He was in his loveliest humor all that day and evening, and at night when we stopped playing he said:
“I have never had a pleasanter day at this game.”
I answered: “I hope ten years from to-night we shall be playing it.”
“Yes,” he said, “still playing the best game on earth.”
LIVING WITH MARK TWAIN
I accompanied him on a trip he made to Washington in the interest of copyright. Speaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon lent us his private room in the Capitol, and there all one afternoon Mark Twain received Congressmen, and in an atmosphere blue with cigar-smoke preached the gospel of copyright. It was a historic trip, and for me an eventful one, for it was on the way back to New York that Mark Twain suggested that I take up residence in his home. There was a room going to waste, he said, and I would be handier for the early and late billiard sessions. I accepted, of course.
Looking back, now, I see pretty vividly three quite distinct pictures. One of them, the rich, red interior of the billiard-room, with the brilliant green square in the center on which the gay balls are rolling, and bent over it his luminous white figure in the instant of play. Then there is the long lighted drawing-room, with the same figure stretched on a couch in the corner, drowsily smoking while the rich organ tones summon for him scenes and faces which the others do not see. Sometimes he rose, pacing the length of the parlors, but oftener he lay among the cushions, the light flooding his white hair and dress, heightening his brilliant coloring. He had taken up the fashion of wearing white altogether at this time. Black, he said, reminded him of his funerals.
The third picture is that of the dinner-table—always beautifully laid, and always a shrine of wisdom when he was there. He did not always talk, but he often did, and I see him clearest, his face alive with interest, presenting some new angle of thought in his vivid, inimitable speech. These are pictures that will not fade from my memory. How I wish the marvelous things he said were like them! I preserved as much of them as I could, and in time trained myself to recall portions of his exact phrasing. But even so they seemed never quite as he had said them. They lacked the breath of his personality. His dinner-table talk was likely to be political, scientific, philosophic. He often discussed aspects of astronomy, which was a passion with him. I could succeed better with the billiard-room talk—that was likely to be reminiscent, full of anecdotes. I kept a pad on the window-sill, and made notes while he was playing. At one time he told me of his dreams.