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(Pseudonym of Samual langhorn Clemens)
Susy, Mark Twain’s daughter began the biography of her father when she
was fourteen years old. She begins in this way:
“We are a very happy family. We consists of papa, Mama, Jean, Clara and
It’s a Papa I am wrihting about.
Papa has beautiful gray hair, not any too thick or any too long, but
just right, kind blue eyes and a small moustache. In short he is an
extraordinary fine-looking man. He is a very funny one. He does tell
perfectly delightful stories. Clara and I used to sit on each arm of
his chair and listen while he told us stories.”
And that, in 1885, was the family of Mark Twain, whose real name was
Samual langhorn Clemens.
Sam was born in a very small town called Florida in Missouri. The
village contained a hundred people and Sam “increased the population by
1 per cent.”
Most of the houses were of logs. Beyond and beyond, shining in the sun,
the Mississippi roled to the distant sea.
The beside this river, Samual Clemens grew into his boyhood. He saw
negrous chained like animals for transportation to richer slave markets
to the South. Sam’s father owned slaves. For a girl of fifteen he paid
twelwe dollars; for a woman of twenty-five – he paid twenty-five
dollars; for a strong negro woman of forty – he paid forty dollars. All
the negroes of his own age were good friends of Sam. The young boy has
always remember these sad things. Better things he remembered also. He
remembered below the village woods “a heavenly place” where he played
with the boys.
When he was four Sam’s familly moved to Hannibal. Their in 1849 his
father died. Before the funeral Sam promised to his mother to be a
better boy, to go to work, and care for her.
His first job
Sam soon had to live school and take a part time job as delivery and
errand boy for Hannibal’s newspaper; serving at times as grocer’s clerk,
blacksmith’s helper and bookseller’s assistant.
Always hungry, poor Sam filched onions and potatoes from the cellar,
cooking them over the printing-office stove.
Sam decided he had had enough of such an unhappy life and went to work,
as a “skilled printer of fifteen”, for his brother Orion who managed a
newspaper in Hannibal.
Here Sam began his career writing humorous scetches, published in a
One night Sam was reading the diary of an Amazon explorer. He read about
painted Indians shoting their poisoned arrows at tigers, of coloured
parrots and agile monkeys dancing in the high trees. Sam was enchanted.
He made up his mind to go to the head-waters of the Amazon and collect
coco from coco bushes and make a fortune.
Here is what Sam learned about the coco leaves: “The leaf of this plant
is to the Indian of Peru what tobacco is to our laboring classes is to
From the night on the Amazon fever burnt in Sam. But poor Sam was
One winter day Sam was walking down the street. A strong wind was
blowing. Suddenly a small paper whirling on the pavement caught his eye.
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