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Territorial Enterprise, October 15-31, 1865

[portion of Letter from San Francisco]


Where's Ajax now, with his boasted defiance of the lightning? Who is Ajax to Popper, and what is lightning to an earthquake? It is taking no chances to speak of to defy the lightning, for it might pelt away at you for a year and miss you every time - but I don't care what corner you hide in, if the earthquake comes it will shake you; and if you will build your house weak enough to give it a fair show, it will melt it down like butter. Therefore, I exalt Popper above Ajax, for Popper defieth the earthquake. The famous shake of the 8th of October snatched the front out of Popper's great four-story shell of a house on the corner of Third and Mission as easily as if it had been mere pastime; yet I notice that the reckless Popper is rebuilding it again just as thin as it was before, and using the same old bricks. Is this paying proper respect to earthquakes? I think not. If I were an earthquake, I would never stand for such insolence from Popper. I am confident that I would shake that shell down, even if it took my last shake.


[reprinted in The Works of Mark Twain; Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 2 1864-1865, (Univ. of California Press, 1981), p. 296.]
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