Produced by David Widger and Cindy Rosenthal
By Mark Twain
Illustrated by Lester Ralph
Translated from the Original
SUNDAY.--It is pleasant again, now, and I am happy; but those were heavy
days; I do not think of them when I can help it.
I tried to get him some of those apples, but I cannot learn to throw
straight. I failed, but I think the good intention pleased him. They
are forbidden, and he says I shall come to harm; but so I come to harm
through pleasing him, why shall I care for that harm?
MONDAY.--This morning I told him my name, hoping it would interest him.
But he did not care for it. It is strange. If he should tell me his
name, I would care. I think it would be pleasanter in my ears than any
He talks very little. Perhaps it is because he is not bright, and is
sensitive about it and wishes to conceal it. It is such a pity that he
should feel so, for brightness is nothing; it is in the heart that the
values lie. I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart
is riches, and riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty.
Although he talks so little, he has quite a considerable vocabulary.
This morning he used a surprisingly good word. He evidently recognized,
himself, that it was a good one, for he worked in in twice afterward,
casually. It was good casual art, still it showed that he possesses a
certain quality of perception. Without a doubt that seed can be made to
grow, if cultivated.
Where did he get that word? I do not think I have ever used it.
No, he took no interest in my name. I tried to hide my disappointment,
but I suppose I did not succeed. I went away and sat on the moss-bank
with my feet in the water. It is where I go when I hunger for
companionship, some one to look at, some one to talk to. It is not
enough--that lovely white body painted there in the pool--but it is
something, and something is better than utter loneliness. It talks when
I talk; it is sad when I am sad; it comforts me with its sympathy; it
says, "Do not be downhearted, you poor friendless girl; I will be your
friend." It IS a good friend to me, and my only one; it is my sister.
That first time that she forsook me! ah, I shall never forget that
--never, never. My heart was lead in my body! I said, "She was all I
had, and now she is gone!" In my despair I said, "Break, my heart; I
cannot bear my life any more!" and hid my face in my hands, and there
was no solace for me. And when I took them away, after a little, there
she was again, white and shining and beautiful, and I sprang into her
That was perfect happiness; I had known happiness before, but it was not
like this, which was ecstasy. I never doubted her afterward. Sometimes
she stayed away--maybe an hour, maybe almost the whole day, but I waited
and did not doubt; I said, "She is busy, or she is gone on a journey,
but she will come." And it was so: she always did. At night she would
not come if it was dark, for she was a timid little thing; but if there
was a moon she would come. I am not afraid of the dark, but she is
younger than I am; she was born after I was. Many and many are the
visits I have paid her; she is my comfort and my refuge when my life is
hard--and it is mainly that.
TUESDAY.--All the morning I was at work improving the estate; and I
purposely kept away from him in the hope that he would get lonely and
come. But he did not.
At noon I stopped for the day and took my recreation by flitting all
about with the bees and the butterflies and reveling in the flowers,
those beautiful creatures that catch the smile of God out of the sky and
preserve it! I gathered them, and made them into wreaths and garlands
and clothed myself in them while I ate my luncheon--apples, of course;
then I sat in the shade and wished and waited. But he did not come.
But no matter. Nothing would have come of it, for he does not care for
flowers. He called them rubbish, and cannot tell one from another, and
thinks it is superior to feel like that. He does not care for me, he
does not care for flowers, he does not care for the painted sky at
eventide--is there anything he does care for, except building shacks to
coop himself up in from the good clean rain, and thumping the melons,
and sampling the grapes, and fingering the fruit on the trees, to see
how those properties are coming along?
I laid a dry stick on the ground and tried to bore a hole in it with
another one, in order to carry out a scheme that I had, and soon I got
an awful fright. A thin, transparent bluish film rose out of the hole,
and I dropped everything and ran! I thought it was a spirit, and I WAS
so frightened! But I looked back, and it was not coming; so I leaned
against a rock and rested and panted, and let my limps go on trembling
until they got steady again; then I crept warily back, alert, watching,
and ready to fly if there was occasion; and when I was come near, I
parted the branches of a rose-bush and peeped through--wishing the man
was about, I was looking so cunning and pretty--but the sprite was gone.
