The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Paine

Presented by

Public Domain Books

LVI. Honored by Missouri

The family did not return to New York. They took a beautiful house at Riverdale on the Hudson–the old Appleton homestead. Here they established themselves and settled down for American residence. They would have bought the Appleton place, but the price was beyond their reach.

It was in the autumn of 1901 that Mark Twain settled in Riverdale. In June of the following year he was summoned West to receive the degree of LL.D. from the university of his native state. He made the journey a sort of last general visit to old associations and friends. In St. Louis he saw Horace Bixby, fresh, wiry, and capable as he had been forty-five years before. Clemens said:

“I have become an old man. You are still thirty-five.”

They went over to the rooms of the pilots’ association, where the river- men gathered in force to celebrate his return. Then he took train for Hannibal.

He spent several days in Hannibal and saw Laura Hawkins–Mrs. Frazer, and a widow now–and John Briggs, an old man, and John RoBards, who had worn the golden curls and the medal for good conduct. They drove him to the old house on Hill Street, where once he had lived and set type; photographers were there and photographed him standing at the front door.

“It all seems so small to me,” he said, as he looked through the house. “A boy’s home is a big place to him. I suppose if I should come back again ten years from now it would be the size of a bird-house.” He did not see “Huck"–Torn Blankenship had not lived in Hannibal for many years. But he was driven to all the familiar haunts–to Lover’s Leap, the cave, and the rest; and Sunday afternoon, with John Briggs, he walked over Holliday’s Hill–the “Cardiff Hill” of “Tom Sawyer.” It was just such a day, as the one when they had damaged a cooper shop and so nearly finished the old negro driver. A good deal more than fifty years had passed since then, and now here they were once more–Tom Sawyer and Joe Harper–two old men, the hills still fresh and green, the river rippling in the sun. Looking across to the Illinois shore and the green islands where they had played, and to Lover’s Leap on the south, the man who had been Sam Clemens said:

“John, that is one of the loveliest sights I ever saw. Down there is the place we used to swim, and yonder is where a man was drowned, and there’s where the steamboat sank. Down there on Lover’s Leap is where the Millerites put on their robes one night to go to heaven. None of them went that night, but I suppose most of them have gone now.”

John Briggs said, “Sam, do you remember the day we stole peaches from old man Price, and one of his bow-legged niggers came after us with dogs, and how we made up our minds we’d catch that nigger and drown him?”

And so they talked on of this thing and that, and by and by drove along the river, and Sam Clemens pointed out the place where he swam it and was taken with a cramp on the return.

“Once near the shore I thought I would let down,” he said, “but was afraid to, knowing that if the water was deep I was a goner, but finally my knee struck the sand and I crawled out. That was the closest call I ever had.”

They drove by a place where a haunted house had stood. They drank from a well they had always known–from the bucket, as they had always drunk– talking, always talking, touching with lingering fondness that most beautiful and safest of all our possessions–the past.

“Sam,” said John, when they parted, “this is probably the last time we shall meet on earth. God bless you. Perhaps somewhere we shall renew our friendship.”

“John,” was the answer, “this day has been worth a thousand dollars to me. We were like brothers once, and I feel that we are the same now. Good-by, John. I’ll try to meet you somewhere.”

Clemens left next day for Columbia, where the university is located. At each station a crowd had gathered to cheer and wave as the train pulled in and to offer him flowers. Sometimes he tried to say a few words, but his voice would not come. This was more than even Tom Sawyer had dreamed.

Certainly there is something deeply touching in the recognition of one’s native State; the return of the boy who has set out unknown to battle with life and who is called back to be crowned is unlike any other home- coming–more dramatic, more moving. Next day at the university Mark Twain, summoned before the crowded assembly-hall to receive his degree, stepped out to the center of the stage and paused. He seemed in doubt as to whether he should make a speech or only express his thanks for the honor received. Suddenly and without signal the great audience rose and stood in silence at his feet. He bowed but he could not speak. Then the vast assembly began a peculiar chant, spelling out slowly the word M-i-s- s-o-u-r-i, with a pause between each letter. It was tremendously impressive.

Mark Twain was not left in doubt as to what was required of him when the chant ended. The audience demanded a speech–a speech, and he made them one–such a speech as no one there would forget to his dying day.

Back in St. Louis, he attended the rechristening of the St. Louis harbor boat; it had been previously called the “St. Louis,” but it was now to be called the “Mark Twain.”


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

[Buy at Amazon]
The boys' life of Mark Twain: The story of a man who made the world laugh and love him
By Albert Bigelow Paine
At Amazon