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.

XXXI.

MARK TWAIN IN BUFFALO

Mark Twain remained less than two years in Buffalo—­a period of much affliction.

In the beginning, prospects could hardly have been brighter.  His beautiful home seemed perfect.  At the office he found work to his hand, and enjoyed it.  His co-editor, J. W. Larned, who sat across the table from him, used to tell later how Mark enjoyed his work as he went along —­the humor of it—­frequently laughing as some new absurdity came into his mind.  He was not very regular in his arrivals, but he worked long hours and turned in a vast amount of “copy”—­skits, sketches, editorials, and comments of a varied sort.  Not all of it was humorous; he would stop work any time on an amusing sketch to attack some abuse or denounce an injustice, and he did it in scorching words that made offenders pause.  Once, when two practical jokers had sent in a marriage notice of persons not even contemplating matrimony, he wrote: 

   “This deceit has been practised maliciously by a couple of men whose
   small souls will escape through their pores some day if they do not
   varnish their hides.”

In May he considerably increased his income by undertaking a department called “Memoranda” for the new “Galaxy” magazine.  The outlook was now so promising that to his lecture agent, James Redpath, he wrote: 

Dear red:  I’m not going to lecture any more forever.  I’ve got things ciphered down to a fraction now.  I know just about what it will cost to live, and I can make the money without lecturing.  Therefore, old man, count me out.”

And in a second letter: 

“I guess I’m out of the field permanently.  Have got a lovely wife, a lovely house bewitchingly furnished, a lovely carriage, and a coachman whose style and dignity are simply awe-inspiring, nothing less; and I’m making more money than necessary, by considerable, and therefore why crucify myself nightly on the platform!  The subscriber will have to be excused, for the present season, at least.”

The little household on Delaware Avenue was indeed a happy place during those early months.  Neither Clemens nor his wife in those days cared much for society, preferring the comfort of their own home.  Once when a new family moved into a house across the way they postponed calling until they felt ashamed.  Clemens himself called first.  One Sunday morning he noticed smoke pouring from an upper window of their neighbor’s house.  The occupants, seated on the veranda, evidently did not suspect their danger.  Clemens stepped across to the gate and, bowing politely, said: 

   “My name is Clemens; we ought to have called on you before, and I
   beg your pardon for intruding now in this informal way, but your
   house is on fire.”

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