Of course, with this encouragement, Clemens was in the clouds again. Furthermore, Rogers had suggested to his son-in-law, William Evarts Benjamin, also a subscription publisher, that he buy from the Webster company The Library of American Literature for fifty thousand dollars, a sum which provided for the more insistent creditors. There was hope that the worst was over. Clemens did in reality give up walking the floor, and for the time, at least, found happier diversions. He must not return to Europe as yet, for the type-setter matter was still far from conclusion. On the 11th of November he was gorgeously entertained by the Lotos Club in its new building. Introducing him, President Frank Lawrence said:
“What name is there in literature that can be likened to his? Perhaps some of the distinguished gentlemen about this table can tell us, but I know of none. Himself his only parallel, it seems to me. He is all our own—a ripe and perfect product of the American soil.”
“The Belle of new York”
Those were feverish weeks of waiting, with days of alternate depression and exaltation as the pendulum swung to and fro between hope and despair. By daylight Clemens tried to keep himself strenuously busy; evenings and nights he plunged into social activities—dinners, amusements, suppers, balls, and the like. He was besieged with invitations, sought for by the gayest and the greatest; “Jamie” Dodge conferred upon him the appropriate title: of “The Belle of New York.” In his letters home he describes in detail many of the festivities and the wildness with which he has flung himself into them, dilating on his splendid renewal of health, his absolute immunity from fatigue. He attributes this to his indifference to diet and regularities of meals and sleep; but we may guess that it was due to a reaction from having shifted his burden to stronger financial shoulders. Henry Rogers had taken his load upon him.
“It rests me,” Rogers said, “to experiment with the affairs of a friend when I am tired of my own. You enjoy yourself. Let me work at the puzzle a little.”
And Clemens, though his conscience pricked him, obeyed, as was his habit at such times. To Mrs. Clemens (in Paris now, at the Hotel Brighton) he wrote:
He is not common clay, but fine-fine & delicate. I did hate to burden his good heart & overworked head, but he took hold with avidity & said it was no burden to work for his friends, but a pleasure. When I arrived in September, Lord! how black the prospect was & how desperate, how incurably desperate! Webster & Co. had to have a small sum of money or go under at once. I flew to Hartford —to my friends—but they were not moved, not strongly interested, & I was ashamed that I went. It was from Mr. Rogers, a stranger, that I got the money and was by it saved. And then—while still a stranger—he