Submitted by Scott Holmes on Sat, 12/14/2019 - 15:14

Sunday, February 1, 1885:     


Sam wrote from Chicago, Illinois to Livy, giving her the future reading dates and reviewing the past few days. ...last night we made a great triumph before a great Davenport audience. At 7. 45 I was old & seedy & wretched from traveling all night & getting no sleep; but then I drank a big cup of black coffee & went on the stage as fine as a fiddle; answered an encore; was uproariously encored again, immediately; was encored again, straightway, & went on & made a happy excuse, & did the same after another encore at 9. 45. I guess we sent that multitude home feeling jolly. It was the only big audience that has assembled in that town since 1875. Took the train half an hour after midnight—had then been mainly without sleep for 2 days & nights—so we got a stateroom & I slept the night through. When I am in such trim as I was last night, I would rather be on the platform than anywhere in the world [MTP].

Sam did not forget that “tomorrow is the great day”—their fifteenth wedding anniversary.

Monday, February 2, 1885:  

James B. Pond wrote again from New York to George W. Cable, pleading for time and not to be pushed. Pond had Henry Ward Beecher’s arrangements to make on another tour and summer expenses to make. Meanwhile, Ozias was still holed up in Milwaukee, unable to travel [Cardwell 53]. Sam and Cable gave a reading at the Central Music Hall, Chicago, Illinois. Sam tried a new program (Buck Fanshaw, Agricultural Editor, and the Blue-Jays) and was quite concerned with it, being unable to “deliver it to a dog” without being “full of haltings and stammerings.” From his Feb. 3 to Livy: “ 7. 30 I drank a big cup of strong black coffee, & at 8. 20 went on the platform before a big house & put the Agricultural editor through spiritedly & without a flaw.” More coffee made the Blue-jays piece a “rattling success” also. Livy had asked if Sam had yet read The Bostonians, by Henry James:“Yes, I tried to read the Bostonians, but couldn’t. To me it was unspeakably dreary. I dragged along half way through it & gave it up in despair.”

Sam had not yet turned against George W. Cable:“Speaking of Cable, he is no ordinary man, he is a great man; & I believe that if he continues his fight for the negro (& he will,) his greatness will come to be recognized—& it will be a greatness of a kind & size that will overshadow his merits as a novelist & make them small by contrast” [MTP].

See Touring with Cable and Huck for review.

"A large audience again met George W. Cable and Mark Twain at Central Music Hall last night, leaving only a few seats vacant on the outskirts of the hall. Mr. Cable's recitations again received intelligent and smiling consideration, while Mr. Clemens convulsed the house with uncontrollable mirth. His account of the runaway slave's escape from the log cabin under the auspices of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was irresistible. There will be another reading tonight."

Offstage during Sam’s performance, George Cable wrote his wife, Lucy: Mark is telling one of his very best numbers & the old surf-roar is booming. They will encore every number to the end. Ah! what a noble applause calls Mark back, continuing until he has returned entirely back across the broad platform to the footlights. Funny thing just now. I had been out & sung two Creole songs & on retiring the applause died down & Mark in his nervous way stepping out on the platform a little too promptly was met by a patterning encore intended for the singer. It was awkward for him, but he was equal to the emergency. He stood still a moment, then said in the drollest way imaginable — “I’ll go back and get him” — At which there was a roar of laughter & applause in the midst of which he came back to make his word good. Of course I would not go, so he went back and raised another laugh, saying, “He’s sung all he knows” — and went on with “The Jumping Frog,” which is getting a superb reception [Turner, GWC Bio 181].

Sam wrote from Chicago to Livy (see Feb. 2 entry). He also wrote to Susy Clemens, thanking her for the composition she’d sent, and praising it. He told about a very unusual man at the hotel: In this hotel, (the Grand Pacific) there is a colored youth who stands near the great dining room door, and takes the hats off the gentlemen as they pass into dinner & sets them away. The people come in shoals & sometimes he has his arms full of hats and is kept moving in a most lively way. Yet he remembers every hat, & when these people come crowding out, an hour, or an hour & a half later he hands to each gentleman his hat & never makes any mistake. I have watched him to see how he did it but I couldn’t see that he more than merely glanced at his man if he even did that much. I have tried a couple of times to make him believe he was giving me the wrong hat, but it didn’t persuade him in the least. He intimated that I might be in doubt, that that he KNEW. / Goodbye honey / Papa

Sam and Cable telegraphed from Chicago to Ozias W. Pond, Plinkinton House, Milwaukee, Wisc., who was ailing and feared near death. Sam had given Ozias a copy of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and addressed it to “Sir Sagramore le Desirous”—a nickname that stuck: Now wit you well, Sir Sagrarmore, thou good knight and gentle, that there be two that right wonderly do love thee, grieving passing sore and making great dole at thy heavy travail. And we will well that thou prosper at the hand of the leech, and come lightly forth of thy hurts, and be as thou were tofore [MTP].

Railroads:  Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, Chicago and Rock Island, Galena and Chicago Union, Rock Island and Sterling