With this Mark Twain bade his hearers “good night,” excusing himself for not remaining for the play, but explaining that he had illness at home and was anxious to get back. It had indeed been good of him to come, for that very afternoon his dearly loved wife seemed to be at death’s door.
Loud applause had greeted the recital from beginning to end, for all its points were at once taken up and fully understood by an audience composed almost wholly of Anglo-American residents n Florence.
Since that night I have not seen him again. When I last went out to the villa, he was laid up with a sharp attack of bronchitis, and is still confined to his room. As he will not take proper care of himself, and eschews the usual remedies, I fear that it may be some weeks ere he is about again. To give some idea what sort of a patient he is, it may be mentioned that his doctors told him to smoke more moderately. He is never without a cigar, and a strong one at that.
“How can I smoke too much,” he replied in his pathetic drawl, “there are only twenty-four hours in the day to do it in.”
Miss Emily Katherine Bates wrote from Florence to Sam, sorry to hear of his bronchitis and Livy’s illness. She would be free the 21 to the 24 of March, and cautioned him not to make an effort to see her unless he was “feeling quite able to do so” [MTP].
March 19 Saturday
March 20 Sunday – Dr. Giovanni Nesti wrote to Sam, itemizing his bill for 43 visits to Livy during the day (20 lire each, for 860 lire), 2 during the night (25 lire each), and 4 analyses of urine (20 lire) in Nov., Dec., Jan, and Feb. [MTP].
March 21 Monday – Clara Clemens had continued voice lessons in Florence. She sang at the Alfieri Theater on this evening, and would give other performances on Apr. 8 and 15 [Hill 82].
At the Villa Reale di Quarto Sam wrote to Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
I know—& you have my deepest sympathy in your sorrow. It carries me back to that heavy day, nearly 8 years ago, when a cable told me, in England, that our Susy was gone from us—I expecting no such tidings; & Mrs. Clemens & Clara in mid-Atlantic, going to bring her to England & not dreaming of what was in store for them when they should land. For you & yours there is no comfort in words, & I spare you—& me—the attempt. These wounds which you & I have suffered will never get well, & we shall never want them to.
Mrs. Clemens does not know. By an accident she saw your hand upon your letter, & asked after the boy,
I—I said you were not uneasy about him, now; & she was grateful for this good news, & charged me with her love for you both—which I convey now, & with it mine. It is a year & seven months that she is a prisoner, & in pain & despondency [MTP]. Note: the Aldriches lost a son, Charles Aldrich on Mar. 5 of tuberculosis after a long stay in the Adirondacks.
Sam also wrote to John Y. MacAlister, now in Leysin, Switzerland.
I hope you are well again, but I should feel better about it & surer of it if I could have it from your own type-machine. We have had a bad 3 months; in that time Mrs. Clemens has not left her bed, & we have had more than the last month in bed myself—bronchitis. Incidentally, also, the thief Butters has been offering me 350 American Plasmon shares for $3,400—& I declined. I consider that the money I paid in there last year ($32,500) is totally lost. Incidentally, also, such railroad shares as I possess are worth less by $35,000 than they were a year ago. And so I have been feeling too poor to buy into that new company (the antiseptic soap one; but it occurs to me that if you still think well of it I wish you would trade 5 Founders shares (Plasmon) for stock in it & take the other Founder share for the Commission. Is it agreed?
We are having quite perfect weather now, & are hoping that it will bring good effects for Mrs. Clemens
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.