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Title: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories
Author: Twain, Mark
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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and Other Stories

by Mark Twain

(Samuel L. Clemens)

































Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V
























Lakeside was a pleasant little town of five or six thousand inhabitants,
and a rather pretty one, too, as towns go in the Far West. It had church
accommodations for thirty-five thousand, which is the way of the Far
West and the South, where everybody is religious, and where each of the
Protestant sects is represented and has a plant of its own. Rank was
unknown in Lakeside--unconfessed, anyway; everybody knew everybody and
his dog, and a sociable friendliness was the prevailing atmosphere.

Saladin Foster was book-keeper in the principal store, and the only
high-salaried man of his profession in Lakeside. He was thirty-five
years old, now; he had served that store for fourteen years; he had
begun in his marriage-week at four hundred dollars a year, and had
climbed steadily up, a hundred dollars a year, for four years; from
that time forth his wage had remained eight hundred--a handsome figure
indeed, and everybody conceded that he was worth it.

His wife, Electra, was a capable helpmeet, although--like himself--a
dreamer of dreams and a private dabbler in romance. The first thing she
did, after her marriage--child as she was, aged only nineteen--was to
buy an acre of ground on the edge of the town, and pay down the cash for
it--twenty-five dollars, all her fortune. Saladin had less, by fifteen.
She instituted a vegetable garden there, got it farmed on shares by the
nearest neighbor, and made it pay her a hundred per cent. a year. Out of
Saladin’s first year’s wage she put thirty dollars in the savings-bank,
sixty out of his second, a hundred out of his third, a hundred and fifty
out of his fourth. His wage went to eight hundred a year, then, and
meantime two children had arrived and increased the expenses, but she
banked two hundred a year from the salary, nevertheless, thenceforth.
When she had been married seven years she built and furnished a
pretty and comfortable two-thousand-dollar house in the midst of her
garden-acre, paid half of the money down and moved her family in. Seven
years later she was out of debt and had several hundred dollars out
earning its living.

Earning it by the rise in landed estate; for she had long ago bought
another acre or two and sold the most of it at a profit to pleasant
people who were willing to build, and would be good neighbors and
furnish a general comradeship for herself and her growing family. She
had an independent income from safe investments of about a hundred
dollars a year; her children were growing in years and grace; and
she was a pleased and happy woman. Happy in her husband, happy in her
children, and the husband and the children were happy in her. It is at
this point that this history begins.

The youngest girl, Clytemnestra--called Clytie for short--was eleven;
her sister, Gwendolen--called Gwen for short--was thirteen; nice girls,
and comely. The names betray the latent romance-tinge in the parental
blood, the parents’ names indicate that the tinge was an inheritance. It
was an affectionate family, hence all four of its members had pet
names, Saladin’s was a curious and unsexing one--Sally; and so was
Electra’s--Aleck. All day long Sally was a good and diligent book-keeper
and salesman; all day long Aleck was a good and faithful mother and
housewife, and thoughtful and calculating business woman; but in the
cozy living-room at night they put the plodding world away, and lived in
another and a fairer, reading romances to each other, dreaming dreams,
comrading with kings and princes and stately lords and ladies in the
flash and stir and splendor of noble palaces and grim and ancient


Now came great news! Stunning news--joyous news, in fact. It came from a
neighboring state, where the family’s only surviving relative lived. It
was Sally’s relative--a sort of vague and indefinite uncle or second
or third cousin by the name of Tilbury Foster, seventy and a bachelor,
reputed well off and corresponding sour and crusty. Sally had tried to
make up to him once, by letter, in a bygone time, and had not made that
mistake again. Tilbury now wrote to Sally, saying he should shortly die,
and should leave him thirty thousand dollars, cash; not for love, but
because money had given him most of his troubles and exasperations, and
he wished to place it where there was good hope that it would continue
its malignant work. The bequest would be found in his will, and would be
paid over. PROVIDED, that Sally should be able to prove to the executors
that he had _Taken no notice of the gift by spoken word or by letter,
had made no inquiries concerning the moribund’s progress toward the
everlasting tropics, and had not attended the funeral._

As soon as Aleck had partially recovered from the tremendous emotions
created by the letter, she sent to the relative’s habitat and subscribed
for the local paper.

Man and wife entered into a solemn compact, now, to never mention the
great news to any one while the relative lived, lest some ignorant
person carry the fact to the death-bed and distort it and make it appear
that they were disobediently thankful for the bequest, and just the
same as confessing it and publishing it, right in the face of the

For the rest of the day Sally made havoc and confusion with his books,
and Aleck could not keep her mind on her affairs, not even take up a
flower-pot or book or a stick of wood without forgetting what she had
intended to do with it. For both were dreaming.

“Thir-ty thousand dollars!”

All day long the music of those inspiring words sang through those
people’s heads.

From his marriage-day forth, Aleck’s grip had been upon the purse, and
Sally had seldom known what it was to be privileged to squander a dime
on non-necessities.

“Thir-ty thousand dollars!” the song went on and on. A vast sum, an
unthinkable sum!

All day long Aleck was absorbed in planning how to invest it, Sally in
planning how to spend it.

There was no romance-reading that night. The children took themselves
away early, for their parents were silent, distraught, and strangely
unentertaining. The good-night kisses might as well have been impressed
upon vacancy, for all the response they got; the parents were not aware
of the kisses, and the children had been gone an hour before
their absence was noticed. Two pencils had been busy during that
hour--note-making; in the way of plans. It was Sally who broke the
stillness at last. He said, with exultation:

“Ah, it’ll be grand, Aleck! Out of the first thousand we’ll have a horse
and a buggy for summer, and a cutter and a skin lap-robe for winter.”

Aleck responded with decision and composure--

“Out of the _capital_? Nothing of the kind. Not if it was a million!”

Sally was deeply disappointed; the glow went out of his face.

“Oh, Aleck!” he said, reproachfully. “We’ve always worked so hard and
been so scrimped: and now that we are rich, it does seem--”

He did not finish, for he saw her eye soften; his supplication had
touched her. She said, with gentle persuasiveness:

“We must not spend the capital, dear, it would not be wise. Out of the
income from it--”

“That will answer, that will answer, Aleck! How dear and good you are!
There will be a noble income and if we can spend that--”

“Not _all _of it, dear, not all of it, but you can spend a part of it.
That is, a reasonable part. But the whole of the capital--every penny
of it--must be put right to work, and kept at it. You see the
reasonableness of that, don’t you?”

“Why, ye-s. Yes, of course. But we’ll have to wait so long. Six months
before the first interest falls due.”

“Yes--maybe longer.”

“Longer, Aleck? Why? Don’t they pay half-yearly?”

“_That _kind of an investment--yes; but I sha’n’t invest in that way.”

“What way, then?”

“For big returns.”

“Big. That’s good. Go on, Aleck. What is it?”

“Coal. The new mines. Cannel. I mean to put in ten thousand. Ground
floor. When we organize, we’ll get three shares for one.”

“By George, but it sounds good, Aleck! Then the shares will be
worth--how much? And when?”

“About a year. They’ll pay ten per cent. half yearly, and be worth
thirty thousand. I know all about it; the advertisement is in the
Cincinnati paper here.”

“Land, thirty thousand for ten--in a year! Let’s jam in the
whole capital and pull out ninety! I’ll write and subscribe right
now--tomorrow it maybe too late.”

He was flying to the writing-desk, but Aleck stopped him and put him
back in his chair. She said:

“Don’t lose your head so. _We_ mustn’t subscribe till we’ve got the
money; don’t you know that?”

Sally’s excitement went down a degree or two, but he was not wholly

“Why, Aleck, we’ll _have _it, you know--and so soon, too. He’s probably
out of his troubles before this; it’s a hundred to nothing he’s
selecting his brimstone-shovel this very minute. Now, I think--”

Aleck shuddered, and said:

“How _can _you, Sally! Don’t talk in that way, it is perfectly

“Oh, well, make it a halo, if you like, _I_ don’t care for his outfit, I
was only just talking. Can’t you let a person talk?”

“But why should you _want _to talk in that dreadful way? How would you
like to have people talk so about _you_, and you not cold yet?”

“Not likely to be, for _one _while, I reckon, if my last act was giving
away money for the sake of doing somebody a harm with it. But never mind
about Tilbury, Aleck, let’s talk about something worldly. It does seem
to me that that mine is the place for the whole thirty. What’s the

“All the eggs in one basket--that’s the objection.”

“All right, if you say so. What about the other twenty? What do you mean
to do with that?”

“There is no hurry; I am going to look around before I do anything with

“All right, if your mind’s made up,” sighed Sally. He was deep in
thought awhile, then he said:

“There’ll be twenty thousand profit coming from the ten a year from now.
We can spend that, can’t we, Aleck?”

Aleck shook her head.

“No, dear,” she said, “it won’t sell high till we’ve had the first
semi-annual dividend. You can spend part of that.”

“Shucks, only _that_--and a whole year to wait! Confound it, I--”

“Oh, do be patient! It might even be declared in three months--it’s
quite within the possibilities.”

“Oh, jolly! oh, thanks!” and Sally jumped up and kissed his wife in
gratitude. “It’ll be three thousand--three whole thousand! how much
of it can we spend, Aleck? Make it liberal!--do, dear, that’s a good

Aleck was pleased; so pleased that she yielded to the pressure and
conceded a sum which her judgment told her was a foolish extravagance--a
thousand dollars. Sally kissed her half a dozen times and even in that
way could not express all his joy and thankfulness. This new access
of gratitude and affection carried Aleck quite beyond the bounds of
prudence, and before she could restrain herself she had made her darling
another grant--a couple of thousand out of the fifty or sixty which she
meant to clear within a year of the twenty which still remained of the
bequest. The happy tears sprang to Sally’s eyes, and he said:

“Oh, I want to hug you!” And he did it. Then he got his notes and sat
down and began to check off, for first purchase, the luxuries which
he should earliest wish to secure.
church-pew--stem-winder--new teeth--_say_, Aleck!”


“Ciphering away, aren’t you? That’s right. Have you got the twenty
thousand invested yet?”

“No, there’s no hurry about that; I must look around first, and think.”

“But you are ciphering; what’s it about?”

“Why, I have to find work for the thirty thousand that comes out of the
coal, haven’t I?”

“Scott, what a head! I never thought of that. How are you getting along?
Where have you arrived?”

“Not very far--two years or three. I’ve turned it over twice; once in
oil and once in wheat.”

“Why, Aleck, it’s splendid! How does it aggregate?”

“I think--well, to be on the safe side, about a hundred and eighty
thousand clear, though it will probably be more.”

“My! isn’t it wonderful? By gracious! luck has come our way at last,
after all the hard sledding. Aleck!”


“I’m going to cash in a whole three hundred on the missionaries--what
real right have we care for expenses!”

“You couldn’t do a nobler thing, dear; and it’s just like your generous
nature, you unselfish boy.”

The praise made Sally poignantly happy, but he was fair and just enough
to say it was rightfully due to Aleck rather than to himself, since but
for her he should never have had the money.

Then they went up to bed, and in their delirium of bliss they forgot and
left the candle burning in the parlor. They did not remember until they
were undressed; then Sally was for letting it burn; he said they could
afford it, if it was a thousand. But Aleck went down and put it out.

A good job, too; for on her way back she hit on a scheme that would turn
the hundred and eighty thousand into half a million before it had had
time to get cold.


The little newspaper which Aleck had subscribed for was a Thursday
sheet; it would make the trip of five hundred miles from Tilbury’s
village and arrive on Saturday. Tilbury’s letter had started on Friday,
more than a day too late for the benefactor to die and get into that
week’s issue, but in plenty of time to make connection for the next
output. Thus the Fosters had to wait almost a complete week to find out
whether anything of a satisfactory nature had happened to him or not.
It was a long, long week, and the strain was a heavy one. The pair could
hardly have borne it if their minds had not had the relief of wholesome
diversion. We have seen that they had that. The woman was piling up
fortunes right along, the man was spending them--spending all his wife
would give him a chance at, at any rate.

