“So wounded, so broken-hearted…” (Garrison Keillor, Clint Eastwood)
NARRATOR: The tour was a triumph. Sales of the new book would allow the family to pay off every cent of their debt. Sam, Livy, and Clara had kept in touch with Susy and Jean during those 13 months of traveling through letters and cablegrams. And now a reunion was planned for the family to live together once again – this time in England where it wouldn’t cost so much and where Sam could write in peace.
TWAIN: “Clara and her mother and I arrived in England from around the world on the 31st of July and took a house in Guildford. A week later, when Susy, Katy, and Jean should have been arriving from America we got a letter instead. It explained that Susy was slightly ill – nothing of consequence. But we were disquieted and began to cable for later news. This was Friday. All day no answer – and the ship to leave Southampton next day at noon. Clara and her mother began packing, to be ready in case the news should be bad. Finally came a cablegram saying, “Wait for cablegram in the morning.” This was not satisfactory – not reassuring. I cabled again, asking that the answer be sent to Southampton, for the day was now closing. I waited in the post office that night till the doors were closed, toward midnight, in the hope that good news might still come, but there was no message. We sat silent at home till one in the morning, waiting – waiting for we knew not what. Then we took the earliest morning train and when we reached Southampton the message was there. It said the recovery would be long but certain. This was a great relief to me but not to my wife. She was frightened. She and Clara went aboard the steamer at once and sailed for America to nurse Susy. I remained behind to search for another and larger house in Guildford. That was the 15th of August, 1896. Three days later, when my wife and Clara were about halfway across the ocean, I was standing in our dining-room, thinking of nothing in particular, when a cablegram was put into my hand. It said, “Susy was peacefully released to-day.” It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live… The calamity that comes is never the one we had prepared ourselves for.” (Autobiography and letter to Olivia Clemens, 8/16/1896)