I told Arthur to leave out the former squib or paragraph and use only the Californian's Story. Tell him this is because I am going to use that in the book I am now writing.
I finished "Those Extraordinary Twins" night before last makes 60 or 80,000 words--haven't counted.
The last third of it suits me to a dot. I begin, to-day, to entirely recast and re-write the first two-thirds--new plan, with two minor characters, made very prominent, one major character cropped out, and the Twins subordinated to a minor but not insignificant place.
The minor character will now become the chiefest, and I will name the story after him--"Puddn'head Wilson."
Merry Xmas to you, and great prosperity and felicity!
LETTERS, 1893, TO MR. HALL, MRS. CLEMENS, AND OTHERS. FLORENCE. BUSINESS TROUBLES. "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON." "JOAN OF ARC." AT THE PLAYERS, NEW YORK
The reader may have suspected that young Mr. Hall in New York was having his troubles. He was by this time one-third owner in the business of Charles L. Webster & Co., as well as its general manager. The business had been drained of its capital one way and another-partly by the publication of unprofitable books; partly by the earlier demands of the typesetter, but more than all by the manufacturing cost and agents' commissions demanded by L. A. L.; that is to say, the eleven large volumes constituting the Library of American Literature, which Webster had undertaken to place in a million American homes. There was plenty of sale for it--indeed, that was just the trouble; for it was sold on payments--small monthly payments--while the cost of manufacture and the liberal agents' commissions were cash items, and it would require a considerable period before the dribble of collections would swell into a tide large enough to satisfy the steady outflow of expense. A sale of twenty-five sets a day meant prosperity on paper, but unless capital could be raised from some other source to make and market those books through a period of months, perhaps even years, to come, it meant bankruptcy in reality. It was Hall's job, with Clemens to back him, to keep their ship afloat on these steadily ebbing financial waters. It was also Hall's affair to keep Mark Twain cheerful, to look pleasant himself, and to show how they were steadily getting rich because orders were pouring in, though a cloud that resembled bankruptcy loomed always a little higher upon the horizon. If Hall had not been young and an optimist, he would have been frightened out of his boots early in the game. As it was, he made a brave steady fight, kept as cheerful and stiff an upper lip as possible, always hoping that something would happen--some grand sale of his other books, some unexpected inflow from the type-setter interests--anything that would sustain his ship until the L. A. L. tide should turn and float it into safety.
Clemens had faith in Hall and was fond of him. He never found fault with him; he tried to accept his encouraging reports at their face value. He lent the firm every dollar of his literary earnings not absolutely needed for the family's support; he signed new notes; he allowed Mrs. Clemens to put in such remnants of her patrimony as the type-setter had spared.