When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades
in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to
be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they
were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning
to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section
left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a
hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.
These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a
steamboatman always remained.
Loie [Fuller], like myself--both red-headed--knew that ambition is a horse
that more than one can ride. I grabbed that idea 'way back in the seventies
when Artemus Ward came down lecturing Virginia way. Art was a success and I
liked the lordly nonchalance with which he spent two or three hundred dollars
on a tear. I helped him spend plenty, I assure you, but when Art and the brown
taste in my mouth had gone, I took stock. `Sam,' I said to myself, quite familiar-like,
`Sam, your mental adipose is as good as his, and in originality you can beat
him dead.' After these encouraging remarks, I set to work making good.
- quoted in Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field, Fisher
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