He sailed July 6th by the Pacific mail steamer Montana to Acapulco, caught the Henry Chauncey at Aspinwall, reached New York on the 28th, and a day or two later had delivered his manuscript at Hartford.
But a further difficulty had arisen. Bliss was having troubles himself, this time, with his directors. Many reports of Mark Twain’s new book had been traveling the rounds of the press, some of which declared it was to be irreverent, even blasphemous, in tone. The title selected, The New Pilgrim’s Progress, was in itself a sacrilege. Hartford was a conservative place; the American Publishing Company directors were of orthodox persuasion. They urged Bliss to relieve the company of this impending disaster of heresy. When the author arrived one or more of them labored with him in person, without avail. As for Bliss, he was stanch; he believed in the book thoroughly, from every standpoint. He declared if the company refused to print it he would resign the management and publish the book himself. This was an alarming suggestion to the stockholders. Bliss had returned dividends—a boon altogether too rare in the company’s former history. The objectors retired and were heard of no more. The manuscript was placed in the hands of Fay and Cox, illustrators, with an order for about two hundred and fifty pictures.
Fay and Cox turned it over to True Williams, one of the well-known illustrators of that day. Williams was a man of great talent—of fine imagination and sweetness of spirit—but it was necessary to lock him in a room when industry was required, with nothing more exciting than cold water as a beverage. Clemens himself aided in the illustrating by obtaining of Moses S. Beach photographs from the large collection he had brought home.
A VISIT TO ELMIRA
Meantime he had skilfully obtained a renewal of the invitation to spend a week in the Langdon home.
He meant to go by a fast train, but, with his natural gift for misunderstanding time-tables, of course took a slow one, telegraphing his approach from different stations along the road. Young Langdon concluded to go down the line as far as Waverly to meet him. When the New York train reached there the young man found his guest in the smoking-car, travel-stained and distressingly clad. Mark Twain was always scrupulously neat and correct of dress in later years, but in that earlier day neatness and style had not become habitual and did not give him comfort. Langdon greeted him warmly but with doubt. Finally he summoned courage to say, hesitatingly—“You’ve got some other clothes, haven’t you?”
The arriving guest was not in the least disturbed.
“Oh yes,” he said with enthusiasm, “I’ve got a fine brand-new outfit in this bag, all but a hat. It will be late when we get in, and I won’t see any one to-night. You won’t know me in the morning. We’ll go out early and get a hat.”