The coachman was in front, and young Langdon and his guest took the back seat. For some reason the seat had not been locked in its place, and when, after the good-bys, the coachman touched the horse it made a quick spring forward, and the back seat, with both passengers, described a half-circle and came down with force on the cobbled street. Neither passenger was seriously hurt; Clemens not at all--only dazed a little for a moment. Then came an inspiration; here was a chance to prolong his visit. Evidently it was not intended that he should take that train. When the Langdon household gathered around with restoratives he did not recover too quickly. He allowed them to support or carry him into the house and place him in an arm-chair and apply remedies. The young daughter of the house especially showed anxiety and attention. This was pure happiness. He was perjuring himself, of course, but they say Jove laughs at such things.

He recovered in a day or two, but the wide hospitality of the handsome Langdon home was not only offered now; it was enforced. He was still there two weeks later, after which he made a trip to Cleveland to confide in Mrs. Fairbanks how he intended to win Livy Langdon for his wife.



He returned to Hartford to look after the progress of his book. Some of it was being put into type, and with his mechanical knowledge of such things he was naturally interested in the process.

He made his headquarters with the Blisses, then living at 821 Asylum Avenue, and read proof in a little upper room, where the lamp was likely to be burning most of the time, where the atmosphere was nearly always blue with smoke, and the window-sill full of cigar butts. Mrs. Bliss took him into the quiet social life of the neighborhood--to small church receptions, society gatherings and the like--all of which he seemed to enjoy. Most of the dwellers in that neighborhood were members of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, then recently completed; all but the spire. It was a cultured circle, well-off in the world's goods, its male members, for the most part, concerned in various commercial ventures.

The church stood almost across the way from the Bliss home, and Mark Twain, with his picturesque phrasing, referred to it as the "stub-tailed church," on account of its abbreviated spire; also, later, with a knowledge of its prosperous membership, as the "Church of the Holy Speculators." He was at an evening reception in the home of one of its members when he noticed a photograph of the unfinished building framed and hanging on the wall.

"Why, yes," he commented, in his slow fashion, "this is the 'Church of the Holy Speculators.'"

"Sh," cautioned Mrs. Bliss. "Its pastor is just behind you. He knows your work and wants to meet you." Turning, she said: "Mr. Twichell, this is Mr. Clemens. Most people know him as Mark Twain."

And so, in this casual fashion, he met the man who was presently to become his closest personal friend and counselor, and would remain so for more than forty years.

Joseph Hopkins Twichell was a man about his own age, athletic and handsome, a student and a devout Christian, yet a man familiar with the world, fond of sports, with an exuberant sense of humor and a wide understanding of the frailties of humankind. He had been "port waist oar" at Yale, and had left college to serve with General "Dan" Sickles as a chaplain who had followed his duties not only in the camp, but on the field.

Mention has already been made of Mark Twain's natural leaning toward ministers of the gospel, and the explanation of it is easier to realize than to convey. He was hopelessly unorthodox--rankly rebellious as to creeds. Anything resembling cant or the curtailment of mental liberty roused only his resentment and irony. Yet something in his heart always warmed toward any laborer in the vineyard, and if we could put the explanation into a single sentence, perhaps we might say it was because he could meet them on that wide, common ground sympathy with mankind. Mark Twain's creed, then and always, may be put into three words, "liberty, justice, humanity." It may be put into one word, "humanity."

Ministers always loved Mark Twain.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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