Still there were compensations; inadequate, of course, but pleasant enough to remember. It was Sunday evening and the party adjourned to Plymouth Church. After services Mr. Beecher invited him to return home with him for a quiet talk. Evidently they had a good time, for in the letter telling of these things Samuel Clemens said: “Henry Ward Beecher is a brick.”
A contract with Elisha Bliss, Jr.
He returned to Washington without seeing Miss Langdon again, though he would seem to have had permission to write—friendly letters. A little later (it was on the evening of January 9th) he lectured in Washington —on very brief notice indeed. The arrangement for his appearance had been made by a friend during his absence—“a friend,” Clemens declared afterward, “not entirely sober at the time.” To his mother he wrote:
I scared up a doorkeeper and was ready at the proper time, and by pure good luck a tolerably good house assembled and I was saved. I hardly knew what I was going to talk about, but it went off in splendid style.
The title of the lecture delivered was “The Frozen Truth”—“more truth in the title than in the lecture,” according to his own statement. What it dealt with is not remembered now. It had to do with the Quaker City trip, perhaps, and it seems to have brought a financial return which was welcome enough. Subsequently he delivered it elsewhere; though just how far the tour extended cannot be learned from the letters, and he had but little memory of it in later years.
There was some further correspondence with Bliss, then about the 21st of January (1868) Clemens made a trip to Hartford to settle the matter. Bliss had been particularly anxious to meet him, personally and was a trifle disappointed with his appearance. Mark Twain’s traveling costume was neither new nor neat, and he was smoking steadily a pipe of power. His general make-up was hardly impressive.
Bliss’s disturbance was momentary. Once he began to talk the rest did not matter. He was the author of those letters, and Bliss decided that personally he was even greater than they. The publisher, confined to his home with illness, offered him the hospitality of his household. Also, he made him two propositions: he would pay him ten thousand dollars cash for his copyright, or he would pay five per cent. royalty, which was a fourth more than Richardson had received. He advised the latter arrangement.