At last the Saturday came, and the _Weekly Sagamore_ arrived. Mrs.
Eversly Bennett was present. She was the Presbyterian parson’s wife, and
was working the Fosters for a charity. Talk now died a sudden death--on
the Foster side. Mrs. Bennett presently discovered that her hosts
were not hearing a word she was saying; so she got up, wondering and
indignant, and went away. The moment she was out of the house, Aleck
eagerly tore the wrapper from the paper, and her eyes and Sally’s swept
the columns for the death-notices. Disappointment! Tilbury was not
anywhere mentioned. Aleck was a Christian from the cradle, and duty and
the force of habit required her to go through the motions. She pulled
herself together and said, with a pious two-per-cent. trade joyousness:

“Let us be humbly thankful that he has been spared; and--”

“Damn his treacherous hide, I wish--”

“Sally! For shame!”

“I don’t care!” retorted the angry man. “It’s the way _you _feel, and if
you weren’t so immorally pious you’d be honest and say so.”

Aleck said, with wounded dignity:

“I do not see how you can say such unkind and unjust things. There is no
such thing as immoral piety.”

Sally felt a pang, but tried to conceal it under a shuffling attempt to
save his case by changing the form of it--as if changing the form while
retaining the juice could deceive the expert he was trying to placate.
He said:

“I didn’t mean so bad as that, Aleck; I didn’t really mean immoral
piety, I only meant--meant--well, conventional piety, you know; er--shop
piety; the--the--why, _you _know what I mean. Aleck--the--well, where
you put up that plated article and play it for solid, you know, without
intending anything improper, but just out of trade habit, ancient
policy, petrified custom, loyalty to--to--hang it, I can’t find the
right words, but _you _know what I mean, Aleck, and that there isn’t any
harm in it. I’ll try again. You see, it’s this way. If a person--”

“You have said quite enough,” said Aleck, coldly; “let the subject be

“I’m willing,” fervently responded Sally, wiping the sweat from his
forehead and looking the thankfulness he had no words for. Then,
musingly, he apologized to himself. “I certainly held threes--_I know_
it--but I drew and didn’t fill. That’s where I’m so often weak in
the game. If I had stood pat--but I didn’t. I never do. I don’t know

Confessedly defeated, he was properly tame now and subdued. Aleck
forgave him with her eyes.

The grand interest, the supreme interest, came instantly to the front
again; nothing could keep it in the background many minutes on a
stretch. The couple took up the puzzle of the absence of Tilbury’s
death-notice. They discussed it every which way, more or less hopefully,
but they had to finish where they began, and concede that the only
really sane explanation of the absence of the notice must be--and
without doubt was--that Tilbury was not dead. There was something sad
about it, something even a little unfair, maybe, but there it was, and
had to be put up with. They were agreed as to that. To Sally it seemed
a strangely inscrutable dispensation; more inscrutable than usual, he
thought; one of the most unnecessary inscrutable he could call to mind,
in fact--and said so, with some feeling; but if he was hoping to draw
Aleck he failed; she reserved her opinion, if she had one; she had not
the habit of taking injudicious risks in any market, worldly or other.

The pair must wait for next week’s paper--Tilbury had evidently
postponed. That was their thought and their decision. So they put the
subject away and went about their affairs again with as good heart as
they could.

Now, if they had but known it, they had been wronging Tilbury all the
time. Tilbury had kept faith, kept it to the letter; he was dead, he had
died to schedule. He was dead more than four days now and used to it;
entirely dead, perfectly dead, as dead as any other new person in the
cemetery; dead in abundant time to get into that week’s _Sagamore_, too,
and only shut out by an accident; an accident which could not happen
to a metropolitan journal, but which happens easily to a poor little
village rag like the _Sagamore_. On this occasion, just as the editorial
page was being locked up, a gratis quart of strawberry ice-water arrived
from Hostetter’s Ladies and Gents Ice-Cream Parlors, and the stickful of
rather chilly regret over Tilbury’s translation got crowded out to make
room for the editor’s frantic gratitude.

On its way to the standing-galley Tilbury’s notice got pied. Otherwise
it would have gone into some future edition, for _weekly Sagamores_ do
not waste “live” matter, and in their galleys “live” matter is immortal,
unless a pi accident intervenes. But a thing that gets pied is dead, and
for such there is no resurrection; its chance of seeing print is gone,
forever and ever. And so, let Tilbury like it or not, let him rave in
his grave to his fill, no matter--no mention of his death would ever see
the light in the _Weekly Sagamore_.


Five weeks drifted tediously along. The _Sagamore _arrived regularly
on the Saturdays, but never once contained a mention of Tilbury Foster.
Sally’s patience broke down at this point, and he said, resentfully:

“Damn his livers, he’s immortal!”

Aleck give him a very severe rebuke, and added with icy solemnity:

“How would you feel if you were suddenly cut off just after such an
awful remark had escaped out of you?”

Without sufficient reflection Sally responded:

“I’d feel I was lucky I hadn’t got caught with it _in_ me.”

Pride had forced him to say something, and as he could not think of any
rational thing to say he flung that out. Then he stole a base--as he
called it--that is, slipped from the presence, to keep from being brayed
in his wife’s discussion-mortar.

Six months came and went. The _Sagamore _was still silent about Tilbury.
Meantime, Sally had several times thrown out a feeler--that is, a hint
that he would like to know. Aleck had ignored the hints. Sally now
resolved to brace up and risk a frontal attack. So he squarely proposed
to disguise himself and go to Tilbury’s village and surreptitiously find
out as to the prospects. Aleck put her foot on the dangerous project
with energy and decision. She said:

“What can you be thinking of? You do keep my hands full! You have to be
watched all the time, like a little child, to keep you from walking into
the fire. You’ll stay right where you are!”

“Why, Aleck, I could do it and not be found out--I’m certain of it.”

“Sally Foster, don’t you know you would have to inquire around?”

“Of course, but what of it? Nobody would suspect who I was.”

“Oh, listen to the man! Some day you’ve got to prove to the executors
that you never inquired. What then?”

He had forgotten that detail. He didn’t reply; there wasn’t anything to
say. Aleck added:

“Now then, drop that notion out of your mind, and don’t ever meddle with
it again. Tilbury set that trap for you. Don’t you know it’s a trap? He
is on the watch, and fully expecting you to blunder into it. Well, he is
going to be disappointed--at least while I am on deck. Sally!”


“As long as you live, if it’s a hundred years, don’t you ever make an
inquiry. Promise!”

“All right,” with a sigh and reluctantly.

Then Aleck softened and said:

“Don’t be impatient. We are prospering; we can wait; there is no hurry.
Our small dead-certain income increases all the time; and as to futures,
I have not made a mistake yet--they are piling up by the thousands and
tens of thousands. There is not another family in the state with such
prospects as ours. Already we are beginning to roll in eventual wealth.
You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Aleck, it’s certainly so.”

“Then be grateful for what God is doing for us and stop worrying. You do
not believe we could have achieved these prodigious results without His
special help and guidance, do you?”

Hesitatingly, “N-no, I suppose not.” Then, with feeling and admiration,
“And yet, when it comes to judiciousness in watering a stock or putting
up a hand to skin Wall Street I don’t give in that _you _need any
outside amateur help, if I do wish I--”

“Oh, _do_ shut up! I know you do not mean any harm or any irreverence,
poor boy, but you can’t seem to open your mouth without letting out
things to make a person shudder. You keep me in constant dread. For you
and for all of us. Once I had no fear of the thunder, but now when I
hear it I--”

Her voice broke, and she began to cry, and could not finish. The sight
of this smote Sally to the heart and he took her in his arms and petted
her and comforted her and promised better conduct, and upbraided himself
and remorsefully pleaded for forgiveness. And he was in earnest, and
sorry for what he had done and ready for any sacrifice that could make
up for it.

And so, in privacy, he thought long and deeply over the matter,
resolving to do what should seem best. It was easy to _promise _reform;
indeed he had already promised it. But would that do any real good, any
permanent good? No, it would be but temporary--he knew his weakness,
and confessed it to himself with sorrow--he could not keep the promise.
Something surer and better must be devised; and he devised it. At
cost of precious money which he had long been saving up, shilling by
shilling, he put a lightning-rod on the house.

At a subsequent time he relapsed.

What miracles habit can do! and how quickly and how easily habits are
acquired--both trifling habits and habits which profoundly change us.
If by accident we wake at two in the morning a couple of nights in
succession, we have need to be uneasy, for another repetition can turn
the accident into a habit; and a month’s dallying with whiskey--but we
all know these commonplace facts.

The castle-building habit, the day-dreaming habit--how it grows! what a
luxury it becomes; how we fly to its enchantments at every idle moment,
how we revel in them, steep our souls in them, intoxicate ourselves with
their beguiling fantasies--oh yes, and how soon and how easily our dream
life and our material life become so intermingled and so fused together
that we can’t quite tell which is which, any more.

By and by Aleck subscribed to a Chicago daily and for the _Wall Street
Pointer_. With an eye single to finance she studied these as diligently
all the week as she studied her Bible Sundays. Sally was lost in
admiration, to note with what swift and sure strides her genius and
judgment developed and expanded in the forecasting and handling of the
securities of both the material and spiritual markets. He was proud of
her nerve and daring in exploiting worldly stocks, and just as proud of
her conservative caution in working her spiritual deals. He noted that
she never lost her head in either case; that with a splendid courage
she often went short on worldly futures, but heedfully drew the line
there--she was always long on the others. Her policy was quite sane and
simple, as she explained it to him: what she put into earthly futures
was for speculation, what she put into spiritual futures was for
investment; she was willing to go into the one on a margin, and take
chances, but in the case of the other, “margin her no margins”--she
wanted to cash in a hundred cents per dollar’s worth, and have the stock
transferred on the books.

It took but a very few months to educate Aleck’s imagination and
Sally’s. Each day’s training added something to the spread and
effectiveness of the two machines. As a consequence, Aleck made
imaginary money much faster than at first she had dreamed of making it,
and Sally’s competency in spending the overflow of it kept pace with the
strain put upon it, right along. In the beginning, Aleck had given the
coal speculation a twelvemonth in which to materialize, and had been
loath to grant that this term might possibly be shortened by nine
months. But that was the feeble work, the nursery work, of a financial
fancy that had had no teaching, no experience, no practice. These
aids soon came, then that nine months vanished, and the imaginary
ten-thousand-dollar investment came marching home with three hundred per
cent. profit on its back!

It was a great day for the pair of Fosters. They were speechless for
joy. Also speechless for another reason: after much watching of the
market, Aleck had lately, with fear and trembling, made her first flyer
on a “margin,” using the remaining twenty thousand of the bequest
in this risk. In her mind’s eye she had seen it climb, point by
point--always with a chance that the market would break--until at last
her anxieties were too great for further endurance--she being new to
the margin business and unhardened, as yet--and she gave her imaginary
broker an imaginary order by imaginary telegraph to sell. She said forty
thousand dollars’ profit was enough. The sale was made on the very day
that the coal venture had returned with its rich freight. As I have
said, the couple were speechless, they sat dazed and blissful that
night, trying to realize that they were actually worth a hundred
thousand dollars in clean, imaginary cash. Yet so it was.

It was the last time that ever Aleck was afraid of a margin; at least
afraid enough to let it break her sleep and pale her cheek to the extent
that this first experience in that line had done.

Indeed it was a memorable night. Gradually the realization that they
were rich sank securely home into the souls of the pair, then they began
to place the money. If we could have looked out through the eyes of
these dreamers, we should have seen their tidy little wooden house
disappear, and two-story brick with a cast-iron fence in front of it
take its place; we should have seen a three-globed gas-chandelier grow
down from the parlor ceiling; we should have seen the homely rag carpet
turn to noble Brussels, a dollar and a half a yard; we should have seen
the plebeian fireplace vanish away and a recherche, big base-burner with
isinglass windows take position and spread awe around. And we should
have seen other things, too; among them the buggy, the lap-robe, the
stove-pipe hat, and so on.

From that time forth, although the daughters and the neighbors saw only
the same old wooden house there, it was a two-story brick to Aleck
and Sally and not a night went by that Aleck did not worry about the
imaginary gas-bills, and get for all comfort Sally’s reckless retort:
“What of it? We can afford it.”

