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.

XXIX

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.

The Boys Life of Mark Twain Page 58

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