The Boys' Life of Mark Twain eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Boys' Life of Mark Twain.

   “I am terribly tired of business.  I am by nature and disposition
   unfit for it, and I want to get out of it.  I am standing on a
   volcano.  Get me out of business.”

Tantalizing letters continued to come, holding out hope in the business —­the machine—­in any straw that promised a little support through the financial storm.  Again he wrote Hall: 

“Great Scott, but it’s a long year for you and me!  I never knew the almanac to drag so. . .  I watch for your letters hungrily—­just as I used to watch for the telegram saying the machine was finished —­but when “next week certainly” suddenly swelled into “three weeks sure,” I recognized the old familiar tune I used to hear so much.  W. don’t know what sick-heartedness is, but he is in a fair way to find out.”

They closed Viviani in June and returned to Germany.  By the end of August Clemens could stand no longer the strain of his American affairs, and, leaving the family at some German baths, he once more sailed for New York.

[11] At Mark Twain’s death his various literary effects passed into the hands of his biographer and literary executor, the present writer.

LI.

THE FAILURE OF WEBSTER & CO.  AROUND THE WORLD.  SORROW

In a room at the Players Club—­“a cheap room,” he wrote home, “at $1.50 per day”—­Mark Twain spent the winter, hoping against hope to weather the financial storm.  His fortunes were at a lower ebb than ever before; lower even than during those bleak mining days among the Esmeralda hills.  Then there had been no one but himself, and he was young.  Now, at fifty-eight, he had precious lives dependent upon him, and he was weighed down by debt.  The liabilities of his firm were fully two hundred thousand dollars—­sixty thousand of which were owing to Mrs. Clemens for money advanced—­but the large remaining sum was due to banks, printers, binders, and the manufacturers of paper.  A panic was on the land and there was no business.  What he was to do Clemens did not know.  He spent most of his days in his room, trying to write, and succeeded in finishing several magazine articles.  Outwardly cheerful, he hid the bitterness of his situation.

A few, however, knew the true state of his affairs.  One of these one night introduced him to Henry H. Rogers, the Standard Oil millionaire.

“Mr. Clemens,” said Mr. Rogers, “I was one of your early admirers.  I heard you lecture a long time ago, on the Sandwich Islands.”

They sat down at a table, and Mark Twain told amusing stories.  Rogers was in a perpetual gale of laughter.  They became friends from that evening, and in due time the author had confessed to the financier all his business worries.

“You had better let me look into things a little,” Rogers said, and he advised Clemens to “stop walking the floor.”

It was characteristic of Mark Twain to be willing to unload his affairs upon any one that he thought able to bear the burden.  He became a new man overnight.  With Henry Rogers in charge, life was once more worth while.  He accepted invitations from the Rogers family and from many others, and was presently so gay, so widely sought, and seen in so many places that one of his acquaintances, “Jamie” Dodge, dubbed him the “Belle of New York.”

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The Boys' Life of Mark Twain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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