He showed his absolute content with his house, and that was the greater pleasure for me because it was my son who designed it. The architect had been so fortunate as to be able to plan it where a natural avenue of savins, the close- knit, slender, cypress-like cedars of New England, led away from the rear of the villa to the little level of a pergola, meant some day to be wreathed and roofed with vines. But in the early spring days all the landscape was in the beautiful nakedness of the Northern winter. It opened in the surpassing loveliness of wooded and meadowed uplands, under skies that were the first days blue, and the last gray over a rainy and then a snowy floor. We walked up and down, up and down, between the villa terrace and the pergola, and talked with the melancholy amusement, the sad tolerance of age for the sort of men and things that used to excite us or enrage us; now we were far past turbulence or anger. Once we took a walk together across the yellow pastures to a chasmal creek on his grounds, where the ice still knit the clayey banks together like crystal mosses; and the stream far down clashed through and over the stones and the shards of ice. Clemens pointed out the scenery he had bought to give himself elbowroom, and showed me the lot he was going to have me build on. The next day we came again with the geologist he had asked up to Stormfield to analyze its rocks. Truly he loved the place . . . .
My visit at Stormfield came to an end with tender relucting on his part and on mine. Every morning before I dressed I heard him sounding my name through the house for the fun of it and I know for the fondness, and if I looked out of my door there he was in his long nightgown swaying up and down the corridor, and wagging his great white head like a boy that leaves his bed and comes out in the hope of frolic with some one. The last morning a soft sugar-snow had fallen and was falling, and I drove through it down to the station in the carriage which had been given him by his wife's father when they were first married, and had been kept all those intervening years in honorable retirement for this final use.--[This carriage--a finely built coup--had been presented to Mrs. Crane when the Hartford house was closed. When Stormfield was built she returned it to its original owner.]--Its springs had not grown yielding with time, it had rather the stiffness and severity of age; but for him it must have swung low like the sweet chariot of the negro "spiritual" which I heard him sing with such fervor when those wonderful hymns of the slaves began to make their way northward.
Howells's visit resulted in a new inspiration. Clemens started to write him one night when he could not sleep, and had been reading the volume of letters of James Russell Lowell. Then, next morning, he was seized with the notion of writing a series of letters to such friends as Howells, Twichell, and Rogers--letters not to be mailed, but to be laid away for some future public. He wrote two of these immediately--to Howells and to Twichell. The Howells letter (or letters, for it was really double) is both pathetic and amusing. The first part ran: 3 in the morning, April 17, 1909.
My pen has gone dry and the ink is out of reach. Howells, did you write me day-before-day-before yesterday or did I dream it? In my mind's eye I most vividly see your hand-write on a square blue envelope in the mail-pile. I have hunted the house over, but there is no such letter. Was it an illusion?
I am reading Lowell's letters & smoking. I woke an hour ago & am reading to keep from wasting the time. On page 305, Vol. I, I have just margined a note:
"Young friend! I like that! You ought to see him now."
It seemed startlingly strange to hear a person call you young.