“I am not fond of all poetry,” he would say; “but there’s something in Kipling that appeals to me. I guess he’s just about my level.”
Miss Wallace recalls certain Kipling readings in his room, when his friends gathered to listen.
On those Kipling evenings the ‘mise-en-scene’ was a striking one. The bare hotel room, the pine woodwork and pine furniture, loose windows which rattled in the sea-wind. Once in a while a gust of asthmatic music from the spiritless orchestra downstairs came up the hallway. Yellow, unprotected gas-lights burned uncertainly, and Mark Twain in the midst of this lay on his bed (there was no couch) still in his white serge suit, with the light from the jet shining down on the crown of his silver hair, making it gleam and glisten like frosted threads.
In one hand he held his book, in the other he had his pipe, which he used principally to gesture with in the most dramatic passages.
Margaret’s small successors became the earliest members of the Angel Fish Club, which Clemens concluded to organize after a visit to the spectacular Bermuda aquarium. The pretty angel-fish suggested youth and feminine beauty to him, and his adopted granddaughters became angel-fish to him from that time forward. He bought little enamel angel-fish pins, and carried a number of them with him most of the time, so that he could create membership on short notice. It was just another of the harmless and happy diversions of his gentler side. He was always fond of youth and freshness. He regarded the decrepitude of old age as an unnecessary part of life. Often he said:
“If I had been helping the Almighty when, He created man, I would have had Him begin at the other end, and start human beings with old age. How much better it would have been to start old and have all the bitterness and blindness of age in the beginning! One would not mind then if he were looking forward to a joyful youth. Think of the joyous prospect of growing young instead of old! Think of looking forward to eighteen instead of eighty! Yes, the Almighty made a poor job of it. I wish He had invited my assistance.”
To one of the angel fish he wrote, just after his return:
I miss you, dear. I miss Bermuda, too, but not so much as I miss you; for you were rare, and occasional and select, and Ltd.; whereas Bermuda’s charms and, graciousnesses were free and common and unrestricted—like the rain, you know, which falls upon the just and the unjust alike; a thing which would not happen if I were superintending the rain’s affairs. No, I would rain softly and sweetly upon the just, but whenever I caught a sample of the unjust outdoors I would drown him.
VIEWS AND ADDRESSES