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No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

Foreword and Notes by John S. Tuckey
William M. Gibson
staff of the Mark Twain Project
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 3
Pages: 214
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger
    Book Description:

    This is theonlyauthoritative text of this late novel. It reproduces the manuscript which Mark Twain wrote last, and the only one he finished or called the "The Mysterious Stranger." Albert Bigelow Paine's edition of the same name has been shown to be a textual fraud.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94957-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    John S. Tuckey

    This fantasy-rich last novel by Mark Twain was written during his late sixties and early seventies. It is his final version of a story that survives in three distinct drafts, all of which he left unpublished at the time of his death in 1910. By 1908 he had carried this version to novel length and had written the remarkable, indeed uncanny, final chapter, but he had not taken steps to publish his work. The reader now has in his hands the only story Mark Twain himself ever called “The Mysterious Stranger.” But a quite different, editorially fabricated tale, partly based...

  4. Chapter 1
    (pp. 3-11)

    It was in 1490—winter. Austria was far away from the world, and asleep; it was still the Middle Ages in Austria, and promised to remain so forever. Some even set it away back centuries upon centuries and said that by the mental and spiritual clock it was still the Age of Faith in Austria. But they meant it as a compliment, not a slur, and it was so taken, and we were all proud of it. I remember it well, although I was only a boy; and I remember, too, the pleasure it gave me.

    Yes, Austria was far...

  5. Chapter 2
    (pp. 11-16)

    I had been familiar with that village life, but now for as much as a year I had been out of it, and was busy learning a trade. I was more curiously than pleasantly situated. I have spoken of Castle Rosenfeld; I have also mentioned a precipice which overlooked the river. Well, along this precipice stretched the towered and battlemented mass of a similar castle-prodigious, vine-clad, stately and beautiful, but mouldering to ruin. The great line that had possessed it and made it their chief home during four or five centuries was extinct, and no scion of it had lived...

  6. Chapter 3
    (pp. 16-22)

    Of several conveniences there was no lack; among them, fire-wood and room. There was no end of room, we had it to waste. Big or little chambers for all-suit yourself, and change when you liked. For a kitchen we used a spacious room which was high up over the massive and frowning gateway of the castle and looked down the woody steeps and southward over the receding plain.

    It opened into a great room with the same outlook, and this we used as dining room, drinking room, quarreling room-in a word, family room. Above its vast fire-place, which was flanked...

  7. Chapter 4
    (pp. 22-25)

    Did it make a stir? Oh, on your life! For nearly two minutes the herd were speechless; and if I may judge by myself, they quaked, and felt pale; then they all broke out at once, and discussed it with animation and most of them said what an astonishing thing it was-and unbelievable, too, if they hadn’t seen it with their own eyes. With Marget and Fischer and Barty the note was admiration. With Frau Stein, Maria, Katzenyammer and Binks it was wonder, but wonder mixed with maledictions-maledictions upon the devil that possessed the Jail-Bird-they averring that no stranger unprotected...

  8. Chapter 5
    (pp. 25-29)

    Things were against that poor waif. He had maintained silence when he had had an opportunity to deny that he was a Jail-Bird, and that was bad for him. It got him that name, and he was likely to keep it. The men considered him a milksop because he spared Ernest Wasserman when it was evident that he could have whipped him. Privately my heart bled for the boy, and I wanted to be his friend, and longed to tell him so, but I had not the courage, for I was made as most people are made, and was afraid...

  9. Chapter 6
    (pp. 29-31)

    He closed the door, and we sat down and began to talk, and he said it was good and generous of me to come and see him, and he hoped I would be his friend, for he was lonely and so wanted companionship. His words made me ashamed-so ashamed, and I felt so shabby and mean, that I almost had courage enough to come out and tell him how ignoble my errand was and how selfish. He smiled most kindly and winningly, and put out his hand and patted me on the knee, and said,

    “Don’t mind it.”

    I did...

  10. Chapter 7
    (pp. 31-42)

    To my astonishment I got up thoroughly refreshed when called at sunrise. There was not a suggestion of wine or its effects in my head.

    “It was all a dream,” I said, gratefully. “I can get along without the mate to it.”

    By and by, on a stairway I met 44 corning up with a great load of wood, and he said, beseechingly,

    “Youwillcome again to-night, won’t you?”

    “Lord! I thought it was a dream,” I said, startled.

    “Oh, no, it was not a dream. I should be sorry, for it was a pleasant night for me, and...

