Reporters who approached him for interviews, little guessing what he was passing through, reported that Mark Twain’s success in life had made him crusty and sour.
Goodman remembers that when they were in Washington, conferring with Jones, and had rooms at the Arlington, opening together, often in the night he would awaken to see a light burning in the next room and to hear Mark Twain’s voice calling:
“Joe, are you awake?”
“Yes, Mark, what is it?”
“Oh, nothing, only I can’t sleep. Won’t you talk awhile? I know it’s wrong to disturb you, but I am so d—d miserable that I can’t help it.”
Whereupon he would get up and talk and talk, and pace the floor and curse the delays until he had refreshed himself, and then perhaps wallow in millions until breakfast-time.
Jones and Mackay, deeply interested, were willing to put up a reasonable amount of money, but they were unable to see a profit in investing so large a capital in a plant for constructing the machines.
Clemens prepared estimates showing that the American business alone would earn thirty-five million dollars a year, and the European business twenty million dollars more. These dazzled, but they did not convince the capitalists. Jones was sincerely anxious to see the machine succeed, and made an engagement to come out to see it work, but a day or two before he was to come Paige was seized with an inspiration. The type-setter was all in parts when the day came, and Jones’s visit had to be postponed. Goodman wrote that the fatal delay had “sicklied over the bloom” of Jones’s original enthusiasm.
Yet Clemens seems never to have been openly violent with Paige. In the memorandum which he completed about this time he wrote:
Paige and I always meet on
effusively affectionate terms, and yet he
knows perfectly well that if I had him in a steel trap I would shut
out all human succor and watch that trap until he died.
He was grabbing at straws now. He offered a twentieth or a hundredth or a thousandth part of the enterprise for varying sums, ranging from one thousand to one hundred thousand dollars. He tried to capitalize his advance (machine) royalties, and did dispose of a few of these; but when the money came in for them he was beset by doubts as to the final outcome, and though at his wit’s ends for further funds, he returned the checks to the friends who had sent them. One five-thousand-dollar check from a friend named Arnot, in Elmira, went back by the next mail. He was willing to sacrifice his own last penny, but he could not take money from those who were blindly backing his judgment only and not their own. He still had faith in Jones, faith which lasted up to the 13th of February, 1891. Then came a final letter, in which Jones said that he had canvassed the situation thoroughly with such men as Mackay, Don Cameron, Whitney, and others, with the result that