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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
[Dictated March .. iqo6.]
I AM talking of a time
sixty years ago an.':
upwards. [ remem
ber the name? of some
of those schoolmates.
It. ißr3. and. by fitful glimpses,
even their faces rise
dimly before me for a moment. — only just long
enough to X- recognized; then they vanish. I
catch glimpses of George Robards. the Latin
tie, studious, lending over his
book and absorbed in it. his long, straight black
hair banging down below his jaws like a pair of
actains on the sides of his face. I can see him
sive his head a toss and flirt one of the curtains
b*ck around bis head. — to get it out of his way. ap
parently; reall\ to show ofL
In that day it was a great thing among the boys
to have hair of so flexible a sort that it could be
fcng; back in that way. with a flirt of the head.
George Robards was the envy of us all; for there
tts no hair among us that was so competent for
thxs~exKbrtion as his, except, perhaps, the yellow
fo±s of Will Bowen and John Robards. My hair
*as a dense ruck of short curls, and so was my
brother Henn "s We tried all kinds of devices to
get these croo straightened out so that they
«tsM flirt; I t we never succeeded. Sometimes.
fat soaking 01 leads and then combing and brush
c? oar hair ■': >wn tight and fiat to our skulls, we
c - ! -.d get h straight temporarily, and this gave us
»/asnforting moment of joy; but the first time we
82W it a flirt it all shriveled into curls asain. and
02r happiness was gone.
fOHX ROBARDS was the little brother of George.
•■ 3e was a w--.- hap, with silky golden curtains to
-Is tice which dangled to his shoulders and below,
asdcoaldbe :'.::. j back ravisbingly. When he was
: he crossed the plains with his
: ■■'•." amidst the rush of the gold seekers of '40:
c: - i remember the departure of the cavalcade when
spurred westward. We were all there to see and
:j .5 nv >'- Aad I ■.:. still see that proud little chap
iii^r.g by or. a great horse, with his long locks
r.rtamir.g out behind.
*>c were all on hand to gaze and envy when
j- returned, two Years later, in unimaginable
F""'— lur he ha<i traveled! None of us had ever
•~- forty miles from home; but he had crossed
J* continent! He had been in the gold mines,
V^t fairyland of our imagination! And he had
pae'a still more wonderful thing. He had l>een
— in ships on the actual ocean; in ship^
?r ta ~ee_ actual Oceans! For he had sailed down
j* Pacific and around the Horn, among ice
°*Jgs and through -now storms and wild wintry
-^t aa '^ ***'* i; - : ' l 'l on and tume<l the corner and
j«*a northward ;:. the trades and up through the
j*®*nng equatorial waters. — and there in his
'^,? Ct ) vt ' r '-' the ... of what he had ktn
<"J J^'"- ;We would have sold our s<juls to Satan
'->:•"*- privilege of trading places with him.
j.^ Km a-ben I was out on that Miss<juri trip
f-fj - >ears J - He was old then. — though not
IS?; *<^d as I, — and the liurden of life was upon
F*-.; He said h:> granddaughter, twelve years <jld.
* ? Tt ' thi m >' books, and would like to see me. It
Z^ a Pathetic time ; for she was a prisoner in her
J^ o***!marked0 ***! marked for death. And John knew that
s passing swiftly away. Twelve years old—
list ? ra "'ifather's' age when he rode away on
bejsnj^ J ournv y w ith his yellow hair flapping
j. "T ii3za - In her I seemed to see that I«jv again.
out <>f that rei
. *' as Present before me in his golden youth
• \" malady wa.- heart disease, and her brief life came
Wa dose a few days later.
/Y-yTHEK ot - tjjosg schoolboys was John Garth.
to-^j 03 ™* a Pro^»erous banker and a promi
*^i dC V alue> 2 <?t«en; and a few years ago he
hTve'. an<i htmored - He died! It is what I
tII 's* say al^ut bo many of those Ik>vs and girls.
1- r>" : TT JJJ J ' V still iives - an(i there are grandchildren.
s.;j, (> *i *' a ;* UlJet days and my barefoot days -she wa» a
thZ w^ 3l^ of naneJ 1 saw John's tomb when I made
tiit earh^vr! Ir ; erchevas . na<i an apprentice in
hi^ T ' days when I was nine years old, and he
1 car~w a - c ""Oman who had many merits. But
ttatiooH Very kind!v or forgivingly' toward either
fcrtKp "PPreatice I^jv or that g<xjd slave woman;
Kg or ■ - f~~? my Ufe - ' One da >' whctl l was play
* Oft JV 005 ? lo S whi c }, 1 supped was attached to
B^2E tf hasn't,— it tilted me into Bear Creek.
