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the books are square between us; you don't owe me a cent; your little faults and foibles count for nothing; you are the most enchanting weather in the world."

NOTES AND QUESTIONS

Biography. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known by his pen name, "Mark Twain,” is America's greatest humorous writer. He was born in the village of Florida, Missouri, and at the age of four years moved with his parents to the town of Hannibal, where he later became a printer and then a pilot on a Mississippi steamboat. His next venture was in a mining camp, and although he found only a very small amount of gold, his experiences in the West furnish the basis of some of his most popular stories. As a newspaper reporter he chose the pen name, Mark Twain, an old river expression, meaning the mark that registers two (twain) fathoms of water. He traveled through Europe and the Holy Land, paying his expenses by means of a series of letters describing his trip, written for a San Francisco newspaper. Mark Twain was for a time part owner and associate editor of the Buffalo Express, but the investment was not profitable. In his later years he spent much of his time on the lecture platform. His most popular books are: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad, and The Prince and the Pauper.

Discussion. 1. What do you know to be true of the New England climate? What has the author done to this well-known fact to produce the humor of this selection? 2. Who is meant by “Old Probabilities”? 3. In what way does the weather forecast for New England, as outlined by the author, differ from forecasts you read in the daily papers? 4. Why does the author predict earthquakes for New England ? 5. In what part of the selection do you think the writer is in earnest? 6. Find the lines that describe the effect of the sun upon the ice-covered trees. 7. What does this description tell you about the author's powers

of observation? 8. For what does he say this beautiful sight atones? 9. How does the author make his story humorous ? Find particularly good examples of his humor. 10. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: Centennial; vagaries.

Class Reading. Bring to class and read some humorous selections from recent issues of Life, or other magazines devoted to humor.

Library Reading. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain; The Boy's Life of Mark Twain, Paine.

THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF*

0. HENRY

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It looked like a good thing; but wait till I tell you. We were down south, in Alabama--Bill Driscoll and myself—when this kidnaping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterwards expressed

it, “during a moment of temporary mental apparition"; but we 5 didn't find that out till later.

There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel cake, and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a Maypole.

Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred dollars, and we needed just two thousand dollars more to pull off a townlot scheme in western Illinois. We talked it over on the front steps of the hotel. Philoprogenitiveness, says we, is strong in

semi-rural communities; therefore, and for other reasons, a kid15 naping project ought to do better there than in the radius of

newspapers that send reporters out in plain clothes to stir up talk about such things. We knew that Summit couldn't get after us with anything stronger than constables and, maybe, some

lackadaisical bloodhounds and a diatribe or two in the Weekly 20 Farmers' Budget. So it looked good.

We selected for our victim the only child of a prominent citizen named Ebenezer Dorset. The father was respectable and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright collection-plate

passer and forecloser. The kid was a boy of ten, with bas-relief 25 freckles, and hair the color of the cover of the magazine you buy

at the news stand when you want to catch a train. Bill and me figured that Ebenezer would melt down for a ransom of two thousand dollars to a cent. But wait till I tell you.

About two miles from Summit was a little mountain covered

*See Silent and Oral Reading, page 11.

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with a dense cedar brake. On the rear elevation of this mountain was a cave. There we stored provisions.

One evening after sundown, we drove in a buggy past old Dorset's house. The kid was in the street, throwing rocks at a 5 kitten on the opposite fence.

"Hey, little boy !” says Bill, "would you like to have a bag of candy and a nice ride?"

The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of brick.

That boy put up a fight like a welterweight cinnamon bear; 10 but at last we got him down in the bottom of the buggy and

drove away. We took him up to the cave, and I hitched the horse in the cedar brake. After dark I drove the buggy to the little village, three miles away, where we had hired it, and walked back to the mountain.

Bill was pasting court-plaster over the scratches and bruises on his features. There was a fire burning behind the big rock at the entrance of the cave, and the boy was watching a pot of boiling coffee, with two buzzard tail feathers stuck in his red hair. He points a stick at me when I come up, and says:

“Ha! cursed paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of Red Chief, the terror of the plains?”

