Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,890 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.

This was a large relief to the younger man, and the rest of the journey was happy enough.  True to promise, the guest appeared at daylight correctly, even elegantly clad, and an early trip to the shops secured the hat.  A gay and happy week followed—­a week during which Samuel Clemens realized more fully than ever that in his heart there was room for only one woman in all the world:  Olivia Langdon—­“Livy,” as they all called her—­and as the day of departure drew near it may be that the gentle girl had made some discoveries, too.

No word had passed between them.  Samuel Clemens had the old-fashioned Southern respect for courtship conventions, and for what, in that day at least, was regarded as honor.  On the morning of the final day he said to young Langdon: 

“Charley, my week is up, and I must go home.”

The young man expressed a regret which was genuine enough, though not wholly unqualified.  His older sister, Mrs. Crane, leaving just then for a trip to the White Mountains, had said: 

“Charley, I am sure Mr. Clemens is after our Livy.  You mustn’t let him carry her off before our return.”

The idea was a disturbing one.  The young man did not urge his guest to prolong his-visit.  He said: 

“We’ll have to stand it, I guess, but you mustn’t leave before to-night.”

“I ought to go by the first train,” Clemens said, gloomily.  “I am in love.”

“In what!”

“In love-with your sister, and I ought to get away from here.”

The young man was now very genuinely alarmed.  To him Mark Twain was a highly gifted, fearless, robust man—­a man’s man—­and as such altogether admirable—­lovable.  But Olivia—­Livy—­she was to him little short of a saint.  No man was good enough for her, certainly not this adventurous soldier of letters from the West.  Delightful he was beyond doubt, adorable as a companion, but not a companion for Livy.

“Look here, Clemens,” he said, when he could get his voice.  “There’s a train in half an hour.  I’ll help you catch it.  Don’t wait till to-night.  Go now.”

Clemens shook his head.

“No, Charley,” he said, in his gentle drawl, “I want to enjoy your hospitality a little longer.  I promise to be circumspect, and I’ll go to-night.”

That night, after dinner, when it was time to take the New York train, a light two-seated wagon was at the gate.  The coachman was in front, and young Langdon and his guest took the back seat.  For some reason the seat had not been locked in its place, and when, after the good-bys, the coachman touched the horse it made a quick spring forward, and the back seat, with both passengers, described a half-circle and came down with force on the cobbled street.  Neither passenger was seriously hurt; Clemens not at all—­only dazed a little for a moment.  Then came an inspiration; here was a chance to prolong his visit.  Evidently it was not intended that he should take that train.  When the Langdon household gathered around with restoratives he did not recover too quickly.  He allowed them to support or carry him into the house and place him in an arm-chair and apply remedies.  The young daughter of the house especially showed anxiety and attention.  This was pure happiness.  He was perjuring himself, of course, but they say Jove laughs at such things.

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Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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