For Jean, who was in love with every form of outdoor and animal life, he had established headquarters in a vacant farm-house on one corner of the estate, where she had collected some stock and poultry, and was over-flowingly happy. Ossip Gabrilowitsch was a guest in the house a good portion of the summer, but had been invalided through severe surgical operations, and for a long time rarely appeared, even at meal-times. So it came about that there could hardly have been a closer daily companionship than was ours during this the last year of Mark Twain's life. For me, of course, nothing can ever be like it again in this world. One is not likely to associate twice with a being from another star.
In the notes I made of this period I caught a little drift of personality and utterance, and I do not know better how to preserve these things than to give them here as nearly as may be in the sequence and in the forth in which they were set down.
One of the first of these entries occurs in June, when Clemens was rereading with great interest and relish Andrew D. White's Science and Theology, which he called a lovely book.--['A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom'.] June 21. A peaceful afternoon, and we walked farther than usual, resting at last in the shade of a tree in the lane that leads to Jean's farm-house. I picked a dandelion-ball, with some remark about its being one of the evidences of the intelligent principle in nature--the seeds winged for a wider distribution.
"Yes," he said, "those are the great evidences; no one who reasons can doubt them."
And presently he added:
"That is a most amusing book of White's. When you read it you see how those old theologians never reasoned at all. White tells of an old bishop who figured out that God created the world in an instant on a certain day in October exactly so many years before Christ, and proved it. And I knew a preacher myself once who declared that the fossils in the rocks proved nothing as to the age of the world. He said that God could create the rocks with those fossils in them for ornaments if He wanted to. Why, it takes twenty years to build a little island in the Mississippi River, and that man actually believed that God created the whole world and all that's in it in six days. White tells of another bishop who gave two new reasons for thunder; one being that God wanted to show the world His power, and another that He wished to frighten sinners to repent. Now consider the proportions of that conception, even in the pettiest way you can think of it. Consider the idea of God thinking of all that. Consider the President of the United States wanting to impress the flies and fleas and mosquitoes, getting up on the dome of the Capitol and beating a bass-drum and setting off red fire."
He followed the theme a little further, then we made our way slowly back up the long hill, he holding to my arm, and resting here and there, but arriving at the house seemingly fresh and ready for billiards.
June 23. I came up this morning with a basket of strawberries. He was walking up and down, looking like an ancient Roman. He said:
"Consider the case of Elsie Sigel--[Granddaughter of Gen. Franz Sigel. She was mysteriously murdered while engaged in settlement work among the Chinese.]--what a ghastly ending to any life!"
Then turning upon me fiercely, he continued:
"Anybody that knows anything knows that there was not a single life that was ever lived that was worth living. Not a single child ever begotten that the begetting of it was not a crime. Suppose a community of people to be living on the slope of a volcano, directly under the crater and in the path of lava-flow; that volcano has been breaking out right along for ages and is certain to break out again. They do not know when it will break out, but they know it will do it--that much can be counted on.