Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1.

The cats did not always remain the same, but some of the same ones remained a good while, and were there from season to season, always welcomed and adored.  They were commendable cats, with such names as Fraulein, Blatherskite, Sour Mash, Stray Kit, Sin, and Satan, and when, as happened now and then, a vacancy occurred in the cat census there followed deep sorrow and elaborate ceremonies.

Naturally, there would be stories about cats:  impromptu bedtime stories, which began anywhere and ended nowhere, and continued indefinitely through a land inhabited only by cats and dreams.  One of these stories, as remembered and set down later, began: 

Once upon a time there was a noble, big cat whose christian name was Catasaqua, because she lived in that region; but she didn’t have any surname, because she was a short-tailed cat, being a manx, and didn’t need one.  It is very just and becoming in a long-tailed cat to have a surname, but it would be very ostentatious, and even dishonorable, in a manx.  Well, Catasaqua had a beautiful family of cattings; and they were of different colors, to harmonize with their characters.  Cattaraugus, the eldest, was white, and he had high impulses and a pure heart; Catiline, the youngest, was black, and he had a self-seeking nature, his motives were nearly always base, he was truculent and insincere.  He was vain and foolish, and often said that he would rather be what he was, and live like a bandit, yet have none above him, than be a cat-o’-nine-tails and eat with the king.

And so on without end, for the audience was asleep presently and the end could wait.

There was less enthusiasm over dogs at Quarry Farm.

Mark Twain himself had no great love for the canine breed.  To a woman who wrote, asking for his opinion on dogs, he said, in part: 

By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a “noble” animal?  The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward you can never get her full confidence again.

He was not harsh to dogs; occasionally he made friends with them.  There was once at the farm a gentle hound, named Bones, that for some reason even won his way into his affections.  Bones was always a welcome companion, and when the end of summer came, and Clemens, as was his habit, started down the drive ahead of the carriage, Bones, half-way to the entrance, was waiting for him.  Clemens stooped down, put his arms around him, and bade him an affectionate good-by.  He always recalled Bones tenderly, and mentioned him in letters to the farm.



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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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