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Rudyard Kipling's Mark Twain Interview

Rudyard Kipling's Mark Twain Interview

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Published by: HuffPost Books on Apr 20, 2010
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66 
Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling (
1865
1936
), born to British parents in Mumbai, was a
23
-year-old journalist working or a newspaper in Allahabad,India, when he traveled to Elmira, New York, in
1889
to conduct thisinterview with Mark Twain. Although he enjoyed meeting Kipling, atthe time Twain had no idea who he was. Soon ater, however, Twain would become an admirer o Kipling’s books, oten reading selec-tions rom them aloud to his amily and riends. The two men stayedin touch and got together when their travels made it possible. In
1895
, Twain wrote Kipling: “It is reported that you are about to visitIndia. This has moved me to journey to that ar country in order thatI may unload rom my conscience a debt long due you. Years ago youcame rom India to Elmira to visit me, as you said at the time. It hasalways been my purpose to return that visit and that great compli-ment some day. I shall arrive next January and you must be ready. Ishall come riding my ayah with his tusks adorned with silver bells andribbons and escorted by a troop o native howdahs richly clad andmounted upon a herd o wild bungalows; and you must be on hand with a ew bottles o ghee, or I shall be thirsty.” Twain and Kiplingboth received honorary degrees in a ceremony at Oxord in
1907
.
 An Interview with Mark Twain 
 Y 
ou are a contemptible lot, over yonder. Some o you areCommissioners, and some Lieutenant-Governors, andsome have the V. C., and a ew are privileged to walk about the Mall arm in arm with the Viceroy; but
 I 
have seen Mark Twainthis golden morning, have shaken his hand, and smoked a ci-gar—no, two cigars— with him, and talked with him or morethan two hours! Understand clearly that I do not despise you;indeed, I don’t. I am only very sorry or you, rom the Viceroy downward. To soothe your envy and to prove that I still regard you as my equals, I will tell you all about it. They said in Bualo that he was in Hartord, Conn.; andagain they said “perchance he is gone upon a journey to Port-land”; and a big, at drummer vowed that he knew the great manintimately, and that Mark was spending the summer in Europe—
The Library of America • Story of the Week 
Reprinted from
 (The Library of America, 2010), pages 66–77. © 2010 Literary Classics of the U.S., Inc.Originally published in
The Pioneer 
(Allahabad), March 18, 1890.Reprinted in
From Sea to Sea 
(1913).
 
 which inormation so upset me that I embarked upon the wrongtrain, and was incontinently turned out by the conductor three-quarters o a mile rom the station, amid the wilderness o rail- way tracks. Have you ever, encumbered with great-coat and valise, tried to dodge diversely-minded locomotives when thesun was shining in your eyes? But I orgot that you have notseen Mark Twain, you people o no account!Saved rom the jaws o the cowcatcher, me wandering deviousa stranger met.“Elmira is the place. Elmira in the State o New York—thisState, not two hundred miles away;” and he added, perectly unnecessarily, “Slide, Kelley, slide.”I slid on the West Shore line, I slid till midnight, and they dumped me down at the door o a rowzy hotel in Elmira. Yes,they knew all about “that man Clemens,” but reckoned he wasnot in town; had gone East somewhere. I had better possess my soul in patience till the morrow, and then dig up the “man Cle-mens’” brother-in-law, who was interested in coal. The idea o chasing hal a dozen relatives in addition to Mark  Twain up and down a city o thirty thousand inhabitants keptme awake. Morning revealed Elmira, whose streets were deso-lated by railway tracks, and whose suburbs were given up to themanuacture o door-sashes and window-rames. It was sur-rounded by pleasant, at, little hills, rimmed with timber andtopped with cultivation. The Chemung River owed generally up and down the town, and had just fnished ooding a ew o the main streets. The hotel-man and the telephone-man assured me that themuch-desired brother-in-law was out o town, and no oneseemed to know where “the man Clemens” abode. Later on Idiscovered that he had not summered in that place or morethan nineteen seasons, and so was comparatively a new arrival. A riendly policeman volunteered the news that he had seen Twain or “some one very like him” driving a buggy the day beore. This gave me a delightul sense o nearness. Fancy livingin a town where you could see the author o 
Tom Sawyer 
, or“some one very like him,” jolting over the pavements in abuggy!
 
 An Interview with Mark Twain
 
67
 
“He lives out yonder at East Hill,” said the policeman; “threemiles rom here.” Then the chase began—in a hired hack, up an awul hill, where sunowers blossomed by the roadside, and crops waved,and
 Harper’s Magazine
cows stood in eligible and commandingattitudes knee-deep in clover, all ready to be transerred to pho-togravure. The great man must have been persecuted by out-siders aoretime, and ed up the hill or reuge.Presently the driver stopped at a miserable, little, white woodshanty, and demanded “Mister Clemens.”“I know he’s a big-bug and all that,” he explained, “but youcan never tell what sort o notions those sort o men take intotheir heads to live in, anyways.” There rose up a young lady who was sketching thistle-topsand goldenrod, amid a plentiul supply o both, and set the pil-grimage on the right path.“It’s a pretty Gothic house on the let-hand side a little way arther on.”“Gothic h—,” said the driver. “Very ew o the city hackstake this drive, specially i they know they are coming out here,”and he glared at me savagely.It was a very pretty house, anything but Gothic, clothed withivy, standing in a very big compound, and ronted by a verandahull o chairs and hammocks. The roo o the verandah was atrellis-work o creepers, and the sun peeping through moved onthe shining boards below.Decidedly this remote place was an ideal one or work, i aman could work among these sot airs and the murmur o thelong-eared crops. Appeared suddenly a lady used to dealing with rampageousoutsiders. “Mr. Clemens has just walked downtown. He is at hisbrother-in-law’s house.” Then he was within shouting distance, ater all, and the chasehad not been in vain. With speed I ed, and the driver, skiddingthe wheel and swearing audibly, arrived at the bottom o thathill without accidents. It was in the pause that ollowed betweenringing the brother-in-law’s bell and getting an answer that itoccurred to me or the frst time Mark Twain might possibly 
68
Rudyard Kipling

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Seema Rathore added this note
Impact of the twelve pages is Spot-fire. On get your facts, and the dead conscience. I am sure the air must have been full of awe at that momet when the two legends interacted, I wish heaven had some visiting hours, if Mark Twain is there, as he would have ironically in his public opinion revealed?(haha). Doubtlessly a tiny but strong piece of literature.
Remedy_Land added this note
I really enjoyed reading this pdf

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