Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2: 1907-1910 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2.



(See Chapter cclxxxii)

[It is dull, and I need wholesome excitements and distractions; so I will go lightly excursioning along the primrose path of theology.]

Little Bessie was nearly three years old.  She was a good child, and not shallow, not frivolous, but meditative and thoughtful, and much given to thinking out the reasons of things and trying to make them harmonize with results.  One day she said: 

“Mama, why is there so much pain and sorrow and suffering?  What is it all for?”

It was an easy question, and mama had no difficulty in answering it: 

“It is for our good, my child.  In His wisdom and mercy the Lord sends us these afflictions to discipline us and make us better.”

“Is it He that sends them?”


“Does He send all of them, mama?”

“Yes, dear, all of them.  None of them comes by accident; He alone sends them, and always out of love for us, and to make us better.”

“Isn’t it strange?”

“Strange?  Why, no, I have never thought of it in that way.  I have not heard any one call it strange before.  It has always seemed natural and right to me, and wise and most kindly and merciful.”

“Who first thought of it like that, mama?  Was it you?”

“Oh no, child, I was taught it.”

“Who taught you so, mama?”

“Why, really, I don’t know—­I can’t remember.  My mother, I suppose; or the preacher.  But it’s a thing that everybody knows.”

“Well, anyway, it does seem strange.  Did He give Billy Norris the typhus?”


“What for?”

“Why, to discipline him and make him good.”

“But he died, mama, and so it couldn’t make him good.”

“Well, then, I suppose it was for some other reason.  We know it was a good reason, whatever it was.”

“What do you think it was, mama?”

“Oh, you ask so many questions!  I think it was to discipline his parents.”

“Well, then, it wasn’t fair, mama.  Why should his life be taken away for their sake, when he wasn’t doing anything?”

“Oh, I don’t know!  I only know it was for a good and wise and merciful reason.”

“What reason, mama?”

“I think—­I think-well, it was a judgment; it was to punish them for some sin they had committed.”

“But he was the one that was punished, mama.  Was that right?”

“Certainly, certainly.  He does nothing that isn’t right and wise and merciful.  You can’t understand these things now, dear, but when you are grown up you will understand them, and then you will see that they are just and wise.”

After a pause: 

“Did He make the roof fall in on the stranger that was trying to save the crippled old woman from the fire, mama?”

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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2: 1907-1910 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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