House Rules

From a letter from Mark Twain to Mabel Larkin Patterson of Chicago, Oct. 2, 1908:

The contents of your letter are very pleasant and very welcome, and I thank you for them, sincerely. If I can find a photograph of my ‘Tammany’ and her kittens, I will enclose it in this. One of them likes to be crammed into a corner-pocket of the billiard table — which he fits as snugly as does a finger in a glove and then he watches the game (and obstructs it) by the hour, and spoils many a shot by putting out his paw and changing the direction of a passing ball. Whenever a ball is in his arms, or so close to him that it cannot be played upon without risk of hurting him, the player is privileged to remove it to any one of 3 spots that chances to be vacant.

At the time his cats were named Apollinaris, Beelzebub, Blatherskite, Buffalo Bill, Sour Mash, Tammany, and Zoroaster — “names given them not in an unfriendly spirit,” he wrote, “but merely to practice the children in large and difficult styles of pronunciation.”

“It was a very happy idea. I mean, for the children.”