Before the couple went to bed, that first night that they were rich,
they had decided that they must celebrate. They must give a party--that
was the idea. But how to explain it--to the daughters and the neighbors?
They could not expose the fact that they were rich. Sally was willing,
even anxious, to do it; but Aleck kept her head and would not allow it.
She said that although the money was as good as in, it would be as well
to wait until it was actually in. On that policy she took her stand, and
would not budge. The great secret must be kept, she said--kept from the
daughters and everybody else.

The pair were puzzled. They must celebrate, they were determined to
celebrate, but since the secret must be kept, what could they celebrate?
No birthdays were due for three months. Tilbury wasn’t available,
evidently he was going to live forever; what the nation _could _they
celebrate? That was Sally’s way of putting it; and he was getting
impatient, too, and harassed. But at last he hit it--just by sheer
inspiration, as it seemed to him--and all their troubles were gone in a
moment; they would celebrate the Discovery of America. A splendid idea!

Aleck was almost too proud of Sally for words--she said _she _never
would have thought of it. But Sally, although he was bursting with
delight in the compliment and with wonder at himself, tried not to let
on, and said it wasn’t really anything, anybody could have done it.
Whereat Aleck, with a prideful toss of her happy head, said:

“Oh, certainly! Anybody could--oh, anybody! Hosannah Dilkins, for
instance! Or maybe Adelbert Peanut--oh, _dear_--yes! Well, I’d like to
see them try it, that’s all. Dear-me-suz, if they could think of the
discovery of a forty-acre island it’s more than _I_ believe they could;
and as for the whole continent, why, Sally Foster, you know perfectly
well it would strain the livers and lights out of them and _then_ they

The dear woman, she knew he had talent; and if affection made her
over-estimate the size of it a little, surely it was a sweet and gentle
crime, and forgivable for its source’s sake.


The celebration went off well. The friends were all present, both the
young and the old. Among the young were Flossie and Gracie Peanut and
their brother Adelbert, who was a rising young journeyman tinner,
also Hosannah Dilkins, Jr., journeyman plasterer, just out of his
apprenticeship. For many months Adelbert and Hosannah had been showing
interest in Gwendolen and Clytemnestra Foster, and the parents of the
girls had noticed this with private satisfaction. But they suddenly
realized now that that feeling had passed. They recognized that the
changed financial conditions had raised up a social bar between
their daughters and the young mechanics. The daughters could now look
higher--and must. Yes, must. They need marry nothing below the grade of
lawyer or merchant; poppa and momma would take care of this; there must
be no mesalliances.

However, these thinkings and projects of theirs were private, and
did not show on the surface, and therefore threw no shadow upon the
celebration. What showed upon the surface was a serene and lofty
contentment and a dignity of carriage and gravity of deportment which
compelled the admiration and likewise the wonder of the company. All
noticed it and all commented upon it, but none was able to divine the
secret of it. It was a marvel and a mystery. Three several persons
remarked, without suspecting what clever shots they were making:

“It’s as if they’d come into property.”

That was just it, indeed.

Most mothers would have taken hold of the matrimonial matter in the
old regulation way; they would have given the girls a talking to, of
a solemn sort and untactful--a lecture calculated to defeat its own
purpose, by producing tears and secret rebellion; and the said mothers
would have further damaged the business by requesting the young
mechanics to discontinue their attentions. But this mother was
different. She was practical. She said nothing to any of the young
people concerned, nor to any one else except Sally. He listened to her
and understood; understood and admired. He said:

“I get the idea. Instead of finding fault with the samples on view,
thus hurting feelings and obstructing trade without occasion, you merely
offer a higher class of goods for the money, and leave nature to take
her course. It’s wisdom, Aleck, solid wisdom, and sound as a nut. Who’s
your fish? Have you nominated him yet?”

No, she hadn’t. They must look the market over--which they did. To start
with, they considered and discussed Brandish, rising young lawyer, and
Fulton, rising young dentist. Sally must invite them to dinner. But not
right away; there was no hurry, Aleck said. Keep an eye on the pair, and
wait; nothing would be lost by going slowly in so important a matter.

It turned out that this was wisdom, too; for inside of three weeks Aleck
made a wonderful strike which swelled her imaginary hundred thousand
to four hundred thousand of the same quality. She and Sally were in the
clouds that evening. For the first time they introduced champagne at
dinner. Not real champagne, but plenty real enough for the amount of
imagination expended on it. It was Sally that did it, and Aleck weakly
submitted. At bottom both were troubled and ashamed, for he was a
high-up Son of Temperance, and at funerals wore an apron which no dog
could look upon and retain his reason and his opinion; and she was a
W. C. T. U., with all that that implies of boiler-iron virtue and
unendurable holiness. But there it was; the pride of riches was
beginning its disintegrating work. They had lived to prove, once more,
a sad truth which had been proven many times before in the world: that
whereas principle is a great and noble protection against showy and
degrading vanities and vices, poverty is worth six of it. More than
four hundred thousand dollars to the good. They took up the matrimonial
matter again. Neither the dentist nor the lawyer was mentioned; there
was no occasion, they were out of the running. Disqualified. They
discussed the son of the pork-packer and the son of the village banker.
But finally, as in the previous case, they concluded to wait and think,
and go cautiously and sure.

Luck came their way again. Aleck, ever watchful saw a great and risky
chance, and took a daring flyer. A time of trembling, of doubt, of awful
uneasiness followed, for non-success meant absolute ruin and nothing
short of it. Then came the result, and Aleck, faint with joy, could
hardly control her voice when she said:

“The suspense is over, Sally--and we are worth a cold million!”

Sally wept for gratitude, and said:

“Oh, Electra, jewel of women, darling of my heart, we are free at last,
we roll in wealth, we need never scrimp again. It’s a case for Veuve
Cliquot!” and he got out a pint of spruce-beer and made sacrifice, he
saying “Damn the expense,” and she rebuking him gently with reproachful
but humid and happy eyes.

They shelved the pork-packer’s son and the banker’s son, and sat down to
consider the Governor’s son and the son of the Congressman.


It were a weariness to follow in detail the leaps and bounds the Foster
fictitious finances took from this time forth. It was marvelous, it
was dizzying, it was dazzling. Everything Aleck touched turned to fairy
gold, and heaped itself glittering toward the firmament. Millions upon
millions poured in, and still the mighty stream flowed thundering
along, still its vast volume increased. Five millions--ten
millions--twenty--thirty--was there never to be an end?

Two years swept by in a splendid delirium, the intoxicated Fosters
scarcely noticing the flight of time. They were now worth three
hundred million dollars; they were in every board of directors of every
prodigious combine in the country; and still as time drifted along, the
millions went on piling up, five at a time, ten at a time, as fast as
they could tally them off, almost. The three hundred double itself--then
doubled again--and yet again--and yet once more.

Twenty-four hundred millions!

The business was getting a little confused. It was necessary to take an
account of stock, and straighten it out. The Fosters knew it, they felt
it, they realized that it was imperative; but they also knew that to do
it properly and perfectly the task must be carried to a finish without
a break when once it was begun. A ten-hours’ job; and where could _they
_find ten leisure hours in a bunch? Sally was selling pins and sugar and
calico all day and every day; Aleck was cooking and washing dishes and
sweeping and making beds all day and every day, with none to help, for
the daughters were being saved up for high society. The Fosters knew
there was one way to get the ten hours, and only one. Both were ashamed
to name it; each waited for the other to do it. Finally Sally said:

“Somebody’s got to give in. It’s up to me. Consider that I’ve named
it--never mind pronouncing it out aloud.”

Aleck colored, but was grateful. Without further remark, they fell.
Fell, and--broke the Sabbath. For that was their only free ten-hour
stretch. It was but another step in the downward path. Others would
follow. Vast wealth has temptations which fatally and surely undermine
the moral structure of persons not habituated to its possession.

They pulled down the shades and broke the Sabbath. With hard and patient
labor they overhauled their holdings and listed them. And a long-drawn
procession of formidable names it was! Starting with the Railway
Systems, Steamer Lines, Standard Oil, Ocean Cables, Diluted Telegraph,
and all the rest, and winding up with Klondike, De Beers, Tammany Graft,
and Shady Privileges in the Post-office Department.

Twenty-four hundred millions, and all safely planted in Good Things,
gilt-edged and interest-bearing. Income, $120,000,000 a year. Aleck
fetched a long purr of soft delight, and said:

“Is it enough?”

“It is, Aleck.”

“What shall we do?”

“Stand pat.”

“Retire from business?”

“That’s it.”

“I am agreed. The good work is finished; we will take a long rest and
enjoy the money.”

“Good! Aleck!”

“Yes, dear?”

“How much of the income can we spend?”

“The whole of it.”

It seemed to her husband that a ton of chains fell from his limbs. He
did not say a word; he was happy beyond the power of speech.

After that, they broke the Sabbaths right along as fast as they turned
up. It is the first wrong step that counts. Every Sunday they put in the
whole day, after morning service, on inventions--inventions of ways to
spend the money. They got to continuing this delicious dissipation until
past midnight; and at every seance Aleck lavished millions upon great
charities and religious enterprises, and Sally lavished like sums upon
matters to which (at first) he gave definite names. Only at first. Later
the names gradually lost sharpness of outline, and eventually faded into
“sundries,” thus becoming entirely--but safely--undescriptive. For Sally
was crumbling. The placing of these millions added seriously and most
uncomfortably to the family expenses--in tallow candles. For a while
Aleck was worried. Then, after a little, she ceased to worry, for
the occasion of it was gone. She was pained, she was grieved, she was
ashamed; but she said nothing, and so became an accessory. Sally was
taking candles; he was robbing the store. It is ever thus. Vast wealth,
to the person unaccustomed to it, is a bane; it eats into the flesh and
bone of his morals. When the Fosters were poor, they could have been
trusted with untold candles. But now they--but let us not dwell upon it.
From candles to apples is but a step: Sally got to taking apples; then
soap; then maple-sugar; then canned goods; then crockery. How easy it
is to go from bad to worse, when once we have started upon a downward

Meantime, other effects had been milestoning the course of the Fosters’
splendid financial march. The fictitious brick dwelling had given place
to an imaginary granite one with a checker-board mansard roof; in time
this one disappeared and gave place to a still grander home--and so on
and so on. Mansion after mansion, made of air, rose, higher, broader,
finer, and each in its turn vanished away; until now in these latter
great days, our dreamers were in fancy housed, in a distant region, in a
sumptuous vast palace which looked out from a leafy summit upon a
noble prospect of vale and river and receding hills steeped in tinted
mists--and all private, all the property of the dreamers; a palace
swarming with liveried servants, and populous with guests of fame and
power, hailing from all the world’s capitals, foreign and domestic.

This palace was far, far away toward the rising sun, immeasurably
remote, astronomically remote, in Newport, Rhode Island, Holy Land of
High Society, ineffable Domain of the American Aristocracy. As a rule
they spent a part of every Sabbath--after morning service--in this
sumptuous home, the rest of it they spent in Europe, or in dawdling
around in their private yacht. Six days of sordid and plodding fact life
at home on the ragged edge of Lakeside and straitened means, the seventh
in Fairyland--such had been their program and their habit.

In their sternly restricted fact life they remained as of old--plodding,
diligent, careful, practical, economical. They stuck loyally to the
little Presbyterian Church, and labored faithfully in its interests
and stood by its high and tough doctrines with all their mental and
spiritual energies. But in their dream life they obeyed the invitations
of their fancies, whatever they might be, and howsoever the fancies
might change. Aleck’s fancies were not very capricious, and not
frequent, but Sally’s scattered a good deal. Aleck, in her dream life,
went over to the Episcopal camp, on account of its large official
titles; next she became High-church on account of the candles and shows;
and next she naturally changed to Rome, where there were cardinals and
more candles. But these excursions were a nothing to Sally’s. His dream
life was a glowing and continuous and persistent excitement, and he kept
every part of it fresh and sparkling by frequent changes, the religious
part along with the rest. He worked his religions hard, and changed them
with his shirt.

The liberal spendings of the Fosters upon their fancies began early
in their prosperities, and grew in prodigality step by step with their
advancing fortunes. In time they became truly enormous. Aleck built
a university or two per Sunday; also a hospital or two; also a Rowton
hotel or so; also a batch of churches; now and then a cathedral; and
once, with untimely and ill-chosen playfulness, Sally said, “It was
a cold day when she didn’t ship a cargo of missionaries to persuade
unreflecting Chinamen to trade off twenty-four carat Confucianism for
counterfeit Christianity.”

