His ship was the Minnetonka, and there were some little folks aboard to be adopted as grandchildren. On July 5th, in a fog, the Minnetonka collided with the bark Sterling, and narrowly escaped sinking her. On the whole, however, the homeward way was clear, and the vessel reached New York nearly a day in advance of their schedule. Some ceremonies of welcome had been prepared for him; but they were upset by the early arrival, so that when he descended the gang-plank to his native soil only a few who had received special information were there to greet him. But perhaps he did not notice it. He seldom took account of the absence of such things. By early afternoon, however, the papers rang with the announcement that Mark Twain was home again.
It is a sorrow to me that I was not at the dock to welcome him. I had been visiting in Elmira, and timed my return for the evening of the a 2d, to be on hand the following morning, when the ship was due. When I saw the announcement that he had already arrived I called a greeting over the telephone, and was told to come down and play billiards. I confess I went with a certain degree of awe, for one could not but be overwhelmed with the echoes of the great splendor he had so recently achieved, and I prepared to sit a good way off in silence, and hear something of the tale of this returning conqueror; but when I arrived he was already in the billiard-room knocking the balls about—his coat off, for it was a hot night. As I entered he said:
“Get your cue. I have been inventing a new game.” And I think there were scarcely ten words exchanged before we were at it. The pageant was over; the curtain was rung down. Business was resumed at the old stand.
MATTERS PSYCHIC AND OTHERWISE
He returned to Tuxedo and took up his dictations, and mingled freely with the social life; but the contrast between his recent London experience and his semi-retirement must have been very great. When I visited him now and then, he seemed to me lonely—not especially for companionship, but rather for the life that lay behind him—the great career which in a sense now had been completed since he had touched its highest point. There was no billiard-table at Tuxedo, and he spoke expectantly of getting back to town and the games there, also of the new home which was then building in Redding, and which would have a billiard-room where we could assemble daily—my own habitation being not far away. Various diversions were planned for Redding; among them was discussed a possible school of philosophy, such as Hawthorne and Emerson and Alcott had established at Concord.
He spoke quite freely of his English experiences, but usually of the more amusing phases. He almost never referred to the honors that had been paid to him, yet he must have thought of them sometimes, and cherished them, for it had been the greatest national tribute ever paid to a private citizen; he must have known that in his heart. He spoke amusingly of his visit to Marie Corelli, in Stratford, and of the Holy Grail incident, ending the latter by questioning—in words at least—all psychic manifestations. I said to him: