Now, the Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES. Our story today is called, "Luck." It was written by Mark Twain. Here is Shep O'Neal with the story.
I was at a dinner in London given in honor of one of the most celebrated English military men of his time. I do not want to tell you his real name and titles. I will just call him Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby.
I can not describe my excitement when I saw this great and famous man. There he sat. The man himself, in person, all covered with medals. I could not take my eyes off him. He seemed to show the true mark of greatness. His fame had no effect on him.
The hundreds of eyes watching him, the worship of so many people did not seem to make any difference to him.
Next to me sat a clergyman, who was an old friend of mine. He was not always a clergyman. During the first half of his life, he was a teacher in the military school at Woolwich. There was a strange look in his eye as he leaned toward me and whispered, "Privately – he is a complete fool." He meant, of course, the hero of our dinner.
This came as a shock to me. I looked hard at my friend. I could not have been more surprised if he had said the same thing about Napoleon, or Socrates, or Solomon.
But I was sure of two things about the clergyman. He always spoke the truth. And his judgement of men was good. Therefore, I wanted to find out more about our hero as soon as I could.
Some days later I got a chance to talk with the clergyman and he told me more. These are his exact words:
"About forty years ago, I was an instructor in the military academy at Woolwich, when young Scoresby was given his first examination. I felt extremely sorry for him. Everybody answered the questions well, intelligently, while he – why, dear me – he did not know anything, so to speak. He was a nice, pleasant young man. It was painful to see him stand there and give answers that were miracles of stupidity.
"I knew of course that when examined again he would fail and be thrown out. So, I said to myself, it would be a simple, harmless act to help him, as much as I could.