This rude and unfeeling language hurt Aleck to the heart, and she went
from the presence crying. That spectacle went to his own heart, and in
his pain and shame he would have given worlds to have those unkind words
back. She had uttered no syllable of reproach--and that cut him. Not one
suggestion that he look at his own record--and she could have made, oh,
so many, and such blistering ones! Her generous silence brought a swift
revenge, for it turned his thoughts upon himself, it summoned before
him a spectral procession, a moving vision of his life as he had been
leading it these past few years of limitless prosperity, and as he
sat there reviewing it his cheeks burned and his soul was steeped in
humiliation. Look at her life--how fair it was, and tending ever upward;
and look at his own--how frivolous, how charged with mean vanities,
how selfish, how empty, how ignoble! And its trend--never upward, but
downward, ever downward!

He instituted comparisons between her record and his own. He had found
fault with her--so he mused--_he_! And what could he say for himself?
When she built her first church what was he doing? Gathering other blase
multimillionaires into a Poker Club; defiling his own palace with it;
losing hundreds of thousands to it at every sitting, and sillily vain of
the admiring notoriety it made for him. When she was building her
first university, what was he doing? Polluting himself with a gay
and dissipated secret life in the company of other fast bloods,
multimillionaires in money and paupers in character. When she was
building her first foundling asylum, what was he doing? Alas! When she
was projecting her noble Society for the Purifying of the Sex, what was
he doing? Ah, what, indeed! When she and the W. C. T. U. and the Woman
with the Hatchet, moving with resistless march, were sweeping the fatal
bottle from the land, what was he doing? Getting drunk three times a
day. When she, builder of a hundred cathedrals, was being gratefully
welcomed and blest in papal Rome and decorated with the Golden Rose
which she had so honorably earned, what was he doing? Breaking the bank
at Monte Carlo.

He stopped. He could go no farther; he could not bear the rest. He rose
up, with a great resolution upon his lips: this secret life should be
revealed, and confessed; no longer would he live it clandestinely, he
would go and tell her All.

And that is what he did. He told her All; and wept upon her bosom; wept,
and moaned, and begged for her forgiveness. It was a profound shock, and
she staggered under the blow, but he was her own, the core of her heart,
the blessing of her eyes, her all in all, she could deny him nothing,
and she forgave him. She felt that he could never again be quite to her
what he had been before; she knew that he could only repent, and not
reform; yet all morally defaced and decayed as he was, was he not her
own, her very own, the idol of her deathless worship? She said she was
his serf, his slave, and she opened her yearning heart and took him in.


One Sunday afternoon some time after this they were sailing the summer
seas in their dream yacht, and reclining in lazy luxury under the awning
of the after-deck. There was silence, for each was busy with his own
thoughts. These seasons of silence had insensibly been growing more
and more frequent of late; the old nearness and cordiality were waning.
Sally’s terrible revelation had done its work; Aleck had tried hard to
drive the memory of it out of her mind, but it would not go, and the
shame and bitterness of it were poisoning her gracious dream life. She
could see now (on Sundays) that her husband was becoming a bloated and
repulsive Thing. She could not close her eyes to this, and in these days
she no longer looked at him, Sundays, when she could help it.

But she--was she herself without blemish? Alas, she knew she was not.
She was keeping a secret from him, she was acting dishonorably toward
him, and many a pang it was costing her. _She was breaking the compact,
and concealing it from him_. Under strong temptation she had gone into
business again; she had risked their whole fortune in a purchase of all
the railway systems and coal and steel companies in the country on a
margin, and she was now trembling, every Sabbath hour, lest through some
chance word of hers he find it out. In her misery and remorse for this
treachery she could not keep her heart from going out to him in pity;
she was filled with compunctions to see him lying there, drunk and
contented, and never suspecting. Never suspecting--trusting her with
a perfect and pathetic trust, and she holding over him by a thread a
possible calamity of so devastating a--


The interrupting words brought her suddenly to herself. She was grateful
to have that persecuting subject from her thoughts, and she answered,
with much of the old-time tenderness in her tone:

“Yes, dear.”

“Do you know, Aleck, I think we are making a mistake--that is, you
are. I mean about the marriage business.” He sat up, fat and froggy and
benevolent, like a bronze Buddha, and grew earnest. “Consider--it’s more
than five years. You’ve continued the same policy from the start: with
every rise, always holding on for five points higher. Always when I
think we are going to have some weddings, you see a bigger thing ahead,
and I undergo another disappointment. _I_ think you are too hard to
please. Some day we’ll get left. First, we turned down the dentist and
the lawyer. That was all right--it was sound. Next, we turned down the
banker’s son and the pork-butcher’s heir--right again, and sound. Next,
we turned down the Congressman’s son and the Governor’s--right as
a trivet, I confess it. Next the Senator’s son and the son of the
Vice-President of the United States--perfectly right, there’s no
permanency about those little distinctions. Then you went for the
aristocracy; and I thought we had struck oil at last--yes. We would
make a plunge at the Four Hundred, and pull in some ancient lineage,
venerable, holy, ineffable, mellow with the antiquity of a hundred and
fifty years, disinfected of the ancestral odors of salt-cod and pelts
all of a century ago, and unsmirched by a day’s work since, and then!
why, then the marriages, of course. But no, along comes a pair of real
aristocrats from Europe, and straightway you throw over the half-breeds.
It was awfully discouraging, Aleck! Since then, what a procession!
You turned down the baronets for a pair of barons; you turned down the
barons for a pair of viscounts; the viscounts for a pair of earls;
the earls for a pair of marquises; the marquises for a brace of dukes.
_Now_, Aleck, cash in!--you’ve played the limit. You’ve got a job lot
of four dukes under the hammer; of four nationalities; all sound in the
wind and limb and pedigree, all bankrupt and in debt up to the ears.
They come high, but we can afford it. Come, Aleck, don’t delay any
longer, don’t keep up the suspense: take the whole lay-out, and leave
the girls to choose!”

Aleck had been smiling blandly and contentedly all through this
arraignment of her marriage policy, a pleasant light, as of triumph with
perhaps a nice surprise peeping out through it, rose in her eyes, and
she said, as calmly as she could:

“Sally, what would you say to--_royalty_?”

Prodigious! Poor man, it knocked him silly, and he fell over the
garboard-strake and barked his shin on the cat-heads. He was dizzy for a
moment, then he gathered himself up and limped over and sat down by
his wife and beamed his old-time admiration and affection upon her in
floods, out of his bleary eyes.

“By George!” he said, fervently, “Aleck, you _are _great--the greatest
woman in the whole earth! I can’t ever learn the whole size of you.
I can’t ever learn the immeasurable deeps of you. Here I’ve been
considering myself qualified to criticize your game. _I!_ Why, if I had
stopped to think, I’d have known you had a lone hand up your sleeve.
Now, dear heart, I’m all red-hot impatience--tell me about it!”

The flattered and happy woman put her lips to his ear and whispered
a princely name. It made him catch his breath, it lit his face with

“Land!” he said, “it’s a stunning catch! He’s got a gambling-hall, and
a graveyard, and a bishop, and a cathedral--all his very own. And all
gilt-edged five-hundred-per-cent. stock, every detail of it; the tidiest
little property in Europe; and that graveyard--it’s the selectest in
the world: none but suicides admitted; _yes_, sir, and the free-list
suspended, too, _all _the time. There isn’t much land in the
principality, but there’s enough: eight hundred acres in the graveyard
and forty-two outside. It’s a _sovereignty_--that’s the main thing;
_land’s_ nothing. There’s plenty land, Sahara’s drugged with it.”

Aleck glowed; she was profoundly happy. She said:

“Think of it, Sally--it is a family that has never married outside the
Royal and Imperial Houses of Europe: our grandchildren will sit upon

“True as you live, Aleck--and bear scepters, too; and handle them as
naturally and nonchantly as I handle a yardstick. It’s a grand catch,
Aleck. He’s corralled, is he? Can’t get away? You didn’t take him on a

“No. Trust me for that. He’s not a liability, he’s an asset. So is the
other one.”

“Who is it, Aleck?”

“His Royal Highness
Sigismund-Siegfried-Lauenfeld-Dinkelspiel-Schwartzenberg Blutwurst,
Hereditary Grand Duke of Katzenyammer.”

“No! You can’t mean it!”

“It’s as true as I’m sitting here, I give you my word,” she answered.

His cup was full, and he hugged her to his heart with rapture, saying:

“How wonderful it all seems, and how beautiful! It’s one of the
oldest and noblest of the three hundred and sixty-four ancient German
principalities, and one of the few that was allowed to retain its royal
estate when Bismarck got done trimming them. I know that farm, I’ve been
there. It’s got a rope-walk and a candle-factory and an army. Standing
army. Infantry and cavalry. Three soldier and a horse. Aleck, it’s been
a long wait, and full of heartbreak and hope deferred, but God knows I
am happy now. Happy, and grateful to you, my own, who have done it all.
When is it to be?”

“Next Sunday.”

“Good. And we’ll want to do these weddings up in the very regalest style
that’s going. It’s properly due to the royal quality of the parties
of the first part. Now as I understand it, there is only one kind of
marriage that is sacred to royalty, exclusive to royalty: it’s the

“What do they call it that for, Sally?”

“I don’t know; but anyway it’s royal, and royal only.”

“Then we will insist upon it. More--I will compel it. It is morganatic
marriage or none.”

“That settles it!” said Sally, rubbing his hands with delight. “And it
will be the very first in America. Aleck, it will make Newport sick.”

Then they fell silent, and drifted away upon their dream wings to the
far regions of the earth to invite all the crowned heads and their
families and provide gratis transportation to them.


During three days the couple walked upon air, with their heads in the
clouds. They were but vaguely conscious of their surroundings; they saw
all things dimly, as through a veil; they were steeped in dreams,
often they did not hear when they were spoken to; they often did not
understand when they heard; they answered confusedly or at random; Sally
sold molasses by weight, sugar by the yard, and furnished soap when
asked for candles, and Aleck put the cat in the wash and fed milk to
the soiled linen. Everybody was stunned and amazed, and went about
muttering, “What _can _be the matter with the Fosters?”

Three days. Then came events! Things had taken a happy turn, and
for forty-eight hours Aleck’s imaginary corner had been booming. Up--up-
-still up! Cost point was passed. Still up--and up--and up! Five points
above cost--then ten--fifteen--twenty! Twenty points cold profit on the
vast venture, now, and Aleck’s imaginary brokers were shouting
frantically by imaginary long-distance, “Sell! sell! for Heaven’s sake

She broke the splendid news to Sally, and he, too, said, “Sell!
sell--oh, don’t make a blunder, now, you own the earth!--sell, sell!”
 But she set her iron will and lashed it amidships, and said she would
hold on for five points more if she died for it.

It was a fatal resolve. The very next day came the historic crash, the
record crash, the devastating crash, when the bottom fell out of Wall
Street, and the whole body of gilt-edged stocks dropped ninety-five
points in five hours, and the multimillionaire was seen begging his
bread in the Bowery. Aleck sternly held her grip and “put up” as long
as she could, but at last there came a call which she was powerless to
meet, and her imaginary brokers sold her out. Then, and not till then,
the man in her was vanished, and the woman in her resumed sway. She put
her arms about her husband’s neck and wept, saying:

“I am to blame, do not forgive me, I cannot bear it. We are paupers!
Paupers, and I am so miserable. The weddings will never come off; all
that is past; we could not even buy the dentist, now.”