  11. Chapter 8
    (pp. 42-48)

    I slipped out and fled. It was wise, for in this way I escaped the first heat of their passion, or I should have gotten not merely insults but kicks and cuffs added. I hid deep down and far away, in an unvisited part of the castle among a maze of dark passages and corridors. Of course I had no thought of keeping my promise to visit 44; but in the circumstances he would not expect it-I knew that. I had to lose my supper, and that was hard lines for a growing lad. And I was like to freeze,...

  12. Chapter 9
    (pp. 48-52)

    It was a black and mournful time, that Friday morning that the works stood idle for the first time in their history. There was no hope. As usual the men went over to early mass in the village, like the rest of us, but they did not come back for breakfast-naturally. They came an hour later, and idled about and put in the dull time the best they could, with dreary chat, and gossip, and prophecies, and cards. They were holding the fort, you see; a quite unnecessary service, since there was none to take it. It would not have...

  13. Chapter 10
    (pp. 53-58)

    It was a lovely Sunday, calm and peaceful and holy, and bright with sunshine. It seemed strange that there could be jarrings and enmities in so beautiful a world. As the forenoon advanced the household began to appear, one after another, and all in their best; the women in their comeliest gowns, the men in velvets and laces, with snug-fitting hose that gave the tendons and muscles of their legs a chance to show their quality. The master and his sister were brought to the chapel on couches, that they might have the benefit of the prayers-he pale and drowsing...

  14. Chapter 11
    (pp. 58-65)

    To katrina and me the miracle meant that my card had turned up, and we were full of joy and confidence. Doangivadam was coming, we were sure of it. I hurried to the Owl Tower and resumed my watch.

    But it was another disappointment. The day wasted away, hour by hour, the night closed down, the moon rose, and still he did not come. At eleven I gave it up and came down heavy-hearted and stiff with the cold. We could not understand it. We talked it over, we turned it this way and that, it was of no use,...

  15. Chapter 12
    (pp. 65-70)

    We arrived back to our beer-and-chess room troubled and miserable. Our adventure went the rounds of the castle, and soon the ladies and the servants came, pale and frightened, and when they heard the facts it knocked them dumb for one while, which was not a bad thing.

    But the men were not dumb. They boldly proposed to denounce the magician to the Church and get him burnt, for this thing was a littletoomuch, they said. And just then the magician appeared, and when he heard those awful words, fire and the Church, he was that scared he...

  16. Chapter 13
    (pp. 70-74)

    Next day was pretty dreary. The men wouldn’t go to work, but loafed around moody and sour and uncomfortable. There was not much talk; what there was was mumbled, in the main, by pairs. There was no general conversation. At meals silence was the rule. At night there was no jollity, and before ten all had disappeared to their rooms and the castle was a dim and grim solitude.

    The day after, the same. Wherever 44 came he got ugly looks, threatening looks, and I was afraid for him and wanted to show sympathy but was too timid. I tried...

  17. Chapter 14
    (pp. 74-80)

    The freight wagon left at dawn; the honored guests had a late breakfast, paid down the money on the contract, then after a good-bye bottle they departed in their carriage. About ten the master, full of happiness and forgiveness and benevolent feeling, had the men assembled in the beer-and-chess room, and began a speech that was full of praises of the generous way they had thrown ill-will to the winds at the last moment and loaded the wagon last night and saved the honor and the life of his house-and went on and on, like that, with the water in...

  18. Chapter 15
    (pp. 80-85)

    But when we got there I saw that 44 was not minded to pray, but was full of other and temporal interests. I was shocked, and deeply concerned; for I felt rising in me with urgency a suspicion which had troubled me several times before, but which I had ungently put from me each time-that he was indifferent to religion. I questioned him-he confessed it! I leave my distress and consternation to be imagined, I cannot describe them.

    In that paralysing moment my life changed, and I was a different being; I resolved to devote my life, with all the...

  19. Chapter 16
    (pp. 85-91)

    Forty-four, by grace of his right to wear a sword, was legally a gentleman. It suited his whim, now, to come out dressed as one. He was clever, but ill balanced; and whenever he saw a particularly good chance to be a fool, pie couldn’t persuade him to let it go by; he had to sample it, he couldn’t seem to help it. He was as unpopular as he could be, but the hostile feeling, the intense bitterness, had been softening little by little for twenty-four hours, on account of the awful danger his life was in, so of course...

  20. Chapter 17
    (pp. 91-94)

    I went invisible the most of the next day, for I had no heart to talk about common matters, and had rather a shrinking from talking about the matter which was uppermost in all minds. I was full of sorrow, and also of remorse, which is the way with us in the first days of a bereavement, and at such times we wish to be alone with our trouble and our bitter recallings of failings of loyalty or love toward the comrade who is gone. There were more of these sins to my charge than I could have believed; they...

