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About the Author
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an author and humorist noted for the novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has been called "The Great American Novel") and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among many other books. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and he spent time as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before finding fame as a writer.
Date of Birth:November 30, 1835
Date of Death:April 21, 1910
Place of Birth:Florida, Missouri
Place of Death:Redding, Connecticut
Read an Excerpt
LAKESIDE was a pleasant little town of five or six thousand inhabitants, and a rather pretty one, too, as towns go in the Far West. It had church accommodations for 35,000, which is the way of the Far West and the South, where everybody is religious, and where each of the Protestant sects is represented and has a plant of its own. Rank was unknown in Lakeside - unconfessed, anyway; everybody knew everybody and his dog, and a sociable friendliness was the prevailing atmosphere.
Saladin Foster was book-keeper in the principal store, and the only high-salaried man of his profession in Lakeside. He was thirty-five years old, now; he had served that store for fourteen years; he had begun in his marriage-week at four hundred dollars a year, and had climbed steadily up, a hundred dollars a year, for four years; from that time forth his wage had remained eight hundred - a handsome figure indeed, and everybody conceded that he was worth it.
His wife, Electra, was a capable helpmeet, although - like himself - a dreamer of dreams and a private dabbler in romance. The first thing she did, after her marriage - child as she was, aged only nineteen - was to buy an acre of ground on the edge of the town, and pay down the cash for it - twenty-five dollars, all her fortune. Saladin had less, by fifteen. She instituted a vegetable garden there, got it farmed on shares by the nearest neighbor, and made it pay her a hundred per cent. a year. Out of Saladin's first year's wage she put thirty dollars in the savings-bank, sixty out of his second, a hundred out of his third, a hundred and fifty out of his fourth. His wage went to eight hundred a year, then, and meantime two children had arrived and increased the expenses, but she banked two hundred a year from the salary, nevertheless, thenceforth. When she had been married seven years she built and furnished a pretty and comfortable two-thousand-dollar house in the midst of her garden-acre, paid half of the money down and moved her family in. Seven years later she was out of debt and had several hundred dollars out earning its living.
Earning it by the rise in landed estate; for she had long ago bought another acre or two and sold the most of it at a profit to pleasant people who were willing to build, and would be good neighbors and furnish a general comradeship for herself and her growing family. She had an independent income from safe investments of about a hundred dollars a year; her children were growing in years and grace; and she was a pleased and happy woman. Happy in her husband, happy in her children, and the husband and the children were happy in her. It is at this point that this history begins.
The youngest girl, Clytemnestra - called Clytie for short - was eleven; her sister, Gwendolen - called Gwen for short - was thirteen; nice girls, and comely. The names betray the latent romance-tinge in the parental blood, the parents' names indicate that the tinge was an inheritance. It was an affectionate family, hence all four of its members had pet names. Saladin's was a curious and unsexing one - Sally; and so was Electra's - Aleck. All day long Sally was a good and diligent book-keeper and salesman; all day long Aleck was a good and faithful mother and housewife, and thoughtful and calculating business-woman; but in the cosey living-room at night they put the plodding world away, and lived in another and a fairer, reading romances to each other, dreaming dreams, comrading with kings and princes and stately lords and ladies in the flash and stir and splendor of noble palaces and grim and ancient castles.
Table of ContentsCONTENTS
The $30,000 Bequest
A Dog's Tale
Was it Heaven? or Hell?
The Californian's Tale
A Helpless Situation
A Telephonic Conversation
Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale
Saint Joan of Arc
The Five Boons of Life
The First Writing-Machines
Italian without a Master
Italian with Grammar
A Burlesque Biography
General Washington's Negro Body-Servant
Wit Inspirations of the "Two-Year-Olds"
An Entertaining Article
A Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury
A Monument to Adam
A Humane Word from Satan
Introduction to "The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English"
Advice to Little Girls
The Danger of Lying in Bed
Portrait of King William III
Does the Race of Man Love a Lord?