A bitter reproach was on Sally’s tongue: “I _begged _you to sell, but
you--” He did not say it; he had not the heart to add a hurt to that
broken and repentant spirit. A nobler thought came to him and he said:

“Bear up, my Aleck, all is not lost! You really never invested a penny
of my uncle’s bequest, but only its unmaterialized future; what we
have lost was only the incremented harvest from that future by your
incomparable financial judgment and sagacity. Cheer up, banish these
griefs; we still have the thirty thousand untouched; and with the
experience which you have acquired, think what you will be able to do
with it in a couple years! The marriages are not off, they are only

These were blessed words. Aleck saw how true they were, and their
influence was electric; her tears ceased to flow, and her great spirit
rose to its full stature again. With flashing eye and grateful heart,
and with hand uplifted in pledge and prophecy, she said:

“Now and here I proclaim--”

But she was interrupted by a visitor. It was the editor and proprietor
of the _Sagamore_. He had happened into Lakeside to pay a duty-call upon
an obscure grandmother of his who was nearing the end of her pilgrimage,
and with the idea of combining business with grief he had looked up
the Fosters, who had been so absorbed in other things for the past four
years that they neglected to pay up their subscription. Six dollars due.
No visitor could have been more welcome. He would know all about Uncle
Tilbury and what his chances might be getting to be, cemeterywards. They
could, of course, ask no questions, for that would squelch the bequest,
but they could nibble around on the edge of the subject and hope for
results. The scheme did not work. The obtuse editor did not know he was
being nibbled at; but at last, chance accomplished what art had failed
in. In illustration of something under discussion which required the
help of metaphor, the editor said:

“Land, it’s as tough as Tilbury Foster!--as _we_ say.”

It was sudden, and it made the Fosters jump. The editor noticed, and
said, apologetically:

“No harm intended, I assure you. It’s just a saying; just a joke, you
know--nothing in it. Relation of yours?”

Sally crowded his burning eagerness down, and answered with all the
indifference he could assume:

“I--well, not that I know of, but we’ve heard of him.” The editor was
thankful, and resumed his composure. Sally added: “Is he--is he--well?”

“Is he _well_? Why, bless you he’s in Sheol these five years!”

The Fosters were trembling with grief, though it felt like joy. Sally
said, non-committally--and tentatively:

“Ah, well, such is life, and none can escape--not even the rich are

The editor laughed.

“If you are including Tilbury,” said he, “it don’t apply. _He_ hadn’t a
cent; the town had to bury him.”

The Fosters sat petrified for two minutes; petrified and cold. Then,
white-faced and weak-voiced, Sally asked:

“Is it true? Do you _know _it to be true?”

“Well, I should say! I was one of the executors. He hadn’t anything to
leave but a wheelbarrow, and he left that to me. It hadn’t any wheel,
and wasn’t any good. Still, it was something, and so, to square up, I
scribbled off a sort of a little obituarial send-off for him, but it got
crowded out.”

The Fosters were not listening--their cup was full, it could contain
no more. They sat with bowed heads, dead to all things but the ache at
their hearts.

An hour later. Still they sat there, bowed, motionless, silent, the
visitor long ago gone, they unaware.

Then they stirred, and lifted their heads wearily, and gazed at each
other wistfully, dreamily, dazed; then presently began to twaddle to
each other in a wandering and childish way. At intervals they lapsed
into silences, leaving a sentence unfinished, seemingly either unaware
of it or losing their way. Sometimes, when they woke out of these
silences they had a dim and transient consciousness that something had
happened to their minds; then with a dumb and yearning solicitude they
would softly caress each other’s hands in mutual compassion and support,
as if they would say: “I am near you, I will not forsake you, we
will bear it together; somewhere there is release and forgetfulness,
somewhere there is a grave and peace; be patient, it will not be long.”

They lived yet two years, in mental night, always brooding, steeped in
vague regrets and melancholy dreams, never speaking; then release came
to both on the same day.

Toward the end the darkness lifted from Sally’s ruined mind for a
moment, and he said:

“Vast wealth, acquired by sudden and unwholesome means, is a snare. It
did us no good, transient were its feverish pleasures; yet for its
sake we threw away our sweet and simple and happy life--let others take
warning by us.”

He lay silent awhile, with closed eyes; then as the chill of death crept
upward toward his heart, and consciousness was fading from his brain, he

“Money had brought him misery, and he took his revenge upon us, who had
done him no harm. He had his desire: with base and cunning calculation
he left us but thirty thousand, knowing we would try to increase it, and
ruin our life and break our hearts. Without added expense he could
have left us far above desire of increase, far above the temptation
to speculate, and a kinder soul would have done it; but in him was no
generous spirit, no pity, no--”



My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a
Presbyterian. This is what my mother told me, I do not know these
nice distinctions myself. To me they are only fine large words meaning
nothing. My mother had a fondness for such; she liked to say them, and
see other dogs look surprised and envious, as wondering how she got
so much education. But, indeed, it was not real education; it was only
show: she got the words by listening in the dining-room and drawing-room
when there was company, and by going with the children to Sunday-school
and listening there; and whenever she heard a large word she said it
over to herself many times, and so was able to keep it until there was
a dogmatic gathering in the neighborhood, then she would get it off,
and surprise and distress them all, from pocket-pup to mastiff, which
rewarded her for all her trouble. If there was a stranger he was nearly
sure to be suspicious, and when he got his breath again he would ask her
what it meant. And she always told him. He was never expecting this but
thought he would catch her; so when she told him, he was the one that
looked ashamed, whereas he had thought it was going to be she. The
others were always waiting for this, and glad of it and proud of her,
for they knew what was going to happen, because they had had experience.
When she told the meaning of a big word they were all so taken up with
admiration that it never occurred to any dog to doubt if it was the
right one; and that was natural, because, for one thing, she answered up
so promptly that it seemed like a dictionary speaking, and for another
thing, where could they find out whether it was right or not? for she
was the only cultivated dog there was. By and by, when I was older, she
brought home the word Unintellectual, one time, and worked it pretty
hard all the week at different gatherings, making much unhappiness and
despondency; and it was at this time that I noticed that during that
week she was asked for the meaning at eight different assemblages, and
flashed out a fresh definition every time, which showed me that she had
more presence of mind than culture, though I said nothing, of course.
She had one word which she always kept on hand, and ready, like a
life-preserver, a kind of emergency word to strap on when she was likely
to get washed overboard in a sudden way--that was the word Synonymous.
When she happened to fetch out a long word which had had its day weeks
before and its prepared meanings gone to her dump-pile, if there was a
stranger there of course it knocked him groggy for a couple of minutes,
then he would come to, and by that time she would be away down wind on
another tack, and not expecting anything; so when he’d hail and ask her
to cash in, I (the only dog on the inside of her game) could see her
canvas flicker a moment--but only just a moment--then it would belly
out taut and full, and she would say, as calm as a summer’s day, “It’s
synonymous with supererogation,” or some godless long reptile of a
word like that, and go placidly about and skim away on the next tack,
perfectly comfortable, you know, and leave that stranger looking profane
and embarrassed, and the initiated slatting the floor with their tails
in unison and their faces transfigured with a holy joy.

And it was the same with phrases. She would drag home a whole phrase,
if it had a grand sound, and play it six nights and two matinees, and
explain it a new way every time--which she had to, for all she cared for
was the phrase; she wasn’t interested in what it meant, and knew those
dogs hadn’t wit enough to catch her, anyway. Yes, she was a daisy! She
got so she wasn’t afraid of anything, she had such confidence in the
ignorance of those creatures. She even brought anecdotes that she had
heard the family and the dinner-guests laugh and shout over; and as
a rule she got the nub of one chestnut hitched onto another chestnut,
where, of course, it didn’t fit and hadn’t any point; and when she
delivered the nub she fell over and rolled on the floor and laughed and
barked in the most insane way, while I could see that she was wondering
to herself why it didn’t seem as funny as it did when she first heard
it. But no harm was done; the others rolled and barked too, privately
ashamed of themselves for not seeing the point, and never suspecting
that the fault was not with them and there wasn’t any to see.

You can see by these things that she was of a rather vain and frivolous
character; still, she had virtues, and enough to make up, I think. She
had a kind heart and gentle ways, and never harbored resentments for
injuries done her, but put them easily out of her mind and forgot them;
and she taught her children her kindly way, and from her we learned also
to be brave and prompt in time of danger, and not to run away, but face
the peril that threatened friend or stranger, and help him the best we
could without stopping to think what the cost might be to us. And she
taught us not by words only, but by example, and that is the best way
and the surest and the most lasting. Why, the brave things she did, the
splendid things! she was just a soldier; and so modest about it--well,
you couldn’t help admiring her, and you couldn’t help imitating her;
not even a King Charles spaniel could remain entirely despicable in her
society. So, as you see, there was more to her than her education.


When I was well grown, at last, I was sold and taken away, and I never
saw her again. She was broken-hearted, and so was I, and we cried; but
she comforted me as well as she could, and said we were sent into
this world for a wise and good purpose, and must do our duties without
repining, take our life as we might find it, live it for the best good
of others, and never mind about the results; they were not our affair.
She said men who did like this would have a noble and beautiful reward
by and by in another world, and although we animals would not go there,
to do well and right without reward would give to our brief lives
a worthiness and dignity which in itself would be a reward. She had
gathered these things from time to time when she had gone to the
Sunday-school with the children, and had laid them up in her memory more
carefully than she had done with those other words and phrases; and she
had studied them deeply, for her good and ours. One may see by this that
she had a wise and thoughtful head, for all there was so much lightness
and vanity in it.

So we said our farewells, and looked our last upon each other through
our tears; and the last thing she said--keeping it for the last to make
me remember it the better, I think--was, “In memory of me, when there
is a time of danger to another do not think of yourself, think of your
mother, and do as she would do.”

Do you think I could forget that? No.


It was such a charming home!--my new one; a fine great house, with
pictures, and delicate decorations, and rich furniture, and no gloom
anywhere, but all the wilderness of dainty colors lit up with flooding
sunshine; and the spacious grounds around it, and the great garden--oh,
greensward, and noble trees, and flowers, no end! And I was the same as
a member of the family; and they loved me, and petted me, and did not
give me a new name, but called me by my old one that was dear to me
because my mother had given it me--Aileen Mavoureen. She got it out of a
song; and the Grays knew that song, and said it was a beautiful name.

Mrs. Gray was thirty, and so sweet and so lovely, you cannot imagine
it; and Sadie was ten, and just like her mother, just a darling slender
little copy of her, with auburn tails down her back, and short frocks;
and the baby was a year old, and plump and dimpled, and fond of me,
and never could get enough of hauling on my tail, and hugging me, and
laughing out its innocent happiness; and Mr. Gray was thirty-eight, and
tall and slender and handsome, a little bald in front, alert, quick in
his movements, business-like, prompt, decided, unsentimental, and with
that kind of trim-chiseled face that just seems to glint and sparkle
with frosty intellectuality! He was a renowned scientist. I do not know
what the word means, but my mother would know how to use it and get
effects. She would know how to depress a rat-terrier with it and make a
lap-dog look sorry he came. But that is not the best one; the best one
was Laboratory. My mother could organize a Trust on that one that would
skin the tax-collars off the whole herd. The laboratory was not a
book, or a picture, or a place to wash your hands in, as the college
president’s dog said--no, that is the lavatory; the laboratory is quite
different, and is filled with jars, and bottles, and electrics, and
wires, and strange machines; and every week other scientists came there
and sat in the place, and used the machines, and discussed, and made
what they called experiments and discoveries; and often I came, too,
and stood around and listened, and tried to learn, for the sake of my
mother, and in loving memory of her, although it was a pain to me, as
realizing what she was losing out of her life and I gaining nothing at
all; for try as I might, I was never able to make anything out of it at

Other times I lay on the floor in the mistress’s work-room and slept,
she gently using me for a foot-stool, knowing it pleased me, for it
was a caress; other times I spent an hour in the nursery, and got well
tousled and made happy; other times I watched by the crib there, when
the baby was asleep and the nurse out for a few minutes on the baby’s
affairs; other times I romped and raced through the grounds and the
garden with Sadie till we were tired out, then slumbered on the grass in
the shade of a tree while she read her book; other times I went visiting
among the neighbor dogs--for there were some most pleasant ones not
far away, and one very handsome and courteous and graceful one,
a curly-haired Irish setter by the name of Robin Adair, who was a
Presbyterian like me, and belonged to the Scotch minister.

The servants in our house were all kind to me and were fond of me, and
so, as you see, mine was a pleasant life. There could not be a happier
dog that I was, nor a gratefuler one. I will say this for myself, for it
is only the truth: I tried in all ways to do well and right, and honor
my mother’s memory and her teachings, and earn the happiness that had
come to me, as best I could.

