Act I. “Inn”. Mark Twain, behind a desk, was he innkeeper. (He knew how inn-keepers should really act, too). Father was the blustering customer, and the two Swedes were supernumeraries.
Act II. “Solvent.” Mark Twain, the learned professor, was lecturing on water, the universal solvent.
Father was the inquisitive student, and the Swedes were again the hoi polloi.
In the third act, “insolvent,” Mark seemed to forget temporarily that Father still owed him $500. At any rate, Mark Twain was the austere president of the bank, and Father was the insolvent client seeking further financial accommodation. Approaching the banker, he carried out Mark Twain’s instructions, saying: “I am sorry, Mr. Smith, that I cannot meet my obligation today and will have to ask you to permit me to renew my note to the bank.”
The banker, glaring at his client, exclaimed: “What, renew it again. Why, man, you haven’t even paid the interest! Renew it again? No sir! Can’t you see, man, you’re insolvent, you’re busted!” Nobody knew better than Mark Twain the cold reception one may have at the hands of bankers [The Gleaner Vol. 1, No. 8,
Mar. 1928 p.17-18]. See May 23 entry—Underhill’s note and Sam’s reply.
Will M. Clemens wrote to Sam asking “the probable date of your homecoming” and for permission to publish a book using three additional manuscripts (he had published Mark Twain, His Life and Work in 1892; Sam had not approved): “The Mark Twain Story Book,” “The Homes and Haunts of Mark Twain,” and a biographical sketch [MTP]. Note: Sam replied June 6.
Mr. Meyers wrote to Sam, the letter not extant but referred to in Sam’s July 1 reply. This may be the lecturer Sam referred to on May 18, Frederic William Myers..
May 23 Wednesday – Sam’s notebook: “Dinner here to the Gilders & Chapins? ? ? / Offered $10,000 a year to edit ‘Judge’—the labor required estimated at ‘one hour’ of my time ‘per week.’ Can’t accept” [NB 43 TS 12].
At dawn, Irving S. Underhill, bothered by the charade played the night before sent a messenger with a letter to Sam about the $500 which he had owed since 1893. Underhill regretted “his inability to pay, but saying that he knew he would shortly be able to do so when he returned to America from this trip, which he was taking for his health” [The Gleaner Vol. 1, No. 8, Mar. 1928 p.18]. Sam then wrote the following letter.
At 30 Wellington Court in London, England Sam wrote to Irving S. Underhill.
It is straight & honorable in you to wish to pay that $500; but even if you owed it (which you do not, ) I would not allow you to pay a penny of it. You have had a harder time of it than I, & a longer acquaintance with the supreme misery of debt. I know that treadmill, & no man must ever tread it for me, now that I know what it is. Drop it out of your mind & memory, & do not let it intrude there again.
Sam also thanked Underhill for the “pleasant time last night” and wished them a pleasant voyage. He also praised an unspecified poem [MTP; Gribben 720]. Note: See Oct. 20, 1893 and earlier entries on this the second $500 that Sam never received for his “Adam’s Diary” sketch that ran in the Niagara book by Underhill.
May 24 Thursday – Sam’s notebook: “Noon—11 Cornhill—general Countess / Hoyos—dinner—the Farm House, Pont street” [NB 43 TS 12].
May 25 Friday – Sam’s notebook: “Henry Yates Thompson dinner—8. 19 Portman Square” [NB 43 TS 12].
May 26 Saturday – Sam’s notebook: “Col. Church 216 Crowell Rd, S.W. Ranelagh Club—dinner—morning dress. / Barns Elms—over Hamersmith bridge.”
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.