He promptly stopped the California production, then wrote the dramatist a friendly letter, and presently bought the play of him, and set in to rewrite it. It proved a great success. Raymond played it for several years. Colonel Sellers on the stage became fully as popular as in the book, and very profitable indeed.
THE NEW HOME
The new home in Hartford was ready that autumn—the beautiful house finished, or nearly finished, the handsome furnishings in place. It was a lovely spot. There were trees and grass—a green, shady slope that fell away to a quiet stream. The house itself, quite different from the most of the houses of that day, had many wings and balconies, and toward the back a great veranda that looked down the shaded slope. The kitchen was not at the back. As Mark Twain was unlike any other man that ever lived, so his house was not like other houses. When asked why he built the kitchen toward the street, he said:
"So the servants can see the circus go by without running into the front yard."
But this was probably his afterthought. The kitchen wing extended toward Farmington Avenue, but it was a harmonious detail of the general plan.
Many frequenters have tried to express the charm of Mark Twain's household. Few have succeeded, for it lay not in the house itself, nor in its furnishings, beautiful as these things were, but in the personality of its occupants—the daily round of their lives—the atmosphere which they unconsciously created. From its wide entrance-hall and tiny, jewel like conservatory below to the billiard-room at the top of the house, it seemed perfectly appointed, serenely ordered, and full of welcome. The home of one of the most unusual and unaccountable personalities in the world was filled with gentleness and peace. It was Mrs. Clemens who was chiefly responsible. She was no longer the half-timid, inexperienced girl he had married. Association, study, and travel had brought her knowledge and confidence. When the great ones of the world came to visit America's most picturesque literary figure, she gave welcome to them, and filled her place at his side with such sweet grace that those who came to pay their dues to him often returned to pay still greater devotion to his companion. William Dean Howells, so often a visitor there, once said to the writer:
"Words cannot express Mrs. Clemens—her fineness, her delicate, wonderful tact." And again, "She was not only a beautiful soul, but a woman of singular intellectual power."
There were always visitors in the Clemens home. Above the mantel in the library was written: "The ornament of a house is the friends that frequent it," and the Clemens home never lacked of those ornaments, and they were of the world's best. No distinguished person came to America that did not pay a visit to Hartford and Mark Twain. Generally it was not merely a call, but a stay of days. The welcome was always genuine, the entertainment unstinted. George Warner, a close neighbor, once said:
"The Clemens house was the only one I have ever known where there was never any preoccupation in the evenings and where visitors were always welcome. Clemens was the best kind of a host; his evenings after dinner were an unending flow of stories."
As for friends living near, they usually came and went at will, often without the ceremony of knocking or formal leave-taking. The two Warner famines were among these, the home of Charles Dudley Warner being only a step away. Dr. and Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe were also close neighbors, while the Twichell parsonage was not far. They were all like one great family, of which Mark Twain's home was the central gathering-place.
"OLD TIMES," "SKETCHES," AND "TOM SAWYER"
The Rev. Joseph H. Twichell and Mark Twain used to take many long walks together, and once they decided to walk from Hartford to Boston—about one hundred miles. They decided to allow three days for the trip, and really started one morning, with some luncheon in a basket, and a little bag of useful articles. It was a bright, brisk November day, and they succeeded in getting to Westford, a distance of twenty-eight miles, that evening. But they were lame and foot-sore, and next morning, when they had limped six miles or so farther, Clemens telegraphed to Redpath:
"We have made thirty-five miles in less than five days. This shows the thing can be done. Shall finish now by rail. Did you have any bets on us?"
He also telegraphed Howells that they were about to arrive in Boston, and they did, in fact, reach the Howells home about nine o'clock, and found excellent company—the Cambridge set—and a most welcome supper waiting. Clemens and Twichell were ravenous. Clemens demanded food immediately. Howells writes:
"I can see him now as he stood up in the midst of our friends, with his head thrown back, and in his hands a dish of those scalloped oysters without which no party in Cambridge was really a party, exulting in the tale of his adventure, which had abounded in the most original characters and amusing incidents at every mile of their progress."
The pedestrians returned to Hartford a day or two later—by train. It was during another, though less extended, tour which Twichell and Clemens made that fall, that the latter got his idea for a Mississippi book. Howells had been pleading for something for the January "Atlantic," of which he was now chief editor, but thus far Mark Twain's inspiration had failed. He wrote at last, "My head won't go," but later, the same day, he sent another hasty line.
"I take back the remark that I can't write for the January number, for Twichell and I have had a long walk in the woods, and I got to telling him about old Mississippi days of steam-boating glory and grandeur as I saw them (during four years) from the pilot-house. He said, 'What a virgin subject to hurl into a magazine!' I hadn't thought of that before. Would you like a series of papers to run through three months, or six, or nine—or about four months, say?"
