The new stories of Tom and Huck have never been as popular as the earlier adventures of this pair of heroes. The shorter stories are less important and perhaps less alive, but they are certainly very readable tales, and nobody but Mark Twain could have written them.
Clemens began some new stories when his travel book was out of the way, but presently with the family was on the way to Switzerland for the summer. They lived at Weggis, on Lake Lucerne, in the Villa Buhlegg—a very modest five-franc-a-day pension, for they were economizing and putting away money for the debts. Mark Twain was not in a mood for work, and, besides, proofs of the new book “Following the Equator,” as it is now called—were coming steadily. But on the anniversary of Susy’s death (August 18th) he wrote a poem, “In Memoriam,” in which he touched a literary height never before attained. It was published in “Harper’s Magazine,” and now appears in his collected works.
Across from Villa Buhlegg on the lake-front there was a small shaded inclosure where he loved to sit and look out on the blue water and lofty mountains, one of which, Rigi, he and Twichell had climbed nineteen years before. The little retreat is still there, and to-day one of the trees bears a tablet (in German), “Mark Twain’s Rest.”
Autumn found the family in Vienna, located for the winter at the Hotel Metropole. Mrs. Clemens realized that her daughters must no longer be deprived of social and artistic advantages. For herself, she longed only for retirement.
Vienna is always a gay city, a center of art and culture and splendid social functions. From the moment of his arrival, Mark Twain and his family were in the midst of affairs. Their room at the Metropole became an assembling-place for distinguished members of the several circles that go to make up the dazzling Viennese life. Mrs. Clemens, to her sister in America, once wrote:
“Such funny combinations are
here sometimes: one duke, several
counts, several writers, several barons, two princes, newspaper
Mark Twain found himself the literary lion of the Austrian capital. Every club entertained him and roared with delight at his German speeches. Wherever he appeared on the streets he was recognized.
“Let him pass! Don’t you see it is Herr Mark Twain!” commanded an officer to a guard who, in the midst of a great assemblage, had presumed to bar the way.
MARK TWAIN PAYS HIS DEBTS
Mark Twain wrote much and well during this period, in spite of his social life. His article “Concerning the Jews” was written that first winter in Vienna—a fine piece of special pleading; also the greatest of his short stories—one of the greatest of all short stories—“The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg.”
But there were good reasons why he should write better now; his mind was free of a mighty load—he had paid his debts!