--[Two Mark Twain anecdotes are remembered of that winter at The Players:

Just before Christmas a member named Scott said one day:

"Mr. Clemens, you have an extra overcoat hanging in the coatroom. I've got to attend my uncle's funeral and it's raining very hard. I'd like to wear it."

The coat was an old one, in the pockets of which Clemens kept a melancholy assortment of pipes, soiled handkerchiefs, neckties, letters, and what not.

"Scott," he said, "if you won't lose anything out of the pockets of that coat you may wear it."

An hour or two later Clemens found a notice in his mail-box that a package for him was in the office. He called for it and found a neat bundle, which somehow had a Christmas look. He carried it up to the reading-room with a showy, air.

"Now, boys," he said, "you may make all the fun of Christmas you like, but it's pretty nice, after all, to be remembered."

They gathered around and he undid the package. It was filled with the pipes, soiled handkerchiefs, and other articles from the old overcoat. Scott had taken special precautions against losing them.

Mark Twain regarded them a moment in silence, then he drawled:

"Well--, d---n Scott. I hope his uncle's funeral will be a failure!"

The second anecdote concerns The Player egg-cups. They easily hold two eggs, but not three. One morning a new waiter came to take the breakfast order. Clemens said:

"Boy, put three soft eggs in that cup for me."

By and by the waiter returned, bringing the breakfast. Clemens looked at the egg portion and asked:

"Boy, what was my order?"

"Three soft eggs broken in the cup, Mr. Clemens."

"And you've filled that order, have you?"

"Yes, Mr. Clemens."

"Boy, you are trifling with the truth; I've been trying all winter to get three eggs into that cup."]

In one letter he tells of a dinner with his old Comstock friend, John Mackay--a dinner without any frills, just soup and raw oysters and corned beef and cabbage, such as they had reveled in sometimes, in prosperous moments, thirty years before.

"The guests were old gray Pacific coasters," he said, "whom I knew when they were young and not gray. The talk was of the days when we went gipsying-along time ago--thirty years."

Indeed, it was a talk of the dead. Mainly that. And of how they looked & the harum-scarum things they did & said. For there were no cares in that life, no aches & pains, & not time enough in the day (& three- fourths of the night) to work off one's surplus vigor & energy. Of the midnight highway-robbery joke played upon me with revolvers at my head on the windswept & desolate Gold Hill Divide no witness was left but me, the victim. Those old fools last night laughed till they cried over the particulars of that old forgotten crime.

In still another letter he told of a very wonderful entertainment at Robert Reid's studio. There were present, he says:

Coquelin; Richard Harding Davis; Harrison, the great outdoor painter; Wm. H. Chase, the artist; Bettini, inventor of the new phonograph; Nikola Tesla, the world-wide illustrious electrician; see article about him in Jan. or Feb. Century. John Drew, actor; James Barnes, a marvelous mimic; my, you should see him! Smedley, the artist; Zorn, " " Zogbaum, " " Reinhart, " " Metcalf, " " Ancona, head tenor at the Opera;

Oh, & a great lot of others. Everybody there had done something & was in his way famous.

Somebody welcomed Coquelin in a nice little French speech, John Drew did the like for me in English, & then the fun began. Coquelin did some excellent French monologues--one of them an ungrammatical Englishman telling a colorless historiette in French. It nearly killed the fifteen or twenty people who understood it.

I told a yarn, Ancona sang half a dozen songs, Barnes did his darling imitations, Handing Davis sang the hanging of Danny Deever, which was of course good, but he followed it with that mast fascinating (for what reason I don't know) of all Kipling's poems, "On the Road to Mandalay," sang it tenderly, & it searched me deeper & charmed me more than the Deever.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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