Howells wrote at once, welcoming the idea. Clemens forthwith sent the first instalment of that marvelous series of river chapters which rank to-day among the very best of his work. As pictures of the vanished Mississippi life they are so real, so convincing, so full of charm that they can never grow old. As long as any one reads of the Mississippi they will look up those chapters of Mark Twain's piloting days. When the first number appeared, John Hay wrote:
"It is perfect; no more, no less. I don't see how you do it."
The "Old Times" chapter ran through seven numbers of the "Atlantic," and show Mark Twain at his very best. They form now most of the early chapters of "Life on the Mississippi." The remainder of that book was added about seven years later.
Those were busy literary days for Mark Twain. Writing the river chapters carried him back, and hardly had he finished them when he took up the neglected story of "Tom and Huck," and finished that under full steam. He at first thought of publishing it in the "Atlantic", but decided against this plan. He sent Howells the manuscript to read, and received the fullest praise. Howells wrote:
"It is altogether the best boy's story I ever read. It will be an immense success."
Clemens, however, delayed publication. He had another volume in press—a collection of his sketches—among them the "Jumping Frog," and others of his California days. The "Jumping Frog" had been translated into French, and in this book Mark Twain published the French version and then a literal retranslation of his own, which is one of the most amusing features in the volume. As an example, the stranger's remark, "I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better than any other frog," in the literal retranslation becomes, "I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog," and Mark Twain parenthetically adds, "If that isn't grammar gone to seed, then I count myself no judge."
"Sketches New and Old" went very well, but the book had no such sale as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," which appeared a year later, December, 1876. From the date of its issue it took its place as foremost of American stories of boy life, a place that to this day it shares only with "Huck Finn." Mark Twain's own boy life in the little drowsy town of Hannibal, with John Briggs and Tom Blankenship—their adventures in and about the cave and river—made perfect material. The story is full of pure delight. The camp on the island is a picture of boy heaven. No boy that reads it but longs for the woods and a camp-fire and some bacon strips in the frying-pan. It is all so thrillingly told and so vivid. We know certainly that it must all have happened. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" has taken a place side by side with "Treasure Island."
Mark Twain was now regarded by many as the foremost American author. Certainly he was the most widely known. As a national feature he rivaled Niagara Falls. No civilized spot on earth that his name had not reached. Letters merely addressed "Mark Twain" found their way to him. "Mark Twain, United States," was a common superscription. "Mark Twain, The World," also reached him without delay, while "Mark Twain, Somewhere," and "Mark Twain, Anywhere," in due time came to Hartford. "Mark Twain, God Knows Where," likewise arrived promptly, and in his reply he said, "He did." Then a letter addressed "The Devil Knows Where" also reached him, and he answered, "He did, too." Surely these were the farthermost limits of fame.
Countless anecdotes went the rounds of the press. Among them was one which happened to be true:
Their near neighbor, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, was leaving for Florida one morning, and Clemens ran over early to say good-by. On his return Mrs. Clemens looked at him severely.
"Why, Youth," she said, "you haven't on any collar and tie."
He said nothing, but went to his room, wrapped up those items in a neat package, which he sent over by a servant to Mrs. Stowe, with the line:
"Herewith receive a call from the rest of me."
Mrs. Stowe returned a witty note, in which she said he had discovered a new principle—that of making calls by instalments, and asked whether in extreme cases a man might not send his clothes and be himself excused.
Most of his work Mark Twain did at Quarry Farm. Each summer the family —there were two little girls now, Susy and Clara—went to that lovely place on the hilltop above Elmira, where there were plenty of green fields and cows and horses and apple-trees, a spot as wonderful to them as John Quarles's farm had been to their father, so long ago. All the family loved Quarry Farm, and Mark Twain's work went more easily there. His winters were not suited to literary creation—there were too many social events, though once—it was the winter of '76—he wrote a play with Bret Harte, who came to Hartford and stayed at the Clemens home while the work was in progress. It was a Chinese play, "Ah Sin," and the two had a hilarious time writing it, though the result did not prove much of a success with the public. Mark Twain often tried plays—one with Howells, among others—but the Colonel Sellers play was his only success.
Grand dinners, trips to Boston and New York, guests in his own home, occupied much of Mark Twain's winter season. His leisure he gave to his children and to billiards. He had a passion for the game, and at any hour of the day or night was likely to be found in the room at the top of the house, knocking the balls about alone or with any visitor that he had enticed to that den. He mostly received his callers there, and impressed them into the game. If they could play, well and good. If not, so much the better; he could beat them extravagantly, and he took huge delight in such contests. Every Friday evening a party of billiard lovers—Hartford men—gathered and played, and told stories, and smoked, until the room was blue. Clemens never tired of the game. He could play all night. He would stay until the last man dropped from sheer weariness, and then go on knocking the balls about alone.
