Mark Twain: A Biography, by Albert Bigelow Paine


A Wedding at Stormfield

The wedding of Ossip Gabrilowitsch and Clara Clemens was not delayed. Gabrilowitsch had signed for a concert tour in Europe, and unless the marriage took place forthwith it must be postponed many months. It followed, therefore, fifteen days after the engagement. They were busy days. Clemens, enormously excited and pleased over the prospect of the first wedding in his family, personally attended to the selection of those who were to have announcement-cards, employing a stenographer to make the list.

October 6th was a perfect wedding-day. It was one of those quiet, lovely fall days when the whole world seems at peace. Claude, the butler, with his usual skill in such matters, had decorated the great living-room with gay autumn foliage and flowers, brought in mainly from the woods and fields. They blended perfectly with the warm tones of the walls and furnishings, and I do not remember ever having seen a more beautiful room. Only relatives and a few of the nearest friends were invited to the ceremony. The Twichells came over a day ahead, for Twichell, who had assisted in the marriage rites between Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon, was to perform that ceremony for their daughter now. A fellow-student of the bride and groom when they had been pupils of Leschetizky, in Vienna — Miss Ethel Newcomb — was at the piano and played softly the Wedding March from” Taunhauser.” Jean Clemens was the only bridesmaid, and she was stately and classically beautiful, with a proud dignity in her office. Jervis Langdon, the bride’s cousin and childhood playmate, acted as best man, and Clemens, of course, gave the bride away. By request he wore his scarlet Oxford gown over his snowy flannels, and was splendid beyond words. I do not write of the appearance of the bride and groom, for brides and grooms are always handsome and always happy, and certainly these were no exception. It was all so soon over, the feasting ended, and the principals whirling away into the future. I have a picture in my mind of them seated together in the automobile, with Richard Watson Gilder standing on the step for a last good-by, and before them a wide expanse of autumn foliage and distant hills. I remember Gilder’s voice saying, when the car was on the turn, and they were waving back to us:

“Over the hills and far away, Beyond the utmost purple rim, Beyond the night, beyond the day, Through all the world she followed him.”

The matter of the wedding had been kept from the newspapers until the eve of the wedding, when the Associated Press had been notified. A representative was there; but Clemens had characteristically interviewed himself on the subject, and it was only necessary to hand the reporter a typewritten copy. Replying to the question (put to himself), “Are you pleased with the marriage?” he answered:

Yes, fully as much as any marriage could please me or any other father. There are two or three solemn things in life and a happy marriage is one of them, for the terrors of life are all to come. I am glad of this marriage, and Mrs. Clemens would be glad, for she always had a warm affection for Gabrilowitsch.

There was another wedding at Stormfield on the following afternoon — an imitation wedding. Little Joy came up with me, and wished she could stand in just the spot where she had seen the bride stand, and she expressed a wish that she could get married like that. Clemens said:

“Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it.”

Then he happened to remember a ridiculous boy-doll — a white-haired creature with red coat and green trousers, a souvenir imitation of himself from one of the Rogerses’ Christmas trees. He knew where it was, and he got it out. Then he said:

“Now, Joy, we will have another wedding. This is Mr. Colonel Williams, and you are to become his wedded wife.”

So Joy stood up very gravely and Clemens performed the ceremony, and I gave the bride away, and Joy to him became Mrs. Colonel Williams thereafter, and entered happily into her new estate.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00