While the matter is in my mind I will remark that if you ever send me another letter which is not paged at the top I will write you with my own hand, so that I may use with utter freedom & without embarrassment the kind of words which alone can describe such a criminal, to wit, — — — -; you will have to put into words those dashes because propriety will not allow me to do it myself in my secretary’s hearing. You are forgiven, but don’t let it occur again.
He had still made no mention of his illness; but on the 25th of March he wrote something of his plans for coming home. He had engaged passage on the Bermudian for April 23d, he said; and he added:
But don’t tell anybody. I don’t want it known. I may have to go sooner if the pain in my breast does not mend its ways pretty considerable. I don’t want to die here, for this is an unkind place for a person in that condition. I should have to lie in the undertaker’s cellar until the ship would remove me & it is dark down there & unpleasant.
The Colliers will meet me on the pier, & I may stay with them a week or two before going home. It all depends on the breast pain. I don’t want to die there. I am growing more and more particular about the place.
But in the same letter he spoke of plans for the summer, suggesting that we must look into the magic-lantern possibilities, so that library entertainments could be given at Stormfield. I confess that this letter, in spite of its light tone, made me uneasy, and I was tempted to sail for Bermuda to bring him home. Three days later he wrote again:
I have been having a most uncomfortable time for the past four days with that breast pain, which turns out to be an affection of the heart, just as I originally suspected. The news from New York is to the effect that non-bronchial weather has arrived there at last; therefore, if I can get my breast trouble in traveling condition I may sail for home a week or two earlier than has been proposed.
The same mail that brought this brought a letter from Mr. Allen, who frankly stated that matters had become very serious indeed. Mr. Clemens had had some dangerous attacks, and the physicians considered his condition critical.
These letters arrived April 1st. I went to New York at once and sailed next morning. Before sailing I consulted with Dr. Quintard, who provided me with some opiates and instructed me in the use of the hypodermic needle. He also joined me in a cablegram to the Gabrilowitsches, then in Italy, advising them to sail without delay.
THE VOYAGE HOME
I sent no word to Bermuda that I was coming, and when on the second morning I arrived at Hamilton, I stepped quickly ashore from the tender and hurried to Bay House. The doors were all open, as they usually are in that summer island, and no one was visible. I was familiar with the place, and, without knocking, I went through to the room occupied by Mark Twain. As I entered I saw that he was alone, sitting in a large chair, clad in the familiar dressing-gown.