Miss Clemens was inclined to defend the President, and spoke with considerable enthusiasm concerning his elements of popularity, which had won him such extraordinary admiration.

"Certainly he is popular," Clemens admitted, "and with the best of reasons. If the twelve apostles should call at the White House, he would say, 'Come in, come in! I am delighted to see you. I've been watching your progress, and I admired it very much.' Then if Satan should come, he would slap him on the shoulder and say, 'Why, Satan, how do you do? I am so glad to meet you. I've read all your works and enjoyed every one of them.' Anybody could be popular with a gift like that."

It was that evening or the next, perhaps, that he said to her:

"Ben [one of his pet names for her], now that you are here to run the ranch, Paine and I are going to Washington on a vacation. You don't seem to admire our society much, anyhow."

There were still other reasons for the Washington expedition. There was an important bill up for the extension of the book royalty period, and the forces of copyright were going down in a body to use every possible means to get the measure through.

Clemens, during Cleveland's first administration, some nineteen years before, had accompanied such an expedition, and through S. S. ("Sunset") Cox had obtained the "privileges of the floor" of the House, which had enabled him to canvass the members individually. Cox assured the doorkeeper that Clemens had received the thanks of Congress for national literary service, and was therefore entitled to that privilege. This was not strictly true; but regulations were not very severe in those days, and the ruse had been regarded as a good joke, which had yielded excellent results. Clemens had a similar scheme in mind now, and believed that his friendship with Speaker Cannon--" Uncle Joe"--would obtain for him a similar privilege. The Copyright Association working in its regular way was very well, he said, but he felt he could do more as an individual than by acting merely as a unit of that body.

"I canvassed the entire House personally that other time," he said. "Cox introduced me to the Democrats, and John D. Long, afterward Secretary of the Navy, introduced me to the Republicans. I had a darling time converting those members, and I'd like to try the experiment again."

I should have mentioned earlier, perhaps, that at this time he had begun to wear white clothing regularly, regardless of the weather and season. On the return from Dublin he had said:

"I can't bear to put on black clothes again. I wish I could wear white all winter. I should prefer, of course, to wear colors, beautiful rainbow hues, such as the women have monopolized. Their clothing makes a great opera audience an enchanting spectacle, a delight to the eye and to the spirit--a garden of Eden for charm and color.

"The men, clothed in odious black, are scattered here and there over the garden like so many charred stumps. If we are going to be gay in spirit, why be clad in funeral garments? I should like to dress in a loose and flowing costume made all of silks and velvets resplendent with stunning dyes, and so would every man I have ever known; but none of us dares to venture it. If I should appear on Fifth Avenue on a Sunday morning clothed as I would like to be clothed the churches would all be vacant and the congregation would come tagging after me. They would scoff, of course, but they would envy me, too. When I put on black it reminds me of my funerals. I could be satisfied with white all the year round."

It was not long after this that he said:

"I have made up my mind not to wear black any more, but white, and let the critics say what they will."

So his tailor was sent for, and six creamy flannel and serge suits were ordered, made with the short coats, which he preferred, with a gray suit or two for travel, and he did not wear black again, except for evening dress and on special occasions. It was a gratifying change, and though the newspapers made much of it, there was no one who was not gladdened by the beauty of his garments and their general harmony with his person.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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