In some respects you take after your father, but you are much more like your mother, who belongs to the long-lived, energetic side of the house.... You never brought all your energies to bear upon any subject but what you accomplished it--for instance, you are self-made, self-educated.

S. L. C. Which proves nothing.

MADAME. Don't interrupt. When you sought your present occupation you found a thousand obstacles in the way--obstacles unknown--not even suspected by any save you and me, since you keep such matters to yourself--but you fought your way, and hid the long struggle under a mask of cheerfulness, which saved your friends anxiety on your account. To do all this requires all the qualities I have named.

S. L. C. You flatter well, Madame.

MADAME. Don't interrupt: Up to within a short time you had always lived from hand to mouth-now you are in easy circumstances--for which you need give credit to no one but yourself. The turning point in your life occurred in 1840-7-8.

S. L. C. Which was?

MADAME. A death perhaps, and this threw you upon the world and made you what you are; it was always intended that you should make yourself; therefore, it was well that this calamity occurred as early as it did. You will never die of water, although your career upon it in the future seems well sprinkled with misfortune. You will continue upon the water for some time yet; you will not retire finally until ten years from now .... What is your brother's age? 35--and a lawyer? and in pursuit of an office? Well, he stands a better chance than the other two, and he may get it; he is too visionary--is always flying off on a new hobby; this will never do--tell him I said so. He is a good lawyer--a, very good lawyer--and a fine speaker--is very popular and much respected, and makes many friends; but although he retains their friendship, he loses their confidence by displaying his instability of character..... The land he has now will be very valuable after a while--

S. L. C. Say a 50 years hence, or thereabouts. Madame--

MADAME. No--less time-but never mind the land, that is a secondary consideration--let him drop that for the present, and devote himself to his business and politics with all his might, for he must hold offices under the Government.....

After a while you will possess a good deal of property--retire at the end of ten years--after which your pursuits will be literary--try the law-- you will certainly succeed. I am done now. If you have any questions to ask--ask them freely--and if it be in my power, I will answer without reserve--without reserve.

I asked a few questions of minor importance--paid her $2--and left, under the decided impression that going to the fortune teller's was just as good as going to the opera, and the cost scarcely a trifle more--ergo, I will disguise myself and go again, one of these days, when other amusements fail. Now isn't she the devil? That is to say, isn't she a right smart little woman?

When you want money, let Ma know, and she will send it. She and Pamela are always fussing about change, so I sent them a hundred and twenty quarters yesterday--fiddler's change enough to last till I get back, I reckon. SAM.

It is not so difficult to credit Madame Caprell with clairvoyant powers when one has read the letters of Samuel Clemens up to this point. If we may judge by those that have survived, her prophecy of literary distinction for him was hardly warranted by anything she could have known of his past performance. These letters of his youth have a value to-day only because they were written by the man who later was to become Mark Twain. The squibs and skits which he sometimes contributed to the New Orleans papers were bright, perhaps, and pleasing to his pilot associates, but they were without literary value. He was twenty-five years old. More than one author has achieved reputation at that age.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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