Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,512 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.
horned bull-pate helmet of Alaric’s warriors; or stood at the prow of one of the swift craft of the Vikings.  His eyes, which have been variously described, were, it seemed to me, of an indescribable depth of the bluish moss-agate, with a capacity of pupil dilation that in certain lights had the effect of a deep black....

Mr. Mills adds that in dress he was now “well groomed,” and that consequently they were obliged to revise their notions as to the careless negligee which gossip had reported.—­[From unpublished Reminiscences kindly lent to the author by Mr. Mills]

LXXIII

THE FIRST MEETING WITH HOWELLS

Clemens’ first period of editorial work was a brief one, though he made frequent contributions to the paper:  sketches, squibs, travel-notes, and experiences, usually humorous in character.  His wedding-day had been set for early in the year, and it was necessary to accumulate a bank account for that occasion.  Before October he was out on the lecture circuit, billed now for the first time for New England, nervous and apprehensive in consequence, though with good hope.  To Pamela he wrote (November 9th): 

To-morrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience —­4,000 critics—­and on the success of this matter depends my future success in New England.  But I am not distressed.  Nasby is in the same boat.  Tonight decides the fate of his brand-new lecture.  He has just left my room—­been reading his lecture to me—­was greatly depressed.  I have convinced him that he has little to fear.

Whatever alarm Mark Twain may have felt was not warranted.  His success with the New England public was immediate and complete.  He made his headquarters in Boston, at Redpath’s office, where there was pretty sure to be a congenial company, of which he was presently the center.

It was during one of these Boston sojourns that he first met William Dean Howells, his future friend and literary counselor.  Howells was assistant editor of the Atlantic at this time; James T. Fields, its editor.  Clemens had been gratified by the Atlantic review, and had called to express his thanks for it.  He sat talking to Fields, when Howells entered the editorial rooms, and on being presented to the author of the review, delivered his appreciation in the form of a story, sufficiently appropriate, but not qualified for the larger types.—­[He said:  “When I read that review of yours, I felt like the woman who was so glad her baby had come white.”]

His manner, his humor, his quaint colloquial forms all delighted Howells —­more, in fact, than the opulent sealskin overcoat which he affected at this period—­a garment astonishing rather than esthetic, as Mark Twain’s clothes in those days of his first regeneration were likely to be startling enough, we may believe; in the conservative atmosphere of the Atlantic rooms.  And Howells—­gentle,

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