Sometime this year, Sam found a page in the street about Joan of Arc, which began his fascination with the figure. Younger brother Henry told Sam about the young maid’s life and fiery end (Wecter cites Isabel Van Kleek Lyon (1868-1958), Mark Twain’s secretary in his later years, as claiming Sam consulted his mother about Joan of Arc). Nevertheless, the chance find of a loose page sparked a desire to read and learn everything he could about medieval history [Wecter 211]. Note: It’s possible this find ultimately sparked Prince and the Pauper as well as Connecticut Yankee. Sam considered his book on Joan his best work.
A group of Hannibal citizens led by Samuel Cross left for California and the gold rush.
On October 3, 1902 Clemens wrote William Dean Howells that he “ran away twice; once at about 13, & once at 17. There is not much satisfaction in it, even as a recollection. It was a couple of disappointments, particularly the first one” [MTHL 2: 746]. Note: the runaway at age 13 would have been in 1849.
Sam assigns this year to an ice-skating episode with Tom Nash, the postmaster’s son. Tom fell in the river in a desperate attempt to regain the shore. Sam writes,
“He took to his bed, sick, and had a procession of diseases. The closing one was scarlet fever, and he came out if it stone deaf” [MTA 2: 97-8].