  21. Chapter 18
    (pp. 94-98)

    My senses forsook me and I should have fallen, but it put up its hand and flipped its fingers toward me and this brought an influence of some kind which banished my faint and restored me; yes, more than that, for I was fresher and finer now than I had been before the fatigues of the funeral. I started away at once and with such haste as I could command, for I had never seen the day that I was not afraid of a ghost or would stay where one was if there was another place convenient. But I was...

  22. Chapter 19
    (pp. 98-102)

    Day after day went by, and Father Adolf was a busy man, for he was the head of the Commission charged with trying and punishing the magician; but he had no luck, he could come upon no trace of the necromancer. He was disappointed and exasperated, and he swore hard and drank hard, but nothing came of it, he made no progress in his hunt. So, as a vent for his wrath he turned upon the poor Duplicates, declaring them to be evil spirits, wandering devils, and condemned them to the stake on his own arbitrary authority, but 44 told...

  23. Chapter 20
    (pp. 102-105)

    A week passed.

    Meantime, where was he? what was become of him? I had gone often to his room, but had always found it vacant. I was missing him sorely. Ah, he was so interesting! there was none that could approach him for that. And there could not be a more engaging mystery than he. He was always doing and saying strange and curious things, and then leaving them but half explained or not explained at all. Who was he? what was he? where was he from? I wished I knew. Could he be converted? could he be saved? Ah,...

  24. Chapter 21
    (pp. 105-111)

    I spent a wearying and troubled night, for in my dreams I was a member of that ruined family and suffering with it through a dragging long stretch of years; and the infamous priest whose life had been saved at cost of these pains and sorrows seemed always present and drunk and mocking. At last I woke. In the dimmest of cold gray dawns I made out a figure sitting by my bed-an old and white-headed man in the coarse dress of a peasant.

    “Ah,” I said, “who are you, good man?”

    It was 44. He said, in a wheezy...

  25. Chapter 22
    (pp. 111-116)

    It was in my room. He brought it-the breakfast-dish after dish, smoking hot, from my empty cupboard, and briskly set the table, talking all the while-ah, yes, and pleasantly, fascinatingly, winningly; and not about that so-recent episode, but about these fragrant refreshments and the far countries he had summoned them from-Cathay, India, and everywhere; and as I was famishing, this talk was pleasing, indeed captivating, and under its influence my sour mood presently passed from me. Yes, and it was healing to my bruised spirit to look upon the rich and costly table-service-quaint of shape and pattern, delicate, ornate, exquisite,...

  26. Chapter 23
    (pp. 117-123)

    Young as I was-I was barely seventeen-my days were now sodden with depressions, there was little or no rebound. My interest in the affairs of the castle and of its occupants faded out and disappeared; I kept to myself and took little or no note of the daily happenings; my Duplicate performed all my duties, and I had nothing to do but wander aimlessly about and be unhappy.

    Thus the days wore heavily by, and meantime I was missing something; missing something, and growing more and more conscious of it. I hardly had the daring to acknowledge to myself what...

  27. Chapter 24
    (pp. 124-132)

    I floated off to my room through the unresisting air, and stirred up my fire and sat down to enjoy my happiness and study over the enigma of those names. By ferreting out of my memory certain scraps and shreds of information garnered from 44’s talks I presently untangled the matter, and arrived at an explanation—which was this: the presence of my flesh-and-blood personality was not a circumstance of any interest to Marget Regen, but my presence as a spirit acted upon her hypnotically-as 44 termed it-and plunged her into the somnambulic sleep. This removed her Day-Self from command...

  28. Chapter 25
    (pp. 132-135)

    That night I had a terrible misfortune. The way it came about was this. I was so unutterably happy and so unspeakably unhappy that my life was become an enchanted ecstasy and a crushing burden. I did not know what to do, and took to drink. Merely for that evening. It was by Doangivadam’s suggestion that I did this. He did not know what the matter was, and I did not tell him; but he could see that somethingwasthe matter and wanted regulating, and in his judgment it would be well to try drink, for it might do...

  29. Chapter 26
    (pp. 135-145)

    I was so miserable! A whole endless hour dragged along. Oh, why didn’t he come,whydidn’t he come! wouldn’t heevercome, and I so in need of his help and comfort!

    It was awfully still and solemn and midnighty, and this made me feel creepy and shivery and afraid of ghosts; and that was natural, for the place was foggy with them, as Ernest Wasserman said, who was the most unexact person in his language in the whole castle, foggy being a noun of multitude and not applicable to ghosts, for they seldom appear in large companies, but...