By and by came my little puppy, and then my cup was full, my happiness
was perfect. It was the dearest little waddling thing, and so smooth
and soft and velvety, and had such cunning little awkward paws, and such
affectionate eyes, and such a sweet and innocent face; and it made me
so proud to see how the children and their mother adored it, and fondled
it, and exclaimed over every little wonderful thing it did. It did seem
to me that life was just too lovely to--

Then came the winter. One day I was standing a watch in the nursery.
That is to say, I was asleep on the bed. The baby was asleep in the
crib, which was alongside the bed, on the side next the fireplace. It
was the kind of crib that has a lofty tent over it made of gauzy stuff
that you can see through. The nurse was out, and we two sleepers were
alone. A spark from the wood-fire was shot out, and it lit on the slope
of the tent. I suppose a quiet interval followed, then a scream from the
baby awoke me, and there was that tent flaming up toward the ceiling!
Before I could think, I sprang to the floor in my fright, and in a
second was half-way to the door; but in the next half-second my mother’s
farewell was sounding in my ears, and I was back on the bed again.,
I reached my head through the flames and dragged the baby out by the
waist-band, and tugged it along, and we fell to the floor together in a
cloud of smoke; I snatched a new hold, and dragged the screaming little
creature along and out at the door and around the bend of the hall,
and was still tugging away, all excited and happy and proud, when the
master’s voice shouted:

“Begone you cursed beast!” and I jumped to save myself; but he was
furiously quick, and chased me up, striking furiously at me with his
cane, I dodging this way and that, in terror, and at last a strong
blow fell upon my left foreleg, which made me shriek and fall, for
the moment, helpless; the cane went up for another blow, but never
descended, for the nurse’s voice rang wildly out, “The nursery’s on
fire!” and the master rushed away in that direction, and my other bones
were saved.

The pain was cruel, but, no matter, I must not lose any time; he might
come back at any moment; so I limped on three legs to the other end
of the hall, where there was a dark little stairway leading up into a
garret where old boxes and such things were kept, as I had heard say,
and where people seldom went. I managed to climb up there, then I
searched my way through the dark among the piles of things, and hid in
the secretest place I could find. It was foolish to be afraid there, yet
still I was; so afraid that I held in and hardly even whimpered, though
it would have been such a comfort to whimper, because that eases the
pain, you know. But I could lick my leg, and that did some good.

For half an hour there was a commotion downstairs, and shoutings,
and rushing footsteps, and then there was quiet again. Quiet for some
minutes, and that was grateful to my spirit, for then my fears began
to go down; and fears are worse than pains--oh, much worse. Then came a
sound that froze me. They were calling me--calling me by name--hunting
for me!

It was muffled by distance, but that could not take the terror out of
it, and it was the most dreadful sound to me that I had ever heard. It
went all about, everywhere, down there: along the halls, through all
the rooms, in both stories, and in the basement and the cellar; then
outside, and farther and farther away--then back, and all about the
house again, and I thought it would never, never stop. But at last it
did, hours and hours after the vague twilight of the garret had long ago
been blotted out by black darkness.

Then in that blessed stillness my terrors fell little by little away,
and I was at peace and slept. It was a good rest I had, but I woke
before the twilight had come again. I was feeling fairly comfortable,
and I could think out a plan now. I made a very good one; which was, to
creep down, all the way down the back stairs, and hide behind the cellar
door, and slip out and escape when the iceman came at dawn, while he was
inside filling the refrigerator; then I would hide all day, and start
on my journey when night came; my journey to--well, anywhere where they
would not know me and betray me to the master. I was feeling almost
cheerful now; then suddenly I thought: Why, what would life be without
my puppy!

That was despair. There was no plan for me; I saw that; I must say where
I was; stay, and wait, and take what might come--it was not my affair;
that was what life is--my mother had said it. Then--well, then the
calling began again! All my sorrows came back. I said to myself, the
master will never forgive. I did not know what I had done to make him so
bitter and so unforgiving, yet I judged it was something a dog could not
understand, but which was clear to a man and dreadful.

They called and called--days and nights, it seemed to me. So long that
the hunger and thirst near drove me mad, and I recognized that I was
getting very weak. When you are this way you sleep a great deal, and I
did. Once I woke in an awful fright--it seemed to me that the calling
was right there in the garret! And so it was: it was Sadie’s voice,
and she was crying; my name was falling from her lips all broken, poor
thing, and I could not believe my ears for the joy of it when I heard
her say:

“Come back to us--oh, come back to us, and forgive--it is all so sad
without our--”

I broke in with _such _a grateful little yelp, and the next moment
Sadie was plunging and stumbling through the darkness and the lumber and
shouting for the family to hear, “She’s found, she’s found!”

The days that followed--well, they were wonderful. The mother and Sadie
and the servants--why, they just seemed to worship me. They couldn’t
seem to make me a bed that was fine enough; and as for food, they
couldn’t be satisfied with anything but game and delicacies that were
out of season; and every day the friends and neighbors flocked in to
hear about my heroism--that was the name they called it by, and it
means agriculture. I remember my mother pulling it on a kennel once, and
explaining it in that way, but didn’t say what agriculture was, except
that it was synonymous with intramural incandescence; and a dozen times
a day Mrs. Gray and Sadie would tell the tale to new-comers, and say I
risked my life to save the baby’s, and both of us had burns to prove it,
and then the company would pass me around and pet me and exclaim about
me, and you could see the pride in the eyes of Sadie and her mother; and
when the people wanted to know what made me limp, they looked ashamed
and changed the subject, and sometimes when people hunted them this way
and that way with questions about it, it looked to me as if they were
going to cry.

And this was not all the glory; no, the master’s friends came, a whole
twenty of the most distinguished people, and had me in the laboratory,
and discussed me as if I was a kind of discovery; and some of them said
it was wonderful in a dumb beast, the finest exhibition of instinct they
could call to mind; but the master said, with vehemence, “It’s far above
instinct; it’s _reason_, and many a man, privileged to be saved and go
with you and me to a better world by right of its possession, has less
of it that this poor silly quadruped that’s foreordained to perish”; and
then he laughed, and said: “Why, look at me--I’m a sarcasm! bless you,
with all my grand intelligence, the only thing I inferred was that
the dog had gone mad and was destroying the child, whereas but for the
beast’s intelligence--it’s _reason_, I tell you!--the child would have

They disputed and disputed, and _I_ was the very center of subject of it
all, and I wished my mother could know that this grand honor had come to
me; it would have made her proud.

Then they discussed optics, as they called it, and whether a certain
injury to the brain would produce blindness or not, but they could not
agree about it, and said they must test it by experiment by and by;
and next they discussed plants, and that interested me, because in the
summer Sadie and I had planted seeds--I helped her dig the holes, you
know--and after days and days a little shrub or a flower came up there,
and it was a wonder how that could happen; but it did, and I wished I
could talk--I would have told those people about it and shown then how
much I knew, and been all alive with the subject; but I didn’t care for
the optics; it was dull, and when they came back to it again it bored
me, and I went to sleep.

Pretty soon it was spring, and sunny and pleasant and lovely, and the
sweet mother and the children patted me and the puppy good-by, and went
away on a journey and a visit to their kin, and the master wasn’t any
company for us, but we played together and had good times, and the
servants were kind and friendly, so we got along quite happily and
counted the days and waited for the family.

And one day those men came again, and said, now for the test, and they
took the puppy to the laboratory, and I limped three-leggedly along,
too, feeling proud, for any attention shown to the puppy was a pleasure
to me, of course. They discussed and experimented, and then suddenly the
puppy shrieked, and they set him on the floor, and he went staggering
around, with his head all bloody, and the master clapped his hands and

“There, I’ve won--confess it! He’s a blind as a bat!”

And they all said:

“It’s so--you’ve proved your theory, and suffering humanity owes you a
great debt from henceforth,” and they crowded around him, and wrung his
hand cordially and thankfully, and praised him.

But I hardly saw or heard these things, for I ran at once to my little
darling, and snuggled close to it where it lay, and licked the blood,
and it put its head against mine, whimpering softly, and I knew in
my heart it was a comfort to it in its pain and trouble to feel its
mother’s touch, though it could not see me. Then it dropped down,
presently, and its little velvet nose rested upon the floor, and it was
still, and did not move any more.

Soon the master stopped discussing a moment, and rang in the footman,
and said, “Bury it in the far corner of the garden,” and then went on
with the discussion, and I trotted after the footman, very happy and
grateful, for I knew the puppy was out of its pain now, because it
was asleep. We went far down the garden to the farthest end, where the
children and the nurse and the puppy and I used to play in the summer in
the shade of a great elm, and there the footman dug a hole, and I saw he
was going to plant the puppy, and I was glad, because it would grow
and come up a fine handsome dog, like Robin Adair, and be a beautiful
surprise for the family when they came home; so I tried to help him dig,
but my lame leg was no good, being stiff, you know, and you have to have
two, or it is no use. When the footman had finished and covered little
Robin up, he patted my head, and there were tears in his eyes, and he
said: “Poor little doggie, you saved _his _child!”

I have watched two whole weeks, and he doesn’t come up! This last week
a fright has been stealing upon me. I think there is something terrible
about this. I do not know what it is, but the fear makes me sick, and I
cannot eat, though the servants bring me the best of food; and they pet
me so, and even come in the night, and cry, and say, “Poor doggie--do
give it up and come home; _don’t_ break our hearts!” and all this
terrifies me the more, and makes me sure something has happened. And
I am so weak; since yesterday I cannot stand on my feet anymore. And
within this hour the servants, looking toward the sun where it was
sinking out of sight and the night chill coming on, said things I could
not understand, but they carried something cold to my heart.

“Those poor creatures! They do not suspect. They will come home in the
morning, and eagerly ask for the little doggie that did the brave deed,
and who of us will be strong enough to say the truth to them: ‘The
humble little friend is gone where go the beasts that perish.’”



“You told a _lie_?”

“You confess it--you actually confess it--you told a lie!”


The family consisted of four persons: Margaret Lester, widow, aged
thirty six; Helen Lester, her daughter, aged sixteen; Mrs. Lester’s
maiden aunts, Hannah and Hester Gray, twins, aged sixty-seven. Waking
and sleeping, the three women spent their days and nights in adoring the
young girl; in watching the movements of her sweet spirit in the mirror
of her face; in refreshing their souls with the vision of her bloom
and beauty; in listening to the music of her voice; in gratefully
recognizing how rich and fair for them was the world with this presence
in it; in shuddering to think how desolate it would be with this light
gone out of it.

By nature--and inside--the aged aunts were utterly dear and lovable and
good, but in the matter of morals and conduct their training had been so
uncompromisingly strict that it had made them exteriorly austere, not to
say stern. Their influence was effective in the house; so effective
that the mother and the daughter conformed to its moral and religious
requirements cheerfully, contentedly, happily, unquestionably. To do
this was become second nature to them. And so in this peaceful
heaven there were no clashings, no irritations, no fault-finding, no

In it a lie had no place. In it a lie was unthinkable. In it speech
was restricted to absolute truth, iron-bound truth, implacable and
uncompromising truth, let the resulting consequences be what they might.
At last, one day, under stress of circumstances, the darling of the
house sullied her lips with a lie--and confessed it, with tears
and self-upbraidings. There are not any words that can paint the
consternation of the aunts. It was as if the sky had crumpled up and
collapsed and the earth had tumbled to ruin with a crash. They sat side
by side, white and stern, gazing speechless upon the culprit, who was on
her knees before them with her face buried first in one lap and then the
other, moaning and sobbing, and appealing for sympathy and forgiveness
and getting no response, humbly kissing the hand of the one, then of the
other, only to see it withdrawn as suffering defilement by those soiled

Twice, at intervals, Aunt Hester said, in frozen amazement:

“You told a _lie_?”

Twice, at intervals, Aunt Hannah followed with the muttered and amazed

“You confess it--you actually confess it--you told a lie!”

It was all they could say. The situation was new, unheard of,
incredible; they could not understand it, they did not know how to take
hold of it, it approximately paralyzed speech.

