A week or two later he went to Dublin, New Hampshire, for the summer--this time to the Upton House, which had been engaged a year before, the Copley Greene place being now occupied by its owner.



The Upton House stands on the edge of a beautiful beech forest some two or three miles from Dublin, just under Monadnock--a good way up the slope. It is a handsome, roomy frame-house, and had a long colonnaded veranda overlooking one of the most beautiful landscape visions on the planet: lake, forest, hill, and a far range of blue mountains--all the handiwork of God is there. I had seen these things in paintings, but I had not dreamed that such a view really existed. The immediate foreground was a grassy slope, with ancient, blooming apple-trees; and just at the right hand Monadnock rose, superb and lofty, sloping down to the panorama below that stretched away, taking on an ever deeper blue, until it reached that remote range on which the sky rested and the world seemed to end. It was a masterpiece of the Greater Mind, and of the highest order, perhaps, for it had in it nothing of the touch of man. A church spire glinted here and there, but there was never a bit of field, or stone wall, or cultivated land. It was lonely; it was unfriendly; it cared nothing whatever for humankind; it was as if God, after creating all the world, had wrought His masterwork here, and had been so engrossed with the beauty of it that He had forgotten to give it a soul. In a sense this was true, for He had not made the place suitable for the habitation of men. It lacked the human touch; the human interest, and I could never quite believe in its reality.

The time of arrival heightened this first impression. It was mid-May and the lilacs were prodigally in bloom; but the bright sunlight was chill and unnatural, and there was a west wind that laid the grass flat and moaned through the house, and continued as steadily as if it must never stop from year's end to year's end. It seemed a spectral land, a place of supernatural beauty. Warm, still, languorous days would come, but that first feeling of unreality would remain permanent. I believe Jean Clemens was the only one who ever really loved the place. Something about it appealed to her elemental side and blended with her melancholy moods. She dressed always in white, and she was tall and pale and classically beautiful, and she was often silent, like a spirit. She had a little retreat for herself farther up the mountain-side, and spent most of her days there wood-carving, which was her chief diversion.

Clara Clemens did not come to the place at all. She was not yet strong, and went to Norfolk, Connecticut, where she could still be in quiet retirement and have her physician's care. Miss Hobby came, and on the 21st of May the dictations were resumed. We began in his bedroom, as before, but the feeling there was depressing--the absence of the great carved bed and other furnishings, which had been so much a part of the picture, was felt by all of us. Nothing of the old luxury and richness was there. It was a summer-furnished place, handsome but with the customary bareness. At the end of this first session he dressed in his snowy flannels, which he had adopted in the place of linen for summer wear, and we descended to the veranda and looked out over that wide, wonderful expanse of scenery.

"I think I shall like it," he said, "when I get acquainted with it, and get it classified and labeled, and I think we'll do our dictating out here hereafter. It ought to be an inspiring place."

So the dictations were transferred to the long veranda, and he was generally ready for them, a white figure pacing up and down before that panoramic background. During the earlier, cooler weeks he usually continued walking with measured step during the dictations, pausing now and then to look across the far-lying horizon. When it stormed we moved into the great living-room, where at one end there was a fireplace with blazing logs, and at the other the orchestrelle, which had once more been freighted up those mountain heights for the comfort of its harmonies. Sometimes, when the wind and rain were beating outside, and he was striding up and down the long room within, with only the blurred shapes of mountains and trees outlined through the trailing rain, the feeling of the unreality became so strong that it was hard to believe that somewhere down below, beyond the rain and the woods, there was a literal world--a commonplace world, where the ordinary things of life were going on in the usual way.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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