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.

The applicant had a forlorn look.  “There is nothing very evasive about that,” he said.

Langdon reflected.

“Haven’t you any other friend that you could suggest?”

“Apparently none whose testimony would be valuable.”

Jervis Langdon held out his hand.

“You have at least one,” he said.  “I believe in you.  I know you better then they do.”

The engagement of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and Olivia Lewis Langdon was ratified next day, February 4, 1869.  To Jane Clemens her son wrote:  “She is a little body, but she hasn’t her peer in Christendom.”



Clemens closed his lecture tour in March with a profit of something more than eight thousand dollars.  He had intended to make a spring tour of California, but went to Elmira instead.  The revised proofs of his book were coming now, and he and gentle Livy Langdon read them together.  Samuel Clemens realized presently that the girl he had chosen had a delicate literary judgment.  She became all at once his editor, a position she held until her death.  Her refining influence had much to do with Mark Twain’s success, then and later, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.  Through that first pleasant summer these two worked at the proofs and planned for their future, and were very happy indeed.

It was about the end of July when the big book appeared at last, and its success was startling.  Nothing like it had ever been known before.  Mark Twain’s name seemed suddenly to be on every tongue—­his book in everybody’s hands.  From one end of the country to the other, readers were hailing him as the greatest humorist and descriptive writer of modern times.  By the first of the year more than thirty thousand volumes had been sold.  It was a book of travel; its lowest price was three and a half dollars; the record has not been equaled since.  In England also large editions had been issued, and translations into foreign languages were under way.  It was and is a great book, because it is a human book —­a book written straight from the heart.

If Mark Twain had not been famous before, he was so now.  Indeed, it is doubtful if any other American author was so widely known and read as the author of “The Innocents Abroad” during that first half-year after its publication.

Yet for some reason he still did not regard himself as a literary man.  He was a journalist, and began to look about for a paper which he could buy-his idea being to establish a business and a home.  Through Mr. Langdon’s assistance, he finally obtained an interest in the “Buffalo Express,” and the end of the year 1869 found him established as its associate editor, though still lecturing here and there, because his wedding-day was near at hand and there must be no lack of funds.

It was the 2d of February, 1870, that Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon were married.  A few days before, he sat down one night and wrote to Jim Gillis, away out in the Tuolumne Hills, and told him of all his good fortune, recalling their days at Angel’s Camp, and the absurd frog story, which he said had been the beginning of his happiness.  In the five years since then he had traveled a long way, but he had not forgotten.

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