He would lecture any time in a colored church, when he would as likely as not refuse point-blank to speak for a white congregation. Once, in Elmira, he received a request, poorly and none too politely phrased, to speak for one of the churches. He was annoyed and about to send a brief refusal, when Mrs. Clemens, who was present, said:

"I think I know that church, and if so this preacher is a colored man; he does not know how to write a polished letter--how should he?" Her husband's manner changed so suddenly that she added: "I will give you a motto, and it will be useful to you if you will adopt it: Consider every man colored until he is proved white."

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

HARTFORD, Feb. 27, 1881. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I go to West Point with Twichell tomorrow, but shall be back Tuesday or Wednesday; and then just as soon thereafter as you and Mrs. Howells and Winny can come you will find us ready and most glad to see you--and the longer you can stay the gladder we shall be. I am not going to have a thing to do, but you shall work if you want to. On the evening of March 10th, I am going to read to the colored folk in the African Church here (no whites admitted except such as I bring with me), and a choir of colored folk will sing jubilee songs. I count on a good time, and shall hope to have you folks there, and Livy. I read in Twichell's chapel Friday night and had a most rattling high time--but the thing that went best of all was Uncle Remus's Tar Baby. I mean to try that on my dusky audience. They've all heard that tale from childhood-- at least the older members have.

I arrived home in time to make a most noble blunder--invited Charley Warner here (in Livy's name) to dinner with the Gerhardts, and told him Livy had invited his wife by letter and by word of mouth also. I don't know where I got these impressions, but I came home feeling as one does who realizes that he has done a neat thing for once and left no flaws or loop-holes. Well, Livy said she had never told me to invite Charley and she hadn't dreamed of inviting Susy, and moreover there wasn't any dinner, but just one lean duck. But Susy Warner's intuitions were correct--so she choked off Charley, and staid home herself--we waited dinner an hour and you ought to have seen that duck when he was done drying in the oven. MARK.

Clemens and his wife were always privately assisting worthy and ambitious young people along the way of achievement. Young actors were helped through dramatic schools; young men and women were assisted through college and to travel abroad. Among others Clemens paid the way of two colored students, one through a Southern institution and another through the Yale law school.

The mention of the name of Gerhardt in the preceding letter introduces the most important, or at least the most extensive, of these benefactions. The following letter gives the beginning of the story:

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

Private and Confidential. HARTFORD, Feb. 21, 1881. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Well, here is our romance.

It happened in this way. One morning, a month ago--no, three weeks-- Livy, and Clara Spaulding and I were at breakfast, at 10 A.M., and I was in an irritable mood, for the barber was up stairs waiting and his hot water getting cold, when the colored George returned from answering the bell and said: "There's a lady in the drawing-room wants to see you." "A book agent!" says I, with heat. "I won't see her; I will die in my tracks, first."

Then I got up with a soul full of rage, and went in there and bent scowling over that person, and began a succession of rude and raspy questions--and without even offering to sit down.

Not even the defendant's youth and beauty and (seeming) timidity were able to modify my savagery, for a time--and meantime question and answer were going on.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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