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Mark Twain, A Biography Vol III, Part 2: 1907 - 1910|
Appendix A: Letter from Orion Clemens to Miss Wood Concerning Henry Clemens
by Paine, Albert Bigelow
|(See Chapter xxvi)
KEOKUK, Iowa, October 3, 1858.
MISS WOOD,--My mother having sent me your kind letter, with a request
that myself and wife should write to you, I hasten to do so.
In my memory I can go away back to Henry's infancy; I see his large, blue
eyes intently regarding my father when he rebuked him for his credulity
in giving full faith to the boyish idea of planting his marbles,
expecting a crop therefrom; then comes back the recollection of the time
when, standing we three alone by our father's grave, I told them always
to remember that brothers should be kind to each other; afterward I see
Henry returning from school with his books for the last time. He must go
into my printing-office. He learned rapidly. A word of encouragement or
a word of discouragement told upon his organization electrically. I
could see the effects in his day's work. Sometimes I would say, "Henry!"
He would stand full front with his eyes upon mine--all attention. If I
commanded him to do something, without a word he was off instantly,
probably in a run. If a cat was to be drowned or shot Sam (though
unwilling yet firm) was selected for the work. If a stray kitten was to
be fed and taken care of Henry was expected to attend to it, and he would
faithfully do so. So they grew up, and many was the grave lecture
commenced by ma, to the effect that Sam was misleading and spoiling
Henry. But the lectures were never concluded, for Sam would reply with a
witticism, or dry, unexpected humor, that would drive the lecture clean
out of my mother's mind, and change it to a laugh. Those were happier
days. My mother was as lively as any girl of sixteen. She is not so
now. And sister Pamela I have described in describing Henry; for she was
his counterpart. The blow falls crushingly on her. But the boys grew
up--Sam a rugged, brave, quick-tempered, generous-hearted fellow, Henry
quiet, observing, thoughtful, leaning on Sam for protection; Sam and I
too leaning on him for knowledge picked up from conversation or books,
for Henry seemed never to forget anything, and devoted much of his
leisure hours to reading.
Henry is gone! His death was horrible! How I could have sat by him,
hung over him, watched day and night every change of expression, and
ministered to every want in my power that I could discover. This was
denied to me, but Sam, whose organization is such as to feel the utmost
extreme of every feeling, was there. Both his capacity of enjoyment and
his capacity of suffering are greater than mine; and knowing how it would
have affected me to see so sad a scene, I can somewhat appreciate Sam's
sufferings. In this time of great trouble, when my two brothers, whose
heartstrings have always been a part of my own, were suffering the utmost
stretch of mortal endurance, you were there, like a good angel, to aid
and console, and I bless and thank you for it with my whole heart. I
thank all who helped them then; I thank them for the flowers they sent to
Henry, for the tears that fell for their sufferings, and when he died,
and all of them for all the kind attentions they bestowed upon the poor
boys. We thank the physicians, and we shall always gratefully remember
the kindness of the gentleman who at so much expense to himself enabled
us to deposit Henry's remains by our father.
With many kind wishes for your future welfare, I remain your earnest