Well, the realization lay not so far ahead for either of them, though at that moment they both seemed full of life and vigor—full of youth. One could not imagine the day when for them it would all be over.
A LOBBYING EXPEDITION
Clara Clemens came home now and then to see how matters were progressing, and very properly, for Clemens was likely to become involved in social intricacies which required a directing hand. The daughter inherited no little of the father’s characteristics of thought and phrase, and it was always a delight to see them together when one could be just out of range of the crossfire. I remember soon after her return, when she was making some searching inquiries concerning the billiard-room sign, and other suggested or instituted reforms, he said:
“Oh well, never mind, it doesn’t matter. I’m boss in this house.”
She replied, quickly: “Oh no, you’re not. You’re merely owner. I’m the captain—the commander-in-chief.”
One night at dinner she mentioned the possibility of going abroad that year. During several previous summers she had planned to visit Vienna to see her old music-master, Leschetizky, once more before his death. She said:
“Leschetizky is getting so old. If I don’t go soon I’m afraid I sha’n’t be in time for his funeral.”
“Yes,” said her father, thoughtfully, “you keep rushing over to Leschetizky’s funeral, and you’ll miss mine.”
He had made one or two social engagements without careful reflection, and the situation would require some delicacy of adjustment. During a moment between the courses, when he left the table and was taking his exercise in the farther room, she made some remark which suggested a doubt of her father’s gift for social management. I said:
“Oh, well, he is a king, you know, and a king can do no wrong.”
“Yes, I know,” she answered. “The king can do no wrong; but he frightens me almost to death, sometimes, he comes so near it.”
He came back and began to comment rather critically on some recent performance of Roosevelt’s, which had stirred up a good deal of newspaper amusement—it was the Storer matter and those indiscreet letters which Roosevelt had written relative to the ambassadorship which Storer so much desired. Miss Clemens was inclined to defend the President, and spoke with considerable enthusiasm concerning his elements of popularity, which had won him such extraordinary admiration.
“Certainly he is popular,” Clemens admitted, “and with the best of reasons. If the twelve apostles should call at the White House, he would say, ’Come in, come in! I am delighted to see you. I’ve been watching your progress, and I admired it very much.’ Then if Satan should come, he would slap him on the shoulder and say, ’Why, Satan, how do you do? I am so glad to meet you. I’ve read all your works and enjoyed every one of them.’ Anybody could be popular with a gift like that.”