Page:Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field.djvu/20

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little blackmailer, and don't tell your mamma how you worked that fool papa of yours."

Indeed, Mark was not always the humorist the public mind pictures him. Very often, for long hours at a time, in our intercourse extending over thirty years, he was decidedly serious, while at other times he grumbled at everything and everybody. His initial object in choosing me for his "bear-leader" was to add to his stock of knowledge on foreign affairs and to correct erroneous ideas he might have acquired from books. Since I had resided many years on the Continent, and had command of the languages he lacked, he asked me to pilot him around Berlin, Paris, and Vienna, and on such occasions his talk was more often deep and learned than laughter-provoking. In an afternoon or morning's work—getting atmosphere, i.e., "the hang of things" German or Austrian, as Mark called it—he sometimes dropped two or three memorable witticisms, but familiar intercourse in the long run left no doubt of the fact that a very serious vein bordering on melancholy underlay his mask of bonhomie. On the other hand a closer or more intelligent student of life never lived. He was as conscientious, as true, and as simple as Washington Irving.

Those occasional lapses into dejection notwithstanding, it struck me that Mark extracted his humor out of the bounty and abundance of his own nature. Hence his tinkling gro-