There was one creditor, whose name need, not be “handed down to infamy,” who had refused to consent to any settlement except immediate payment in full, and had pursued with threatened attachment of earnings and belongings, until Clemens, exasperated, had been disposed to turn over to his creditors all remaining properties and let that suffice, once and for all. But this was momentary. He had presently instructed Mr. Rogers to “pay Shylock in full,” and to assure any others that he would pay them, too, in the end. But none of the others annoyed him.
It was on the afternoon of August 23, 1895, that they were off at last. Major Pond and his wife lunched with them on board and waved them good-by as long as they could see the vessel. The far voyage which was to carry them for the better part of the year to the under side of the world had begun.
“Following the equator”
Mark Twain himself has written with great fulness the story of that traveling—setting down what happened, and mainly as it happened, with all the wonderful description, charm, and color of which he was so great a master. We need do little more than summarize then—adding a touch here and there, perhaps, from another point of view.
They had expected to stop at the Sandwich Islands, but when they arrived in the roadstead of Honolulu, word came that cholera had broken out and many were dying daily. They could not land. It was a double disappointment; not only were the lectures lost, but Clemens had long looked forward to revisiting the islands he had so loved in the days of his youth. There was nothing for them to do but to sit on the decks in the shade of the awnings and look at the distant shore. In his book he says:
We lay in luminous blue water; shoreward the water was green-green and brilliant; at the shore itself it broke in a long, white ruffle, and with no crash, no sound that we could hear. The town was buried under a mat of foliage that looked like a cushion of moss. The silky mountains were clothed in soft, rich splendors of melting color, and some of the cliffs were veiled in slanting mists. I recognized it all. It was just as I had seen it long before, with nothing of its beauty lost, nothing of its charm wanting.
In his note-book he wrote: “If I might, I would go ashore and never leave.”