Louis, subsequently to Hannibal, his old home. The death of this lovely boy was a heavy sorrow to the community where he was known, for he had been a favorite with all.--[For a fine characterization of Henry Clemens the reader is referred to a letter written by Orion Clemens to Miss Wood. See Appendix A, at the end of the last volume.]

From Hannibal the family returned to Pamela's home in St. Louis. There one night Orion heard his brother moaning and grieving and walking the floor of his room. By and by Sam came in to where Orion was. He could endure it no longer, he said; he must, "tell somebody."

Then he poured all the story of that last tragic night. It has been set down here because it accounts for much in his after-life. It magnified his natural compassion for the weakness and blunders of humanity, while it increased the poor opinion implanted by the Scotchman Macfarlane of the human being as a divine invention. Two of Mark Twain's chief characteristics were--consideration for the human species, and contempt for it.

In many ways he never overcame the tragedy of Henry's death. He never really looked young again. Gray hairs had come, as he said, and they did not disappear. His face took on the serious, pathetic look which from that time it always had in repose. At twenty-three he looked thirty. At thirty he looked nearer forty. After that the discrepancy in age and looks became less notable. In vigor, complexion, and temperament he was regarded in later life as young for his years, but never in looks.



The young pilot returned to the river as steersman for George Ealer, whom he loved, and in September of that year obtained a full license as Mississippi River pilot.--[In Life on the Mississippi he gives his period of learning at from two to two and a half years; but documentary evidence as well as Mr. Bixby's testimony places the apprenticeship at eighteen months]--Bixby had returned by this time, and they were again together, first on the Crescent City, later on a fine new boat called the New Falls City. Clemens was still a steersman when Bixby returned; but as soon as his license was granted (September 9, 1858) his old chief took him as full partner.

He was a pilot at last. In eighteen months he had packed away in his head all the multitude of volatile statistics and acquired that confidence and courage which made him one of the elect, a river sovereign. He knew every snag and bank and dead tree and reef in all those endless miles between St. Louis and New Orleans, every cut-off and current, every depth of water--the whole story--by night and by day. He could smell danger in the dark; he could read the surface of the water as an open page. At twenty-three he had acquired a profession which surpassed all others for absolute sovereignty and yielded an income equal to that then earned by the Vice-President of the United States. Boys generally finish college at about that age, but it is not likely that any boy ever finished college with the mass of practical information and training that was stored away in Samuel Clemens's head, or with his knowledge of human nature, his preparation for battle with the world.

"Not only was he a pilot, but a good one." These are Horace Bixby's words, and he added:

"It is the fashion to-day to disparage Sam's piloting. Men who were born since he was on the river and never saw him will tell you that Sam was never much of a pilot. Most of them will tell you that he was never a pilot at all. As a matter of fact, Sam was a fine pilot, and in a day when piloting on the Mississippi required a great deal more brains and skill and application than it does now. There were no signal-lights along the shore in those days, and no search-lights on the vessels; everything was blind, and on a dark, misty night in a river full of snags and shifting sand--bars and changing shores, a pilot's judgment had to be founded on absolute certainty."

He had plenty of money now. He could help his mother with a liberal hand, and he did it.

Mark Twain
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