How To Cure A Cold by Mark Twain, 1863
The magic trick:
Writing with an original voice and perspective
These early Mark Twain stories are pretty silly. They’re barely stories at all – more comic riffs, really.
But they have a voice. I’m not well-versed enough to say for sure whether it’s a purely original voice. Seems pretty original to me, though. It seems like the start of a particularly western American character entering the literary scene.
And that’s quite a trick on Twain’s part.
The first time I began to sneeze, a friend told me to go and bathe my feet in hot water and go to bed. I did so. Shortly afterward, another friend advised me to get up and take a cold shower-bath. I did that also. Within the hour, another friend assured me that it was policy to “feed a cold and starve a fever.” I had both. So I thought it best to fill myself up for the cold, and then keep dark and let the fever starve awhile.
In a case of, this kind, I seldom do things by halves; I ate pretty heartily; I conferred my custom upon a stranger who had just opened his restaurant that morning; he waited near me in respectful silence until I had finished feeding my cold, when he inquired if the people about Virginia City were much afflicted with colds? I told him I thought they were. He then went out and took in his sign.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.