At length it was decided that the erring child must be taken to her
mother, who was ill, and who ought to know what had happened. Helen
begged, besought, implored that she might be spared this further
disgrace, and that her mother might be spared the grief and pain of
it; but this could not be: duty required this sacrifice, duty takes
precedence of all things, nothing can absolve one from a duty, with a
duty no compromise is possible.

Helen still begged, and said the sin was her own, her mother had had no
hand in it--why must she be made to suffer for it?

But the aunts were obdurate in their righteousness, and said the law
that visited the sins of the parent upon the child was by all right
and reason reversible; and therefore it was but just that the innocent
mother of a sinning child should suffer her rightful share of the grief
and pain and shame which were the allotted wages of the sin.

The three moved toward the sick-room.

At this time the doctor was approaching the house. He was still a good
distance away, however. He was a good doctor and a good man, and he had
a good heart, but one had to know him a year to get over hating him, two
years to learn to endure him, three to learn to like him, and four and
five to learn to love him. It was a slow and trying education, but it
paid. He was of great stature; he had a leonine head, a leonine face, a
rough voice, and an eye which was sometimes a pirate’s and sometimes
a woman’s, according to the mood. He knew nothing about etiquette, and
cared nothing about it; in speech, manner, carriage, and conduct he was
the reverse of conventional. He was frank, to the limit; he had opinions
on all subjects; they were always on tap and ready for delivery, and he
cared not a farthing whether his listener liked them or didn’t. Whom
he loved he loved, and manifested it; whom he didn’t love he hated, and
published it from the housetops. In his young days he had been a sailor,
and the salt-airs of all the seas blew from him yet. He was a sturdy and
loyal Christian, and believed he was the best one in the land, and the
only one whose Christianity was perfectly sound, healthy, full-charged
with common sense, and had no decayed places in it. People who had an ax
to grind, or people who for any reason wanted to get on the soft side
of him, called him The Christian--a phrase whose delicate flattery was
music to his ears, and whose capital T was such an enchanting and vivid
object to him that he could _see _it when it fell out of a person’s
mouth even in the dark. Many who were fond of him stood on their
consciences with both feet and brazenly called him by that large title
habitually, because it was a pleasure to them to do anything that
would please him; and with eager and cordial malice his extensive and
diligently cultivated crop of enemies gilded it, beflowered it, expanded
it to “The _only _Christian.” Of these two titles, the latter had the
wider currency; the enemy, being greatly in the majority, attended to
that. Whatever the doctor believed, he believed with all his heart,
and would fight for it whenever he got the chance; and if the intervals
between chances grew to be irksomely wide, he would invent ways of
shortening them himself. He was severely conscientious, according to
his rather independent lights, and whatever he took to be a duty he
performed, no matter whether the judgment of the professional moralists
agreed with his own or not. At sea, in his young days, he had used
profanity freely, but as soon as he was converted he made a rule, which
he rigidly stuck to ever afterward, never to use it except on the rarest
occasions, and then only when duty commanded. He had been a hard
drinker at sea, but after his conversion he became a firm and outspoken
teetotaler, in order to be an example to the young, and from that time
forth he seldom drank; never, indeed, except when it seemed to him to be
a duty--a condition which sometimes occurred a couple of times a year,
but never as many as five times.

Necessarily, such a man is impressionable, impulsive, emotional. This
one was, and had no gift at hiding his feelings; or if he had it he took
no trouble to exercise it. He carried his soul’s prevailing weather in
his face, and when he entered a room the parasols or the umbrellas went
up--figuratively speaking--according to the indications. When the soft
light was in his eye it meant approval, and delivered a benediction;
when he came with a frown he lowered the temperature ten degrees. He was
a well-beloved man in the house of his friends, but sometimes a dreaded

He had a deep affection for the Lester household and its several members
returned this feeling with interest. They mourned over his kind of
Christianity, and he frankly scoffed at theirs; but both parties went on
loving each other just the same.

He was approaching the house--out of the distance; the aunts and the
culprit were moving toward the sick-chamber.


The three last named stood by the bed; the aunts austere, the
transgressor softly sobbing. The mother turned her head on the pillow;
her tired eyes flamed up instantly with sympathy and passionate
mother-love when they fell upon her child, and she opened the refuge and
shelter of her arms.

“Wait!” said Aunt Hannah, and put out her hand and stayed the girl from
leaping into them.

“Helen,” said the other aunt, impressively, “tell your mother all. Purge
your soul; leave nothing unconfessed.”

Standing stricken and forlorn before her judges, the young girl mourned
her sorrowful tale through the end, then in a passion of appeal cried

“Oh, mother, can’t you forgive me? won’t you forgive me?--I am so

“Forgive you, my darling? Oh, come to my arms!--there, lay your head
upon my breast, and be at peace. If you had told a thousand lies--”

There was a sound--a warning--the clearing of a throat. The aunts
glanced up, and withered in their clothes--there stood the doctor, his
face a thunder-cloud. Mother and child knew nothing of his presence;
they lay locked together, heart to heart, steeped in immeasurable
content, dead to all things else. The physician stood many moments
glaring and glooming upon the scene before him; studying it, analyzing
it, searching out its genesis; then he put up his hand and beckoned to
the aunts. They came trembling to him, and stood humbly before him and
waited. He bent down and whispered:

“Didn’t I tell you this patient must be protected from all excitement?
What the hell have you been doing? Clear out of the place!”

They obeyed. Half an hour later he appeared in the parlor, serene,
cheery, clothed in sunshine, conducting Helen, with his arm about her
waist, petting her, and saying gentle and playful things to her; and she
also was her sunny and happy self again.

“Now, then;” he said, “good-by, dear. Go to your room, and keep away
from your mother, and behave yourself. But wait--put out your tongue.
There, that will do--you’re as sound as a nut!” He patted her cheek and
added, “Run along now; I want to talk to these aunts.”

She went from the presence. His face clouded over again at once; and as
he sat down he said:

“You too have been doing a lot of damage--and maybe some good. Some
good, yes--such as it is. That woman’s disease is typhoid! You’ve
brought it to a show-up, I think, with your insanities, and that’s a
service--such as it is. I hadn’t been able to determine what it was

With one impulse the old ladies sprang to their feet, quaking with

“Sit down! What are you proposing to do?”

“Do? We must fly to her. We--”

“You’ll do nothing of the kind; you’ve done enough harm for one day. Do
you want to squander all your capital of crimes and follies on a single
deal? Sit down, I tell you. I have arranged for her to sleep; she needs
it; if you disturb her without my orders, I’ll brain you--if you’ve got
the materials for it.”

They sat down, distressed and indignant, but obedient, under compulsion.
He proceeded:

“Now, then, I want this case explained. _They _wanted to explain it to
me--as if there hadn’t been emotion or excitement enough already. You
knew my orders; how did you dare to go in there and get up that riot?”

Hester looked appealing at Hannah; Hannah returned a beseeching look
at Hester--neither wanted to dance to this unsympathetic orchestra. The
doctor came to their help. He said:

“Begin, Hester.”

Fingering at the fringes of her shawl, and with lowered eyes, Hester
said, timidly:

“We should not have disobeyed for any ordinary cause, but this was
vital. This was a duty. With a duty one has no choice; one must put all
lighter considerations aside and perform it. We were obliged to arraign
her before her mother. She had told a lie.”

The doctor glowered upon the woman a moment, and seemed to be trying
to work up in his mind an understanding of a wholly incomprehensible
proposition; then he stormed out:

“She told a lie! _did _she? God bless my soul! I tell a million a day!
And so does every doctor. And so does everybody--including you--for
that matter. And _that _was the important thing that authorized you to
venture to disobey my orders and imperil that woman’s life! Look here,
Hester Gray, this is pure lunacy; that girl _couldn’t_ tell a lie that
was intended to injure a person. The thing is impossible--absolutely
impossible. You know it yourselves--both of you; you know it perfectly

Hannah came to her sister’s rescue:

“Hester didn’t mean that it was that kind of a lie, and it wasn’t. But
it was a lie.”

“Well, upon my word, I never heard such nonsense! Haven’t you got sense
enough to discriminate between lies! Don’t you know the difference
between a lie that helps and a lie that hurts?”

“_All _lies are sinful,” said Hannah, setting her lips together like a
vise; “all lies are forbidden.”

The Only Christian fidgeted impatiently in his chair. He went to attack
this proposition, but he did not quite know how or where to begin.
Finally he made a venture:

“Hester, wouldn’t you tell a lie to shield a person from an undeserved
injury or shame?”


“Not even a friend?”


“Not even your dearest friend?”

“No. I would not.”

The doctor struggled in silence awhile with this situation; then he

“Not even to save him from bitter pain and misery and grief?”

“No. Not even to save his life.”

Another pause. Then:

“Nor his soul?”

There was a hush--a silence which endured a measurable interval--then
Hester answered, in a low voice, but with decision:

“Nor his soul?”

No one spoke for a while; then the doctor said:

“Is it with you the same, Hannah?”

“Yes,” she answered.

“I ask you both--why?”

“Because to tell such a lie, or any lie, is a sin, and could cost us
the loss of our own souls--_would_, indeed, if we died without time to

“Strange... strange... it is past belief.” Then he asked, roughly: “Is
such a soul as that _worth _saving?” He rose up, mumbling and grumbling,
and started for the door, stumping vigorously along. At the threshold he
turned and rasped out an admonition: “Reform! Drop this mean and sordid
and selfish devotion to the saving of your shabby little souls, and hunt
up something to do that’s got some dignity to it! _Risk _your souls!
risk them in good causes; then if you lose them, why should you care?

The good old gentlewomen sat paralyzed, pulverized, outraged, insulted,
and brooded in bitterness and indignation over these blasphemies. They
were hurt to the heart, poor old ladies, and said they could never
forgive these injuries.


They kept repeating that word resentfully. “Reform--and learn to tell

Time slipped along, and in due course a change came over their spirits.
They had completed the human being’s first duty--which is to think about
himself until he has exhausted the subject, then he is in a condition
to take up minor interests and think of other people. This changes the
complexion of his spirits--generally wholesomely. The minds of the two
old ladies reverted to their beloved niece and the fearful disease which
had smitten her; instantly they forgot the hurts their self-love had
received, and a passionate desire rose in their hearts to go to the help
of the sufferer and comfort her with their love, and minister to
her, and labor for her the best they could with their weak hands, and
joyfully and affectionately wear out their poor old bodies in her dear
service if only they might have the privilege.

“And we shall have it!” said Hester, with the tears running down her
face. “There are no nurses comparable to us, for there are no others
that will stand their watch by that bed till they drop and die, and God
knows we would do that.”

“Amen,” said Hannah, smiling approval and endorsement through the mist
of moisture that blurred her glasses. “The doctor knows us, and knows we
will not disobey again; and he will call no others. He will not dare!”

“Dare?” said Hester, with temper, and dashing the water from her eyes;
“he will dare anything--that Christian devil! But it will do no good for
him to try it this time--but, laws! Hannah! after all’s said and
done, he is gifted and wise and good, and he would not think of such a
thing.... It is surely time for one of us to go to that room. What is
keeping him? Why doesn’t he come and say so?”

They caught the sound of his approaching step. He entered, sat down, and
began to talk.

“Margaret is a sick woman,” he said. “She is still sleeping, but she
will wake presently; then one of you must go to her. She will be worse
before she is better. Pretty soon a night-and-day watch must be set. How
much of it can you two undertake?”

“All of it!” burst from both ladies at once.

The doctor’s eyes flashed, and he said, with energy:

“You _do_ ring true, you brave old relics! And you _shall _do all of the
nursing you can, for there’s none to match you in that divine office in
this town; but you can’t do all of it, and it would be a crime to let
you.” It was grand praise, golden praise, coming from such a source, and
it took nearly all the resentment out of the aged twin’s hearts. “Your
Tilly and my old Nancy shall do the rest--good nurses both, white souls
with black skins, watchful, loving, tender--just perfect nurses!--and
competent liars from the cradle.... Look you! keep a little watch on
Helen; she is sick, and is going to be sicker.”

The ladies looked a little surprised, and not credulous; and Hester

“How is that? It isn’t an hour since you said she was as sound as a

The doctor answered, tranquilly:

“It was a lie.”

