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
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
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!