Still it shouldn't, for right in the depths of their poverty and their pocket-hunting vagabondage lay the germ of my coming good fortune. You remember the one gleam of jollity that shot across our dismal sojourn in the rain and mud of Angel's Camp--I mean that day we sat around the tavern stove and heard that chap tell about the frog and how they filled him with shot. And you remember how we quoted from the yarn and laughed over it out there on the hillside while you and dear old Stoker panned and washed. I jotted the story down in my note-book that day, and would have been glad to get ten or fifteen dollars for it--I was just that blind. But then we were so hard up. I published that story, and it became widely known in America, India, China, England, and the reputation it made for me has paid me thousands and thousands of dollars since. Four or five months ago I bought into the Express (I have ordered it sent to you as long as you live, and if the bookkeeper sends you any bills you let me hear of it). I went heavily in debt--never could have dared to do that, Jim, if we hadn't heard the jumping Frog story that day.
And wouldn't I love to take old Stoker by the hand, and wouldn't I love to see him in his great specialty, his wonderful rendition of Rinalds in the "Burning Shame!" Where is Dick and what is he doing? Give him my fervent love and warm old remembrances.
A week from to-day I shall be married-to a girl even better and lovelier than the peerless "Chapparal Quails." You can't come so far, Jim, but still I cordially invite you to come anyhow, and I invite Dick too. And if you two boys were to land here on that pleasant occasion we would make you right royally welcome. Truly your friend, SAML. L. CLEMENS.
P.S.---California plums are good. Jim, particularly when they are stewed.
It had been only five years before--that day in Angel's Camp--but how long ago and how far away it seemed to him now! So much had happened since then, so much of which that was the beginning--so little compared with the marvel of the years ahead, whose threshold he was now about to cross, and not alone.
A day or two before the wedding he was asked to lecture on the night of February 2d. He replied that he was sorry to disappoint the applicant, but that he could not lecture on the night of February 2d, for the reason that he was going to marry a young lady on that evening, and that he would rather marry that young lady than deliver all the lectures in the world.
And so came the wedding-day. It began pleasantly; the postman brought a royalty check that morning of $4,000, the accumulation of three months' sales, and the Rev. Joseph Twichell and Harmony, his wife, came from Hartford--Twichell to join with the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher in solemnizing the marriage. Pamela Moffett, a widow now, with her daughter Annie, grown to a young lady, had come all the way from St. Louis, and Mrs. Fairbanks from Cleveland.
Yet the guests were not numerous, not more than a hundred at most, so it was a quiet wedding there in the Langdon parlors, those dim, stately rooms that in the future would hold so much of his history--so much of the story of life and death that made its beginning there.
The wedding-service was about seven o'clock, for Mr. Beecher had a meeting at the church soon after that hour. Afterward followed the wedding-supper and dancing, and the bride's father danced with the bride. To the interested crowd awaiting him at the church Mr. Beecher reported that the bride was very beautiful, and had on the longest white gloves he had ever seen; he declared they reached to her shoulders.--[Perhaps for a younger generation it should be said that Thomas K. Beecher was a brother of Henry Ward Beecher. He lived and died in Elmira, the almost worshiped pastor of the Park Congregational Church.