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

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 325 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1.
I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully supplied with South American books:  They have Herndon’s report now.  Ward and the Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation to-night at the office.  We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.

He had enlisted those two adventurers in his enterprise:  a Doctor Martin and the young man, Ward.  They were very much in earnest, but the start was not made as planned, most likely for want of means.

Young Clemens, however, did not give up the idea.  He made up his mind to work in the direction of his desire, following his trade and laying by money for the venture.  But Fate or Providence or Accident—­whatever we may choose to call the unaccountable—­stepped in just then, and laid before him the means of turning another sharp corner in his career.  One of those things happened which we refuse to accept in fiction as possible; but fact has a smaller regard for the credibilities.

As in the case of the Joan of Arc episode (and this adds to its marvel), it was the wind that brought the talismanic gift.  It was a day in early November—­bleak, bitter, and gusty, with curling snow; most persons were indoors.  Samuel Clemens, going down Main Street, saw a flying bit of paper pass him and lodge against the side of a building.  Something about it attracted him and he captured it.  It was a fifty-dollar bill.  He had never seen one before, but he recognized it.  He thought he must be having a pleasant dream.

The temptation came to pocket his good-fortune and say nothing.  His need of money was urgent, but he had also an urgent and troublesome conscience; in the end he advertised his find.

“I didn’t describe it very particularly, and I waited in daily fear that the owner would turn up and take away my fortune.  By and by I couldn’t stand it any longer.  My conscience had gotten all that was coming to it.  I felt that I must take that money out of danger.”

In the “Turning-point” article he says:  “I advertised the find and left for the Amazon the same day,” a statement which we may accept with a literary discount.

As a matter of fact, he remained ample time and nobody ever came for the money.  It may have been swept out of a bank or caught up by the wind from some counting-room table.  It may have materialized out of the unseen—­who knows?  At all events it carried him the first stage of a journey, the end of which he little dreamed.



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