Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 260 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography Volume I, Part 1.

Miss Pamela Clemens

Has won the love of her teacher and schoolmates by her amiable
deportment and faithful application to her various studies. 
E. Horr, Teacher.

If any such testimonial was ever awarded to Little Sam, diligent search has failed to reveal it.  If he won the love of his teacher and playmates it was probably for other reasons.

Yet he must have learned, somehow, for he could read presently and was soon regarded as a good speller for his years.  His spelling came as a natural gift, as did most of his attainments, then and later.

It has already been mentioned that Miss Horr opened her school with prayer and Scriptural readings.  Little Sam did not especially delight in these things, but he respected them.  Not to do so was dangerous.  Flames were being kept brisk for little boys who were heedless of sacred matters; his home teaching convinced him of that.  He also respected Miss Horr as an example of orthodox faith, and when she read the text “Ask and ye shall receive” and assured them that whoever prayed for a thing earnestly, his prayer would be answered, he believed it.  A small schoolmate, the balker’s daughter, brought gingerbread to school every morning, and Little Sam was just “honing” for some of it.  He wanted a piece of that baker’s gingerbread more than anything else in the world, and he decided to pray for it.

The little girl sat in front of him, but always until that morning had kept the gingerbread out of sight.  Now, however, when he finished his prayer and looked up, a small morsel of the precious food lay in front of him.  Perhaps the little girl could no longer stand that hungry look in his eyes.  Possibly she had heard his petition; at all events his prayer bore fruit and his faith at that moment would have moved Holliday’s Hill.  He decided to pray for everything he wanted, but when he tried the gingerbread supplication next morning it had no result.  Grieved, but still unshaken, he tried next morning again; still no gingerbread; and when a third and fourth effort left him hungry he grew despairing and silent, and wore the haggard face of doubt.  His mother said: 

“What’s the matter, Sammy; are you sick?”

“No,” he said, “but I don’t believe in saying prayers any more, and I’m never going to do it again.”

“Why, Sammy, what in the world has happened?” she asked, anxiously.  Then he broke down and cried on her lap and told her, for it was a serious thing in that day openly to repudiate faith.  Jane Clemens gathered him to her heart and comforted him.

“I’ll make you a whole pan of gingerbread, better than that,” she said, “and school will soon be out, too, and you can go back to Uncle John’s farm.”

And so passed and ended Little Sam’s first school-days.

X

EARLY VICISSITUDE AND SORROW

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Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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