I think within five minutes the new editor had assumed the easy look of one entirely at home, pencil in hand and a clutch of paper before him, with an air of preoccupation, as of one intent on a task delayed. It was impossible to be conscious of the man sitting there, and not feel his identity with all that he had enjoyed, and the reminiscence of it he that seemed to radiate; for the personality was so absolutely in accord with all the record of himself and his work. I cannot say he seemed to be that vague thing they call a type in race or blood, though the word, if used in his case for temperament, would decidedly mean what they used to call the "sanguine."
I thought that, pictorially, the noble costume of the Albanian would have well become him. Or he might have been a Goth, and worn the horned bull-pate helmet of Alaric's warriors; or stood at the prow of one of the swift craft of the Vikings. His eyes, which have been variously described, were, it seemed to me, of an indescribable depth of the bluish moss-agate, with a capacity of pupil dilation that in certain lights had the effect of a deep black....
Mr. Mills adds that in dress he was now "well groomed," and that consequently they were obliged to revise their notions as to the careless negligee which gossip had reported.--[From unpublished Reminiscences kindly lent to the author by Mr. Mills]
THE FIRST MEETING WITH HOWELLS
Clemens' first period of editorial work was a brief one, though he made frequent contributions to the paper: sketches, squibs, travel-notes, and experiences, usually humorous in character. His wedding-day had been set for early in the year, and it was necessary to accumulate a bank account for that occasion. Before October he was out on the lecture circuit, billed now for the first time for New England, nervous and apprehensive in consequence, though with good hope. To Pamela he wrote (November 9th):
To-morrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience-- 4,000 critics--and on the success of this matter depends my future success in New England. But I am not distressed. Nasby is in the same boat. Tonight decides the fate of his brand-new lecture. He has just left my room--been reading his lecture to me--was greatly depressed. I have convinced him that he has little to fear.
Whatever alarm Mark Twain may have felt was not warranted. His success with the New England public was immediate and complete. He made his headquarters in Boston, at Redpath's office, where there was pretty sure to be a congenial company, of which he was presently the center.
It was during one of these Boston sojourns that he first met William Dean Howells, his future friend and literary counselor. Howells was assistant editor of the Atlantic at this time; James T. Fields, its editor. Clemens had been gratified by the Atlantic review, and had called to express his thanks for it. He sat talking to Fields, when Howells entered the editorial rooms, and on being presented to the author of the review, delivered his appreciation in the form of a story, sufficiently appropriate, but not qualified for the larger types.--[He said: "When I read that review of yours, I felt like the woman who was so glad her baby had come white."]
His manner, his humor, his quaint colloquial forms all delighted Howells --more, in fact, than the opulent sealskin overcoat which he affected at this period--a garment astonishing rather than esthetic, as Mark Twain's clothes in those days of his first regeneration were likely to be startling enough, we may believe; in the conservative atmosphere of the Atlantic rooms. And Howells--gentle, genial, sincere--filled with the early happiness of his calling, won the heart of Mark Twain and never lost it, and, what is still more notable, won his absolute and unvarying confidence in all literary affairs. It was always Mark Twain's habit to rely on somebody, and in matters pertaining to literature and to literary people in general he laid his burden on William Dean Howells from that day.