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Mark Twain & Henry Rogers
His companion was Henry H. Rogers

THE Happy Island was only two weeks without Mr. Clemens, after all, and our hearts were filled with joy when his return was announced. This time he came to stay for a longer period. His companion was Mr. Henry H. Rogers, a tall, distinguished looking man, with a fine-cut profile and clear young coloring. He had been ill and had chosen to come here with his long time friend to recuperate. It was always a mooted question whether Mr. Rogers took care of Mr. Clemens or Mr. Clemens of Mr. Rogers. It was a question that they took much delight in unsettling.

But there was no Margaret. I had been instructed to try to fill her place with some other choice soul, and that was the way the Angel Fish came into our circle. She, how ever, belongs to another chapter.

Mr. Clemens and Mr. Rogers secured a table near ours in the dining-room, and there was much visiting back and forth. The first morning, after breakfast, we met with Mr. Rogers to organize what we were pleased to call the S. L. C. Life-Saving Society. Mr. Rogers gravely stated that Mr. Clemens, being of a guileless and unsuspecting nature, was sometimes led away by designing and not altogether desirable strangers. His kind heart could never permit him to refuse himself to anyone who might address himself to him, and the result was that he was sometimes drawn into annoying relationships. The plan of action of the S. L. C. Life-Saving Society was to be as follows: when we should see Mr. Clemens engaged in conversation with a doubtful party, we were to go up to him and say, "Pardon me, but Mr. Rogers is looking for you, and would like to speak to you immediately." Mr. Clemens, to whom was to be revealed the full significance of this phrase, would thereupon take warning and discreetly withdraw.

It was soon after their arrival that we began to call Mr. Clemens the King. The title had already been given to him by a small circle of loving friends. We quickly felt the appropriateness of the name, for we realized that we had never known anyone who made his personality to be felt more than he did, and yet without any effort. He just was.

The King hit upon the happy idea of calling Mr. Rogers the Rajah. And so they remained for us to the end of the chapter -- an ending that came, alas! all too soon.

Mr. Clemens never grew tired of poking fun at Mr. Rogers and his stately, dignified manner. One day, as the latter came into the dining-room, a little late, with his slow step, Mr. Clemens, who was already seated at the table, said, "There he comes, looking just like Gibbs' Lighthouse, stiff and tall, turning his lights from side to side! "

Their deep and strong affection for each other usually manifested itself verbally in this sort of whimsical abuse.

One of our first excursions together, after the return, was to Prospect Park.

Walking in the park
Glances and cameras were always turned upon him.

Prospect Park has many charms, the greatest of which is the prevalence of scarlet military coats. For Prospect Park is the garrison, and not to go to at least one function is to be hopelessly civilian, which is an other name for plebeian. None of us wished to be that. Besides, Mr. Clemens had a particularly tender spot in his heart for all things English, since the loving reception he had had the summer before from all classes on the British Isles. As we look back we see Prospect Park colored with many joys, and we were grateful to the Home Government who saw fit to retain one regiment there. To be sure, the one regiment was sorely in need of padding; but what were numbers, when among the officers were the witty Major B, the handsome, dashing A. D. C., the kindly Colonel, and the appealing, child-like subalterns ? To Prospect Park, then, we went of a Sunday, to hear the band. The truly pious went to the church services, and watched the red-coated soldiers come in and take their places in the uncomfortable little chairs, ranged in serried ranks in the barracks' church. This was a long, narrow house, built of wood and covered with corrugated iron, which gave it a peculiarly unchurchly aspect, and seemed to hint at a necessity for fire proof arrangements. But the Chaplain was a kindly man who refrained from speaking of the wrath to come, and confined himself to brave, encouraging words to these lads, so far from home.

We arrived a little early for the band concert and entirely too late for the services. But we drove up to the church to watch the soldiers march out. We heard the last responses in strong, virile tones, then a hymn, then a rustling of feet; and then the scarlet audience streamed out from both doors of the furnace-like building. Mr. Clemens murmured something about "flames of fire and the wrath to come." However, the bright colors soon melted away and scattered, to reassemble on the greensward of the park. Presently the band gathered under a clump of cedars, and the lovely strains sounded sweeter because, while listening, we could at the same time see the wonderful color of the sky and feel the balmy air upon our cheeks.

The only discomfort in being with Mr. Clemens and Mr. Rogers in a public place was that glances and cameras were always turned upon them. But they accepted this attention with indifference, and why should we be bothered? Mr. Clemens was not a passionate lover of music, but he was fond of a band or of an organ. On this particular day he was distracted from a fair attention to the program by the awkward antics of a lank puppy and a fat baby. The fat baby was evidently the direct lineal descendant of the bass-drummer, for the child lunged from time to time in his direction, laying violent but unsteady hold on the paternal legs. Indeed, all those straight, firm legs of the standing band had a wonderful attraction for the Fat Baby, and when the puppy's charms palled she would stand by her unhappy father a while, looking contemplatively at the forest of legs before her; then she would reel, and totter, and disappear among the avenues of legs, to be hauled out ignominiously when the number was over. All this Mr. Clemens observed with quiet delight, making an appropriate observation from time to time.

The puppy failed to interest him so much, for he had no love for dogs, and sometimes said that he wished he could exterminate them all.

Mr. Clemens directed our attention to some other children who were playing, and remarked: "They look like intoxicated June bugs careening over the lawn."

Two small boys strutted past, looking very important and pompous and British. We heard one say to the other: "How long are you going to stay? My mother told me I could stay until 'God saves the King.' "

We, too, decided to stay until that interesting moment, and when it came we rose, a little stiffly, from the rug on which we had been reposing, and joined in the national anthem with fraternal regard. As Mr. Clemens bared his white head, he looked, indeed, a kingly figure clothed in white against the scarlet background of the band.

Return to book index
Proceed to next chapter (Chapter 7)

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