I have written eight or nine hundred manuscript pages in such a brief space of time that I mustn’t name the number of days; I shouldn’t believe it myself, and of course couldn’t expect you to. I used to restrict myself to four and five hours a day and five days in the week, but this time I have wrought from breakfast till 5.15 P.M. six days in the week, and once or twice I smouched a Sunday when the boss wasn’t looking. Nothing is half so good as literature hooked on Sunday, on the sly.
He refers to the game, though rather indifferently.
When I wrote you I thought I had it; whereas I was merely entering upon the initiatory difficulties of it. I might have known it wouldn’t be an easy job or somebody would have invented a decent historical game long ago—a thing which nobody has done.
Notwithstanding the fact that he was working at Huck with enthusiasm, he seems to have been in no hurry to revise it for publication, either as a serial or as a book. But the fact that he persevered until Huck Finn at last found complete utterance was of itself a sufficient matter for congratulation.
HOWELLS AND CLEMENS WRITE A PLAY
Before Howells went abroad Clemens had written:
Now I think that the play for you to write would be one entitled, “Colonel Mulberry Sellers in Age” (75), with Lafayette Hawkins (at 50) still sticking to him and believing in him and calling him “My lord.” He [Sellers] is a specialist and a scientist in various ways. Your refined people and purity of speech would make the best possible background, and when you are done, I could take your manuscript and rewrite the Colonel’s speeches, and make him properly extravagant, and I would let the play go to Raymond, and bind him up with a contract that would give him the bellyache every time he read it. Shall we think this over, or drop it as being nonsense?
Howells, returned and settled in Boston once more, had revived an interest in the play idea. He corresponded with Clemens concerning it and agreed that the American Claimant, Leathers, should furnish the initial impulse of the drama.
They decided to revive Colonel Sellers and make him the heir; Colonel Sellers in old age, more wildly extravagant than ever, with new schemes, new patents, new methods of ameliorating the ills of mankind.
Howells came down to Hartford from Boston full of enthusiasm. He found Clemens with some ideas of the plan jotted down: certain effects and situations which seemed to him amusing, but there was no general scheme of action. Howells, telling of it, says:
I felt authorized to make
him observe that his scheme was as nearly
nothing as chaos could be. He agreed hilariously with me, and was
willing to let it stand in proof of his entire dramatic inability.