Within a week after the collapse of the Jones bubble he was hard at work on a new book--the transmigration of the old "Claimant" play into a novel.

Ever since the appearance of the Yankee there had been what was evidently a concerted movement to induce him to write a novel with the theories of Henry George as the central idea. Letters from every direction had urged him to undertake such a story, and these had suggested a more serious purpose for the Claimant book. A motif in which there is a young lord who renounces his heritage and class to come to America and labor with his hands; who attends socialistic meetings at which men inspired by readings of 'Progress and Poverty' and 'Looking Backward' address their brothers of toil, could have in it something worth while. Clemens inserted portions of some of his discarded essays in these addresses, and had he developed this element further, and abandoned Colonel Sellers's materialization lunacies to the oblivion they had earned, the result might have been more fortunate.

But his faith in the new Sellers had never died, and the temptation to use scenes from the abandoned play proved to be too strong to be resisted. The result was incongruous enough. The author, however, admired it amazingly at the time. He sent Howells stirring reports of his progress. He wrote Hall that the book would be ready soon and that there must be seventy-five thousand orders by the date of issue, "not a single one short of that." Then suddenly, at the end of February, the rheumatism came back into his shoulder and right arm and he could hardly hold the pen. He conceived the idea of dictating into a phonograph, and wrote Howells to test this invention and find out as to terms for three months, with cylinders enough to carry one hundred and seventy-five thousand words.

I don't want to erase any of them. My right arm is nearly disabled by rheumatism, but I am bound to write this book (and sell 100,000 copies of it-no, I mean 1,000,000--next fall). I feel sure I can dictate the book into a phonograph if I don't have to yell. I write 2,000 words a day. I think I can dictate twice as many.

But mind, if this is going to be too much trouble to you--go ahead and do it all the same.

Howells replied encouragingly. He had talked a letter into a phonograph and the phonograph man had talked his answer into it, after which the cylinder had been taken to a typewriter in the-next room and correctly written out. If a man had the "cheek" to dictate his story into a phonograph, Howells said, all the rest seemed perfectly easy.

Clemens ordered a phonograph and gave it a pretty fair trial. It was only a partial success. He said he couldn't write literature with it because it hadn't any ideas or gift for elaboration, but was just as matter-of-fact, compressive and unresponsive, grave and unsmiling as the devil--a poor audience.

I filled four dozen cylinders in two sittings, then I found I could have said it about as easy with the pen, and said it a deal better. Then I resigned.

He did not immediately give it up. To relieve his aching arm he alternated the phonograph with the pen, and the work progressed rapidly. Early in May he was arranging for its serial disposition, and it was eventually sold for twelve thousand dollars to the McClure Syndicate, who placed it with a number of papers in America and with the Idler Magazine in England. W. M. Laffan, of the Sun, an old and tried friend, combined with McClure in the arrangement. Laffan also proposed to join with McClure in paying Mark Twain a thousand dollars each for a series of six European letters. This was toward the end of May, 1891, when Clemens had already decided upon a long European sojourn.

There were several reasons why this was desirable. Neither Clemens nor his wife was in good health. Both of them were troubled with rheumatism, and a council of physicians had agreed that Mrs. Clemens had some disturbance of the heart. The death of Charles L.

Mark Twain
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