When he had gone she somehow had the feeling that a great fiery meteor of unknown portent had swept across her sky.
To her brother, who was eager for her approval of his celebrity, Miss Langdon conceded admiration. As for her father, he did not qualify his opinion. With hearty sense of humor, and a keen perception of verity and capability in men, Jervis Langdon accepted Samuel Clemens from the start, and remained his stanch admirer and friend. Clemens left that night with an invitation to visit Elmira by and by, and with the full intention of going--soon. Fate, however, had another plan. He did not see Elmira for the better part of a year.
He saw Miss Langdon again within the week. On New-Year's Day he set forth to pay calls, after the fashion of the time--more lavish then than now. Miss Langdon was receiving with Miss Alice Hooker, a niece of Henry Ward Beecher, at the home of a Mrs. Berry; he decided to go there first. With young Langdon he arrived at eleven o'clock in the morning, and they did not leave until midnight. If his first impression upon Olivia Langdon had been meteoric, it would seem that he must now have become to her as a streaming comet that swept from zenith to horizon. One thing is certain: she had become to him the single, unvarying beacon of his future years. He visited Henry Ward Beecher on that trip and dined with him by invitation. Harriet Beecher Stowe was present, and others of that eminent family. Likewise his old Quaker City comrades, Moses S. and Emma Beach. It was a brilliant gathering, a conclave of intellectual gods--a triumph to be there for one who had been a printer-boy on the banks of the Mississippi, and only a little while before a miner with pick and shovel. It was gratifying to be so honored; it would be pleasant to write home; but the occasion lacked something too-- everything, in fact--for when he ran his eye around the board the face of the minature was not there.
Still there were compensations; inadequate, of course, but pleasant enough to remember. It was Sunday evening and the party adjourned to Plymouth Church. After services Mr. Beecher invited him to return home with him for a quiet talk. Evidently they had a good time, for in the letter telling of these things Samuel Clemens said: "Henry Ward Beecher is a brick."
A CONTRACT WITH ELISHA BLISS, JR.
He returned to Washington without seeing Miss Langdon again, though he would seem to have had permission to write--friendly letters. A little later (it was on the evening of January 9th) he lectured in Washington-- on very brief notice indeed. The arrangement for his appearance had been made by a friend during his absence--"a friend," Clemens declared afterward, "not entirely sober at the time." To his mother he wrote:
I scared up a doorkeeper and was ready at the proper time, and by pure good luck a tolerably good house assembled and I was saved. I hardly knew what I was going to talk about, but it went off in splendid style.
The title of the lecture delivered was "The Frozen Truth"--"more truth in the title than in the lecture," according to his own statement. What it dealt with is not remembered now. It had to do with the Quaker City trip, perhaps, and it seems to have brought a financial return which was welcome enough. Subsequently he delivered it elsewhere; though just how far the tour extended cannot be learned from the letters, and he had but little memory of it in later years.
There was some further correspondence with Bliss, then about the 21st of January (1868) Clemens made a trip to Hartford to settle the matter. Bliss had been particularly anxious to meet him, personally and was a trifle disappointed with his appearance. Mark Twain's traveling costume was neither new nor neat, and he was smoking steadily a pipe of power. His general make-up was hardly impressive.
Bliss's disturbance was momentary. Once he began to talk the rest did not matter. He was the author of those letters, and Bliss decided that personally he was even greater than they.