Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,890 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.
longer be a hindrance to its performance, when, in fact, one will hear a man who is in the next block just as easily and comfortably as he would if that man were in San Francisco.”] Mrs. Clemens, before I went there, took care of his desk, but little by little I began to look after it when she was busy at other things.  Finally I took care of it altogether, but he didn’t know it for a long time.  One morning he caught me at it.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.

    “Dusting, Mr. Clemens,” I said.

    “You have no business here,” he said, very mad.

    “I’ve been doing it for a year, Mr. Clemens,” I said.  “Mrs. Clemens
    told me to do it.”

    After that, when he missed anything—­and he missed things often—­he
    would ring for me.  “Katie,” he would say, “you have lost that

    “Oh, Mr. Clemens,”, I would say, “I am sure I didn’t touch it.”

    “Yes, you did touch it, Katie.  You put it in the fire.  It is

He would scold then, and fume a great deal.  Then he would go over and mark out with his toe on the carpet a line which I was never to cross.  “Katie,” he would say, “you are never to go nearer to my desk than that line.  That is the dead-line.”  Often after he had scolded me in the morning he would come in in the evening where I was dressing Mrs. Clemens to go out and say, “Katie, I found that manuscript.”  And I would say, “Mr. Clemens, I felt so bad this morning that I wanted to go away.”
He had a pipe-cleaner which he kept on a high shelf.  It was an awful old dirty one, and I didn’t know that he ever used it.  I took it to the balcony which was built out into the woods and threw it away as far as I could throw it.  Next day he asked, “Katie, did you see my pipe-cleaner?  You did see it; I can tell by your looks.”

    I said, “Yes, Mr. Clemens, I threw it away.”

    “Well,” he said, “it was worth a thousand dollars,” and it seemed so
    to me, too, before he got done scolding about it.

It is hard not to dwell too long on the home life of this period.  One would like to make a long chapter out of those play-acting evenings alone.  They remained always fresh in Mark Twain’s memory.  Once he wrote of them: 

We dined as we could, probably with a neighbor, and by quarter to eight in the evening the hickory fire in the hall was pouring a sheet of flame up the chimney, the house was in a drench of gas- light from the ground floor up, the guests were arriving, and there was a babble of hearty greetings, with not a voice in it that was not old and familiar and affectionate; and when the curtain went up we looked out from the stage upon none but faces that were dear to us, none but faces that were lit up with welcome for us.



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Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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