Eighth Trip: Friday January 7 to Tuesday April 12, 1910
The Bermudian sailed on Wednesday. After the ship anchored at Hamilton on Friday, January 7, Clemens began the first of ninety-five days on the Islands, his longest stay. He wore a black mourning band on his left arm, and when he wrote Loomis that day from Bay House he used stationery bordered in black. “I have just arrived,” he said, “& am very much pleased with the weather.”
The same day, he wrote to Frederick Duneka of Harper & Brothers to ask for three books. Clemens resumed his pattern of reading and writing in the mornings, then taking carriage rides in the afternoons. Helen Allen’s blurry snapshots sometimes showed him dressed in white—“my dontcareadamnsuit,” he called it—and seated in a rocker on the Bay House lawn, smoking. When he showed Mrs. Allen his chapter on the death of Jean, saying it was the last he would ever write, tears welled in his eyes.
Occasionally he suffered chest pains, she wrote, but a cup of almost boiling water usually relieved him at once, “and two or three more were sure to do so.” In spite of his angina, and the serenity of Bay House (so close to town, but unknown to most Bermudians even today), Clemens continued to make excursions. Mrs. Allen watched over him and took along a thermos of hot water.
No doubt I shall go home one of these days—possibly a month hence, or two months. Time drifts along, here, at about the gait I like. There are no excitements, & I don’t want any. Twice a week we go to hear the garrison band play; twice a week I go to hear the hotel string-bands play, & look on while the multitude dances; a drive once a day, & now & then a sail—these are my activities & they are sufficient. I do not go out to dinner oftener than once a week, & then only to feed with friends. When there’s a stranger I don’t go. There are no newspapers, no telegrams, no mobiles, no trolleys, no trams, no railways, no theatres, no lectures, no riots, no murders, no fires, no burglaries, no offences of any kind, no follies but church, & I don’t go there. I think I could live here always & be contented. The weekly steamer passes by my window Friday mornings, & again next day outward bound—& that’s the only disturbance. You go to heaven if you want to—I’d druther stay here.
We are booked to sail in the Bermudian April 23rd, but don’t tell anybody. I don’t want it known. I may have to go sooner if the pain in my breast doesn’t mend its ways pretty considerably. I don’t want to die here, for this is an unkind place for a person in that condition. I should have to lay in the undertaker’s cellar until the ship would remove me, & it is dark down there & unpleasant. The Colliers will meet me on the pier & I may stay with them a week or two before going home. It all depends on the breast pain. I don’t want to die there. I am growing more & more particular about the place.
When he came to leave the Islands, on Tuesday, April 12, he was too weak to be dressed. Wrapped in his coat and a few rugs, Clemens was carried in a canvas chair to the SS Corona, then taken by the tender to the RMS Oceana. The man who had led such a violently gay and energetic life sailed from the Islands of the Blest for the last time.