Young Gerrit Smith played some ravishing dance-music, & we all danced about an hour. There couldn't be a pleasanter night than that one was. Some of those people complained of fatigue, but I don't seem to know what the sense of fatigue is.

In his reprieve he was like some wild thing that had regained liberty.

He refers to Susy's recent illness and to Mrs. Clemens's own poor state of health.

Dear, dear Susy! My strength reproaches me when I think of her and you.

It is an unspeakable pity that you should be without any one to go about with the girls, & it troubles me, & grieves me, & makes me curse & swear; but you see, dear heart, I've got to stick right where I am till I find out whether we are rich or whether the poorest person we are acquainted with in anybody's kitchen is better off than we are. . I stand on the land-end of a springboard, with the family clustered on the other end; if I take my foot----

He realized his hopes to her as a vessel trying to make port; once he wrote:

The ship is in sight now ....

When the anchor is down then I shall say:

"Farewell--a long farewell--to business! I will never touch it again!"

I will live in literature, I will wallow in it, revel in it; I will swim in ink! 'Joan of Arc'--but all this is premature; the anchor is not down yet.

Sometimes he sent her impulsive cables calculating to sustain hope. Mrs. Clemens, writing to her sister in January, said:

Mr. Clemens now for ten days has been hourly expecting to send me word that Paige had signed the (new) contract, but as yet no despatch comes . . . . On the 5th of this month I received a cable, "Expect good news in ten days." On the 15th I receive a cable, "Look out for good news." On the 19th a cable, "Nearing success."

It appealed to her sense of humor even in these dark days. She added:

They make me laugh, for they are so like my beloved "Colonel."

Mr. Rogers had agreed that he would bring Paige to rational terms, and with Clemens made a trip to Chicago. All agreed now that the machine promised a certain fortune as soon as a contract acceptable to everybody could be concluded--Paige and his lawyer being the last to dally and dicker as to terms. Finally a telegram came from Chicago saying that Paige had agreed to terms. On that day Clemens wrote in his note-book:

This is a great date in my history. Yesterday we were paupers with but 3 months' rations of cash left and $160,000 in debt, my wife & I, but this telegram makes us wealthy.

But it was not until a fortnight later that Paige did actually sign. This was on the 1st of February, '94, and Clemens that night cabled to Paris, so that Mrs. Clemens would have it on her breakfast-plate the morning of their anniversary:

"Wedding news. Our ship is safe in port. I sail the moment Rogers can spare me."

So this painted bubble, this thing of emptiness, had become as substance again--the grand hope. He was as concerned with it as if it had been an actual gold-mine with ore and bullion piled in heaps--that shadow, that farce, that nightmare. One longs to go back through the years and face him to the light and arouse him to the vast sham of it all.



Clemens might have lectured that winter with profit, and Major Pond did his best to persuade him; but Rogers agreed that his presence in New York was likely to be too important to warrant any schedule of absence. He went once to Boston to lecture for charity, though his pleasure in the experience was a sufficient reward. On the evening before the lecture Mrs. James T. Fields had him to her house to dine with Dr. Holmes, then not far from the end of his long, beautiful life.--[He died that same year, October, 1894.]

Clemens wrote to Paris of their evening together:

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes never goes out (he is in his 84th year), but he came out this time--said he wanted to "have a time" once more with me.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book