Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field/Mark's Children Knew Him


I congratulated Mark Twain on the fact that he had been mistaken for the great Mommsen, and, throwing out his chest, he said:

"I feel indeed flattered because somebody thought that I have the whole Roman world, with Poppaea and Nero and Augustus and all the rest, under my hat, yet, when I come to think of it, there is some difference between us two. My children know their papa, and I know Susan, Clara, and Jean. But think what happened to Mommsen the other day. He was proceeding to a bus from his residence, when an unmannerly wind carried off his hat. A boy, playing in the street, picked it up and brought it to the great man. (By the way, never run after your own hat—others will be delighted to do it. Why spoil their fun?)

"'Thank you,' said Mommsen. *I never could have recovered the hat myself.' He looked the boy over carefully, and added:

"'And a nice little boy. Do you live in the neighborhood? Whose little boy are you?'

"'Why,' said the kid, 'mamma says I am Professor Mommsen's little boy, but I never see him. He is always among the Romans, writing in a book.'

"'Bless your heart, little man,' said Mommsen. 'To-night I will surely be home early; tell your mamma, and ask her to introduce you and the other children properly.'"