Life On The Mississippi By Mark Twain




















































































































































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We reached St. Louis at ten o'clock at night.  At the counter of the
hotel I tendered a hurriedly-invented - Page 190
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We Reached St. Louis At Ten O'clock At Night.

At the counter of the hotel I tendered a hurriedly-invented fictitious name, with a miserable attempt at careless ease.

The clerk paused, and inspected me in the compassionate way in which one inspects a respectable person who is found in doubtful circumstances; then he said -

'It's all right; I know what sort of a room you want. Used to clerk at the St. James, in New York.'

An unpromising beginning for a fraudulent career. We started to the supper room, and met two other men whom I had known elsewhere. How odd and unfair it is: wicked impostors go around lecturing under my NOM DE GUERRE and nobody suspects them; but when an honest man attempts an imposture, he is exposed at once.

One thing seemed plain: we must start down the river the next day, if people who could not be deceived were going to crop up at this rate: an unpalatable disappointment, for we had hoped to have a week in St. Louis. The Southern was a good hotel, and we could have had a comfortable time there. It is large, and well conducted, and its decorations do not make one cry, as do those of the vast Palmer House, in Chicago. True, the billiard-tables were of the Old Silurian Period, and the cues and balls of the Post-Pliocene; but there was refreshment in this, not discomfort; for there is rest and healing in the contemplation of antiquities.

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