He looked so strong, and full of color and vitality. One could not believe that his words held a prophecy. Yet the pains recurred with increasing frequency and severity; his malady, angina pectoris, was making progress. And how bravely he bore it all! He never complained, never bewailed. I have seen the fierce attack crumple him when we were at billiards, but he would insist on playing in his turn, bowed, his face white, his hand digging at his breast.
THE DEATH OF JEAN
Clara Clemens was married that autumn to Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the Russian pianist, and presently sailed for Europe, where they would make their home. Jean Clemens was now head of the house, and what with her various duties and poor health, her burden was too heavy. She had a passion for animal life of every kind, and in some farm-buildings at one corner of the estate had set up quite an establishment of chickens and domestic animals. She was fond of giving these her personal attention, and this, with her house direction and secretarial work, gave her little time for rest. I tried to relieve her of a share of the secretarial work, but she was ambitious and faithful. Still, her condition did not seem critical.
I stayed at Stormfield, now, most of the time—nights as well as days —for the dull weather had come and Mark Twain found the house rather lonely. In November he had an impulse to go to Bermuda, and we spent a month in the warm light of that summer island, returning a week before the Christmas holidays. And just then came Mark Twain’s last great tragedy—the death of his daughter Jean.
The holidays had added heavily to Jean’s labors. Out of her generous heart she had planned gifts for everybody—had hurried to and from the city for her purchases, and in the loggia set up a beautiful Christmas tree. Meantime she had contracted a heavy cold. Her trouble was epilepsy, and all this was bad for her. On the morning of December 24, she died, suddenly, from the shock of a cold bath.
Below, in the loggia, drenched with tinsel, stood the tree, and heaped about it the packages of gifts which that day she had meant to open and put in place. Nobody had been overlooked.
Jean was taken to Elmira for burial. Her father, unable to make the winter journey, remained behind. Her cousin, Jervis Langdon, came for her.
It was six in the evening when she went away. A soft, heavy snow was falling, and the gloom of the short day was closing in. There was not the least noise, the whole world was muffled. The lanterns shone out the open door, and at an upper window, the light gleaming on his white hair, her father watched her going away from him for the last time. Later he wrote: