She had her bad days and her good days, days when it was believed she had passed the turning-point and was traveling the way to recovery; but the good days were always a little less hopeful, the bad days a little more discouraging. On February 22d Clemens wrote in his note-book:
At midnight Livy’s pulse went to 192 & there was a collapse. Great alarm. Subcutaneous injection of brandy saved her.
And to MacAlister toward the end of March:
We are having quite perfect weather now & are hoping that it will bring effects for Mrs. Clemens.
But a few days later he added that he was watching the driving rain through the windows, and that it was bad weather for the invalid. “But it will not last,” he said.
The invalid improved then, and there was a concert in Florence at which Clara Clemens sang. Clemens in his note-book says:
April 8. Clara’s
concert was a triumph. Livy woke up & sent for
her to tell her all about it, near midnight.
But a day or two later she was worse again—then better. The hearts in that household were as pendulums, swinging always between hope and despair.
One familiar with the Clemens history might well have been filled with forebodings. Already in January a member of the family, Mollie Clemens, Orion’s wife, died, news which was kept from Mrs. Clemens, as was the death of Aldrich’s son, and that of Sir Henry M. Stanley, both of which occurred that spring.
Indeed, death harvested freely that year among the Clemens friendships. Clemens wrote Twichell:
Yours has just this moment arrived-just as I was finishing a note to poor Lady Stanley. I believe the last country-house visit we paid in England was to Stanley’s. Lord! how my friends & acquaintances fall about me now in my gray-headed days! Vereshchagin, Mommsen, Dvorak, Lenbach, & Jokai, all so recently, & now Stanley. I have known Stanley 37 years. Goodness, who is there I haven’t known?
THE CLOSE OF A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
In one of his notes near the end of April Clemens writes that once more, as at Riverdale, he has been excluded from Mrs. Clemens’s room except for the briefest moment at a time. But on May 12th, to R. W. Gilder, he reported:
For two days now we have not been anxious about Mrs. Clemens (unberufen). After 20 months of bedridden solitude & bodily misery she all of a sudden ceases to be a pallid, shrunken shadow, & looks bright & young & pretty. She remains what she always was, the most wonderful creature of fortitude, patience, endurance, and recuperative power that ever was. But ah, dear! it won’t last; this fiendish malady will play new treacheries upon her, and I shall go back to my prayers again—unutterable from any pulpit!
May 13, A.M. I have just
paid one of my pair of permitted 2-minute
visits per day to the sick-room. And found what I have learned to