Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field/Mark's Human Side


Susan, Jean, and Clara Clemens, papa Mark, and myself were having lots of fun at the famous Salamonski Circus in Berlin—Mark and I laughing with the children when there was nothing else to interest us. There was a girl of 16 or 17 doing a stunt on a horse. Mark said: "The poor child looks as if she had never had a square meal in her life—isn't that professional smile of hers too sad for words?" While she was doing a salto mortale, a clown ran in and dived between the horse's legs. The horse got frightened and threw the rider. Of course, the children thought this part of the program, and laughed heartily. But the girl didn't attempt to get up, and when the riding master tried to raise her, she cried and moaned, and one of her legs hung down lifeless, while the blood spurted through her white tights.

"Keep still, children," said Mark. "Don't you see the poor girl is hurt?"

A stretcher came and carried off the moaning girl and the performance proceeded as if nothing had happened. But though the children begged hard, Mark would not stay.

"Another time, not now," he insisted.

Just then a gypsy-looking, elderly woman came running from behind the scenes, looking about wildly. When her eye located the clown, she rushed up to him and hit him a terrible blow in the face. "You have ruined my girl. She will never be able to ride again," she cried.

"Served him right," said Mark. "I do hope the manager gets a clout on the jaw, too. For he really is the responsible guy. The clown has to get laughs, the girl has to risk her limbs, so that the manager may coin money. What a world this is, what a world! And you and I, too! I never thought of kicking myself for laughing when that poor girl broke her leg—nor did you, I bet."