Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field/Recollections of King Charles and Grant


"Now show me the place where that ancestor of mine had King Charlie beheaded."

We had been sitting on some chairs which the great Napoleon had used in Saint Helena—the heaviest sort of mahogany, "and not a rat bite to be seen," Mark pointed out, as we went exploring the Army Museum at Whitehall, London.

Agreeable to his demand, I took Mark by the arm and led him to a window looking out on the "Horse-Guards," the famous old barracks, gazed at so much by American visitors.

"Outside of this window,'* I explained, "the Commonwealth built a platform, and on this platform stood the block where Charles lost his silly bean."

"Served the traitor right," said Mark, "but that reminds me of———"

He thought a while, then repeated:

"Why it reminds me of (let's see, we are in the second story, are we not?)—the grandstand in front of the Palmer House, Chicago, for that was also entered from the windows of the second story. I am speaking of the Chicago of 1879, welcoming General Grant after his triumphal journey around the world. What a sight the Windy City was, and what a grand sight he looked when he stepped upon the platform to review the Army of the Tennessee."

"Yes," I interrupted, "and I saw you on that very platform shake hands with Grant."

But Mark Twain could not be tempted to go into his personal history when General Grant was being discussed.

"Did you ever see a city so magnificently and so patriotically bedecked?" he cried. "There was not a monument, palace, rookery, saloon or telegraph pole that was not gay with streamers and bunting, pictures, garlands, colored lanterns and placards of all sorts."

"Yes there was," said one of our friends.

Mark stretched out his hand and grabbed the speaker's arm.

"No nonsense now."

"I am as serious as you, and I say that the German Consul, with offices opposite the Court House, did not have a flag out on the day of Grant's entry and reception."

"Are you sure?" demanded Clemens.

"As sure as you are standing there. And I am proud to-day that I wrote up the story in the Chicago 'Times' and that Guy Magee, the city editor, headed it: "The German Son of a B———."

"Well done. I could not have written a more accurate head myself."