Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2.

    Great Scott, but it’s a long year—­for you & me!  I never knew the
    almanac to drag so.  At least not since I was finishing that other

I watch for your letters hungrily—­just as I used to watch for the telegram saying the machine’s finished—­but when “next week certainly” suddenly swelled into “three weeks sure” I recognized the old familiar tune I used to hear so much.  W——­don’t know what sick-heartedness is—­but he is in a way to find out.

And finally, on the 4th: 

I am very glad indeed if you and Mr. Langdon are able to see any daylight ahead.  To me none is visible.  I strongly advise that every penny that comes in shall be applied to paying off debts.  I may be in error about this, but it seems to me that we have no other course open.  We can pay a part of the debts owing to outsiders —­none to Clemenses.  In very prosperous times we might regard our stock & copyrights as assets sufficient, with the money owing to us, to square up & quit even, but I suppose we may not hope for such luck in the present condition of things.

    What I am mainly hoping for is to save my book royalties.  If they
    come into danger I hope you will cable me so that I can come over &
    try to save them, for if they go I am a beggar.

    I would sail to-day if I had anybody to take charge of my family &
    help them through the difficult journeys commanded by the doctors.

A few days later he could stand it no longer, and on August 29 (1893) sailed, the second time that year, for New York.



Clemens took a room at The Players—­“a cheap room,” he wrote, “at $1.50 per day.”  It was now the end of September, the beginning of a long half-year, during which Mark Twain’s fortunes were at a lower ebb than ever before; lower, even, than during those mining days among the bleak Esmeralda hills.  Then he had no one but him self and was young.  Now, at fifty-eight, he had precious lives dependent upon him, and he was weighed down with a vast burden of debt.  The liabilities of Charles L. Webster & Co. were fully two hundred thousand dollars.  Something like sixty thousand dollars of this was money supplied by Mrs. Clemens, but the vast remaining sum was due to banks, to printers, to binders, and to dealers in various publishing materials.  Somehow it must be paid.  As for their assets, they looked ample enough on paper, but in reality, at a time like this, they were problematical.  In fact, their value was very doubtful indeed.  What he was to do Clemens did not know.  He could not even send cheerful reports to Europe.  There was no longer anything to promise concerning the type-setter.  The fifty machines which the company had started to build had dwindled to ten machines; there was a prospect that the ten would dwindle to one, and that one a reconstruction of the original Hartford product, which had cost so much money and so many weary years.  Clemens spent a good part of his days at The Players, reading or trying to write or seeking to divert his mind in the company of the congenial souls there, waiting for-he knew not what.

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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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