What Is a Summary of the Short Story “Luck” by Mark Twain?

“Luck” is about an English captain named Lord Arthur Scoresby who seems to be a complete idiot but, despite his incompetence, is so lucky that he manages to be acclaimed as a hero and a military genius. The story is narrated by a clergyman who is obviously envious of the captain’s success. It is unclear whether the captain is truly incompetent or only appears so in the clergyman’s eyes.

In a brief introduction, Mark Twain mentions that “Luck” is a true account and not a fabrication. The clergyman is at a banquet in honor of the captain and some other military heroes. He recalls that he was once one of the captain’s instructors, and claims that without the clergyman’s special attention, the captain would not have passed the academy exams. When the Crimean War broke out, the clergyman enlisted, supposedly to protect his country from the captain’s blunders. Instead, every move the captain made enhanced his reputation. Finally, he mistakes his left hand for his right, goes off in the wrong direction, finds a hidden Russian army and helps win the battle. The clergyman concludes that the best gift a man can have in life is to be born lucky.

“Luck” was first published in Harper’s Magazine in 1891. At the time, Mark Twain was the most famous writer in America and an international celebrity.