This is a great date in my history. Yesterday we were paupers with but 3 months’ rations of cash left and $160,000 in debt, my wife & I, but this telegram makes us wealthy.
But it was not until a fortnight later that Paige did actually sign. This was on the 1st of February, ’94, and Clemens that night cabled to Paris, so that Mrs. Clemens would have it on her breakfast-plate the morning of their anniversary:
“Wedding news. Our ship is safe in port. I sail the moment Rogers can spare me.”
So this painted bubble, this thing of emptiness, had become as substance again—the grand hope. He was as concerned with it as if it had been an actual gold-mine with ore and bullion piled in heaps—that shadow, that farce, that nightmare. One longs to go back through the years and face him to the light and arouse him to the vast sham of it all.
SOME LITERARY MATTERS
Clemens might have lectured that winter with profit, and Major Pond did his best to persuade him; but Rogers agreed that his presence in New York was likely to be too important to warrant any schedule of absence. He went once to Boston to lecture for charity, though his pleasure in the experience was a sufficient reward. On the evening before the lecture Mrs. James T. Fields had him to her house to dine with Dr. Holmes, then not far from the end of his long, beautiful life.—[He died that same year, October, 1894.]
Clemens wrote to Paris of their evening together:
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes never goes out (he is in his 84th year), but he came out this time—said he wanted to “have a time” once more with me.
Mrs. Fields said Aldrich begged to come, & went away crying because she wouldn’t let him. She allowed only her family (Sarah Orne Jewett & sister) to be present, because much company would overtax Dr. Holmes.
Well, he was just delightful! He did as brilliant and beautiful talking (& listening) as he ever did in his life, I guess. Fields and Jewett said he hadn’t been in such splendid form for years. He had ordered his carriage for 9. The coachman sent in for him at 9, but he said, “Oh, nonsense!—leave glories & grandeurs like these? Tell him to go away & come in an hour!”
At 10 he was called for again, & Mrs. Fields, getting uneasy, rose, but he wouldn’t go—& so we rattled ahead the same as ever. Twice more Mrs. Fields rose, but he wouldn’t go—& he didn’t go till half past 10—an unwarrantable dissipation for him in these days. He was prodigiously complimentary about some of my books, & is having Pudd’nhead read to him. I told him you & I used the Autocrat as a courting book & marked it all through, & that you keep it in the sacred green box with the loveletters, & it pleased him.
One other address Clemens delivered that winter, at Fair Haven, on the opening of the Millicent Library, a present to the town from Mrs. Rogers. Mrs. Rogers had suggested to her husband that perhaps Mr. Clemens would be willing to say a few words there. Mr. Rogers had replied, “Oh, Clemens is in trouble. I don’t like to ask him,” but a day or two later told him of Mrs. Rogers’s wish, adding: