bird. But it disturbed a great many admirers, and numerous letters of inquiry came wanting to know what it was all about. Some suspected the joke and taunted him with it; one such correspondent wrote:
MY DEAR MARK TWAIN,—Reading your “Double-Barrelled Detective Story” in the January Harper’s late one night I came to the paragraph where you so beautifully describe “a crisp and spicy morning in early October.” I read along down the paragraph, conscious only of its woozy sound, until I brought up with a start against your oesophagus in the empty sky. Then I read the paragraph again. Oh, Mark Twain! Mark Twain! How could you do it? Put a trap like that into the midst of a tragical story? Do serenity and peace brood over you after you have done such a thing?
Who lit the lilacs, and which end up do they hang? When did larches begin to flame, and who set out the pomegranates in that canyon? What are deciduous flowers, and do they always “bloom in the fall, tra la”?
I have been making myself obnoxious to various people by demanding their opinion of that paragraph without telling them the name of the author. They say, “Very well done.” “The alliteration is so pretty.” “What’s an oesophagus, a bird?” “What’s it all mean, anyway?” I tell them it means Mark Twain, and that an oesophagus is a kind of swallow. Am I right? Or is it a gull? Or a gullet?
Hereafter if you must write such things won’t you please be so kind as to label them? Very sincerely yours, ALLETTA F. DEAN [MTB 1136-7]. Note: see Jan. 29 for Sam’s response.
January 20 Monday – The Clemenses left Riverdale, N.Y. and traveled by train to Elmira, where they were met with sleighs by Charles J. and Ida Langdon; and then on to Quarry Farm outside of town. There, Sam began a letter to daughter Clara that Livy added to on Jan. 21.
Clara dear, Mrs. Clemens is pretty well fagged out, & is lying on the sofa here in the parlor gossiping with Mrs. S. Crane, & has instructed me to write you & say Jean was bad all day long, & until the middle of dinner this evening. She lay in the stateroom on the train all the journey, & was persistently absent. The day’s anxiety,—not the journey—is what has made your mother so tired; for the day was beautiful & bright, the spread of fields & hills pure white with unmarred snow, the car nearly empty, & delightfully quiet. Jean is very nearly herself, now, & is out talking with the servants. The pallor in her face has been replaced by color. She is out there talking about the dog. She has no commerce with me—I am not yet forgiven about the Dog.
This region is sumptuously clothed in snow, & is very beautiful under the moonlight; the town-lights make as fine a picture as ever. The yard glows with intense sparks, fascinating to the eye & the spirit—facets of snow smitten by the moonbeams. Mrs. Crane & Mrs. Clemens your mother are still gossiping & happy— skimming the Elmirians.
Uncle Charley & Aunt Ida received us at the station with a very heart-warming welcome. We came up the hill in gubernatorial style in fine sleighs [MTP].
January 21 Tuesday – At Quarry Farm, Livy added a line to Sam’s Jan. 20 to daughter Clara, that Jean was better but not well, and that she would write later in the day (not extant) [MTP].
American Publishing Co. sent a statement with this date showing $11,867.25 due to Clemens in royalties [1902 Financials file MTP].
January 22 Wednesday
January 23 Thursday
January 24 Friday
January 25 Saturday – In Elmira, N.Y. Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, directing him to “pay the damned assessment,” and that he would try to remember to put the $150 check in the envelope [MTP].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.