Page:Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field.djvu/234

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GENE, A "SUCCESS OF CURIOSITY"

The fact was, poor Eugene was no business man and, unlike Mrs. Clemens, pretty Mrs. Field, as far as I could make out, had no eye or head for business either. His London writings hardly ever appealed to a more international audience than Chicago and the West, willy-nilly, furnished. Syndicating was in its infancy and the papers printed nothing but news and again news. Even the New York Herald's Sunday edition contained hardly a line unconnected with the news of the day. And Eugene said himself he was no newsmonger. Then London society, or near-society, tried to make him out a funny man. He was much in demand as a diner-out, and like an honest man, paid for his dinners and suppers in "his own coin," stories and jokes.

These stories were all extravaganzas of the most extravagant kind. "I talked to the duchesses as I talk to my children when in pinafores," he used to tell me, "and the harder I lie, the more natural my American yarns sound to them, for their ignorance of America is as profound as mine of Mars."

Poor Gene, I am afraid, often accepted dinner invitations "to save grubbing at home," for his finances were on the downgrade most of the time. In his talks with American friends he often regretted having left Chicago, "where one can always make a

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