"He's all right now," says Bill, rolling up his trousers and examining some bruises on his shins. "We're playing Indian.

We're making Buffalo Bill's show look like magic-lantern views 25 of Palestine in the town hall. I'm Old Hank the Trapper, Red

Chief's captive, and I'm to be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! that kid can kick hard.”

Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his life. The fun of camping out in a cave had made him forget that he was a 30 captive himself. He immediately christened me Snake-eye the

Spy, and announced that when his braves returned from the warpath I was to be broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.

Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of bacon and bread and gravy, and began to talk. He made a during-dinner 35 speech something like this:

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“I like this fine. I never camped out before; but I had a pet 'possum once, and I was nine last birthday. I hate to go to

I school. Rats ate up sixteen of Jimmy Talbot's aunt's speckled hen's eggs. Are there any real Indians in these woods? I want some more gravy. Does the trees moving make the wind blow? We have five puppies. What makes your nose so red, Hank? My father has lots of money. Are the stars hot? I whipped Ed Walker twice, Saturday. I don't like girls. You dassent

catch toads unless with a string. Do oxen make any noise? 10 Why are oranges round? Have you got beds to sleep on in this

cave? Amos Murray has got six toes. A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't. How many does it take to make twelve?"

Every few minutes he would remember that he was a pesky 15 redskin, and pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to the mouth of

the cave to rubber for the scouts of the hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a war whoop that made Old Hank the Trapper shiver. That boy had Bill terrorized from the start. “Red Chief,” says I to the kid, "would you like to go home?"

"

?" "Aw, what for?" says he. "I don't have any fun at home. I hate to go to school. I like to camp out. You won't take me back home again, Snake-eye, will you?"

"Not right away," says I. "We'll stay here in the cave a while."

“All right!” says he. “That'll be fine. I never had such fun in all my life.”

We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We spread down some wide blankets and quilts and put Red Chief between us. We

weren't afraid he'd run away. He kept us awake for three hours, 30 jumping up and reaching for his rifle and screeching: "Hist!

pard," in mine and Bill's ears, as the fancied crackle of a twig or the rustle of a leaf revealed to his young imagination the stealthy approach of the outlaw band. At last I fell into a

troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had been kidnaped and 35 chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red hair.

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Just at daybreak, I was awakened by a series of awful screams from Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or shouts, or whoops, or yawps, such as you'd expect from a manly set of vocal organs

they were simply indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams, such 5 as women emit when they see ghosts or caterpillars. It's an

awful thing to hear a strong, desperate, fat man scream incontinently in a cave at daybreak.

I jumped up to see what the matter was. Red Chief was sitting on Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's hair. In the 10 other he had the sharp case knife we used for slicing bacon, and

he was industriously and realistically trying to take Bill's scalp, according to the sentence that had been pronounced upon him the evening before.

I got the knife away from the kid and made him lie down 15 again. But, from that moment, Bill's spirit was broken. He

lay down on his side of the bed, but he never closed an eye again in sleep as long as that boy was with us. I dozed off for a while, but along toward sun-up I remembered that Red Chief had said

I was to be burned at the stake at the rising of the sun. I 20 wasn't nervous or afraid; but I sat up and lit my pipe and leaned against a rock.

“What you getting up so soon for, Sam?" asked Bill.

"Me?” says I. “Oh, I got a kind of a pain in my shoulder. I thought sitting up would rest it."

“You're a liar!” says Bill. “You're afraid. You was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd do it. And he would, too, if he could find a match. Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay out money to get a little imp like that back home?

"Sure," said I. "A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and cook breakfast, while I go up on the top of this mountain and reconnoiter."

I went up on the peak of the little mountain and ran my eye over the contiguous vicinity. Over toward Summit I expected 35 to see the sturdy yeomanry of the village armed with scythes and

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