Colonel Johnston, to whom the sum was important, tried to thank him, but Clemens only said:
“Never mind, Colonel; it only gives me pleasure to do you that little favor. You can pass it along some day.”
As a matter of fact, Mark Twain himself was beginning to be hard pressed for funds at this time, but was strong in the faith that he would presently be a multi-millionaire. The typesetting machine was still costing a vast sum, but each week its inventor promised that a few more weeks or months would see it finished, and then a tide of wealth would come rolling in. Mark Twain felt that a man with ship-loads of money almost in port could not properly entertain the public for pay. He read for institutions, schools, benefits, and the like, without charge.
Kipling at Elmira. Elsie Leslie. The “Yankee”
One day during the summer of 1889 a notable meeting took place in Elmira. On a blazing forenoon a rather small and very hot young man, in a slow, sizzling hack made his way up East Hill to Quarry Faun. He inquired for Mark Twain, only to be told that he was at the Langdon home, down in the town which the young man had just left. So he sat for a little time on the pleasant veranda, and Mrs. Crane and Susy Clemens, who were there, brought him some cool milk and listened to him talk in a way which seemed to them very entertaining and wonderful. When he went away he left his card with a name on it strange to them—strange to the world at that time. The name was Rudyard Kipling. Also on the card was the address Allahabad, and Sissy kept it, because, to her, India was fairyland.
Kipling went down into Elmira and found Mark Twain. In his book “American Notes” he has left an account of that visit. He claimed that he had traveled around the world to see Mark Twain, and his article begins:
“You are a contemptible lot over yonder. Some of you are commissioners, and some are lieutenant-governors, and some have the V. C., and a few are privileged to walk about the Mall arm in arm with the viceroy; but I have seen Mark Twain this golden morning, have shaken his hand, and smoked a cigar—no, two cigars—with him, and talked with him for more than two hours!”
But one should read the article entire—it is so worth while. Clemens also, long after, dictated an account of the meeting.
Kipling came down and spent a couple of hours with me, and at the end of that time I had surprised him as much as he had surprised me—and the honors were easy. I believed that he knew more than any person I had met before, and I knew that he knew that I knew less than any person he had met before. . . When he had gone, Mrs. Langdon wanted to know about my visitor. I said:
“He is a stranger to me, but he is a most remarkable man—and I am the other one. Between us we cover all knowledge. He knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.”