Posted in Short Stories

Mark Twain’s “The Man Who Put Up at Gadsby’s”

In Mark Twain’s “The Man Who Put Up at Gadsby’s”, the narrator and his friend Riley (an “odd” friend as the narrator puts it), both journalists, walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C.  in the midst of a winter storm when they are met by Mr. Lykins, a teacher from San Francisco who aspires to a post-office position in his California home.


Perhaps because Riley is amused at Mr. Lykins for thinking these journalists will have some sort of pull to get him the position he’s looking for, Riley proceeds to tell Mr. Lykins a story:

He backed Mr. Lykins against an iron fence, buttonholed him, fastened him with his eye, like the Ancient Mariner, and proceeded to unfold his narrative as placidly and peacefully as if we were all stretched comfortably in a blossomy summer meadow instead of being persecuted by a wintry midnight tempest…

The story goes on longer than Mr. Lykin probably expects and has nothing to do with Mr. Lykin’s ambitions. In spite of Riley’s “oddness”, Twain throws his sympathies to him for being able to keep Mr. Lykin’s attention for so long with no specific point.

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