’We had a wind-up champagne supper that night, and next day Claude and I packed up and went off to nurse Millet through his last days and keep busybodies out of the house and send daily bulletins to Carl in Paris for publication in the papers of several continents for the information of a waiting world. The sad end came at last, and Carl was there in time to help in the final mournful rites.
’You remember that great funeral, and what a stir it made all over the globe, and how the illustrious of two worlds came to attend it and testify their sorrow. We four—still inseparable—carried the coffin, and would allow none to help. And we were right about that, because it hadn’t anything in it but a wax figure, and any other coffin-bearers would have found fault with the weight. Yes, we same old four, who had lovingly shared privation together in the old hard times now gone for ever, carried the cof—’
’We four—for Millet helped to carry his own coffin. In disguise, you know. Disguised as a relative—distant relative.’
’But true just the same. Well, you remember how the pictures went up. Money? We didn’t know what to do with it. There’s a man in Paris to-day who owns seventy Millet pictures. He paid us two million francs for them. And as for the bushels of sketches and studies which Millet shovelled out during the six weeks that we were on the road, well, it would astonish you to know the figure we sell them at nowadays—that is, when we consent to let one go!’
‘It is a wonderful history, perfectly wonderful!’
‘Yes—it amounts to that.’
‘Whatever became of Millet?’
‘Can you keep a secret?’
’Do you remember the man I called your attention to in the dining room to-day? That was Francois Millet.’
’Scott! Yes. For once they didn’t starve a genius to death and then put into other pockets the rewards he should have had himself. This song-bird was not allowed to pipe out its heart unheard and then be paid with the cold pomp of a big funeral. We looked out for that.’
In those early days I had already published one little thing (’The Jumping Frog’) in an Eastern paper, but I did not consider that that counted. In my view, a person who published things in a mere newspaper could not properly claim recognition as a Literary Person: he must rise away above that; he must appear in a magazine. He would then be a Literary Person; also, he would be famous—right away. These two ambitions were strong upon me. This was in 1866. I prepared my contribution, and then looked around for the best magazine to go up to glory in. I selected the most important one in New York. The contribution was accepted. I signed it ‘mark Twain;’ for that name had some currency on the Pacific coast, and it was my idea to spread it all over the world, now, at this one jump. The article appeared in the December number, and I sat up a month waiting for the January number; for that one would contain the year’s list of contributors, my name would be in it, and I should be famous and could give the banquet I was meditating.