There had been a partial plan for spending the summer in England, and a more definite one for joining the Twichells in the Adirondacks. Both of these projects were now abandoned. Mrs. Clemens concluded that she would be better at home than anywhere else, and invited an old school friend, a Miss Emma Nye, to visit her.

But the shadow of death had not been lifted from the Clemens household. Miss Nye presently fell ill with typhoid fever. There followed another long period of anxiety and nursing, ending with the death of the visitor in the new home, September 29th. The young wife was now in very delicate health; genuinely ill, in fact. The happy home had become a place of sorrow-of troubled nights and days. Another friend came to cheer them, and on this friend's departure Mrs. Clemens drove to the railway station. It was a hurried trip over rough streets to catch the train. She was prostrated on her return, and a little later, November 7, 1870, her first child, Langdon, was prematurely born. A dangerous illness followed, and complete recovery was long delayed. But on the 12th the crisis seemed passed, and the new father wrote a playful letter to the Twichells, as coming from the late arrival:

DEAR UNCLE AND AUNT,--I came into the world on the 7th inst., and consequently am about five days old now. I have had wretched health ever since I made my appearance . . . I am not corpulent, nor am I robust in any way. At birth I only weighed four and one-half pounds with my clothes on--and the clothes were the chief feature of the weight, too, I am obliged to confess, but I am doing finely, all things considered . . . . My little mother is very bright and cheery, and I guess she is pretty happy, but I don't know what about. She laughs a great deal, notwithstanding she is sick abed.

P. S.--Father says I had better write because you will be more interested in me, just now, than in the rest of the family.

A week later Clemens, as himself, wrote:

Livy is up and the prince keeps her busy and anxious these latter days and nights, but I am a bachelor up-stairs and don't have to jump up and get the soothing sirup, though I would as soon do it as not, I assure you. (Livy will be certain to read this letter.)

Tell Harmony that I do hold the baby, and do it pretty handily too, though with occasional apprehensions that his loose head will fall off. I don't have to quiet him; he hardly ever utters a cry. He is always thinking about something. He is a patient, good little baby.

Further along he refers to one of his reforms:

Smoke? I always smoke from three till five on Sunday afternoons, and in New York, the other day, I smoked a week, day and night. But when Livy is well I smoke only those two hours on Sunday. I'm boss of the habit now, and shall never let it boss me any more. Originally I quit solely on Livy's account (not that I believed there was the faintest reason in the matter, but just as I would deprive myself of sugar in my coffee if she wished it, or quit wearing socks if she thought them immoral), and I stick to it yet on Livy's account, and shall always continue to do so without a pang. But somehow it seems a pity that you quit, for Mrs. T. didn't mind it, if I remember rightly. Ah, it is turning one's back upon a kindly Providence to spurn away from us the good creature he sent to make the breath of life a luxury as well as a necessity, enjoyable as well as useful. To go quit smoking, when there ain't any sufficient excuse for it!--why, my old boy, when they used to tell me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were wasting their puerile words upon; they little knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it! But I won't persuade you, Twichell--I won't until I see you again--but then we'll smoke for a week together, and then shut off again.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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