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.

These little creatures knew all about the writing of books.  Susy’s earliest recollection was “Tom Sawyer” read aloud from the manuscript.  Also they knew about plays.  They could not remember a time when they did not take part in evening charades—­a favorite amusement in the Clemens home.

Mark Twain, who always loved his home and played with his children, invented the charades and their parts for them, at first, but as they grew older they did not need much help.  With the Twichell and Warner children they organized a little company for their productions, and entertained the assembled households.  They did not make any preparation for their parts.  A word was selected and the syllables of it whispered to the little actors.  Then they withdrew to the hall, where all sorts of costumes had been laid out for the evening, dressed their parts, and each group marched into the library, performed its syllable, and retired, leaving the audience of parents to guess the answer.  Now and then, even at this early day, they gave little plays, and of course Mark Twain could not resist joining them.  In time the plays took the place of the charades and became quite elaborate, with a stage and scenery, but we shall hear of this later on.

“The Prince and the Pauper” came to an end in due season, in spite of the wish of both author and audience for it to go on forever.  It was not published at once, for several reasons, the main one being that “A Tramp Abroad” had just been issued from the press, and a second book might interfere with its sale.

As it was, the “Tramp” proved a successful book—­never as successful as the “Innocents,” for neither its humor nor its description had quite the fresh quality of the earlier work.  In the beginning, however, the sales were large, the advance orders amounting to twenty-five thousand copies, and the return to the author forty thousand dollars for the first year.



A third little girl came to the Clemens household during the summer of 1880.  They were then at Quarry Farm, and Clemens wrote to his friend Twichell: 

Dear old Joe,—­Concerning Jean Clemens, if anybody said he “didn’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better than any other frog,” I should think he was convicting himself of being a pretty poor sort of an observer. . .  It is curious to note the change in the stock-quotations of the Affection Board.  Four weeks ago the children put Mama at the head of the list right along, where she has always been, but now: 
Motley }cat
Fraulein }cat

“That is the way it stands now.  Mama is become No. 2; I have dropped from 4 and become No. 5.  Some time ago it used to be nip and tuck between me and the cats, but after the cats “developed” I didn’t stand any more show.”

Those were happy days at Quarry Farm.  The little new baby thrived on that summer hilltop.

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