Mark Twain here with H. H. Rogers

Mark Twain here with H. H. Rogers  (1907) 

April 25, 1907 edition of the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch


Humorist and Standard Oil Magnate Arrive of the Latter's Yacht


At least That Is the Reason Mr. Twain Says He Brought Him. Attend the Exposition

A luxurious mahogany tender bearing the name Kanawha lay wallowing in the slip adjoining the Norfolk-Portsmouth ferry pier this afternoon. Off shore lay a great white steam yacht, while o the pier an inquisitive person connected with the local newspaper sought to pump out of the head man on the yacht tender whether Norfolk's greatest benefactor Henry H. Rogers, was aboard his yacht or to the best of his knowledge and belief ever had been aboard and failed completely.

Then a figure in ghostly garb, which recently with rare humor announced that it had just rounded "pier 70," and did all its work of illuminating the world in bed, came down the pier from the connected end and the inquisite person instantly concluded, it seems, that it was the head of the Standard Oil Company.

It was escorted by Walter H. Taylor, attorney for the Virginian railway company, and H. P. Reigart, purchasing agent for the same road, formerly the Tidewater-Deepwater. Its locks were white as the fleece of that Angora goat from the raising of which more profit is derived by amateurs than is from raising chickens, and it was clothed in a sort of light grey cloth of almost an ice cream hue.

Mark Twain; Not Rogers

This distinguished figure was introduced to the inquisite person as Mr. Rogers, but MR. Taylor gave proof that he has a conscience by explaining subsequently that it was Mr. Clemens. Then everybody did what all the world does when Mr. Clemens wills with words. They laughed.

Mark Twain then told who was aboard the Kanawha, saying that Henry H. Rogers was brought along because he owns the yacht and pays the freight, that Mr. Rogers son, Henry H. Rogers, Jr., Messrs. W. E. Benjamin and Urban Broughton, his sons-in-law, and Mr. Lancaster, an English gentleman, were along.

He said that all the others went out on the Tidewater this morning to inspect the line and that the party will stay here over tomorrow, at least, to see the ceremonies incident to opening the Jamestown Exposition. He said he had no impressions fit for publication and immediately afterward said that the fleet in Hampton Roads this morning was a pretty sight.

Speed of Sound.

Then he started to tell, in a story which stretched from the ferry landing almost to the Monticello Hotel, sometimes taking long strides and occasionally halting, how he counted the guns which were fired from our warships this morning when the British and Austrian squadrons came in from sea; that he counted eight between the flash of fire and the sound which reached the Kanawha and estimated that the firing ships were eight-elevenths of a mile away.

At intervals afterward, while his brain was chewing away upon this problem and his lips occasionally expressed aloud the fear that the brain was not telling the truth, and the wish that he could have a look into the encyclopedia in order to verify the impression gained therefrom some thirty years ago the only one made side remarks.

Then he, and Messrs. Taylor and Reigard, his entertainers, sailed for the exposition grounds in an automobile. As the infernal machine made the preliminary thundering noise preparatory to starting he shouted that all he wanted to know was how far sound travels in a second; that he thought then it was 1,100 feet and his seconds in the opening chapter of this story were much too short.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).