A Couple of Truly Wonderful Stories

Ein paar wirklich wunderbare Geschichten

Auswahl und Übersetzung von Hella Leicht
Synchronisation: Doppeltext


The Joke that Made Ed’s Fortune

Rank and Dignity of Piloting

How to Tell a Story

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Cayote

Lost in a Snowstorm

The Story of the Good Little Boy

The War Prayer

The Man Who Put Up at Gadsby’s

The Californian’s Tale

Biographische Notiz

Informationen zum Buch

Leseprobe: Mark Twain, The Diaries of Adam and Eve


The Joke that Made Ed’s Fortune

Let us be thank­ful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not suc­ceed.
Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Cal­en­dar
A few years be­fore the out­break of the Civil War it began to ap­pear that Mem­ph­is, Ten­ness­ee, was go­ing to be a great to­bacco en­tre­pot
the wise could see the signs of it. At that time Mem­ph­is had a wharf­boat, of course.
There was a paved slop­ing wharf, for the ac­com­mod­a­tion of freight, but the steam­ers landed on the out­side of the wharf­boat,
and all load­ing and un­load­ing was done across it, between steam­er and shore.
A num­ber of wharf­boat clerks were needed, and part of the time, every day, they were very busy, and part of the time te­di­ously idle.
They were boil­ing over with youth and spir­its, and they had to make the in­ter­vals of idle­ness en­dur­able in some way;
and as a rule, they did it by con­triv­ing prac­tic­al jokes and play­ing them upon each oth­er.
The fa­vor­ite butt for the jokes was Ed Jack­son, be­cause he played none him­self, and was easy game for oth­er people’s
– for he al­ways be­lieved whatever was told him.
One day he told the oth­ers his scheme for his hol­i­day.
He was not go­ing fish­ing or hunt­ing this time – no, he had thought out a bet­ter plan.
Out of his forty dol­lars a month he had saved enough for his pur­pose, in an eco­nom­ic­al way, and he was go­ing to have a look at New York.
It was a great and sur­pris­ing idea. It meant travel – im­mense travel – in those days it meant see­ing the world;
it was the equi­val­ent of a voy­age around it in ours.
At first the oth­er youths thought his mind was af­fected, but when they found that he was in earn­est,
the next thing to be thought of was, what sort of op­por­tun­ity this ven­ture might af­ford for a prac­tic­al joke.
The young men stud­ied over the mat­ter, then held a secret con­sulta­tion and made a plan.
The idea was, that one of the con­spir­at­ors should of­fer Ed a let­ter of in­tro­duc­tion to Com­modore Vander­bilt, and trick him into de­liv­er­ing it.
It would be easy to do this. But what would Ed do when he got back to Mem­ph­is? That was a ser­i­ous mat­ter.
He was good-hearted, and had al­ways taken the jokes pa­tiently; but they had been jokes which did not hu­mi­li­ate him, did not bring him to shame;
where­as, this would be a cruel one in that way, and to play it was to meddle with fire;
for with all his good nature, Ed was a South­ern­er – and the Eng­lish of that was,
that when he came back he would kill as many of the con­spir­at­ors as he could be­fore fall­ing him­self.
However, the chances must be taken – it wouldn’t do to waste such a joke as that.
So the let­ter was pre­pared with great care and elab­or­a­tion. It was signed Al­fred Fairchild, and was writ­ten in an easy and friendly spir­it.
It stated that the bear­er was the bos­om friend of the writer’s son, and was of good parts and ster­ling char­ac­ter,
and it begged the Com­modore to be kind to the young stranger for the writer’s sake.
It went on to say, “You may have for­got­ten me, in this long stretch of time,
but you will eas­ily call me back out of your boy­hood memor­ies
when I re­mind you of how we robbed old Steven­son’s orch­ard that night;
and how, while he was chas­ing down the road after us, we cut across the field and doubled back
and sold his own apples to his own cook for an hat­ful of dough­nuts; and the time that we and so forth and so on, bring­ing in names of ima­gin­ary com­rades,
and de­tail­ing all sorts of wild and ab­surd and, of course, wholly ima­gin­ary school-boy pranks and ad­ven­tures, but put­ting them into lively and telling shape.
With all grav­ity Ed was asked if he would like to have a let­ter to Com­modore Vander­bilt, the great mil­lion­aire.
It was ex­pec­ted that the ques­tion would as­ton­ish Ed, and it did.
“What? Do you know that ex­traordin­ary man?”
“No; but my fath­er does. They were school­boys to­geth­er. And if you like, I’ll write and ask fath­er.
I know he’ll be glad to give it to you for my sake.”
Ed could not find words cap­able of ex­press­ing his grat­it­ude and de­light. The three days passed, and the let­ter was put into his hands.
He star­ted on his trip, still pour­ing out his thanks while he shook good-by all around.
And when he was out of sight his com­rades let fly their laughter in a storm of happy sat­is­fac­tion
– and then quieted down, and were less happy, less sat­is­fied.
For the old doubts as to the wis­dom of this de­cep­tion began to in­trude again.
Ar­rived in New York, Ed found his way to Com­modore Vander­bilt’s busi­ness quar­ters,
and was ushered into a large ante­room, where a score of people were pa­tiently await­ing their turn
for a two-minute in­ter­view with the mil­lion­aire in his private of­fice.
A ser­vant asked for Ed’s card, and got the let­ter in­stead.
Ed was sent for a mo­ment later, and found Mr. Vander­bilt alone, with the let­ter – open – in his hand.
“Pray sit down, Mr. – er – ”
“Ah – sit down, Mr. Jack­son. By the open­ing sen­tences it seems to be a let­ter from an old friend.
Al­low me – I will run my eye through it. He says – he says – why, who is it?” He turned the sheet and found the sig­na­ture.
“Al­fred Fairchild – h’m – Fairchild – I don’t re­call the name. But that is noth­ing – a thou­sand names have gone from me.
He says – he says – h’m – h’m – oh, dear, but it’s good! Oh, it’s rare!
I don’t quite re­mem­ber it, but I seem to – it’ll all come back to me presently.
He says – he says – h’m – h’m – oh, but that was a game! Oh, spl-en­did! How it car­ries me back!
It’s all dim, of course – it’s a long time ago – and the names – some of the names are wavery and in­dis­tinct –
but sho’, I know it happened – I can feel it! and lord, how it warms my heart, and brings back my lost youth!
Well, well, well, I’ve got to come back into this work­aday world now – busi­ness presses and people are wait­ing –
I’ll keep the rest for bed to-night, and live my youth over again.
And you’ll thank Fairchild for me when you see him – I used to call him Alf, I think –
and you’ll give him my grat­it­ude for what this let­ter has done for the tired spir­it of a hard­worked man,
and tell him there isn’t any­thing that I can do for him or any friend of his that I won’t do.
And as for you, my lad, you are my guest; you can’t stop at any hotel in New York.
Sit where you are a little while, till I get through with these people, then we’ll go home.
I’ll take care of you, my boy – make your­self easy as to that.”

2013 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, München

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ISBN der gedruckten Ausgabe 978-3-423-09278-4

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