It was an anxious moment, and no one spoke immediately. But presently his eye had taken in the satisfying harmony of the place and followed on through the wide doors that led to the dining-room--on through the open French windows to an enchanting vista of tree-tops and distant farmside and blue hills. He said, very gently:
"How beautiful it all is? I did not think it could be as beautiful as this."
He was taken through the rooms; the great living-room at one end of the hall--a room on the walls of which there was no picture, but only color- harmony--and at the other end of the hall, the splendid, glowing billiard-room, where hung all the pictures in which he took delight. Then to the floor above, with its spacious apartments and a continuation of color--welcome and concord, the windows open to the pleasant evening hills. When he had seen it all--the natural Italian garden below the terraces; the loggia, whose arches framed landscape vistas and formed a rare picture-gallery; when he had completed the round and stood in the billiard-room--his especial domain--once more he said, as a final verdict:
"It is a perfect house--perfect, so far as I can see, in every detail. It might have been here always."
He was at home there from that moment--absolutely, marvelously at home, for he fitted the setting perfectly, and there was not a hitch or flaw in his adaptation. To see him over the billiard-table, five minutes later, one could easily fancy that Mark Twain, as well as the house, had "been there always." Only the presence of his daughters was needed now to complete his satisfaction in everything.
There were guests that first evening--a small home dinner-party--and so perfect were the appointments and service, that one not knowing would scarcely have imagined it to be the first dinner served in that lovely room. A little later; at the foot of the garden of bay and cedar, neighbors, inspired by Dan Beard, who had recently located near by, set off some fireworks. Clemens stepped out on the terrace and saw rockets climbing through the summer sky to announce his arrival.
"I wonder why they all go to so much trouble for me," he said, softly. "I never go to any trouble for anybody"--a statement which all who heard it, and all his multitude of readers in every land, stood ready to deny.
That first evening closed with billiards--boisterous, triumphant billiards--and when with midnight the day ended and the cues were set in the rack, there was none to say that Mark Twain's first day in his new home had not been a happy one.
FIRST DAYS AT STORMFIELD
I went up next afternoon, for I knew how he dreaded loneliness. We played billiards for a time, then set out for a walk, following the long drive to the leafy lane that led to my own property. Presently he said:
"In one way I am sorry I did not see this place sooner. I never want to leave it again. If I had known it was so beautiful I should have vacated the house in town and moved up here permanently."
I suggested that he could still do so, if he chose, and he entered immediately into the idea. By and by we turned down a deserted road, grassy and beautiful, that ran along his land. At one side was a slope facing the west, and dotted with the slender, cypress-like cedars of New England. He had asked if that were part of his land, and on being told it was he said:
"I would like Howells to have a house there. We must try to give that to Howells."
At the foot of the hill we came to a brook and followed it into a meadow. I told him that I had often caught fine trout there, and that soon I would bring in some for breakfast. He answered:
"Yes, I should like that. I don't care to catch them any more myself. I like them very hot."
We passed through some woods and came out near my own ancient little house. He noticed it and said:
"The man who built that had some memory of Greece in his mind when he put on that little porch with those columns."
My second daughter, Frances, was coming from a distant school on the evening train, and the carriage was starting just then to bring her.