Pond came to Elmira and the route westward was arranged. Clemens decided to give selections from his books, as he had done with Cable, and to start without much delay. He dreaded the prospect of setting out on that long journey alone, nor could Mrs. Clemens find it in her heart to consent to such a plan. It was bitterly hard to know what to do, but it was decided at last that she and one of the elder daughters should accompany him, the others remaining with their aunt at Quarry Farm. Susy, who had the choice, dreaded ocean travel, and felt that she would be happier and healthier to rest in the quiet of that peaceful hilltop. She elected to remain with her aunt and jean; and it fell to Clara to go. Major Pond and his wife would accompany them as far as Vancouver. They left Elmira on the night of the 14th of July. When the train pulled away their last glimpse was of Susy, standing with the others under the electric light of the railway platform, waving them good-by.
Clemens had been ill in Elmira with a distressing carbuncle, and was still in no condition to undertake steady travel and entertainment in that fierce summer heat. He was fearful of failure. “I sha’n’t be able to stand on a platform,” he wrote Mr. Rogers; but they pushed along steadily with few delays. They began in Cleveland, thence by the Great Lakes, traveling by steamer from one point to another, going constantly, with readings at every important point—Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Winnipeg, Butte, and through the great Northwest, arriving at Vancouver at last on August 16th, but one day behind schedule time.
It had been a hot, blistering journey, but of immense interest, for none of them had traveled through the Northwest, and the wonder and grandeur of it all, its scenery, its bigness, its mighty agriculture, impressed them. Clemens in his notes refers more than once to the “seas” and “ocean” of wheat.
There is the peace of the ocean about it and a deep contentment, a heaven-wide sense of ampleness, spaciousness, where pettiness and all small thoughts and tempers must be out of place, not suited to it, and so not intruding. The scattering, far-off homesteads, with trees about them, were so homelike and remote from the warring world, so reposeful and enticing. The most distant and faintest under the horizon suggested fading ships at sea.
The Lake travel impressed him; the beauties and cleanliness of the Lake steamers, which he compares with those of Europe, to the disadvantage of the latter. Entering Port Huron he wrote: