During the walks Clemens rested a good deal. There were the New England hills to climb, and then he found that he tired easily, and that weariness sometimes brought on the pain. As I remember now, I think how bravely he bore it. It must have been a deadly, sickening, numbing pain, for I have seen it crumple him, and his face become colorless while his hand dug at his breast; but he never complained, he never bewailed, and at billiards he would persist in going on and playing in his turn, even while he was bowed with the anguish of the attack.
We had found that a glass of very hot water relieved it, and we kept always a thermos bottle or two filled and ready. At the first hint from him I would pour out a glass and another, and sometimes the relief came quickly; but there were times, and alas! they came oftener, when that deadly gripping did not soon release him. Yet there would come a week or a fortnight when he was apparently perfectly well, and at such times we dismissed the thought of any heart malady, and attributed the whole trouble to acute indigestion, from which he had always suffered more or less.
We were alone together most of the time. He did not appear to care for company that summer. Clara Clemens had a concert tour in prospect, and her father, eager for her success, encouraged her to devote a large part of her time to study. For Jean, who was in love with every form of outdoor and animal life, he had established headquarters in a vacant farm-house on one corner of the estate, where she had collected some stock and poultry, and was over-flowingly happy. Ossip Gabrilowitsch was a guest in the house a good portion of the summer, but had been invalided through severe surgical operations, and for a long time rarely appeared, even at meal-times. So it came about that there could hardly have been a closer daily companionship than was ours during this the last year of Mark Twain’s life. For me, of course, nothing can ever be like it again in this world. One is not likely to associate twice with a being from another star.
In the notes I made of this period I caught a little drift of personality and utterance, and I do not know better how to preserve these things than to give them here as nearly as may be in the sequence and in the forth in which they were set down.
One of the first of these entries occurs in June,
when Clemens was
rereading with great interest and relish Andrew D. White’s Science and
Theology, which he called a lovely book.—[’A History of the Warfare of
Science with Theology in Christendom’.]
June 21. A peaceful afternoon, and we walked farther than usual,
resting at last in the shade of a tree in the lane that leads to
Jean’s farm-house. I picked a dandelion-ball, with some remark
about its being one of the evidences of the intelligent principle in
nature—the seeds winged for a wider distribution.