It was a pretty and ingenious device and apparently effective enough, though it failed to secure his invested thousands.
He invested a lesser sum in shares of the Booklover's Library, which was going to revolutionize the reading world, and which at least paid a few dividends. Even the old Tennessee land will-o'-the-wisp-long since repudiated and forgotten--when it appeared again in the form of a possible equity in some overlooked fragment, kindled a gentle interest, and was added to his list of ventures.
He made one substantial investment at this period. They became more and more in love with the Hudson environment, its beauty and its easy access to New York. Their house was what they liked it to be--a gathering-- place for friends and the world's notables, who could reach it easily and quickly from New York. They had a steady procession of company when Mrs. Clemens's health would permit, and during a single week in the early part of this year entertained guests at no less than seventeen out of their twenty-one meals, and for three out of the seven nights--not an unusual week. Their plan for buying a home on the Hudson ended with the purchase of what was known as Hillcrest, or the Casey place, at Tarrytown, overlooking that beautiful stretch of river, the Tappan Zee, close to the Washington Irving home. The beauty of its outlook and surroundings appealed to them all. The house was handsome and finely placed, and they planned to make certain changes that would adapt it to their needs. The price, which was less than fifty thousand dollars, made it an attractive purchase; and without doubt it would have made them a suitable and happy home had it been written in the future that they should so inherit it.
Clemens was writing pretty steadily these days. The human race was furnishing him with ever so many inspiring subjects, and he found time to touch more or less on most of them. He wreaked his indignation upon the things which exasperated him often--even usually--without the expectation of print; and he delivered himself even more inclusively at such times as he walked the floor between the luncheon or dinner courses, amplifying on the poverty of an invention that had produced mankind as a supreme handiwork. In a letter to Howells he wrote:
Your comments on that idiot's "Ideals" letter reminds me that I preached a good sermon to my family yesterday on his particular layer of the human race, that grotesquest of all the inventions of the Creator. It was a good sermon, but coldly received, & it seemed best not to try to take up a collection.
He once told Howells, with the wild joy of his boyish heart, how Mrs. Clemens found some compensation, when kept to her room by illness, in the reflection that now she would not hear so much about the "damned human race."
Yet he was always the first man to champion that race, and the more unpromising the specimen the surer it was of his protection, and he never invited, never expected gratitude.
One wonders how he found time to do all the things that he did. Besides his legitimate literary labors and his preachments, he was always writing letters to this one and that, long letters on a variety of subjects, carefully and picturesquely phrased, and to people of every sort. He even formed a curious society, whose members were young girls--one in each country of the earth. They were supposed to write to him at intervals on some subject likely to be of mutual interest, to which letters he agreed to reply. He furnished each member with a typewritten copy of the constitution and by-laws of the juggernaut Club, as he called it, and he apprised each of her election, usually after this fashion:
I have a club--a private club, which is all my own. I appoint the members myself, & they can't help themselves, because I don't allow them to vote on their own appointment & I don't allow them to resign! They are all friends whom I have never seen (save one), but who have written friendly letters to me.