To him these were the most fascinating things in the world. He contemplated the meteorites and the brontosaur, and lost himself in strange and marvelous imaginings concerning the far reaches of time and space whence they had come down to us.
Mark Twain lived curiously apart from the actualities of life. Dwelling mainly among his philosophies and speculations, he observed vaguely, or minutely, what went on about him; but in either case the fact took a place, not in the actual world, but in a world within his consciousness, or subconsciousness, a place where facts were likely to assume new and altogether different relations from those they had borne in the physical occurrence. It not infrequently happened, therefore, when he recounted some incident, even the most recent, that history took on fresh and startling forms. More than once I have known him to relate an occurrence of the day before with a reality of circumstance that carried absolute conviction, when the details themselves were precisely reversed. If his attention were called to the discrepancy, his face would take on a blank look, as of one suddenly aroused from dreamland, to be followed by an almost childish interest in your revelation and ready acknowledgment of his mistake. I do not think such mistakes humiliated him; but they often surprised and, I think, amused him.
Insubstantial and deceptive as was this inner world of his, to him it must have been much more real than the world of flitting physical. shapes about him. He would fix you keenly with his attention, but you realized, at last, that he was placing you and seeing you not as a part of the material landscape, but as an item of his own inner world--a world in which philosophies and morals stood upright--a very good world indeed, but certainly a topsy-turvy world when viewed with the eye of mere literal scrutiny. And this was, mainly, of course, because the routine of life did not appeal to him. Even members of his household did not always stir his consciousness.
He knew they were there; he could call them by name; he relied upon them; but his knowledge of them always suggested the knowledge that Mount Everest might have of the forests and caves and boulders upon its slopes, useful, perhaps, but hardly necessary to the giant's existence, and in no important matter a part of its greater life.
A LIBRARY CONCERT
In a letter which Clemens wrote to Miss Wallace at this time, he tells of a concert given at Stormfield on September 21st for the benefit of the new Redding Library. Gabrilowitsch had so far recovered that he was up and about and able to play. David Bispham, the great barytone, always genial and generous, agreed to take part, and Clara Clemens, already accustomed to public singing, was to join in the program. The letter to Miss Wallace supplies the rest of the history. We had a grand time here yesterday. Concert in aid of the little library.
Gabrilowitsch, pianist. David Bispham, vocalist. Clara Clemens, ditto. Mark Twain, introduces of team.
Detachments and squads and groups and singles came from everywhere- Danbury, New Haven, Norwalk, Redding, Redding Ridge, Ridgefield, and even from New York: some in 60-h.p. motor-cars, some in buggies and carriages, and a swarm of farmer-young-folk on foot from miles around--525 altogether.
If we hadn't stopped the sale of tickets a day and a half before the performance we should have been swamped. We jammed 160 into the library (not quite all had seats), we filled the loggia, the dining- room, the hall, clear into the billiard-room, the stairs, and the brick-paved square outside the dining-room door.
The artists were received with a great welcome, and it woke them up, and I tell you they performed to the Queen's taste! The program was an hour and three-quarters long and the encores added a half-hour to it.