and myself will hold a grand consultation to-night at the office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.
He had enlisted those two adventurers in his enterprise: a Doctor Martin and the young man, Ward. They were very much in earnest, but the start was not made as planned, most likely for want of means.
Young Clemens, however, did not give up the idea. He made up his mind to work in the direction of his desire, following his trade and laying by money for the venture. But Fate or Providence or Accident--whatever we may choose to call the unaccountable--stepped in just then, and laid before him the means of turning another sharp corner in his career. One of those things happened which we refuse to accept in fiction as possible; but fact has a smaller regard for the credibilities.
As in the case of the Joan of Arc episode (and this adds to its marvel), it was the wind that brought the talismanic gift. It was a day in early November--bleak, bitter, and gusty, with curling snow; most persons were indoors. Samuel Clemens, going down Main Street, saw a flying bit of paper pass him and lodge against the side of a building. Something about it attracted him and he captured it. It was a fifty-dollar bill. He had never seen one before, but he recognized it. He thought he must be having a pleasant dream.
The temptation came to pocket his good-fortune and say nothing. His need of money was urgent, but he had also an urgent and troublesome conscience; in the end he advertised his find.
"I didn't describe it very particularly, and I waited in daily fear that the owner would turn up and take away my fortune. By and by I couldn't stand it any longer. My conscience had gotten all that was coming to it. I felt that I must take that money out of danger."
In the "Turning-point" article he says: "I advertised the find and left for the Amazon the same day," a statement which we may accept with a literary discount.
As a matter of fact, he remained ample time and nobody ever came for the money. It may have been swept out of a bank or caught up by the wind from some counting-room table. It may have materialized out of the unseen--who knows? At all events it carried him the first stage of a journey, the end of which he little dreamed.
SCOTCHMAN NAMED MACFARLANE
He concluded to go to Cincinnati, which would be on the way either to New York or New Orleans (he expected to sail from one of these points), but first paid a brief visit to his mother in St. Louis, for he had a far journey and along absence in view. Jane Clemens made him renew his promise as to cards and liquor, and gave him her blessing. He had expected to go from St. Louis to Cincinnati, but a new idea--a literary idea--came to him, and he returned to Keokuk. The Saturday Post, a Keokuk weekly, was a prosperous sheet giving itself certain literary airs. He was in favor with the management, of which George Rees was the head, and it had occurred to him that he could send letters of his travels to the Post--for, a consideration. He may have had a still larger ambition; at least, the possibility of a book seems to have been in his consciousness. Rees agreed to take letters from him at five dollars each--good payment for that time and place. The young traveler, jubilant in the prospect of receiving money for literature, now made another start, this time by way of Quincy, Chicago, and Indianapolis according to his first letter in the Post.--[Supplied by Thomas Rees, of the Springfield (Illinois) Register, son of George Rees named.]
This letter is dated Cincinnati, November 14, 1856, and it is not a promising literary production. It was written in the exaggerated dialect then regarded as humorous, and while here and there are flashes of the undoubted Mark Twain type, they are few and far between. The genius that a little more than ten years later would delight the world flickered feebly enough at twenty-one. The letter is a burlesque account of the trip to Cincinnati.