He sent frequent letters--one or two by each steamer--but as a rule they did not concern matters of general interest. A little after his arrival, however, he wrote concerning an incident of his former visit--a trivial matter--but one which had annoyed him. I had been with him in Bermuda on the earlier visit, and as I remember it, there had been some slight oversight on his part in the matter of official etiquette--something which doubtless no one had noticed but himself.
To A. B. Paine, in Redding:
BAY HOUSE, Jan. 11, 1910.
DEAR PAINE,--. . . There was a military lecture last night at the Officer's Mess, prospect, and as the lecturer honored me with a special and urgent invitation and said he wanted to lecture to me particularly, I being "the greatest living master of the platform-art," I naturally packed Helen and her mother into the provided carriage and went.
As soon as we landed at the door with the crowd the Governor came to me at once and was very cordial, and apparently as glad to see me as he said he was. So that incident is closed. And pleasantly and entirely satisfactorily. Everything is all right, now, and I am no longer in a clumsy and awkward situation.
I "met up" with that charming Colonel Chapman, and other officers of the regiment, and had a good time.
Commandant Peters of the "Carnegie" will dine here tonight and arrange a private visit for us to his ship, the crowd to be denied access. Sincerely Yours, S. L. C.
"Helen" of this letter was Mr. and Mrs. Allen's young daughter, a favorite companion of his walks and drives. "Loomis" and "Lark," mentioned in the letters which follow, were Edward E. Loomis--his nephew by marriage--named by Mark Twain as one of the trustees of his estate, and Charles T. Lark, Mark Twain's attorney.
To A. B. Paine, in Redding:
HAMILTON, Jan. 21, '10. DEAR PAINE,--Thanks for your letter, and for its contenting news of the situation in that foreign and far-off and vaguely-remembered country where you and Loomis and Lark and other beloved friends are.
I have a letter from Clara this morning. She is solicitous, and wants me well and watchfully taken care of. My, she ought to see Helen and her parents and Claude administer that trust!
Also she says: "I hope to hear from you or Mr. Paine very soon."
I am writing her, and I know you will respond to your part of her prayer. She is pretty desolate now, after Jean's emancipation--the only kindness God ever did that poor unoffending child in all her hard life. Ys ever S. L. C.
Send Clara a copy of Howells's gorgeous letter. I want a copy of my article that he is speaking of.
The "gorgeous letter" was concerning Mark Twain's article, "The Turning-point in My Life" which had just appeared in one of the Harper publications. Howells wrote of it, "While your wonderful words are warm in my mind yet, I want to tell you what you know already: that you never wrote anything greater, finer, than that turning-point paper of yours."
From the early Bermuda letters we may gather that Mark Twain's days were enjoyable enough, and that his malady was not giving him serious trouble, thus far. Near the end of January he wrote: "Life continues here the same as usual. There isn't a flaw in it. Good times, good home, tranquil contentment all day and every day, without a break. I shouldn't know how to go about bettering my situation." He did little in the way of literary work, probably finding neither time nor inclination for it. When he wrote at all it was merely to set down some fanciful drolleries with no thought of publication.