February 12, 2009
To my friend, Samuel L. Clemens
Mark Twain is without a doubt one of the most colorful characters of the American literary scene. Here is an episode (found in John Tebbel's Between Covers) recounted by Twain's publisher, Frank Nelson Doubleday, in his The Memoirs of a Publisher. I reproduce it here for your enjoyment without comment, as no comment is required.
One day when I was very busy and we were still occupying very small quarters on Sixteenth Street and Union Square, Mark Twain drifted in, smoking a cigar that could be smelled a mile. He insisted upon it that it was a good cigar because he paid seven dollars a barrel for them, but with this I did not agree.
He asked me if I was busy, and I told him that I was. He said to go right on with my work and he would make himself at home for a few minutes.
He certainly did. In less time than it takes to write about it almost, he filled the room with a blue smoke, nauseating in its effect, and then he began to look around among the volumes on the shelves. I had in this office some special books which I was carefully keeping for one purpose or another. Mark went around and found a book he wanted, took out a pencil and wrote on the flyleaf, To my friend, Samuel L. Clemens, with the kind regards of F. N. Doubleday, put it under his arm, and disappeared . . .