-... mi. b» „„,„ A Brut . w _ A; . X: l<ncr , c:L
Things Which Happened Sixty Years Ago
■-'. b.en I had been under water twice and was"
coming op to make the third and fatal descent my
red above the v. - thai slave
■ hem and : \\ ithin a
week i in again, and 1 it apprentice h
- - time, and he plunged
pawed around on the bottcn
rut, and emptied the
• : iin. I was
drowne I seven 1 I '■<•: ■"• '
;. • be times in the
I d i not now know wl I were who
bul I b
Whei ! • taleof these i
pening Rev Dr. Hurt..!, of Hart
• ■ Lon the ice the very
; .-. . • ned hi okle!
Will Bowen was another sch • ■•
r Sai ho was hi j i
: ' t.boi
St. L - rleans 3
WE will return to those school children of sixty
years ago. I recall Mary Miller. She was
not my first sweetheart : but 1 think she was the
first one that furnished me a broken heart. I fell
in love with her when she was eighteen and I was
nine: but she scorned me. and I recognized that
this was a cold world. I had not noticed that tem
perature before. I believe I was as miserable as
even a grown man could be. But 1 think that this
sorrow did not re
main with me long.
As I remember it, I
soon transferred my
worship to Artimisia
Briggs, who was a
year older than Mary
Miller. When 1 re
vealed my passion
to her. she di I n<>'
scoff at ■■ She d'd
not make fun of it. She was very kind and gentle
about it. But she'was~also firm, ami said she did
not want to l>e pestered l>y children.
And there •■■<■ Mary Lacy. She was a school
mate. But she also was out of my class because of
her advanced age. She was pretty wild and deter
mined and independent. Bui she married, and at
once settled down and became in all ways a mode!
matron, and was as highly respected as any matron
in the town. Four years ago she was still living,
and had been married fifty years.
Jimmie McDaniel was another schoolmate. His
age and mine about tallied. His father kept the
candy shop, and he was the most envied little chap
in the — after Tom Blankenship ("Huck
Finn"), — for although we never saw him eating
candy, we supposed that it was. nevertheless, his
ordinary diet. He pretended that he never ate it,
and didn't care for it because there was nothing for
bidden about it. — there was plenty of it and he
could have as much of it as he wanted.
He was the first human being to whom I ever
told a humorous story, so far as I can remember.
This was about Jim "Wolfe and the cats; and I
gave him that tale the morning after that mem
orable episode. I thought he would laugh hi teeth
out. I had never been so proud and happy be
fore, and have seldom been so proud and happy
1 saw him four years ago when I was out there
He wore a beard, gray and venerable that came
halfway down to his knee and yet it was not diffi
cult for me to recognize him. He had been married
fifty-four years. He had many children and grand
children and great-grandchildren, and also even
posterity, they all said. — thousands. — yet the boy
to whom I had told the cat story when we were
callow juveniles was still present in that cheerful
little old man.
ARTIMISIA BRIGGS got married not long after
refusing me. She married Richmond the stone
mason, who was my Methodist Sunday school teacher
in the earliest days : and he had one distinction which
I envied him : at some time or other he had hit his
thumb with his hammer, and the result was a
thumb nail which remained permanently twisted
and distorted and curved and pointed, like a par
rot's beak. I should not consider it an ornament
now, 1 suppose; but it
had a fascination for me
then, and a vast value,
because it was the only
one in the town. He was
a very kindly and con
siderate Sunday school
teacher, and patient and
compassionate; so he was
the favorite teacher with
us little chaps.
In that school they had
slender oblong pasteboard.
blue tickets, each with a
verse from the Testament
printed on it. and you
could get a blue ticket by
reciting two verses. By
reciting five verses you
could get three blue tick
ets, and you could trade
these at the bookcase and
borrow a book for a week.
I was under Mr. Rich
mond's spiritual care
every now and then for
two or three years, and
he was never hard upon
me. I always recited the
same five verses every
Sunday. He was always
satisfied with the perform
ance. He never seemed
to notice that these were
the same rive foolish
virgins that he had been
hearing about every Sun
day for months. I always
got my tickets and ex
changed them for a book.
They were pretty dreary
books; for there was not
a t 1 boy in the entire
bookcase. " They were all
good boys and good girls
and drearily uninterest
ing; but they were better
societ>' than none, and I
was glad to have their company and disapprove of it.
Twenty years ago Mr. Richmond had become
possessed of To! Sawyer's cave in the hills three
miles from town, and had made a tourist resort ot
it. In 1849, when the gold seekers were streaming
through our little town of Hannibal, many of our
grown men got the gold fever, and I think that all
the boys had it. On the Saturday holidays in sum
mer time we used to borrow skiffs whose owners
were not present and go down the river three miles
to the cave " hollow" 1 Missourian for " valley t. and
there we staked out claims and pretended to dig
gold, — panning out half a dollar a day at first . two
or three times as much later, and by and by whole