I have been talking to you and writing to you as if you were present when I traded the machine to Bliss for a twelve-dollar saddle worth $25 (cheating him outrageously, of course--but conscience got the upper hand again and I told him before I left the premises that I'd pay for the saddle if he didn't like the machine--on condition that he donate said machine to a charity)
This was a little over five weeks ago--so I had long ago concluded that Bliss didn't want the machine and did want the saddle--wherefore I jumped at the chance of shoving the machine off onto you, saddle or no saddle so I got the blamed thing out of my sight.
The saddle hangs on Tara's walls down below in the stable, and the machine is at Bliss's grimly pursuing its appointed mission, slowly and implacably rotting away another man's chances for salvation.
I have sent Bliss word not to donate it to a charity (though it is a pity to fool away a chance to do a charity an ill turn,) but to let me know when he has got his dose, because I've got another candidate for damnation. You just wait a couple of weeks and if you don't see the Type-Writer come tilting along toward Cambridge with an unsatisfied appetite in its eye, I lose my guess.
Don't you be mad about this blunder, Howells--it only comes of a bad memory, and the stupidity which is inseparable from true genius. Nothing intentionally criminal in it. Yrs ever MARK.
It was November when Howells finally fell under the baleful influence of the machine. He wrote:
"The typewriter came Wednesday night, and is already beginning to have its effect on me. Of course, it doesn't work: if I can persuade some of the letters to get up against the ribbon they won't get down again without digital assistance. The treadle refuses to have any part or parcel in the performance; and I don't know how to get the roller to turn with the paper. Nevertheless I have begun several letters to My d-a-r lemans, as it prefers to spell your respected name, and I don't despair yet of sending you something in its beautiful handwriting--after I've had a man out from the agent's to put it in order. It's fascinating in the meantime, and it wastes my time like an old friend."
The Clemens family remained in Hartford that summer, with the exception of a brief season at Bateman's Point, R. I., near Newport. By this time Mark Twain had taken up and finished the Tom Sawyer story begun two years before. Naturally he wished Howells to consider the MS.