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Scott Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:41:10 -0800
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There is another item in Chapter 16, the Australian's greeted Twain with
the question/remark "Is he dead?.  His play, with that title, was not
written until 1898 but he was in Melbourne in 1895.  I suspect the
Aussies were harkening back to The Innocents Abroad.  See chapter 27 (pg
295 of The Oxford Mark Twain).

"There is one remark (already mentioned,) which never yet has failed to
disgust these guides. We use it always, when we can think of nothing
else to say. After they have exhausted their enthusiasm pointing out to
us and praising the beauties of some ancient bronze image or
broken-legged statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five,
ten, fifteen minutes--as long as we can hold out, in fact--and then ask:

"Is--is he dead?"

That conquers the serenest of them. It is not what they are looking
for--especially a new guide. Our Roman Ferguson is the most patient,
unsuspecting, long-suffering subject we have had yet. We shall be sorry
to part with him. We have enjoyed his society very much. We trust he has
enjoyed ours, but we are harassed with doubts."