I was naturally astonished, and immediately wrote:

I did fall and skin my shin at five o'clock yesterday afternoon, but how did you find it out?

I followed the letter in person next day, and learned that at the same hour on the same afternoon Clemens himself had fallen up the front steps and, as he said, peeled off from his "starboard shin a ribbon of skin three inches long." The disaster was still uppermost in his mind at the time of writing, and the suggestion of my own mishap had flashed out for no particular reason.

Clemens was always having his fortune told, in one way or another, being superstitious, as he readily confessed, though at times professing little faith in these prognostics. Once when a clairvoyant, of whom he had never even heard, and whom he had reason to believe was ignorant of his family history, told him more about it than he knew himself, besides reading a list of names from a piece of paper which Clemens had concealed in his vest pocket he came home deeply impressed. The clairvoyant added that he would probably live to a great age and die in a, foreign land--a prophecy which did not comfort him.



Mark Twain was deeply interested during the autumn of 1907 in the Children's Theater of the Jewish Educational Alliance, on the lower East Side--a most worthy institution which ought to have survived. A Miss Alice M. Herts, who developed and directed it, gave her strength and health to build up an institution through which the interest of the children could be diverted from less fortunate amusements. She had interested a great body of Jewish children in the plays of Shakespeare, and of more modern dramatists, and these they had performed from time to time with great success. The admission fee to the performance was ten cents, and the theater was always crowded with other children--certainly a better diversion for them than the amusements of the street, though of course, as a business enterprise, the theater could not pay. It required patrons. Miss Herts obtained permission to play "The Prince and the Pauper," and Mark Twain agreed to become a sort of chief patron in using his influence to bring together an audience who might be willing to assist financially in this worthy work.

"The Prince and the Pauper" evening turned out a distinguished affair. On the night of November 19, 1907, the hall of the Educational Alliance was crowded with such an audience as perhaps never before assembled on the East Side; the finance and the fashion of New York were there. It was a gala night for the little East Side performers. Behind the curtain they whispered to each other that they were to play before queens. The performance they gave was an astonishing one. So fully did they enter into the spirit of Tom Canty's rise to royalty that they seemed absolutely to forget that they were lowly-born children of the Ghetto. They had become little princesses and lords and maids-in-waiting, and they moved through their pretty tinsel parts as if all their ornaments were gems and their raiment cloth of gold. There was no hesitation, no awkwardness of speech or gesture, and they rose really to sublime heights in the barn scene where the little Prince is in the hands of the mob. Never in the history of the stage has there been assembled a mob more wonderful than that. These children knew mobs! A mob to them was a daily sight, and their reproduction of it was a thing to startle you with its realism. Never was it absurd; never was there a single note of artificiality in it. It was Hogarthian in its bigness.

Both Mark Twain and Miss Herts made brief addresses, and the audience shouted approval of their words. It seems a pity that such a project as that must fail, and I do not know why it happened. Wealthy men and women manifested an interest; but there was some hitch somewhere, and the Children's Theater exists to-day only as history.--[In a letter to a Mrs. Amelia Dunne Hookway, who had conducted some children's plays at the Howland School, Chicago, Mark Twain once wrote: "If I were going to begin life over again I would have a children's theater and watch it, and work for it, and see it grow and blossom and bear its rich moral and intellectual fruitage; and I should get more pleasure and a saner and healthier profit out of my vocation than I should ever be able to get out of any other, constituted as I am.

Mark Twain
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