Mark Twain Reflects.
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS, according to a story which he recently told to a friend, went wandering down Broadway in the region of Wall Street on a matter of business last week, and being through with this continued on his way to the Battery, where he thought that he would take a look at the fish in the Aquarium.
"I thought," said Mr. Clemens, "I would look them over, because I was in need of a fish story, and all I knew were so intimately connected with a hook and line, with a liar at the other end, that I was looking for the fish themselves in the hope that one of them might whisper a tale or make me think they did.
"I wandered along looking at funeral processions, mixed up with trolley cars and public vehicles trying to mix up their mechanism with what might be left of unfortunate human beings, so that they would not be too presentable when they were to have funerals, and I was wondering about the mutability of mortals when a motorman, in mixed metaphor, called to my realization the fact that I was much in his mind as a possible mixture of what had been a man. The worst of it was that he called me a white-headed old fool, and there was no chance for a reply, because he was well on his way when I realized that I was safe and delighted that no one I knew had seen me in flight.
"Then it occurred to me that in all my way down the street there had not been a person as I passed to look up with a gleam of recognition. I had written for so many people with illustrations of myself in my books and I knew that they had met with large sales, and then I had lectured now and then in a most serious fashion about affairs so distressing that I was moved to tears, while my hearers would laugh, presuming that all I had to say must be ludicrous. While I was thinking how strange it was that no one knew me on lower Broadway I recalled the story of my old friend, Tom Reed.
"Not long before he died he was riding on a Broadway car and was forced to stand up. His weight and his height made this difficult, because he would have to stoop to hang on to a strap, and if he stood straight, clutch the ceiling to avoid being thrown when going around the curves. Tom had had his pictures so often drawn and had been so long in the public eye that he wondered that some one did not at least recognize him, to pity him, even if they did not give him a seat. When the car reached the barn and there was a change of conductors the new one greeted him politely and gruffly ordered passengers to squeeze together, as he wanted room for 'Czar Reed.' He sat himself down with the remark: 'Thanks for the courtesy, but I deprecate the notoriety.'
I felt a good deal like my old friend of long ago. Nobody seemed to know me or care for me, and no one offered me a ride in their carriage or automobile. Near the old Field Building was a bootblack who hailed me with delight.
"Hello, Mr. Marka Twaina!" he shouted. 'I saw you in the Settlement home, where you told such beautifula sada stories.' I took a car, adjourning my investigation, interrogation, and interviewing of the fish.
"There was a veteran conductor in charge. As he took my fare he said solemnly:
" 'Punch, brothers, punch, punch with care,
Punch in the presence of the passenger.'
"Then I knew there were a few who recognized me in their own manner, and I felt a good deal like poor Tom Reed did. It is a great city of sadness, with only now and then a gleam of gladness."
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