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The Boys' Life of Mark Twain eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Boys' Life of Mark Twain.
home and protection in the fall.  He named the kittens Sackcloth and Ashes—­Sackcloth being a black-and-white kit, and Ashes a joint name owned by the two others, who were gray and exactly alike.  All summer long these merry little creatures played up and down the wide veranda, or chased butterflies and grasshoppers down the clover slope, offering Mark Twain never-ending amusement.  He loved to see them spring into the air after some insect, miss it, tumble back, and quickly jump up again with a surprised and disappointed expression.

In spite of his resolve not to print any of his autobiography until he had been dead a hundred years, he was persuaded during the summer to allow certain chapters of it to be published in “The North American Review.”  With the price received, thirty thousand dollars, he announced he was going to build himself a country home at Redding, Connecticut, on land already purchased there, near a small country place of my own.  He wished to have a fixed place to go each summer, he said, and his thought was to call it “Autobiography House.”

[12] His special favorites were Schubert’s Op. 142, part 2, and Chopin’s Op. 37, part 2.

LXII

A NEW ERA OF BILLIARDS

With the return to New York I began a period of closer association with Mark Twain.  Up to that time our relations had been chiefly of a literary nature.  They now became personal as well.

It happened in this way:  Mark Twain had never outgrown his love for the game of billiards, though he had not owned a table since the closing of the Hartford house, fifteen years before.  Mrs. Henry Rogers had proposed to present him with a table for Christmas, but when he heard of the plan, boylike, he could not wait, and hinted that if he had the table “right now” he could begin to use it sooner.  So the table came—­a handsome combination affair, suitable to all games—­and was set in place.  That morning when the dictation ended he said: 

“Have you any special place to lunch, to-day?”

I replied that I had not.

“Lunch here,” he said, “and we’ll try the new billiard-table.”

I acknowledged that I had never played more than a few games of pool, and those very long ago.

“No matter,” he said “the poorer you play the better I shall like it.”

So I remained for luncheon, and when it was over we began the first game ever played on the “Christmas” table.  He taught me a game in which caroms and pockets both counted, and he gave me heavy odds.  He beat me, but it was a riotous, rollicking game, the beginning of a closer relation between us.  We played most of the afternoon, and he suggested that I “come back in the evening and play some more.”  I did so, and the game lasted till after midnight.  I had beginner’s luck—­“nigger luck,” as he called it—­and it kept him working feverishly to win.  Once when I had made a great fluke—­a carom followed by most of the balls falling into the pockets, he said: 

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