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.