Mark Twain’s Scary Thunderstorm

People boast a good deal about Alpine thunderstorms; but the storms which I have had the luck to see in the Alps were not the equals of some which I have seen in the Mississippi valley.  I may not have seen the Alps do their best, of course, and if they can beat the Mississippi, I don’t wish to…

Valley of Aosta by JMW Turner

Valley of Aosta by JMW Turner

We had a heavy thunderstorm at Natchez, another at Vicksburg, and still another about fifty miles below Memphis. They had an old-fashioned energy which had long been unfamiliar to me. This third storm was accompanied by a raging wind. We tied up to the bank when we saw the tempest coming, and everybody left the pilot-house [of a Mississippi River steamboat] but me.

Lightning by Axel Rouvin

Lightning by Axel Rouvin

The wind bent the young trees down, exposing the pale underside of the leaves; and gust after gust followed, in quick succession, thrashing the branches violently up and down, and to this side and that, and creating swift waves of alternating green and white, according to the side of the leaf that was exposed, and these waves raced after each other as do their kind over a wind-tossed field of oats. No color that was visible anywhere was quite natural—all tints were charged with a leaden tinge from the solid cloud-bank overhead. The river was leaden, all distances the same; and even the far-reaching ranks of combing whitecaps were dully shaded by the dark, rich atmosphere through which their swarming legions marched.

The thunder-peals were constant and deafening; explosion followed explosion with but inconsequential intervals between, and the reports grew steadily sharper and higher-keyed, and more trying to the ear; the lightning was as diligent as the thunder, and produced effects which enchanted the eye and set electric ecstasies of mixed delight and apprehension shivering along every nerve in the body in unintermittent processsion.

The rain poured down in amazing volume; the ear-splitting thunder-peals broke nearer and nearer; the wind increased in fury and began to wrench off boughs and tree-tops and send them sailing away through space; the pilot-house fell to rocking and straining and cracking and surging, and I went down in the hold to see what time it was.

Mark Twain, from Life on the Mississipi, Chapter LI, Reminiscences


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2 Responses to Mark Twain’s Scary Thunderstorm

  1. Hi, I am a Personal Safety -Instructor and I teach the art of warfare called African ( Pankrashen )Pankrachion. It seems to be that the Caananites were the decendants of Ham ( mizarium- Egypt) is where they ‘ Canaaan learned the phalanx’. Also, Joseph was there and Moses for 40 years. I am on the verge of history that the Greek Lycurgus who went to Egypt brought warfare, education and Government to Laconia ‘Greece’. African Pankrashen is the Pankration of Ancient Greece and Pancratium to The Romans. Teanis

  2. Pingback: A Legendary Speaker by Mark Twain | Great Names in History

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