Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field/Phil Sheridan's Friend
PHIL SHERIDAN'S FRIEND
"Jenny Stubel," mused Mark over the "Berliner Tageblatt" at the Cafe Bauer, "Jenny Stu—, there is a yarn about that girl in the back of my head, but what it is I cannot for the life of me make out."
"What has she done now?" I queried. "Marriage or divorce, set a theatre afire, or made away with one of those stupid archdukes flourishing in Vienna?"
"Half-correct," said Twain, "an archduke abducted Jenny. But how did you come so near guessing it?"
"I was Jenny's manager in the early eighties when she and her sister Lori headed the Vienna operetta company. In fact, I introduced her to Grover Cleveland—"
"And Phil Sheridan?" demanded Twain.
"Sheridan, Joaquin Miller, Henry Watterson and the rest."
"We'll get this story pat first," said Mark, shoving the paper over to me. "Chances are I have it upside down. Let me have the facts and keep the trimmings for some other day."
The "facts" told the now well-nigh forgotten story that (some time in October, 1891) the archduke John Salvator of Austria had renounced his title and dignities, had assumed the name of John Orth, bought a four-masted schooner and, as her captain, went sailing the Atlantic and Pacific in company with Jenny Stubel, the operetta star.
"'Tall, yellow-haired, lots of quicksilver in her system,' that's how Sheridan sized up Jenny. Right, you say? Well, then, her archduke wasn't so very foolish, after all, particularly as she was a sweet singer, a nimble dancer and all that. Did you say you introduced her to Grover Cleveland?"
"Sure, at one of the public afternoon receptions, when everybody went to shake hands with the President."
"General Sheridan was quite taken with Jenny," continued Twain. "He told me he went to the show night after night and didn't care how much he applauded her young beauty and fascinating voice. Yes, Phil was really smitten with Jenny. And now the admired of the most famous General of Horse defies the world to become an acknowledged royal mistress, and her sprig of royalty the black sheep of a crowned family by no means lily-white at that. She reminds me of old Field Marshal Prince de Ligne, making love to a very young girl and succeeding, or nearly succeeding, before he had time to reflect.
"'A million,' cried the Field Marshal, 'if I was a lieutenant now.'"