Vol 3 Section 0619

1901                                                                          563



It Lies in Forty Fathoms of Water Off the Nova Scotian Coast—And Thereby Hangs a Tale of a Vain Attempt to Cure the Humorist of His One Bad Habit

According to the coast survey charts of a certain place off the coast of Nova Scotia there are forty fathoms of water there, and nothing at the bottom but coarse white sand with brownish specks. That isn’t so. Mark Twain’s umbrella with all the contents is at the bottom there. But Mark Twain didn’t know it any more than the coast survey folks. That’s why he has paid $2, the price of a two hours’ cab ride, to advertise for the umbrella in this city. He feels sure that either Mr. H. H. Rogers or the Hon. Tom Reed stole it and hopes by offering a reward to get it back. No questions well be asked.

Mark first missed his umbrella last July when he was a guest of Mr. Rogers aboard the good yacht Kanawha on a cruise down East. What really happened to the umbrella may be shown best by the following entry in the log of the Kanawha which will be produced as documentary evidence for the defence if Mr. Clemens goes too far:

“Kanawha—July 21, 44° 10’ 13” N. 62° 45’ 20” W. winds northerly, light to very fresh. All well on board, except the literary one and he’s doing the best he can. He doesn’t know yet what has become of the umbrella which, with its contents, was dropped overboard this day by the ship’s company in 44’ north, 62” 1’ West, dead reckoning. At the time he was leaning over the lee rail, reckoning that he’d better be dead and wondering what’s the use of a heavy ground swell.

“When the umbrella was seized from Mr. Clemens’s stateroom it contained the articles which he usually carries in it when afloat and ashore, to wit: One individual tooth brush, cake of scented soap, one pair of button gaiters, one bottle of restorer, box of dominoes, schedule of legal cab hire rates, MSS., galluses and much miscellaneous loot. The spare socks were not in the umbrella at that time.

“As a matter of form the umbrella was shotted before it was dropped over the side. Mr. Reed spoke briefly, but his exact words would not be a proper part of this log. He intimated, however, that the action of himself and associates was justified, as it was intended to save Mr. Clemens from his only vice—the thirty-seven cent fire sale carry-all umbrella habit. Remarks of the same character were also made by Mr. H. H. Rogers, Mr. H. H. Rogers, Jr., Mr. Augustus G. Paine and Dr. Clarence C. Rice. All the members of the crew were blindfolded and sent below during the ceremony.”

Mr. Clemens didn’t get away from the lee raid and the ground swell until long after his umbrella had gone overboard and then nobody dared tell him what had happened. But by and by he discovered that something had.

“There was a slight shower that afternoon at four bells,” said Mr. Rogers, last night, “and then Clemens began to look for his umbrella. It was a pitiful scene. At first he thought he had simply mislaid it and he searched the ship from stem to stern. Dr. Rice and Speaker Reed had to use force to prevent him from going aloft to peek into the crow’s nest. Finally he bribed one of the sailors to look there for him and on top of that he posted an offer of a reward in the forecastle.

“After a while he suddenly began to show a melancholy interest n the charts and compass and worked all of one day in figuring and drawing lines. That night, after all the rest of us had turned in, he sat for hours, with his arms clasped on the taffrail, gazing astern.

“’Young man,’ he whispered to one of the watch on deck, ‘am I looking in the exact direction of Manhattan Island?”

“’Aye, sir,’ replied the sailor, after squinting at the north star and backward over Mark’s head. “’Should you say that I was looking to just about Fourteenth street?” “Aye, sir,’ said the sailor; ‘you’ve got the bearing dead right.’

“Then Mark said, more to himself than to the sailor, something about a department store. The sailor told the bo’s ‘n all about it and the bos’n told me.

“’That’s the way it was every night. In the daytime from eight bells to one bell and all the back again, Mark roared about the ship looking, looking for that umbrella. He lost all appetite. Finally, on the advice of Dr. Rice we decided to cut the cruise short, and we came back to New York at top speed. Mr. Clemens was the first man ashore and we heard him telling a cabman to get to Sixth avenue before the store closed.

“He went down east again after that; but he took a train. We heard of him next week on the coast of Maine with Tom Reed roasting missionaries and broiling lobsters.”

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.