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Doubly Embarrassed?

After several failed attempts, Mark Twain at last obtained an invitation to meet General Ulysses S. Grant at his home. So excited was Twain by the prospect of meeting his hero that, confronted with the man's imperturbable, unsmiling face, he found himself at a loss for words.

When the famously taciturn Grant simply nodded and waited, Twain finally frankly remarked: "General, I seem to be a little embarrassed. Are you?" The ice was broken and the conversation flowed...

Some twelve years later, at a reception for General Grant in Chicago, Twain, on the way to the reviewing stand, was reintroduced by Chicago's mayor: "General," he said, "let me present Mr. Clemens, a man almost as great as yourself." Having shaken Twain's hand, the general fixed the celebrated author with a steady eye. "Mr. Clemens," he then declared, "I am not embarrassed, are you?"

[Both men laughed.]

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