Just got word that the POD anthology Ten Plagues, which contains my story "Jump, Frog!", is available here. It was kind of a tough story to market, but I'm proud of it.
To an unnamed correspondent; found in the effects of Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain") after his death, apparently unsent. Dated December 20, 1881.
You will recall, I think, a story I wrote some years back, about Smiley's jumping frog, how it was the subject of a peculiar bet, and how a fellow took an underhanded way to win it. It has done pretty well for itself, having had the good fortune to be translated into French and the better to be translated out of it. I put forth that it was a true story, and so it was, though many doubted it. Since then I have gained reason to believe, though, that I never did know the whole truth of it -- until now; that I shall ever be able to tell anyone that truth, however, I much doubt.
I have, as you may know, recently returned from a short stay in Canada; having to reside there for a certain time in order to claim ownership of my own work, I chose to visit Montreal and Quebec, on the grounds that a place that makes claims to being a separate nation ought to at least have a different language. I gave a speech there that was pretty well received, most likely due to it having as its main competition the weather. It was after the speech that I was approached by an odd little fellow, an old gentleman with a thick black moustache and a fringe of hair circling his bald skull. Standing very near, and mumbling into his chest, he said, "Meester Clemens" -- but I will cease there with reporting his words as he spoke them; recent experience with French has shown me how easily a man can be made to look a fool in a language not his own, and this was a man of great intelligence and education, as you will see.
His tale, then, began like this: "Mister Clemens, I have long wanted to meet you. My name is Luigi" -- but there, with his last name, we get into the unbelievable part of the tale; and so I will pass over it -- "and I believe I may cast some light on a story of yours."
My interest piqued, I nodded for him to continue. "I should like to hear about it," I said.
"You are an educated man, so I am sure you recognize my name; you are a rational man, so I feel certain you know something of my work. But you should know that it was not always as a scientist that I imagined myself: instead, as a young man, I imagined I would study theology, and join one of the monastic orders. For I had a hunger, you see, to study those questions which, at that time, the natural sciences did not even hope to answer. Above all, I wished to answer the question of life!"