In Mark Twain’s classic tale, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom and his two young friends, Huck and Joe, go missing and are presumed drowned in the Mississippi River. The boys are, however, still very much alive.
Always the prankster, Tom decides to attend his own funeral. After hiding in the church and listening to the anguished sobs of family and friends, “the three dead boys came marching up the aisle,” turning sorrow into joy.
Twain himself was no stranger to people mistakenly believing that he was dead or nearly so. In 1897, the New York Herald reported that the great American humorist was “grievously ill” and “possibly dying.” The newspaper also claimed that he’d lost both his fortune and his mind. None of it was true, leading Twain to famously quip that “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Twain didn’t die until 1910, the year that Halley’s Comet returned on its 76-year journey around the Sun. In fact, he’d predicted that the comet’s reappearance would coincide with his death.
I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it… ...