  30. Chapter 27
    (pp. 145-152)

    I woke up fresh and fine and vigorous, and found I had been asleep a little more than six minutes. The sleeps which he furnished had no dependence upon time, no connection with it, no relation to it; sometimes they did their work in one interval, sometimes in another, sometimes in half a second, sometimes in half a day, according to whether there was an interruption or wasn’t; but let the interval be long or short, the result was the same: that is to say, the reinvigoration was perfect, the physical and mental refreshment complete.

    There had been an interruption,...

  31. Chapter 28
    (pp. 152-158)

    He could not speak, for emotion; for the same cause my voice forsook me; and so, in silence we grasped hands again; and that grip, strong and warm, said for us what our tongues could not utter. At that moment the cat entered, and stood looking at us. Under her grave gaze a shame-faced discomfort, a sense of embarrassment, began to steal over me, just as would have been the case if she had been a human being who had caught me in that gushy and sentimental situation, and I felt myself blushing. Was it because I was aware that...

  32. Chapter 29
    (pp. 158-163)

    I stirred my brother up, and we talked the time away while waiting for the magician to come. I said his coming was a most uncertain thing, for he was irregular, and not at all likely to come when wanted, but Schwarz was anxious to stay and take the chances; so we did as I have said-talked and waited. He told me a great deal about his life and ways as a dream-sprite, and did it in a skipping and disconnected fashion proper to his species. He would side-track a subject right in the middle of a sentence if another...

  33. Chapter 30
    (pp. 163-170)

    The cat walked in, waving her tail, then gathered it up in her right arm, as she might a train, and minced her way to the middle of the room, where she faced the magician and rose up and bent low and spread her hands wide apart, as if it was a gown she was spreading, then sank her body grandly rearward-certainly the neatest thing you ever saw, considering the limitedness of the materials. I think a curtsy is the very prettiest thing a woman ever does, and I think a lady’s-maid’s curtsy is prettier than any one else’s; which...

  34. Chapter 31
    (pp. 170-176)

    It was a dark, sour, gloomy morning, and bleak and cold, with a slanting veil of powdery snow driving along, and a clamorous hollow wind bellowing down the chimneys and rumbling around the battlements and towers-just the right weather for the occasion, 44 said, nothing could improve it but an eclipse. That gave him an idea, and he said he would do an eclipse; not a real one, but an artificial one that nobody but Simon Newcomb could tell from the original Jacobs-so he started it at once, and it certainly did make those yawning old stone tunnels pretty dim...

  35. Chapter 32
    (pp. 176-182)

    Forty-four, still playing Balthasar Hoffman the magician, entered briskly now, and threw himself in a chair. The cat emerged with confidence, spread herself, purring, in his lap, and said—

    “This Duplicate wouldn’t believe me when I told him, and when I proved it he tried to cram a boot-jack down my throat, thinking to scare me, which he didn’t,didn’tyou, Duplicate?”

    “Didn’t Iwhat?”

    “Why, what I justsaid.”

    Idon’t know what you just said; it was Christian Silence and untranslatable; but I’ll say yes to the whole of it if that will quiet you. Now then, keep...

  36. Chapter 33
    (pp. 182-185)

    Surely Forty-Four was the flightiest creature that ever was! Nothing interested him long at a time. He would contrive the most elaborate projects, and put his whole mind and heart into them, then he would suddenly drop them, in the midst of their fulfilment, and start something fresh. It was just so with his Assembly of the Dead. He summoned those forlorn wrecks from all the world and from all the epochs and ages, and then, when everything was ready for the exhibition, he wanted to flit back to Moses’s time and see the Egyptians floundering around in the Dead...

  37. Chapter 34
    (pp. 185-188)

    “And you are going away, and will not come back any more.”

    “Yes,” he said. ‘We have comraded long together, and it has been pleasant-pleasant for both; but I must go now, and we shall not see each other any more.”

    “In this life, 44, but in another? We shall meet in another, surely, 44?”

    Then all tranquilly and soberly he made the strange answer—

    There is no other.”

    A subtle influence blew upon my spirit from his, bringing with it a vague, dim, but blessed and hopeful feeling that the incredible words might be true—evenmustbe true....

  38. Explanatory Notes
    (pp. 189-194)
  39. Glossary of Printer’s Terms
    (pp. 195-200)
  40. Note on the Text
    (pp. 201-202)
    Robert H. Hirst
  41. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-206)