But many evenings at home—early evenings—he gave to Susy and Clara. They had learned his gift as a romancer and demanded the most startling inventions. They would bring him a picture requiring him to fit a story to it without a moment's delay. Once he was suddenly ordered by Clara to make a story out of a plumber and a "bawgunstictor," which, on the whole, was easier than some of their requirements. Along the book-shelves were ornaments and pictures. A picture of a girl whom they called "Emeline" was at one end, and at the other a cat. Every little while they compelled him to make a story beginning with the cat and ending with Emeline. Always a new story, and never the other way about. The literary path from the cat to Emeline was a perilous one, but in time he could have traveled it in his dreams.
It was now going on ten years since the publication of "The Innocents Abroad," and there was a demand for another Mark Twain book of travel. Clemens considered the matter, and decided that a walking-tour in Europe might furnish the material he wanted. He spoke to his good friend, the Rev. "Joe" Twichell, and invited him to become his guest on such an excursion, because, as he explained, he thought he could "dig material enough out of Joe to make it a sound investment." As a matter of fact, he loved Twichell's companionship, and was always inviting him to share his journeys—to Boston, to Bermuda, to Washington—wherever interest or fancy led him. His plan now was to take the family to Germany in the spring, and let Twichell join them later for a summer tramp down through the Black Forest and Switzerland. Meantime the Clemens household took up the study of German. The children had a German nurse—others a German teacher. The household atmosphere became Teutonic. Of course it all amused Mark Twain, as everything amused him, but he was a good student. In a brief time he had a fair knowledge of every-day German and a really surprising vocabulary. The little family sailed in April (1878), and a few weeks later were settled in the Schloss Hotel, on a hill above Heidelberg, overlooking the beautiful old castle, the ancient town, with the Neckar winding down the hazy valley—as fair a view as there is in all Germany.
Clemens found a room for his work in a small house not far from the hotel. On the day of his arrival he had pointed out this house and said he had decided to work there—that his room would be the middle one on the third floor. Mrs. Clemens laughed, and thought the occupants of the house might be surprised when he came over to take possession. They amused themselves by watching "his people" and trying to make out what they were like. One day he went over that way, and, sure enough, there was a sign, "Furnished Rooms," and the one he had pointed out from the hotel was vacant. It became his study forthwith.
The travelers were delighted with their location. To Howells, Clemens wrote:
"Our bedroom has two great glass bird-cages (inclosed balconies), one looking toward the Rhine Valley and sunset, the other looking up the Neckar cul de sac, and, naturally, we spent nearly all our time in these. We have tables and chairs in them . . . . It must have been a noble genius who devised this hotel. Lord! how blessed is the repose, the tranquillity of this place! Only two sounds: the happy clamor of the birds in the groves and the muffled music of the Neckar tumbling over the opposing dikes. It is no hardship to lie awake awhile nights, for thin subdued roar has exactly the sound of a steady rain beating upon a roof. It is so healing to the spirit; and it bears up the thread of one's imaginings as the accompaniment bears up a song."
Twichell was summoned for August, and wrote back eagerly at the prospect:
"Oh, my! Do you realize, Mark, what a symposium it is to be? I do. To begin with, I am thoroughly tired, and the rest will be worth everything. To walk with you and talk with you for weeks together —why, it's my dream of luxury!"
Meantime the struggle with the "awful German language" went on. Rosa, the maid, was required to speak to the children only in German, though little Clara at first would have none of it. Susy, two years older, tried, and really made progress, but one day she said, pathetically:
"Mama, I wish Rosa was made in English."
But presently she was writing to "Aunt Sue" (Mrs. Crane) at Quarry Farm:
"I know a lot of German; everybody says I know a lot. I give you a million dollars to see you, and you would give two hundred dollars to see the lovely woods we see."
Twichell arrived August 1st. Clemens met him at Baden-Baden, and they immediately set forth on a tramp through the Black Forest, excursioning as they pleased and having a blissful time. They did not always walk. They were likely to take a carriage or a donkey-cart, or even a train, when one conveniently happened along. They did not hurry, but idled and talked and gathered flowers, or gossiped with wayside natives —picturesque peasants in the Black Forest costume. In due time they crossed into Switzerland and prepared to conquer the Alps.
The name Mark Twain had become about as well known in Europe as it was in America. His face, however, was less familiar. He was not often recognized in these wanderings, and his pen-name was carefully concealed. It was a relief to him not to be an object of curiosity and lavish attention. Twichell's conscience now and then prompted him to reveal the truth. In one of his letters home he wrote how a young man at a hotel had especially delighted in Mark's table conversation, and how he (Twichell) had later taken the young man aside and divulged the speaker's identity.
"I could not forbear telling him who Mark was, and the mingled surprise and pleasure his face exhibited made me glad I had done so."
They did not climb many of the Alps on foot. They did scale the Rigi, after which Mark Twain was not in the best walking trim; though later they conquered Gemmi Pass—no small undertaking—that trail that winds up and up until the traveler has only the glaciers and white peaks and the little high-blooming flowers for company.