I went there, and there was a pinch of delicate pink dust in the hole. I
put my finger in, to feel it, and said OUCH! and took it out again. It
was a cruel pain. I put my finger in my mouth; and by standing first on
one foot and then the other, and grunting, I presently eased my misery;
then I was full of interest, and began to examine.
I was curious to know what the pink dust was. Suddenly the name of it
occurred to me, though I had never heard of it before. It was FIRE! I
was as certain of it as a person could be of anything in the world. So
without hesitation I named it that--fire.
I had created something that didn't exist before; I had added a new
thing to the world's uncountable properties; I realized this, and was
proud of my achievement, and was going to run and find him and tell him
about it, thinking to raise myself in his esteem--but I reflected, and
did not do it. No--he would not care for it. He would ask what it was
good for, and what could I answer? for if it was not GOOD for something,
but only beautiful, merely beautiful--
So I sighed, and did not go. For it wasn't good for anything; it could
not build a shack, it could not improve melons, it could not hurry a
fruit crop; it was useless, it was a foolishness and a vanity; he would
despise it and say cutting words. But to me it was not despicable; I
said, "Oh, you fire, I love you, you dainty pink creature, for you are
BEAUTIFUL--and that is enough!" and was going to gather it to my breast.
But refrained. Then I made another maxim out of my head, though it was
so nearly like the first one that I was afraid it was only a plagiarism:
"THE BURNT EXPERIMENT SHUNS THE FIRE."
I wrought again; and when I had made a good deal of fire-dust I emptied
it into a handful of dry brown grass, intending to carry it home and
keep it always and play with it; but the wind struck it and it sprayed
up and spat out at me fiercely, and I dropped it and ran. When I looked
back the blue spirit was towering up and stretching and rolling away
like a cloud, and instantly I thought of the name of it--SMOKE!--though,
upon my word, I had never heard of smoke before.
Soon brilliant yellow and red flares shot up through the smoke, and I
named them in an instant--FLAMES--and I was right, too, though these
were the very first flames that had ever been in the world. They
climbed the trees, then flashed splendidly in and out of the vast and
increasing volume of tumbling smoke, and I had to clap my hands and
laugh and dance in my rapture, it was so new and strange and so
wonderful and so beautiful!
He came running, and stopped and gazed, and said not a word for many
minutes. Then he asked what it was. Ah, it was too bad that he should
ask such a direct question. I had to answer it, of course, and I did.
I said it was fire. If it annoyed him that I should know and he must
ask; that was not my fault; I had no desire to annoy him. After a pause
"How did it come?"
Another direct question, and it also had to have a direct answer.
"I made it."
The fire was traveling farther and farther off. He went to the edge of
the burned place and stood looking down, and said:
"What are these?"
He picked up one to examine it, but changed his mind and put it down
again. Then he went away. NOTHING interests him.
But I was interested. There were ashes, gray and soft and delicate and
pretty--I knew what they were at once. And the embers; I knew the
embers, too. I found my apples, and raked them out, and was glad; for I
am very young and my appetite is active. But I was disappointed; they
were all burst open and spoiled. Spoiled apparently; but it was not so;
they were better than raw ones. Fire is beautiful; some day it will be
useful, I think.
FRIDAY.--I saw him again, for a moment, last Monday at nightfall, but
only for a moment. I was hoping he would praise me for trying to
improve the estate, for I had meant well and had worked hard. But he was
not pleased, and turned away and left me. He was also displeased on
another account: I tried once more to persuade him to stop going over
the Falls. That was because the fire had revealed to me a new passion
--quite new, and distinctly different from love, grief, and those others
which I had already discovered--FEAR. And it is horrible!--I wish I had
never discovered it; it gives me dark moments, it spoils my happiness,
it makes me shiver and tremble and shudder. But I could not persuade
him, for he has not discovered fear yet, and so he could not understand
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