CITIZEN AND FARMER
The procession of guests at Stormfield continued pretty steadily. Clemens kept a book in which visitors set down their names and the dates of arrival and departure, and when they failed to attend to these matters he diligently did it himself after they were gone.
Members of the Harper Company came up with their wives; "angel-fish" swam in and out of the aquarium; Bermuda friends came to see the new home; Robert Collier, the publisher, and his wife--"Mrs. Sally," as Clemens liked to call her--paid their visits; Lord Northcliffe, who was visiting America, came with Colonel Harvey, and was so impressed with the architecture of Stormfield that he adopted its plans for a country-place he was about to build in Newfoundland. Helen Keller, with Mr. and Mrs. Macy, came up for a week-end visit. Mrs. Crane came over from Elmira; and, behold! one day came the long-ago sweetheart of his childhood, little Laura Hawkins--Laura Frazer now, widowed and in the seventies, with a granddaughter already a young lady quite grown up.
That Mark Twain was not wearying of the new conditions we may gather from a letter written to Mrs. Rogers in October:
I've grown young in these months of dissipation here. And I have left off drinking--it isn't necessary now. Society & theology are sufficient for me.
To Helen Allen, a Bermuda "Angel-Fish," he wrote:
We have good times here in this soundless solitude on the hilltop. The moment I saw the house I was glad I built it, & now I am gladder & gladder all the time. I was not dreaming of living here except in the summer-time--that was before I saw this region & the house, you see--but that is all changed now; I shall stay here winter & summer both & not go back to New York at all. My child, it's as tranquil & contenting as Bermuda. You will be very welcome here, dear.
He interested himself in the affairs and in the people of Redding. Not long after his arrival he had gathered in all the inhabitants of the country-side, neighbors of every quality, for closer acquaintance, and threw open to them for inspection every part of the new house. He appointed Mrs. Lounsbury, whose acquaintance was very wide; a sort of committee on reception, and stood at the entrance with her to welcome each visitor in person.
It was a sort of gala day, and the rooms and the grounds were filled with the visitors. In the dining-room there were generous refreshments. Again, not long afterward, he issued a special invitation to all of those-architects, builders, and workmen who had taken any part, however great or small, in the building of his home. Mr. and Mrs. Littleton were visiting Stormfield at this time, and both Clemens and Littleton spoke to these assembled guests from the terrace, and made them feel that their efforts had been worth while.
Presently the idea developed to establish something that would be of benefit to his neighbors, especially to those who did not have access to much reading-matter. He had been for years flooded with books by authors and publishers, and there was a heavy surplus at his home in the city. When these began to arrive he had a large number of volumes set aside as the nucleus of a public library. An unused chapel not far away--it could be seen from one of his windows--was obtained for the purpose; officers were elected; a librarian was appointed, and so the Mark Twain Library of Redding was duly established. Clemens himself was elected its first president, with the resident physician, Dr. Ernest H. Smith, vice- president, and another resident, William E. Grumman, librarian. On the afternoon of its opening the president made a brief address. He said:
I am here to speak a few instructive words to my fellow-farmers. I suppose you are all farmers: I am going to put in a crop next year, when I have been here long enough and know how. I couldn't make a turnip stay on a tree now after I had grown it. I like to talk.