<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells - Oct. 11, 1876
Mark Twain Letters

Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells

HARTFORD, Oct. 11, 1876.

Mark Twain W. D. Howells

MY DEAR HOWELLS, This is a secret, to be known to nobody but you (of course I comprehend that Mrs. Howells is part of you) that Bret Harte came up here the other day and asked me to help him write a play and divide the swag, and I agreed. I am to put in Scotty Briggs (See Buck Fanshaw's Funeral, in "Roughing It.") and he is to put in a Chinaman (a wonderfully funny creature, as Bret presents him—for 5 minutes—in his Sandy Bar play.) This Chinaman is to be the character of the play, and both of us will work on him and develop him. Bret is to draw a plot, and I am to do the same; we shall use the best of the two, or gouge from both and build a third. My plot is built—finished it yesterday—six days' work, 8 or 9 hours a day, and has nearly killed me.

Now the favor I ask of you is that you will have the words "Ah Sin, a Drama," printed in the middle of a note-paper page and send the same to me, with Bill. We don't want anybody to know that we are building this play. I can't get this title page printed here without having to lie so much that the thought of it is disagreeable to one reared as I have been. And yet the title of the play must be printed—the rest of the application for copyright is allowable in penmanship.

We have got the very best gang of servants in America, now. When George first came he was one of the most religious of men. He had but one fault—young George Washington's. But I have trained him; and now it fairly breaks Mrs. Clemens's heart to hear George stand at that front door and lie to the unwelcome visitor. But your time is valuable; I must not dwell upon these things.....I'll ask Warner and Harte if they'll do Blindfold Novelettes. Some time I'll simplify that plot. All it needs is that the hanging and the marriage shall not be appointed for the same day. I got over that difficulty, but it required too much MS to reconcile the thing—so the movement of the story was clogged.

I came near agreeing to make political speeches with our candidate for
Governor the 16th and 23 inst., but I had to give up the idea, for Harte
and I will be here at work then.

Yrs ever,

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