Clemens remained at Stormfield ten days after Jean was gone. The weather was fiercely cold, the landscape desolate, the house full of tragedy. He kept pretty closely to his room, where he had me bring the heaps of letters, a few of which he answered personally; for the others he prepared a simple card of acknowledgment. He was for the most part in gentle mood during these days, though he would break out now and then, and rage at the hardness of a fate that had laid an unearned burden of illness on Jean and shadowed her life.
They were days not wholly without humor—none of his days could be altogether without that, though it was likely to be of a melancholy sort.
Many of the letters offered orthodox comfort, saying, in effect: “God does not willingly punish us.”
When he had read a number of these he said:
“Well, why does He do it then? We don’t invite it. Why does He give Himself the trouble?”
I suggested that it was a sentiment that probably gave comfort to the writer of it.
“So it does,” he said, “and I am glad of it—glad of anything that gives comfort to anybody.”
He spoke of the larger God—the God of the great unvarying laws, and by and by dropped off to sleep, quite peacefully, and indeed peace came more and more to him each day with the thought that Jean and Susy and their mother could not be troubled any more. To Mrs. Gabrilowitsch he wrote:
Redding, Conn, December 29, 1909.
O, Clara, Clara dear, I am so glad she is out of it & safe—safe!
I am not melancholy; I shall never be melancholy again, I think.
You see, I was in such distress when I came to realize that you were gone far away & no one stood between her & danger but me—& I could die at any moment, & then—oh then what would become of her! For she was wilful, you know, & would not have been governable.
You can’t imagine what a darling she was that last two or three days; & how fine, & good, & sweet, & noble—& joyful, thank Heaven! —& how intellectually brilliant. I had never been acquainted with Jean before. I recognized that.
But I mustn’t try to
write about her—I can’t. I have
poured my heart out with the pen, recording that last day or two.
I will send you that—& you must let no one but Ossip read it.
Good-by. I love you so!
THE RETURN TO BERMUDA
I don’t think he attempted any further writing for print. His mind was busy with ideas, but he was willing to talk, rather than to write, rather even than to play billiards, it seemed, although we had a few quiet games—the last we should ever play together. Evenings he asked for music, preferring the Scotch airs, such as “Bonnie Doon” and “The Campbells are Coming.” I remember that once, after playing the latter for him, he told, with great feeling, how the Highlanders, led by Gen. Colin Campbell, had charged at Lucknow, inspired by that stirring air. When he had retired I usually sat with him, and he drifted into literature, or theology, or science, or history—the story of the universe and man.