Contract with
Mrs. T. K. Beecher,
July 2, 1895.
by Mark Twain

Carved into stones that now in the collection of Elmira College, this poem was written to Mrs. T. K. Beecher, the wife of the minister who married Mr. and Mrs. Clemens. It is an agreement to joyfully acknowledge his error if there turns to be such thing as an afterlife, and an advanced expression of his remorse should there be no afterlife.

This is a transcription of the original draft, which Clemens later gave to Mrs. Beecher at her request.

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If you prove right and I prove wrong,
     A million years from now,
In language plain and frank and strong
          My error I'll avow
To your dear waking face.

If I prove right, by God His grace,
     Full sorry I shall be,
For in that solitude no trace
     There'll be of you and me
          Nor of our vanished race.

A million years, O patient stone,
     You've waited for this message.
Deliver it a million hence;
     [Survivor pays expressage.]

               Mark Twain.

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