“We never killed a single soul,” Howells said once to the writer of this memoir.
Clemens was always urging Howells to visit him after that. He offered all sorts of inducements.
You will find us the most reasonable people in the world. We had thought of precipitating upon you, George Warner and his wife one day, Twichell and his jewel of a wife another day, and Charles Perkins and wife another. Only those—simply members of our family they are. But I’ll close the door against them all, which will “fix” all of the lot except Twichell, who will no more hesitate to climb in the back window than nothing.
And you shall go to bed when
you please, get up when you please,
talk when you please, read when you please.
A little later he was urging Howells or Aldrich, or both of them; to come to Hartford to live.
Mr. Hall, who lives in the house next to Mrs. Stowe’s (just where we drive in to go to our new house), will sell for $16,000 or $17,000. You can do your work just as well here as in Cambridge, can’t you? Come! Will one of you boys buy that house? Now, say yes.
Certainly those were golden, blessed days, and perhaps, as Howells says, the sun does not shine on their like any more—not in Hartford, at least, for the old group that made them no longer assembles there. Hartford about this time became a sort of shrine for all literary visitors, and for other notables as well, whether of America or from overseas. It was the half-way place between Boston and New York, and pilgrims going in either direction rested there. It is said that travelers arriving in America, were apt to remember two things they wished to see: Niagara Falls and Mark Twain. But the Falls had no such recent advertising advantage as that spectacular success in London. Visitors were apt to begin in Hartford.
Howells went with considerable frequency after that, or rather with regularity, twice a year, or oftener, and his coming was always hailed with great rejoicing. They visited and ate around at one place and another among that pleasant circle of friends. But they were happiest afterward together, Clemens smoking continually, “soothing his tense nerves with a mild hot Scotch,” says Howells, “while we both talked, and talked, and tasked of everything in the heavens and on the earth, and the waters under the earth. After two days of this talk I would come away hollow, realizing myself best in the image of one of those locust-shells which you find sticking to the bark of trees at the end of summer.” Sometimes Clemens told the story of his early life, “the inexhaustible, the fairy, the Arabian Nights story, which I could never tire of even when it began to be told over again.”
Beginning “Tom Sawyer”