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.

He was so full of hope—­they were going to be happy again.  Long ago he had been in the habit of singing jubilee songs to the children.  He went upstairs now to the piano and played the chorus and sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “My Lord He Calls Me.”  He stopped then, but Jean, who had come in, asked him to go on.  Mrs. Clemens, from her room, heard the music and said to Katy Leary: 

“He is singing a good-night carol to me.”

The music ceased presently.  A moment later she asked to be lifted up.  Almost in that instant life slipped away without a sound.

Clemens, just then coming to say good-night, saw a little group gathered about her bed, and heard Clara ask: 

“Katy, is it true?  Oh, Katy, is it true?”

In his note-book that night he wrote: 

“At a quarter-past nine this evening she that was the life of my life passed to the relief and the peace of death, after twenty-two months of unjust and unearned suffering.  I first saw her thirty-seven years ago, and now I have looked upon her face for the last time....  I was full of remorse for things done and said in these thirty- four years of married life that have hurt Livy’s heart.”

And to Howells a few days later: 

   “To-day, treasured in her worn, old testament, I found a dear and
   gentle letter from you dated Far Rockaway, September 12, 1896, about
   our poor Susy’s death.  I am tired and old; I wish I were with Livy.”

They brought her to America; and from the house, and the rooms, where she had been made a bride bore her to a grave beside Susy and little Langdon.

LVIII.

MARK TWAIN AT SEVENTY

In a small cottage belonging to Richard Watson Gilder, at Tyringham, Massachusetts, Samuel Clemens and his daughters tried to plan for the future.  Mrs. Clemens had always been the directing force—­they were lost without her.  They finally took a house in New York City, No. 21 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of Ninth Street, installed the familiar furnishings, and tried once more to establish a home.  The house was handsome within and without—­a proper residence for a venerable author and sage—­a suitable setting for Mark Twain.  But it was lonely for him.

It lacked soul—­comfort that would reach the heart.  He added presently a great Aeolian orchestrelle, with a variety of music for his different moods.  Sometimes he played it himself, though oftener his secretary played to him.  He went out little that winter—­seeing only a few old and intimate friends.  His writing, such as it was, was of a serious nature, protests against oppression and injustice in a variety of forms.  Once he wrote a “War Prayer,” supposed to have been made by a mysterious, white-robed stranger who enters a church during those ceremonies that precede the marching of the nation’s armies to battle.  The minister had prayed for victory, a prayer which the stranger interprets as a petition that the enemy’s country be laid waste, its soldiers be torn by shells, its people turned out roofless, to wander through their desolated land in rags and hunger.  It was a scathing arraignment of war, a prophecy, indeed, which to-day has been literally fulfilled.  He did not print it, because then it would have been regarded as sacrilege.

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