The Boys' Life of Mark Twain eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Boys' Life of Mark Twain.
crowds gathering everywhere to see him pass.  At Oxford when he appeared on the street the name Mark Twain ran up and down like a cry of fire, and the people came running.  When he appeared on the stage at the Sheldonian Theater to receive his degree, clad in his doctor’s robe of scarlet and gray, there arose a great tumult—­the shouting of the undergraduates for the boy who had been Tom Sawyer and had played with Huckleberry Finn.  The papers next day spoke of his reception as a “cyclone,” surpassing any other welcome, though Rudyard Kipling was one of those who received degrees on that occasion, and General Booth and Whitelaw Reid, and other famous men.

Perhaps the most distinguished social honor paid to Mark Twain at this time was the dinner given him by the staff of London “Punch,” in the historic “Punch” editorial rooms on Bouverie Street.  No other foreigner had ever been invited to that sacred board, where Thackeray had sat, and Douglas Jerrold and others of the great departed.  “Punch” had already saluted him with a front-page cartoon, and at this dinner the original drawing was presented to him by the editor’s little daughter, Joy Agnew.

The Oxford degree, and the splendid homage paid him by England at large, became, as it were, the crowning episode of Mark Twain’s career.  I think he realized this, although he did not speak of it—­indeed, he had very little to say of the whole matter.  I telephoned a greeting when I knew that he had arrived in New York, and was summoned to “come down and play billiards.”  I confess I went with a good deal of awe, prepared to sit in silence and listen to the tale of the returning hero.  But when I arrived he was already in the billiard-room, knocking the balls about—­his coat off, for it was a hot night.  As I entered, he said: 

   “Get your cue—­I’ve been inventing a new game.”

That was all.  The pageant was over, the curtain was rung down.  Business was resumed at the old stand.



There followed another winter during which I was much with Mark Twain, though a part of it he spent with Mr. Rogers in Bermuda, that pretty island resort which both men loved.  Then came spring again, and June, and with it Mark Twain’s removal to his newly built home, “Stormfield,” at Redding, Connecticut.

The house had been under construction for a year.  He had never seen it —­never even seen the land I had bought for him.  He even preferred not to look at any plans or ideas for decoration.

“When the house is finished and furnished, and the cat is purring on the hearth, it will be time enough for me to see it,” he had said more than once.

He had only specified that the rooms should be large and that the billiard-room should be red.  His billiard-rooms thus far had been of that color, and their memory was associated in his mind with enjoyment and comfort.  He detested details of preparation, and then, too, he looked forward to the dramatic surprise of walking into a home that had been conjured into existence as with a word.

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The Boys' Life of Mark Twain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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