A Paris journal has created a happy interest by inoculating one of its correspondents with cholera. A man said yesterday he wished to God they would inoculate all of them. Yes, the interest is quite general and strong & much hope is felt.

Livy says I have said enough bad things, and better send all our loves & shut up. Which I do--and shut up.

They lingered at Lucerne until Mrs. Clemens was rested and better able to continue the journey, arriving at last in Florence, September 26th. They drove out to the Villa Viviani in the afternoon and found everything in readiness for their reception, even to the dinner, which was prepared and on the table. Clemens, in his notes, speaks of this and adds:

It takes but a sentence to state that, but it makes an indolent person tired to think of the planning & work and trouble that lie concealed in it.

Some further memoranda made at this time have that intimate interest which gives reality and charm. The 'contadino' brought up their trunks from the station, and Clemens wrote:

The 'contadino' is middle-aged & like the rest of the peasants--that is to say, brown, handsome, good-natured, courteous, & entirely independent without making any offensive show of it. He charged too much for the trunks, I was told. My informer explained that this was customary.

September 27. The rest of the trunks brought up this morning. He charged too much again, but I was told that this was also customary. It's all right, then. I do not wish to violate the customs. Hired landau, horses, & coachman. Terms, 480 francs a month & a pourboire to the coachman, I to furnish lodging for the man & the horses, but nothing else. The landau has seen better days & weighs 30 tons. The horses are feeble & object to the landau; they stop & turn around every now & then & examine it with surprise & suspicion. This causes delay. But it entertains the people along the road. They came out & stood around with their hands in their pockets & discussed the matter with each other. I was told that they said that a 30-ton landau was not the thing for horses like those--what they needed was a wheelbarrow.

His description of the house pictures it as exactly today as it did then, for it has not changed in these twenty years, nor greatly, perhaps, in the centuries since it was built. It is a plain, square building, like a box, & is painted light yellow & has green window-shutters. It stands in a commanding position on the artificial terrace of liberal dimensions, which is walled around with masonry. From the walls the vineyards & olive orchards of the estate slant away toward the valley. There are several tall trees, stately stone-pines, also fig-trees & trees of breeds not familiar to me. Roses overflow the retaining-walls, & the battered & mossy stone urn on the gate-posts, in pink & yellow cataracts exactly as they do on the drop-curtains in the theaters. The house is a very fortress for strength. The main walls--all brick covered with plaster--are about 3 feet thick. I have several times tried to count the rooms of the house, but the irregularities baffle me. There seem to be 28. There are plenty of windows & worlds of sunlight. The floors are sleek & shiny & full of reflections, for each is a mirror in its way, softly imaging all objects after the subdued fashion of forest lakes. The curious feature of the house is the salon. This is a spacious & lofty vacuum which occupies the center of the house. All the rest of the house is built around it; it extends up through both stories & its roof projects some feet above the rest of the building. The sense of its vastness strikes you the moment you step into it & cast your eyes around it & aloft. There are divans distributed along its walls. They make little or no show, though their aggregate length is 57 feet.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book