The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Paine

Presented by

Public Domain Books

XLII. Many Investments

The “Prince and the Pauper,” delayed for one reason and another, did not make its public appearance until the end of 1881. It was issued by Osgood, of Boston, and was a different book in every way from any that Mark Twain had published before. Mrs. Clemens, who loved the story, had insisted that no expense should be spared in its making, and it was, indeed, a handsome volume. It was filled with beautiful pen-and-ink drawings, and the binding was rich. The dedication to its two earliest critics read:

“To those good-mannered and agreeable children, Susy and Clara Clemens.”

The story itself was unlike anything in Mark Twain’s former work. It was pure romance, a beautiful, idyllic tale, though not without his touch of humor and humanity on every page. And how breathlessly interesting it is! We may imagine that first little audience–the “two good-mannered and agreeable children,” drawing up in their little chairs by the fireside, hanging on every paragraph of the adventures of the wandering prince and Tom Canty, the pauper king, eager always for more.

The story, at first, was not entirely understood by the reviewers. They did not believe it could be serious. They expected a joke in it somewhere. Some even thought they had found it. But it was not a joke, it was just a simple tale–a beautiful picture of a long-vanished time. One critic, wiser than the rest, said:

“The characters of those two boys, twin in spirit, will rank with the purest and loveliest creations of child-life in the realm of fiction.”

Mark Twain was now approaching the fullness of his fame and prosperity. The income from his writing was large; Mrs. Clemens possessed a considerable fortune of her own; they had no debts. Their home was as perfectly appointed as a home could well be, their family life was ideal. They lived in the large, hospitable way which Mrs. Clemens had known in her youth, and which her husband, with his Southern temperament, loved. Their friends were of the world’s chosen, and they were legion in number. There were always guests in the Clemens home–so many, indeed, were constantly coming and going that Mark Twain said he was going to set up a private ’bus to save carnage hire. Yet he loved it all dearly, and for the most part realized his happiness.

Unfortunately, there were moments when he forgot that his lot was satisfactory, and tried to improve it. His Colonel Sellers imagination, inherited from both sides of his family, led him into financial adventures which were generally unprofitable. There were no silver-mines in the East into which to empty money and effort, as in the old Nevada days, but there were plenty of other things–inventions, stock companies, and the like.

When a man came along with a patent steam-generator which would save ninety per cent. of the usual coal-supply, Mark Twain invested whatever bank surplus he had at the moment, and saw that money no more forever.

After the steam-generator came a steam-pulley, a small affair, but powerful enough to relieve him of thirty-two thousand dollars in a brief time.

A new method of marine telegraphy was offered him by the time his balance had grown again, a promising contrivance, but it failed to return the twenty-five thousand dollars invested in it by Mark Twain. The list of such adventures is too long to set down here. They differ somewhat, but there is one feature common to all–none of them paid. At last came a chance in which there was really a fortune. A certain Alexander Graham Bell, an inventor, one day appeared, offering stock in an invention for carrying the human voice on an electric wire. But Mark Twain had grown wise, he thought. Long after he wrote:

“I declined. I said I did not want any more to do with wildcat speculation .... I said I didn’t want it at any price. He (Bell) became eager; and insisted I take five hundred dollars’ worth. He said he would sell me as much as I wanted for five hundred dollars; offered to let me gather it up in my hands and measure it in a plug- hat; said I could have a whole hatful for five hundred dollars. But I was a burnt child, and resisted all these temptations–resisted them easily; went off with my money, and next day lent five thousand of it to a friend who was going to go bankrupt three days later.”

It was the chance of fortune thus thrown away which, perhaps, led him to take up later with an engraving process–an adventure which lasted through several years and ate up a heavy sum. Altogether, these experiences in finance cost Mark Twain a fair-sized fortune, though, after all, they were as nothing compared with the great type-machine calamity which we shall hear of in a later chapter.


Preface  •  I. The Family of John Clemens  •  II. The New Home, and Uncle John Quarles’s Farm  •  IV. Education Out of School  •  V. Tom Sawyer and His Band  •  VI. Closing School-Days  •  VII. The Apprentice  •  VIII. Orion’s Paper  •  IX. The Open Road  •  X. A Wind of Chance  •  XI. The Long Way to the Amazon  •  XII. Renewing an Old Ambition  •  XIII. Learning the River  •  XIV. River Days  •  XV. The Wreck of the “Pennsylvania”  •  XVI. The Pilot  •  XVII. The End of Piloting  •  XVIII. The Soldier  •  XIX. The Pioneer  •  XX. The Miner  •  XXI. The Territorial Enterprise  •  XXII. “Mark Twain”  •  XXIII. Artemus Ward and Literary San Francisco  •  XXIV. The Discovery of “The Jumping Frog”  •  XXV. Hawaii and Anson Burlingame  •  XXVI. Mark Twain, Lecturer  •  XXVII. An Innocent Abroad, and Home Again  •  XXVIII. Olivia Langdon. Work on the “Innocents”  •  XXIX. The Visit to Elmira and Its Consequences  •  XXX. The New Book and a Wedding  •  XXXI. Mark Twain in Buffalo  •  XXXII. At Work on “Roughing It”  •  XXXIII. In England  •  XXXIV. A New Book and New English Triumphs  •  XXXV. Beginning “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVI. The New Home  •  XXXVII. “Old Times,” “Sketches,” And “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVIII. Home Pictures  •  XXXIX. Tramping Abroad  •  XL. “The Prince and the Pauper”  •  XLI. General Grant at Hartford  •  XLII. Many Investments  •  XLIII. Back to the River, With Bixby  •  XLIV. A Reading-Tour With Cable  •  XLV. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”  •  XLVI. Publisher to General Grant  •  XLVII. The High-Tide of Fortune  •  XLVIII. Business Difficulties. Pleasanter Things  •  XLIX. Kipling at Elmira. Elsie Leslie. The “Yankee”  •  L. The Machine. Good-By to Hartford. “Joan” Is Begun  •  LI. The Failure of Webster & Co. Around the World. Sorrow  •  LII. European Economies  •  LIII. Mark Twain Pays His Debts  •  LIV. Return After Exile  •  LV. A Prophet At Home  •  LVI. Honored by Missouri  •  LVII. The Close of a Beautiful Life  •  LVIII. Mark Twain at Seventy  •  LIX. Mark Twain Arranges for His Biography  •  LX. Working With Mark Twain  •  LXI. Dictations at Dublin, N. H.  •  LXII. A New Era of Billiards  •  LXIII. Living With Mark Twain  •  LXIV. A Degree From Oxford  •  LXV. The Removal to Redding  •  LXVI. Life at Stormfield  •  LXVII. The Death of Jean  •  LXVIII. Days in Bermuda  •  LXIX. The Return to Redding  •  LXX. The Close of a Great Life

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The boys' life of Mark Twain: The story of a man who made the world laugh and love him
By Albert Bigelow Paine
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