It was a very special evening for guests at Agoura Hills Library when Mark Twain, “scribbler of many books” visited April 12 and transported guests back to the late 1800s. Dressed in respondent black suit and toting a cigar, Twain, “age 50,” and author of the likes of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and, later, “Innocence Abroad,” regaled folks with stories from his popular works.
For the entertaining program, Mark Twain called up Mel Gunawarden, 9 of Agoura Hills – there with his mother Amali – to play his sidekick and sound out animals, from cow to frog, for “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the short story that etched Twain’s writings into literary history.
Skipping about swatches in his life, Twain, in real life Samuel Clemens, spoke about “the war between the states. You Yanks call it the Civil War. I was there. There was nothing civil about it.”
And he sketched what it was like to ride 300 miles over 52 hours in a mail stagecoach, getting squashed or struck by the bundles of mail dependin’ on whether the coach was pulling up a mountain or rolling down one.
Are all his tales factual? “Truth and humor are on the same coin, just different sides,” he extolled, adding, “Humor softens the truth.” Are the “morals” to his stories too harsh, asked one listener. “I don’t worry about it,” he drawled.
Brian Rugalbuto has been portraying Twain at Knott’s Berry Farm for its Way West Educational Tour, and other venues. His performance at Agoura Hills Library comes during National Library Week, which concludes April 16.