"Even if we find it," he wrote Howells, "I am afraid it will be months before we can move Mrs. Clemens. Of course it will. But it comforts us to let on that we think otherwise, and these pretensions help to keep hope alive in her."
She had her bad days and her good days, days when it was believed she had passed the turning-point and was traveling the way to recovery; but the good days were always a little less hopeful, the bad days a little more discouraging. On February 22d Clemens wrote in his note-book:
At midnight Livy's pulse went to 192 & there was a collapse. Great alarm. Subcutaneous injection of brandy saved her.
And to MacAlister toward the end of March:
We are having quite perfect weather now & are hoping that it will bring effects for Mrs. Clemens.
But a few days later he added that he was watching the driving rain through the windows, and that it was bad weather for the invalid. "But it will not last," he said.
The invalid improved then, and there was a concert in Florence at which Clara Clemens sang. Clemens in his note-book says:
April 8. Clara's concert was a triumph. Livy woke up & sent for her to tell her all about it, near midnight.
But a day or two later she was worse again--then better. The hearts in that household were as pendulums, swinging always between hope and despair.
One familiar with the Clemens history might well have been filled with forebodings. Already in January a member of the family, Mollie Clemens, Orion's wife, died, news which was kept from Mrs. Clemens, as was the death of Aldrich's son, and that of Sir Henry M. Stanley, both of which occurred that spring.
Indeed, death harvested freely that year among the Clemens friendships. Clemens wrote Twichell:
Yours has just this moment arrived-just as I was finishing a note to poor Lady Stanley. I believe the last country-house visit we paid in England was to Stanley's. Lord! how my friends & acquaintances fall about me now in my gray-headed days! Vereshchagin, Mommsen, Dvorak, Lenbach, & Jokai, all so recently, & now Stanley. I have known Stanley 37 years. Goodness, who is there I haven't known?
THE CLOSE OF A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
In one of his notes near the end of April Clemens writes that once more, as at Riverdale, he has been excluded from Mrs. Clemens's room except for the briefest moment at a time. But on May 12th, to R. W. Gilder, he reported:
For two days now we have not been anxious about Mrs. Clemens (unberufen). After 20 months of bedridden solitude & bodily misery she all of a sudden ceases to be a pallid, shrunken shadow, & looks bright & young & pretty. She remains what she always was, the most wonderful creature of fortitude, patience, endurance, and recuperative power that ever was. But ah, dear! it won't last; this fiendish malady will play new treacheries upon her, and I shall go back to my prayers again--unutterable from any pulpit!
May 13, A.M. I have just paid one of my pair of permitted 2-minute visits per day to the sick-room. And found what I have learned to expect--retrogression.
There was a day when she was brought out on the terrace in a wheel-chair to see the wonder of the early Italian summer. She had been a prisoner so long that she was almost overcome with the delight of it all--the more so, perhaps, in the feeling that she might so soon be leaving it.
It was on Sunday, the 5th of June, that the end came. Clemens and Jean had driven out to make some calls, and had stopped at a villa, which promised to fulfil most of the requirements. They came home full of enthusiasm concerning it, and Clemens, in his mind, had decided on the purchase. In the corridor Clara said:
"She is better to-day than she has been for three months."
Then quickly, under her breath, "Unberufen," which the others, too, added hastily--superstitiously.
Mrs. Clemens was, in fact, bright and cheerful, and anxious to hear all about the new property which was to become their home.