"He will arrive at noon."

"Where are you going to put him?"

"In the loggia."

"How big is he?"

"About the size of a cow."

"How long have you been with Barnum and Bailey?"

"Six years."

"Then you must know some friends of mine" (naming two that had no existence until that moment).

"Oh yes, indeed. I know them well."

Lounsbury didn't say any more just then, but he had a feeling that perhaps the dread at Stormfield had grown unnecessarily large. Something told him that this man seemed rather more like a butler, or a valet, than an elephant-trainer. They drove to Stormfield, and the trainer looked over the place. It would do perfectly, he said. He gave a few instructions as to the care of this new household feature, and was driven back to the station to bring it.

Lounsbury came back by and by, bringing the elephant but not the trainer. It didn't need a trainer. It was a beautiful specimen, with soft, smooth coat and handsome trappings, perfectly quiet, well-behaved and small-- suited to the loggia, as Collier had said--for it was only two feet long and beautifully made of cloth and cotton--one of the forest toy elephants ever seen anywhere.

It was a good joke, such as Mark Twain loved--a carefully prepared, harmless bit of foolery. He wrote Robert Collier, threatening him with all sorts of revenge, declaring that the elephant was devastating Stormfield.

"To send an elephant in a trance, under pretense that it was dead or stuffed!" he said. "The animal came to life, as you knew it would, and began to observe Christmas, and we now have no furniture left and no servants and no visitors, no friends, no photographs, no burglars-- nothing but the elephant. Be kind, be merciful, be generous; take him away and send us what is left of the earthquake."

Collier wrote that he thought it unkind of him to look a gift-elephant in the trunk. And with such chaffing and gaiety the year came to an end.



When the bad weather came there was not much company at Stormfield, and I went up regularly each afternoon, for it was lonely on that bleak hill, and after his forenoon of reading or writing he craved diversion. My own home was a little more than a half mile away, and I enjoyed the walk, whatever the weather. I usually managed to arrive about three o'clock. He would watch from his high windows until he saw me raise the hilltop, and he would be at the door when I arrived, so that there might be no delay in getting at the games. Or, if it happened that he wished to show me something in his room, I would hear his rich voice sounding down the stair. Once, when I arrived, I heard him calling, and going up I found him highly pleased with the arrangement of two pictures on a chair, placed so that the glasses of them reflected the sunlight on the ceiling. He said:

"They seem to catch the reflection of the sky and the winter colors. Sometimes the hues are wonderfully iridescent."

He pointed to a bunch of wild red berries on the mantel with the sun on them.

"How beautifully they light up!" he said; "some of them in the sunlight, some still in the shadow."

He walked to the window and stood looking out on the somber fields.

"The lights and colors are always changing there," he said. "I never tire of it."

To see him then so full of the interest and delight of the moment, one might easily believe he had never known tragedy and shipwreck. More than any one I ever knew, he lived in the present. Most of us are either dreaming of the past or anticipating the future--forever beating the dirge of yesterday or the tattoo of to-morrow. Mark Twain's step was timed to the march of the moment. There were days when he recalled the past and grieved over it, and when he speculated concerning the future; but his greater interest was always of the now, and of the particular locality where he found it. The thing which caught his fancy, however slight or however important, possessed him fully for the time, even if never afterward.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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