They met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. Grant was in fine spirits, and by no means the "silent man" of his repute.

He launched at once into as free and flowing talk as I have ever heard [says Twichell], marked by broad and intelligent views on the subject of China, her wants, disadvantages, etc. Now and then he asked a question, but kept the lead of the conversation. At last he proposed, of his own accord, to write a letter to Li Hung Chang, advising the continuance of the Mission, asking only that I would prepare him some notes, giving him points to go by. Thus we succeeded easily beyond our expectations, thanks, very largely, to Clemens's assistance.

Clemens wrote Howells of the interview, detailing at some length Twichell's comical mixture of delight and chagrin at not being given time to air the fund of prepared statistics with which he had come loaded. It was as if he had come to borrow a dollar and had been offered a thousand before he could unfold his case.



It was near the end of the year that Clemens wrote to his mother:

I have two stories, and by the verbal agreement they are both going into the same book; but Livy says they're not, and by George! she ought to know. She says they're going into separate books, and that one of them is going to be elegantly gotten up, even if the elegance of it eats up the publisher's profits and mine too.

I anticipate that publisher's melancholy surprise when he calls here Tuesday. However, let him suffer; it is his own fault. People who fix up agreements with me without first finding out what Livy's plans are take their fate into their own hands.

I said two stories, but one of them is only half done; two or three months' work on it yet. I shall tackle it Wednesday or Thursday; that is, if Livy yields and allows both stories to go in one book, which I hope she won't.

The reader may surmise that the finished story--the highly regarded story--was 'The Prince and the Pauper'. The other tale--the unfinished and less considered one was 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'. Nobody appears to have been especially concerned about Huck, except, possibly, the publisher.

The publisher was not the American Company. Elisha Bliss, after long ill health, had died that fall, and this fact, in connection with a growing dissatisfaction over the earlier contracts, had induced Clemens to listen to offers from other makers of books. The revelation made by the "half- profit" returns from A Tramp Abroad meant to him, simply that the profits had not been fairly apportioned, and he was accordingly hostile. To Orion he wrote that, had Bliss lived, he would have remained with the company and made it reimburse him for his losses, but that as matters stood he would sever the long connection. It seemed a pity, later, that he did this, but the break was bound to come. Clemens was not a business man, and Bliss was not a philanthropist. He was, in fact, a shrewd, capable publisher, who made as good a contract as he could; yet he was square in his dealings, and the contract which Clemens held most bitterly against him--that of 'Roughing It'--had been made in good faith and in accordance with the conditions, of that period. In most of the later contracts Clemens himself had named his royalties, and it was not in human nature--business human nature--for Bliss to encourage the size of these percentages. If one wished to draw a strictly moral conclusion from the situation, one might say that it would have been better for the American Publishing Company, knowing Mark Twain, voluntarily to have allowed him half profits, which was the spirit of his old understanding even if not the letter of it, rather than to have waited till he demanded it and then to lose him by the result. Perhaps that would be also a proper business deduction; only, as a rule, business morals are regulated by the contract, and the contract is regulated by the necessities and the urgency of demand.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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