“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle–something heroic, or wonderful–that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”
The fishing fleet was back after a successful day. There was a lively atmosphere at the inn that evening. Wages were in pockets and ale was flowing; someone had bought a fiddle, someone else an accordion and a merry shanty tune was playing. Voices were raised in song as the drink flowed freely. The inn was full – everyone was there. The boats had all come back and been de-rigged – the equipment scrubbed and stowed away. Salt air always created a thirst in the men’s throats and the inn was the first stop before home for dinner. The Captain was catching up with friends in a quiet corner.
No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.– Mark Twain’s Speeches (1923 ed.)
That impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words howsoever felicitous could accomplish it…. For one audience, the pause will be short; for another a little longer; for another a shade longer still; the performer must vary the length of the pause to suit the shades of difference between audiences. … I used to play with the pause as other children play with a toy. – Autobiographical dictation, 11 October 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (University of California Press, 2015).