The Emperor's brother, Prince Heinrich, sat opposite; Prince Radolin farther along. Rudolf Lindau, of the Foreign Office, was also present. There were fourteen at the table, all told. In his memorandum made at the time, Clemens gave no account of the dinner beyond the above details, only adding:
After dinner 6 or 8 officers came in, & all hands adjourned to the big room out of the smoking-room and held a "smoking parliament" after the style of the ancient Potsdam one, till midnight, when the Emperor shook hands and left.
It was not until fourteen years later that Mark Twain related some special matters pertaining to that evening. He may have expanded then somewhat to fill out spaces of his memory, and embroidered them, as was his wont; but that something happened, either in reality or in his imagination, which justified his version of it we may believe. He told it as here given, premising: "This may appear in print after I am dead, but not before.
"From 1891 until day before yesterday I had never mentioned the matter, nor set it down with a pen, nor ever referred to it in any way--not even to my wife, to whom I was accustomed to tell everything that happened to me.
"At the dinner his Majesty chatted briskly and entertainingly along in easy and flowing English, and now and then he interrupted himself to address a remark to me or to some other individual of the guests. When the reply had been delivered he resumed his talk. I noticed that the table etiquette tallied with that which was the law of my house at home when we had guests; that is to say, the guests answered when the host favored them with a remark, and then quieted down and behaved themselves until they got another chance. If I had been in the Emperor's chair and he in mine I should have felt infinitely comfortable and at home, but I was guest now, and consequently felt less at home. From old experience I was familiar with the rules of the game and familiar with their exercise from the high place of host; but I was not familiar with the trammeled and less satisfactory position of guest, therefore I felt a little strange and out of place. But there was no animosity--no, the Emperor was host, therefore, according to my own rule, he had a right to do the talking, and it was my honorable duty to intrude no interruptions or other improvements except upon invitation; and of course it could be my turn some day--some day, on some friendly visit of inspection to America, it might be my pleasure and distinction to have him as guest at my table; then I would give him a rest and a quiet time.
"In one way there was a difference between his table and mine-for instance, atmosphere; the guests stood in awe of him, and naturally they conferred that feeling upon me, for, after all, I am only human, although I regret it. When a guest answered a question he did it with a deferential voice and manner; he did not put any emotion into it, and he did not spin it out, but got it out of his system as quickly as he could, and then looked relieved. The Emperor was used to this atmosphere, and it did not chill his blood; maybe it was an inspiration to him, for he was alert, brilliant, and full of animation; also he was most gracefully and felicitously complimentary to my books--and I will remark here that the happy phrasing of a compliment is one of the rarest of human gifts and the happy delivery of it another. I once mentioned the high compliment which he paid to the book 'Old Times on the Mississippi'; but there were others, among them some high praise of my description in 'A Tramp Abroad' of certain striking phases of German student life.
"Fifteen or twenty minutes before the dinner ended the Emperor made a remark to me in praise of our generous soldier pensions; then, without pausing, he continued the remark, not speaking to me, but across the table to his brother, Prince Heinrich.