Samuel Clemens, Better Known as Mark Twain

- By Mary Stoyell Stimpson
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1. John Clemens, Samuel’s father, was a farmer and businessman in a Missouri town called Florida. He had bought seventy-five thousand acres of land when he was much younger. He paid just a few cents an acre. He expected to be a millionaire when that land went up in price. John Clemens was a good man and very smart, but he was not the least bit merry. His children never saw him laugh once in his whole life! Think about it!
 
2. Mrs. Clemens did not like to have any one around when she was working around the house. The six children spent the days roaming through the country, picking nuts and berries. When it was night, and they had had their supper, they would crowd around the open fire. Ned, the farm helper, would tell them many wonderful stories.
 
3. Uncle Ned was a famous story-teller. When he described witches and goblins, the children would look over their shoulders as if they half expected to see the strange creatures in the room. All these stories began, “Once upon a time,” but each one ended differently. Sam admired Uncle Ned’s stories so much that he could hardly wait for the evening to come.
 
4. Sam was sent to school when he was five. He certainly did not like to study very well but did learn to be a fine reader and speller. His teachers said he ought to train himself for a writer, but it did not seem to him that there was anything so noble in this world as being a riverboat pilot. And, he loved the great Mississippi River better than any place he had known or could imagine.
 
5. Sam’s father died, whispering: “Don’t sell the Tennessee land! Hold on to it, and you will all be rich!” After his death, Sam learned the printer’s trade. He worked with his brother until he was eighteen, and then he told his mother that he wanted to start out for himself in the world.
 
6. He went to St. Louis. He meant to travel, and as he earned enough by newspaper work, he visited New York, Philadelphia, and was on his way to South America when he got a chance to be a pilot on the Mississippi River. While he was learning this trade, he was happier than he had ever been in his life. If you want to know what happened to him at this time, you must read a book he wrote called Life on the Mississippi River. He wrote a great many books and signed whatever he wrote with a strange name—Mark Twain. This was an old term used by pilots to show how deep the water is where they throw the lead.
 
7. Mr. Clemens had a wife and children of whom he was very fond. As he made much money from his books, they were all able to travel to foreign countries. And the old Tennessee land his father had bought never brought any wealth to the Clemens family. It was sold for less than what the taxes cost!

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Word Lists:

Pilot : a person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft

Acre : a unit of land area equal to 4,840 square yards (0.405 hectare)

Roam : move about or travel aimlessly or unsystematically, especially over a wide area

Farmer : a person who owns or manages a farm.

Merry : cheerful and lively

Trade : the action of buying and selling goods and services

Fond : having an affection or liking for

Expected : regarded as likely; anticipated

Earn : obtain (money) in return for labor or services

Strange : unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand

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Additional Information:

Rating: A

Words: 526

Unique Words : 266

Sentences : 49

Reading Time : 2:20

Noun : 162

Conjunction : 49

Adverb : 36

Interjection : 1

Adjective : 28

Pronoun : 62

Verb : 99

Preposition : 45

Letter Count : 2,169

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Conversational

Difficult Words : 93

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