Twain for the Price of Oon*
Often Short Of Legal Tenders
“A Washoe genius yesterday explained to us the origin of the nom de plume ‘Mark Twain.’ ‘Wall now, d’ye see,’ said our informant, ‘Mark—that is Sam, d’ye see—used to take his regular drinks at Johnny Doyle’s. Well, ‘Mark,’ that is Sam, d’ye see, used to run his face, bein’ often short of legal tenders. Well, ‘Mark,’ that is Sam, d’ye understand, always used to take two horns consecutive, one right after the other, and when he come in there and took ’em on tick, Johnny used to sing out to his barkeep, who carried a lump of chalk in his weskit pocket and kept the score, ‘mark twain,’ whereupon the barkeep would score two drinks to Sam’s account — and so it was, d’ye see, that he come to be called ‘Mark Twain.'” San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, February 14, 1866.
“I am a match for nearly any beverage you can mention except a whisky-cocktail.” Mark Twain: Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays, 1852 – 1890.
*Twain for the Price of Oon is sort of a double play on words. Twain is Middle English for Two, you see, and Oon is Middle English for One. One of these (two quotes for the price of one) is about Mark Twain, and the other is by Mark Twain, so . . . Oh, you get it, right?