John B. Briggs wrote from New London, Mo. to Sam. “Dear ‘Mark’:– / I see by the St. Louis Republican where you are to be in Hannibal, Mo., in the course of a few days, and if I am well enough would like to see you…and talk over old boyhood days” [MTP].
May 29 Thursday – Sam arrived in St. Louis around 7:30 a.m. He had planned to meet James Ross Clemens at the Planters House, but James and his cousin Lamotte Cates met him at the station and took him to Planters. (Note: Paine writes Horace Bixby also met him at the station MTB p. 1167).
Livy darling, I slept pretty well the second night on the train, & was up at 6 in the morning well rested; shaved & put on a white shirt; breakfasted in my room & was at the same time interviewed by a St. Louis reporter who had mounted the train after midnight. …
…I stood in the lobby from 8 till noon talking with reporters & hundreds of people; then went to the Pilots’ Rooms with Bixby & talked half an hour with the old stagers—several of whom I knew 45 years ago; then to the Merchants’ Exchange with its President, & made a 5-minute speech.
Then back to the hotel & sat or stood & talked with people (& Bryan Clemens) until 2. 15; then to the station with Jim & Cates, & started for Hannibal. In the train was accosted by a lady who required me to name her. I said I was sure I could do it. But I had the wit to say that if she would tell me her name I would tell her whether I had guessed correctly or not. It was the widow of Mr. Lakenan. I had known her as a child. We talked 3 hours.
Arrived at Hannibal, 5. 30, p.m., I went to the hotel & was in bed in an hour—leaving word that I was not to be disturbed. I read & smoked until 10. 30; then to sleep… [May 31 to Livy; LLMT 337].
Note: The Lakenan widow is given a paragraph in Villagers of 1840-3. She was the daughter of wealthy Russell Moss, the pork-house owner. She wanted to marry George RoBards, but her father forced her to marry a lawyer named Lakenan. She became a recluse after a sleigh accident led to a badly set broken thigh and a lifetime limp. Her first name is not supplied. Also, Sam does not mention meeting Sobieski “Beck” Jolly among the “several”; Paine does, p. 1167. Bryan Mullanphy Clemens (1839-1916), Sam’s first cousin, whose father, James Clemens, Jr. was the successful storekeeper and banker who helped the Hannibal Clemens family out in rough times. Sam often referred genealogical queries to Bryan.
Powers writes that Sam was accompanied from St. Louis to Hannibal by “a young book reviewer from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robertus Love, who “followed the author around the town for parts of four days”; and that they checked into the Windsor Hotel, a block from the station [MT A Life 611-12]. Love wrote a June 6 article for his paper. See date.
A later story in the New York Times, Jun 8, p.28 gives more details for the pilot’s meeting and Sam’s speech at the Merchant’s exchange:
MARK TWAIN AMONG SCENES OF HIS EARLY LIFE
Met at the Station in St. Louis by Captain Horace Bixby,
Whom He Paid as a Boy to “Learn Him the River” — He
Greets Old Pilot Friends — His Career on the Mississippi.
Mark Twain has been revisiting the scenes of his early life. He arrived in St. Louis a few days ago, and was met at the train by Capt. Horace Bixby, who is described in “Life on the Mississippi,” and is prominent among the “river men” of St. Louis, and who, away back in the fifties, endeavored to teach the pilot business to Mark Twain.
“Why, Horace, you are as young as ever,” said Mark Twain as he grasped the hand of his friend. “It’s a curious thing to leave a man thirty-five years old, and come back at the end of twenty-one years and find him still thirty-five.”
The two friends went to the Planters’ Hotel and had a long chat. The news got around St. Louis that Mark Twain was in town, and later in the day, when he descended to the lobby of the hotel, he held a
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.