The success of the Innocents naturally made a thrifty publisher like Bliss anxious for a second experiment. He had begun early in the year to talk about another book, but nothing had come of it beyond a project or two, more or less hazy and unpursued. Clemens at one time developed a plan for a Noah's Ark book, which was to detail the cruise of the Ark in diaries kept by various members of it-Shem, Ham, and the others. He really wrote some of it at the time, and it was an idea he never entirely lost track of. All along among his manuscripts appear fragments from those ancient voyagers. One of the earlier entries will show the style and purpose of the undertaking. It is from Shem's record:

Friday: Papa's birthday. He is 600 years old. We celebrated it in a big, black tent. Principal men of the tribe present. Afterward they were shown over the ark, which was looking desolate and empty and dreary on account of a misunderstanding with the workmen about wages. Methuselah was as free with his criticisms as usual, and as voluble and familiar, which I and my brothers do not like; for we are past our one hundredth year and married. He still calls me Shemmy, just as he did when I was a child of sixty. I am still but a youth, it is true, but youth has its feelings, and I do not like this . . . .

Saturday: Keeping the Sabbath.

Sunday: Papa has yielded the advance and everybody is hard at work. The shipyard is so crowded that the men hinder each other; everybody hurrying or being hurried; the rush and confusion and shouting and wrangling are astonishing to our family, who have always been used to a quiet, country life.

It was from this germ that in a later day grew the diaries of Adam and Eve, though nothing very satisfactory ever came of this preliminary attempt. The author had faith in it, however. To Bliss he wrote:

I mean to take plenty of time and pains with the Noah's Ark book; maybe it will be several years before it is all written, but it will be a perfect lightning striker when it is done.

You can have the first say (that is plain enough) on that or any other book I may prepare for the press, as long as you deal in a fair, open, and honorable way with me. I do not think you will ever find me doing otherwise with you. I can get a book ready for you any time you want it; but you can't want one before this time next year, so I have plenty of time.

Bliss was only temporarily appeased. He realized that to get a book ready by the time he wanted it-a book of sufficient size and importance to maintain the pace set by the Innocents meant rather more immediate action than his author seemed to contemplate. Futhermore, he knew that other publishers were besieging the author of the Innocents; a disquieting thought. In early July, when Mr. Langdon's condition had temporarily improved, Bliss had come to Elmira and proposed a book which should relate the author's travels and experiences in the Far West. It was an inviting subject, and Clemens, by this time more attracted by the idea of authorship and its rewards, readily enough agreed to undertake the volume. He had been offered half profits, and suggested that the new contract be arranged upon these terms. Bliss, figuring on a sale of 100,000 copies, proposed seven and one-half per cent. royalty as an equivalent, and the contract was so arranged. In after-years, when the cost of manufacture and paper had become greatly reduced, Clemens, with but a confused notion of business details, believed he had been misled by Bliss in this contract, and was bitter and resentful accordingly. The figures remain, however, to show that Bliss dealt fairly. Seven and one- half per cent. of a subscription book did represent half profits up to 100,000 copies when the contract was drawn; but it required ten years to sell that quantity, and in that time conditions had changed.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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