With the warmest remembrances to the pair of you Ever Yours SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.
Clemens would naturally write something about Bermuda, and began at once, "Random Notes of an Idle Excursion," and presently completed four papers, which Howells eagerly accepted for the Atlantic. Then we find him plunging into another play, this time alone.
ELMIRA, June 27, 1877. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--If you should not like the first 2 chapters, send them to me and begin with Chapter 3--or Part 3, I believe you call these things in the magazine. I have finished No. 4., which closes the series, and will mail it tomorrow if I think of it. I like this one, I liked the preceding one (already mailed to you some time ago) but I had my doubts about 1 and 2. Do not hesitate to squelch them, even with derision and insult.
Today I am deep in a comedy which I began this morning--principal character, that old detective--I skeletoned the first act and wrote the second, today; and am dog-tired, now. Fifty-four close pages of MS in 7 hours. Once I wrote 55 pages at a sitting--that was on the opening chapters of the "Gilded Age" novel. When I cool down, an hour from now, I shall go to zero, I judge. Yrs ever, MARK.
Clemens had doubts as to the quality of the Bermuda papers, and with some reason. They did not represent him at his best. Nevertheless, they were pleasantly entertaining, and Howells expressed full approval of them for Atlantic use. The author remained troubled.
ELMIRA, July 4,1877. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It is splendid of you to say those pleasant things. But I am still plagued with doubts about Parts 1 and 2. If you have any, don't print. If otherwise, please make some cold villain like Lathrop read and pass sentence on them. Mind, I thought they were good, at first--it was the second reading that accomplished its hellish purpose on me. Put them up for a new verdict. Part 4 has lain in my pigeon-hole a good while, and when I put it there I had a Christian's confidence in 4 aces in it; and you can be sure it will skip toward Connecticut tomorrow before any fatal fresh reading makes me draw my bet.
I've piled up 151 MS pages on my comedy. The first, second and fourth acts are done, and done to my satisfaction, too. Tomorrow and next day will finish the 3rd act and the play. I have not written less than 30 pages any day since I began. Never had so much fun over anything in my life-never such consuming interest and delight. (But Lord bless you the second reading will fetch it!) And just think!--I had Sol Smith Russell in my mind's eye for the old detective's part, and hang it he has gone off pottering with Oliver Optic, or else the papers lie.
I read everything about the President's doings there with exultation.