10/11/05 - sam clemens

In today's excerpt - a five-year-old Sammy Clemens [later more famously known as Mark Twain], is a sickly but hyper-observant child in a tiny hamlet in Missouri in 1839. He struggles with his own fragility and here complains because of the constant singing of a slave boy:

"As a toddler, Sammy was sickly and underweight. ... He was largely bedridden until his fourth year, and frail for the next three.

"'When I first saw him I could see no promise in him,' his mother Jane admitted. Her frontier fatalism was more than matched by a visitor to the little house. Eyeing the shriveled form, the woman turned to Jane and blandly asked, 'You don't expect to raise that babe do you?' ...

"There was a household slave boy named Sandy ,whose constant singing got on Sammy's nerves, until Jane pointed out to him that the singing was probably the child's way of not thinking about the mother taken from him by an owner."


Ron Powers


Mark Twain: A Life


Free Press


Copyright 2005 by Ron Powers


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