The Clemens apartments at the Metropole were like a court, where with those of social rank assembled the foremost authors, journalists, diplomats, painters, philosophers, scientists, of Europe, and therefore of the world. A sister of the Emperor of Germany lived at the Metropole that winter and was especially cordial. Mark Twain’s daily movements were chronicled as if he had been some visiting potentate, and, as usual, invitations and various special permissions poured in. A Vienna paper announced:
He has been feted and dined from morn till eve. The homes of the aristocracy are thrown open to him, counts and princes delight to do him honor, and foreign audiences hang upon the words that fall from his lips, ready to burst out any instant into roars of laughter.
Deaths never came singly in the Clemens family. It was on the 11th of December, 1897, something more than a year after the death of Susy, that Orion Clemens died, at the age of seventy-two. Orion had remained the same to the end, sensitively concerned as to all his brother’s doings, his fortunes and misfortunes: soaring into the clouds when any good news came; indignant, eager to lend help and advice in the hour of defeat; loyal, upright, and generally beloved by those who knew and understood his gentle nature. He had not been ill, and, in fact, only a few days before he died had written a fine congratulatory letter on his brother’s success in accumulating means for the payment of his debts, entering enthusiastically into some literary plans which Mark Twain then had in prospect, offering himself for caricature if needed.
I would fit in as a fool character, believing, what the Tennessee mountaineers predicted, that I would grow up to be a great man and go to Congress. I did not think it worth the trouble to be a common great man like Andy Johnson. I wouldn’t give a pinch of snuff, little as I needed it, to be anybody, less than Napoleon. So when a farmer took my father’s offer for some chickens under advisement till the next day I said to myself, “Would Napoleon Bonaparte have taken under advisement till the next day an offer to sell him some chickens?”
To his last day and hour Orion was the dreamer, always with a new plan. It was one morning early that he died. He had seated himself at a table with pencil and paper and was setting down the details of his latest project when death came to him, kindly enough, in the moment of new hope.
There came also, just then, news of the death of their old Hartford butler, George. It saddened them as if it had been a member of the household. Jean, especially, wept bitterly.
MARK TWAIN PAYS HIS DEBTS
’Following the Equator’—[In England, More Tramps Abroad.]—had come from the press in November and had been well received. It was a large, elaborate subscription volume, more elaborate than artistic in appearance. Clemens, wishing to make some acknowledgment to his benefactor, tactfully dedicated it to young Harry Rogers: