“Good-by,” he said, and Dr. Quintard, who was standing near, thought he added: “If we meet”—but the words were very faint. He looked at her for a little while, without speaking, then he sank into a doze, and from it passed into a deeper slumber, and did not heed us any more.
Through that peaceful spring afternoon the life-wave ebbed lower and lower. It was about half past six, and the sun lay just on the horizon when Dr. Quintard noticed that the breathing, which had gradually become more subdued, broke a little. There was no suggestion of any struggle. The noble head turned a little to one side, there was a fluttering sigh, and the breath that had been unceasing through seventy-four tumultuous years had stopped forever.
He had entered into the estate envied so long. In his own words—the words of one of his latest memoranda:
“He had arrived at the dignity of death—the only earthly dignity that is not artificial—the only safe one. The others are traps that can beguile to humiliation.
“Death—the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all—the soiled and the pure—the rich and the poor—the loved and the unloved.”
THE LAST RITES
It is not often that a whole world mourns. Nations have often mourned a hero—and races—but perhaps never before had the entire world really united in tender sorrow for the death of any man.
In one of his aphorisms he wrote: “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” And it was thus that Mark Twain himself had lived.
No man had ever so reached the heart of the world, and one may not even attempt to explain just why. Let us only say that it was because he was so limitlessly human that every other human heart, in whatever sphere or circumstance, responded to his touch. From every remote corner of the globe the cables of condolence swept in; every printed sheet in Christendom was filled with lavish tribute; pulpits forgot his heresies and paid him honor. No king ever died that received so rich a homage as his. To quote or to individualize would be to cheapen this vast offering.
We took him to New York to the Brick Church, and Dr. Henry van Dyke spoke only a few simple words, and Joseph Twichell came from Hartford and delivered brokenly a prayer from a heart wrung with double grief, for Harmony, his wife, was nearing the journey’s end, and a telegram that summoned him to her death-bed came before the services ended.