“Thirty years ago there was the Cambridge group. Now there’s been still another, which included Aldrich and Howells and Stedman and Cable. It will soon be gone. I suppose they will have to name it by and by.”
He pointed out houses here and there of people he had known and visited in other days. The driver was very anxious to go farther, to other and more distinguished sights. Clemens mildly but firmly refused any variation of the program, and so we kept on driving around and around the shaded loop of Beacon Street until dusk fell and the lights began to twinkle among the trees.
DEATH OF “SAM” MOFFETT
Clemens’ next absence from Redding came on August 1, 1908, when the sudden and shocking news was received of the drowning of his nephew, Samuel E. Moffett, in the surf of the Jersey shore. Moffett was his nearest male relative, and a man of fine intellect and talents. He was superior in those qualities which men love—he was large-minded and large-hearted, and of noble ideals. With much of the same sense of humor which had made his uncle’s fame, he had what was really an abnormal faculty of acquiring and retaining encyclopedic data. Once as a child he had visited Hartford when Clemens was laboring over his history game. The boy was much interested, and asked permission to help. His uncle willingly consented, and referred him to the library for his facts. But he did not need to consult the books; he already had English history stored away, and knew where to find every detail of it. At the time of his death Moffett held an important editorial position on Collier’s Weekly.
Clemens was fond and proud of his nephew. Returning from the funeral, he was much depressed, and a day or two later became really ill. He was in bed for a few days, resting, he said, after the intense heat of the journey. Then he was about again and proposed billiards as a diversion. We were all alone one very still, warm August afternoon playing, when he suddenly said:
“I feel a little dizzy; I will sit down a moment.”
I brought him a glass of water and he seemed to recover, but when he rose and started to play I thought he had a dazed look. He said:
“I have lost my memory. I don’t know which is my ball. I don’t know what game we are playing.”
But immediately this condition passed, and we thought little of it, considering it merely a phase of biliousness due to his recent journey. I have been told since, by eminent practitioners, that it was the first indication of a more serious malady.
He became apparently quite himself again and showed his usual vigor-light of step and movement, able to skip up and down stairs as heretofore. In a letter to Mrs. Crane, August 12th, he spoke of recent happenings: