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Mark Twain
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The Mysterious Stranger 1908-1910
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Visions of Heaven

When I found myself perched on a cloud, with a million other people, I never felt so good in my life. Says I, “Now this is according to the promises; I’ve been having my doubts, but now I am in heaven, sure enough.” I gave my palm branch a wave or two, for luck, and then I tautened up my harp-strings and struck in. Well, Peters, you can’t imagine anything like the row we made. It was grand to listen to, and made a body thrill all over, but there was considerable many tunes going on at once, and that was a drawback to the harmony, you understand; and then there was a lot of Injun tribes, and they kept up such another war-whooping that they kind of took the tuck out of the music. By and by I quit performing, and judged I’d take a rest. There was quite a nice mild old gentleman sitting next me, and I noticed he didn’t take a hand; I encouraged him, but he said he was naturally bashful, and was afraid to try before so many people.... Him and I had a considerable long silence, then, but of course it warn’t noticeable in that place.... Finally, says he—

“Don’t you know any tune but the one you’ve been pegging at all day?”

“Not another blessed one,” says I.

“Don’t you reckon you could learn another one?” says he.

“Never,” says I; “I’ve tried to, but I couldn’t manage it.”

“It’s a long time to hang to the one—eternity, you know.”

“Don’t break my heart,” says I; “I’m getting low-spirited enough already.”

After another long silence, says he -

“Are you glad to be here?”

Says I, “Old man, I’ll be frank with you. This AIN’T just as near my idea of bliss as I thought it was going to be, when I used to go to church.”

Says he, “What do you say to knocking off and calling it half a day?”

“That’s me,” says I. “I never wanted to get off watch so bad in my life.”

Mark Twain, “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” 1909


At Stormfield, Redding, CT, 1908
At Stormfield, Redding, CT, 1908
Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
Dying man couldn't make up his mind, which place to go to; both have their advantages, heaven for climate, hell for company! Mark Twain, Notebooks and Journals,1889-1990
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Clara Clemen's Wedding, Stormfield, Redding, CT, 1909
Clara Clemens’ Wedding,
Stormfield, Redding, CT, 1909

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House,
With Jean Clemen's, Stormfield, Redding, CT
With Jean Clemens,
Stormfield, Redding, CT

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House,
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