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Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,512 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.

I am reminded of two more or less related incidents of this period.  Clemens was, one morning, dictating something about his Christian Union article concerning Mrs. Clemens’s government of children, published in 1885.  I had discovered no copy of it among the materials, and he was wishing very much that he could see one.  Somewhat later, as he was walking down Fifth Avenue, the thought of this article and his desire for it suddenly entered his mind.  Reaching the corner of Forty-second Street, he stopped a moment to let a jam of vehicles pass.  As he did so a stranger crossed the street, noticed him, and came dodging his way through the blockade and thrust some clippings into his hand.

“Mr. Clemens,” he said, “you don’t know me, but here is something you may wish to have.  I have been saving them for more than twenty years, and this morning it occurred to me to send them to you.  I was going to mail them from my office, but now I will give them to you,” and with a word or two he disappeared.  The clippings were from the Christian Union of 1885, and were the much-desired article.  Clemens regarded it as a remarkable case of mental telegraphy.

“Or, if it wasn’t that,” he said, “it was a most remarkable coincidence.”

The other circumstance has been thought amusing.  I had gone to Redding for a few days, and while there, one afternoon about five o’clock, fell over a coal-scuttle and scarified myself a good deal between the ankle and the knee.  I mention the hour because it seems important.  Next morning I received a note, prompted by Mr. Clemens, in which he said: 

Tell Paine I am sorry he fell and skinned his shin at five o’clock yesterday afternoon.

I was naturally astonished, and immediately wrote: 

I did fall and skin my shin at five o’clock yesterday afternoon, but how did you find it out?

I followed the letter in person next day, and learned that at the same hour on the same afternoon Clemens himself had fallen up the front steps and, as he said, peeled off from his “starboard shin a ribbon of skin three inches long.”  The disaster was still uppermost in his mind at the time of writing, and the suggestion of my own mishap had flashed out for no particular reason.

Clemens was always having his fortune told, in one way or another, being superstitious, as he readily confessed, though at times professing little faith in these prognostics.  Once when a clairvoyant, of whom he had never even heard, and whom he had reason to believe was ignorant of his family history, told him more about it than he knew himself, besides reading a list of names from a piece of paper which Clemens had concealed in his vest pocket he came home deeply impressed.  The clairvoyant added that he would probably live to a great age and die in a, foreign land—­a prophecy which did not comfort him.

CCLXI

MINOR EVENTS AND DIVERSIONS

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