Twichell has reported Mark Twain's meeting with the Prince (later Edward VII) as having come about by special request of the latter, made through the British ambassador. "The meeting," he says, "was a most cordial one on both sides, and presently the Prince took Mark Twain's arm and the two marched up and down, talking earnestly together, the Prince, solid, erect, and soldierlike, Clemens weaving along in his curious, swinging gait in a full tide of talk, and brandishing a sun-umbrella of the most scandalous description."
When they parted Clemens said:
"It has been, indeed, a great pleasure to meet your Royal Highness."
The Prince answered:
"And it is a pleasure, Mr. Clemens, to have met you--again."
Clemens was puzzled to reply.
"Why," he said, "have we met before?"
The Prince smiled happily.
"Oh yes," he said; "don't you remember that day on the Strand when you were on the top of a bus and I was heading a procession and you had on your new overcoat with flap-pockets?"--[See chap. clxiii, "A Letter to the Queen of England."]
It was the highest compliment he could have paid, for it showed that he had read, and had remembered all those years. Clemens expressed to Twichell regret that he had forgotten to mention his visit to the Prince's sister, Louise, in Ottawa, but he had his opportunity at a dinner next day. Later the Prince had him to supper and they passed an entire evening together.
There was a certain uneasiness in the Nauheim atmosphere that year, for the cholera had broken out at Hamburg, and its victims were dying at a terrific rate. It was almost impossible to get authentic news as to the spread of the epidemic, for the German papers were curiously conservative in their reports. Clemens wrote an article on the subject but concluded not to print it. A paragraph will convey its tenor.
What I am trying to make the reader understand is the strangeness of the situation here--a mighty tragedy being played upon a stage that is close to us, & yet we are as ignorant of its details as we should be if the stage were in China. We sit "in front," & the audience is in fact the world; but the curtain is down, & from behind it we hear only an inarticulate murmur. The Hamburg disaster must go into history as the disaster without a history.
He closes with an item from a physician's letter--an item which he says "gives you a sudden and terrific sense of the situation there." For in a line it flashes before you--this ghastly picture--a thing seen by the physician: a wagon going along the street with five sick people in it, and with them four dead ones.
THE VILLA VIVIANI
'The American Claimant', published in May l (1892), did not bring a very satisfactory return. For one thing, the book-trade was light, and then the Claimant was not up to his usual standard. It had been written under hard circumstances and by a pen long out of practice; it had not paid, and its author must work all the harder on the new undertakings. The conditions at Nauheim seemed favorable, and they lingered there until well into September. To Mrs. Crane, who had returned to America, Clemens wrote on the 18th, from Lucerne, in the midst of their travel to Italy:
We remained in Nauheim a little too long. If we had left four or five days earlier we should have made Florence in three days. Hard trip because it was one of those trains that gets tired every 7 minutes and stops to rest three-quarters of an hour. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get there instead of the regulation 2 hours. We shall pull through to Milan to-morrow if possible. Next day we shall start at 10 AM and try to make Bologna, 5 hours. Next day, Florence, D. V. Next year we will walk. Phelps came to Frankfort and we had some great times--dinner at his hotel; & the Masons, supper at our inn--Livy not in it. She was merely allowed a glimpse, no more. Of course Phelps said she was merely pretending to be ill; was never looking so well & fine.