The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, by Mark

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg

Author: Mark Twain

Release Date: April 1, 2005 [eBook #1213]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1907 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price, email



It was many years ago. Hadleyburg was the most honest and upright town
in all the region round about. It had kept that reputation unsmirched
during three generations, and was prouder of it than of any other of its
possessions. It was so proud of it, and so anxious to insure its
perpetuation, that it began to teach the principles of honest dealing to
its babies in the cradle, and made the like teachings the staple of their
culture thenceforward through all the years devoted to their education.
Also, throughout the formative years temptations were kept out of the way
of the young people, so that their honesty could have every chance to
harden and solidify, and become a part of their very bone. The
neighbouring towns were jealous of this honourable supremacy, and
affected to sneer at Hadleyburg's pride in it and call it vanity; but all
the same they were obliged to acknowledge that Hadleyburg was in reality
an incorruptible town; and if pressed they would also acknowledge that
the mere fact that a young man hailed from Hadleyburg was all the
recommendation he needed when he went forth from his natal town to seek
for responsible employment.

But at last, in the drift of time, Hadleyburg had the ill luck to offend
a passing stranger--possibly without knowing it, certainly without
caring, for Hadleyburg was sufficient unto itself, and cared not a rap
for strangers or their opinions. Still, it would have been well to make
an exception in this one's case, for he was a bitter man, and revengeful.
All through his wanderings during a whole year he kept his injury in
mind, and gave all his leisure moments to trying to invent a compensating
satisfaction for it. He contrived many plans, and all of them were good,
but none of them was quite sweeping enough: the poorest of them would
hurt a great many individuals, but what he wanted was a plan which would
comprehend the entire town, and not let so much as one person escape
unhurt. At last he had a fortunate idea, and when it fell into his brain
it lit up his whole head with an evil joy. He began to form a plan at
once, saying to himself "That is the thing to do--I will corrupt the

Six months later he went to Hadleyburg, and arrived in a buggy at the
house of the old cashier of the bank about ten at night. He got a sack
out of the buggy, shouldered it, and staggered with it through the
cottage yard, and knocked at the door. A woman's voice said "Come in,"
and he entered, and set his sack behind the stove in the parlour, saying
politely to the old lady who sat reading the "Missionary Herald" by the

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