I referred to the pressure of social demands in the city, and the relief he would find in his country home. He shook his head.
"The country home I need," he said, fiercely, "is a cemetery."
Yet the mood changed quickly enough when the play began. He was gay and hilarious presently, full of the humors and complexities of the game. H. H. Rogers came in with a good deal of frequency, seldom making very long calls, but never seeming to have that air of being hurried which one might expect to find in a man whose day was only twenty-four hours long, and whose interests were so vast and innumerable. He would come in where we were playing, and sit down and watch the game, or perhaps would pick up a book and read, exchanging a remark now and then. More often, however, he sat in the bedroom, for his visits were likely to be in the morning. They were seldom business calls, or if they were, the business was quickly settled, and then followed gossip, humorous incident, or perhaps Clemens would read aloud something he had written. But once, after greetings, he began:
"Well, Rogers, I don't know what you think of it, but I think I have had about enough of this world, and I wish I were out of it."
Mr. Rogers replied, "I don't say much about it, but that expresses my view."
This from the foremost man of letters and one of the foremost financiers of the time was impressive. Each at the mountain-top of his career, they agreed that the journey was not worth while--that what the world had still to give was not attractive enough to tempt them to prevent a desire to experiment with the next stage. One could remember a thousand poor and obscure men who were perfectly willing to go on struggling and starving, postponing the day of settlement as long as possible; but perhaps, when one has had all the world has to give, when there are no new worlds in sight to conquer, one has a different feeling.
Well, the realization lay not so far ahead for either of them, though at that moment they both seemed full of life and vigor--full of youth. One could not imagine the day when for them it would all be over.
A LOBBYING EXPEDITION
Clara Clemens came home now and then to see how matters were progressing, and very properly, for Clemens was likely to become involved in social intricacies which required a directing hand. The daughter inherited no little of the father's characteristics of thought and phrase, and it was always a delight to see them together when one could be just out of range of the crossfire. I remember soon after her return, when she was making some searching inquiries concerning the billiard-room sign, and other suggested or instituted reforms, he said:
"Oh well, never mind, it doesn't matter. I'm boss in this house."
She replied, quickly: "Oh no, you're not. You're merely owner. I'm the captain--the commander-in-chief."
One night at dinner she mentioned the possibility of going abroad that year. During several previous summers she had planned to visit Vienna to see her old music-master, Leschetizky, once more before his death. She said:
"Leschetizky is getting so old. If I don't go soon I'm afraid I sha'n't be in time for his funeral."
"Yes," said her father, thoughtfully, "you keep rushing over to Leschetizky's funeral, and you'll miss mine."
He had made one or two social engagements without careful reflection, and the situation would require some delicacy of adjustment. During a moment between the courses, when he left the table and was taking his exercise in the farther room, she made some remark which suggested a doubt of her father's gift for social management. I said:
"Oh, well, he is a king, you know, and a king can do no wrong."
"Yes, I know," she answered. "The king can do no wrong; but he frightens me almost to death, sometimes, he comes so near it."
He came back and began to comment rather critically on some recent performance of Roosevelt's, which had stirred up a good deal of newspaper amusement--it was the Storer matter and those indiscreet letters which Roosevelt had written relative to the ambassadorship which Storer so much desired.