When she returned, conveying thanks and excuses, his Majesty commanded her to prepare a dinner at her home for Mark Twain and himself and a few special guests, the date to be arranged when Clemens's physician should pronounce him well enough to attend.

Members of the Clemens household were impressed by this royal attention. Little Jean was especially awed. She said:

"I wish I could be in papa's clothes"; then, after reflection, "but that wouldn't be any use. I reckon the Emperor wouldn't recognize me." And a little later, when she had been considering all the notables and nobilities of her father's recent association, she added:

"Why, papa, if it keeps on like this, pretty soon there won't be anybody for you to get acquainted with but God," which Mark Twain decided was not quite as much of a compliment as it had at first seemed.

It was during the period of his convalescence that Clemens prepared his sixth letter for the New York Sun and McClure's syndicate, "The German Chicago," a finely descriptive article on Berlin, and German customs and institutions generally. Perhaps the best part of it is where he describes the grand and prolonged celebration which had been given in honor of Professor Virchow's seventieth birthday.--[Rudolph Virchow, an eminent German pathologist and anthropologist and scholar; then one of the most prominent figures of the German Reichstag. He died in 1902.]-- He tells how the demonstrations had continued in one form or another day after day, and merged at last into the seventieth birthday of Professor Helmholtz--[Herman von Helmholtz, an eminent German physicist, one of the most distinguished scientists of the nineteenth century. He died in 1894.]--also how these great affairs finally culminated in a mighty 'commers', or beer-fest, given in their honor by a thousand German students. This letter has been published in Mark Twain's "Complete Works," and is well worth reading to-day. His place had been at the table of the two heroes of the occasion, Virchow and Helmholtz, a place where he could see and hear all that went on; and he was immensely impressed at the honor which Germany paid to her men of science. The climax came when Mommsen unexpectedly entered the room.--[Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), an eminent German historian and archeologist, a powerful factor in all liberal movements. From 1874-1895 permanent secretary of the Berlin Royal Academy of Sciences.]

There seemed to be some signal whereby the students on the platform were made aware that a professor had arrived at the remote door of entrance, for you would see them suddenly rise to their feet, strike an erect military attitude, then draw their swords; the swords of all their brethren standing guard at the innumerable tables would flash from the scabbard and be held aloft--a handsome spectacle. Three clear bugle-notes would ring out, then all these swords would come down with a crash, twice repeated, on the tables and be uplifted and held aloft again; then in the distance you would see the gay uniforms and uplifted swords of a guard of honor clearing the way and conducting the guest down to his place. The songs were stirring, and the immense outpour from young life and young lungs, the crash of swords, and the thunder of the beer-mugs gradually worked a body up to what seemed the last possible summit of excitement. It surely seemed to me that I had reached that summit, that I had reached my limit, and that there was no higher lift devisable for me. When apparently the last eminent guest had long ago taken his place, again those three bugle-blasts rang out, and once more the swords leaped from their scabbards. Who might this late comer be? Nobody was interested to inquire. Still, indolent eyes were turned toward the distant entrance, and we saw the silken gleam and the lifted sword of a guard of honor plowing through the remote crowds. Then we saw that end of the house rising to its feet; saw it rise abreast the advancing guard all along like a wave. This supreme honor had been offered to no one before.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book