The ladies turned upon him indignantly, and Hannah said:

“How can you make an odious confession like that, in so indifferent a
tone, when you know how we feel about all forms of--”

“Hush! You are as ignorant as cats, both of you, and you don’t know what
you are talking about. You are like all the rest of the moral moles;
you lie from morning till night, but because you don’t do it with your
mouths, but only with your lying eyes, your lying inflections, your
deceptively misplaced emphasis, and your misleading gestures, you turn
up your complacent noses and parade before God and the world as saintly
and unsmirched Truth-Speakers, in whose cold-storage souls a lie would
freeze to death if it got there! Why will you humbug yourselves with
that foolish notion that no lie is a lie except a spoken one? What is
the difference between lying with your eyes and lying with your mouth?
There is none; and if you would reflect a moment you would see that it
is so. There isn’t a human being that doesn’t tell a gross of lies every
day of his life; and you--why, between you, you tell thirty thousand;
yet you flare up here in a lurid hypocritical horror because I tell that
child a benevolent and sinless lie to protect her from her imagination,
which would get to work and warm up her blood to a fever in an hour, if
I were disloyal enough to my duty to let it. Which I should probably do
if I were interested in saving my soul by such disreputable means.

“Come, let us reason together. Let us examine details. When you two were
in the sick-room raising that riot, what would you have done if you had
known I was coming?”

“Well, what?”

“You would have slipped out and carried Helen with you--wouldn’t you?”

The ladies were silent.

“What would be your object and intention?”

“Well, what?”

“To keep me from finding out your guilt; to beguile me to infer that
Margaret’s excitement proceeded from some cause not known to you. In a
word, to tell me a lie--a silent lie. Moreover, a possibly harmful one.”

The twins colored, but did not speak.

“You not only tell myriads of silent lies, but you tell lies with your
mouths--you two.”

“_That _is not so!”

“It is so. But only harmless ones. You never dream of uttering a harmful
one. Do you know that that is a concession--and a confession?”

“How do you mean?”

“It is an unconscious concession that harmless lies are not criminal;
it is a confession that you constantly _make _that discrimination. For
instance, you declined old Mrs. Foster’s invitation last week to meet
those odious Higbies at supper--in a polite note in which you expressed
regret and said you were very sorry you could not go. It was a lie.
It was as unmitigated a lie as was ever uttered. Deny it, Hester--with
another lie.”

Hester replied with a toss of her head.

“That will not do. Answer. Was it a lie, or wasn’t it?”

The color stole into the cheeks of both women, and with a struggle and
an effort they got out their confession:

“It was a lie.”

“Good--the reform is beginning; there is hope for you yet; you will not
tell a lie to save your dearest friend’s soul, but you will spew out
one without a scruple to save yourself the discomfort of telling an
unpleasant truth.”

He rose. Hester, speaking for both, said; coldly:

“We have lied; we perceive it; it will occur no more. To lie is a sin.
We shall never tell another one of any kind whatsoever, even lies of
courtesy or benevolence, to save any one a pang or a sorrow decreed for
him by God.”

“Ah, how soon you will fall! In fact, you have fallen already; for what
you have just uttered is a lie. Good-by. Reform! One of you go to the
sick-room now.”


Twelve days later.

Mother and child were lingering in the grip of the hideous disease.
Of hope for either there was little. The aged sisters looked white
and worn, but they would not give up their posts. Their hearts
were breaking, poor old things, but their grit was steadfast and
indestructible. All the twelve days the mother had pined for the child,
and the child for the mother, but both knew that the prayer of these
longings could not be granted. When the mother was told--on the first
day--that her disease was typhoid, she was frightened, and asked if
there was danger that Helen could have contracted it the day before,
when she was in the sick-chamber on that confession visit. Hester told
her the doctor had poo-pooed the idea. It troubled Hester to say it,
although it was true, for she had not believed the doctor; but when
she saw the mother’s joy in the news, the pain in her conscience
lost something of its force--a result which made her ashamed of the
constructive deception which she had practiced, though not ashamed
enough to make her distinctly and definitely wish she had refrained from
it. From that moment the sick woman understood that her daughter must
remain away, and she said she would reconcile herself to the separation
the best she could, for she would rather suffer death than have her
child’s health imperiled. That afternoon Helen had to take to her bed,
ill. She grew worse during the night. In the morning her mother asked
after her:

“Is she well?”

Hester turned cold; she opened her lips, but the words refused to come.
The mother lay languidly looking, musing, waiting; suddenly she turned
white and gasped out:

“Oh, my God! what is it? is she sick?”

Then the poor aunt’s tortured heart rose in rebellion, and words came:

“No--be comforted; she is well.”

The sick woman put all her happy heart in her gratitude:

“Thank God for those dear words! Kiss me. How I worship you for saying

Hester told this incident to Hannah, who received it with a rebuking
look, and said, coldly:

“Sister, it was a lie.”

Hester’s lips trembled piteously; she choked down a sob, and said:

“Oh, Hannah, it was a sin, but I could not help it. I could not endure
the fright and the misery that were in her face.”

“No matter. It was a lie. God will hold you to account for it.”

“Oh, I know it, I know it,” cried Hester, wringing her hands, “but even
if it were now, I could not help it. I know I should do it again.”

“Then take my place with Helen in the morning. I will make the report

Hester clung to her sister, begging and imploring.

“Don’t, Hannah, oh, don’t--you will kill her.”

“I will at least speak the truth.”

In the morning she had a cruel report to bear to the mother, and she
braced herself for the trial. When she returned from her mission, Hester
was waiting, pale and trembling, in the hall. She whispered:

“Oh, how did she take it--that poor, desolate mother?”

Hannah’s eyes were swimming in tears. She said:

“God forgive me, I told her the child was well!”

Hester gathered her to her heart, with a grateful “God bless you,
Hannah!” and poured out her thankfulness in an inundation of worshiping

After that, the two knew the limit of their strength, and accepted their
fate. They surrendered humbly, and abandoned themselves to the hard
requirements of the situation. Daily they told the morning lie, and
confessed their sin in prayer; not asking forgiveness, as not being
worthy of it, but only wishing to make record that they realized their
wickedness and were not desiring to hide it or excuse it.

Daily, as the fair young idol of the house sank lower and lower, the
sorrowful old aunts painted her glowing bloom and her fresh young beauty
to the wan mother, and winced under the stabs her ecstasies of joy and
gratitude gave them.

In the first days, while the child had strength to hold a pencil, she
wrote fond little love-notes to her mother, in which she concealed her
illness; and these the mother read and reread through happy eyes wet
with thankful tears, and kissed them over and over again, and treasured
them as precious things under her pillow.

Then came a day when the strength was gone from the hand, and the mind
wandered, and the tongue babbled pathetic incoherences. This was a sore
dilemma for the poor aunts. There were no love-notes for the mother.
They did not know what to do. Hester began a carefully studied and
plausible explanation, but lost the track of it and grew confused;
suspicion began to show in the mother’s face, then alarm. Hester saw it,
recognized the imminence of the danger, and descended to the emergency,
pulling herself resolutely together and plucking victory from the open
jaws of defeat. In a placid and convincing voice she said:

“I thought it might distress you to know it, but Helen spent the night
at the Sloanes’. There was a little party there, and, although she did
not want to go, and you so sick, we persuaded her, she being young
and needing the innocent pastimes of youth, and we believing you would
approve. Be sure she will write the moment she comes.”

“How good you are, and how dear and thoughtful for us both! Approve?
Why, I thank you with all my heart. My poor little exile! Tell her I
want her to have every pleasure she can--I would not rob her of one.
Only let her keep her health, that is all I ask. Don’t let that
suffer; I could not bear it. How thankful I am that she escaped this
infection--and what a narrow risk she ran, Aunt Hester! Think of that
lovely face all dulled and burned with fever. I can’t bear the thought
of it. Keep her health. Keep her bloom! I can see her now, the dainty
creature--with the big, blue, earnest eyes; and sweet, oh, so sweet and
gentle and winning! Is she as beautiful as ever, dear Aunt Hester?”

“Oh, more beautiful and bright and charming than ever she was before,
if such a thing can be”--and Hester turned away and fumbled with the
medicine-bottles, to hide her shame and grief.


After a little, both aunts were laboring upon a difficult and baffling
work in Helen’s chamber. Patiently and earnestly, with their stiff old
fingers, they were trying to forge the required note. They made failure
after failure, but they improved little by little all the time. The
pity of it all, the pathetic humor of it, there was none to see; they
themselves were unconscious of it. Often their tears fell upon the notes
and spoiled them; sometimes a single misformed word made a note risky
which could have been ventured but for that; but at last Hannah produced
one whose script was a good enough imitation of Helen’s to pass any but
a suspicious eye, and bountifully enriched it with the petting phrases
and loving nicknames that had been familiar on the child’s lips from her
nursery days. She carried it to the mother, who took it with avidity,
and kissed it, and fondled it, reading its precious words over and over
again, and dwelling with deep contentment upon its closing paragraph:

“Mousie darling, if I could only see you, and kiss your eyes, and feel
your arms about me! I am so glad my practicing does not disturb you. Get
well soon. Everybody is good to me, but I am so lonesome without you,
dear mamma.”

“The poor child, I know just how she feels. She cannot be quite happy
without me; and I--oh, I live in the light of her eyes! Tell her she
must practice all she pleases; and, Aunt Hannah--tell her I can’t hear
the piano this far, nor her dear voice when she sings: God knows I wish
I could. No one knows how sweet that voice is to me; and to think--some
day it will be silent! What are you crying for?”

“Only because--because--it was just a memory. When I came away she was
singing, ‘Loch Lomond.’ The pathos of it! It always moves me so when she
sings that.”

“And me, too. How heartbreakingly beautiful it is when some youthful
sorrow is brooding in her breast and she sings it for the mystic healing
it brings.... Aunt Hannah?”

“Dear Margaret?”

“I am very ill. Sometimes it comes over me that I shall never hear that
dear voice again.”

“Oh, don’t--don’t, Margaret! I can’t bear it!”

Margaret was moved and distressed, and said, gently:

“There--there--let me put my arms around you. Don’t cry. There--put your
cheek to mine. Be comforted. I wish to live. I will live if I can. Ah,
what could she do without me!... Does she often speak of me?--but I know
she does.”

“Oh, all the time--all the time!”

“My sweet child! She wrote the note the moment she came home?”

“Yes--the first moment. She would not wait to take off her things.”

“I knew it. It is her dear, impulsive, affectionate way. I knew it
without asking, but I wanted to hear you say it. The petted wife knows
she is loved, but she makes her husband tell her so every day, just for
the joy of hearing it.... She used the pen this time. That is better;
the pencil-marks could rub out, and I should grieve for that. Did you
suggest that she use the pen?”

“Y--no--she--it was her own idea.”

The mother looked her pleasure, and said:

“I was hoping you would say that. There was never such a dear and
thoughtful child!... Aunt Hannah?”

“Dear Margaret?”

“Go and tell her I think of her all the time, and worship her. Why--you
are crying again. Don’t be so worried about me, dear; I think there is
nothing to fear, yet.”

The grieving messenger carried her message, and piously delivered it
to unheeding ears. The girl babbled on unaware; looking up at her with
wondering and startled eyes flaming with fever, eyes in which was no
light of recognition:

“Are you--no, you are not my mother. I want her--oh, I want her! She was
here a minute ago--I did not see her go. Will she come? will she come
quickly? will she come now?... There are so many houses ... and they
oppress me so... and everything whirls and turns and whirls... oh, my
head, my head!”--and so she wandered on and on, in her pain, flitting
from one torturing fancy to another, and tossing her arms about in a
weary and ceaseless persecution of unrest.

Poor old Hannah wetted the parched lips and softly stroked the hot brow,
murmuring endearing and pitying words, and thanking the Father of all
that the mother was happy and did not know.


Daily the child sank lower and steadily lower towards the grave, and
daily the sorrowing old watchers carried gilded tidings of her radiant
health and loveliness to the happy mother, whose pilgrimage was also now
nearing its end. And daily they forged loving and cheery notes in the
child’s hand, and stood by with remorseful consciences and bleeding
hearts, and wept to see the grateful mother devour them and adore them
and treasure them away as things beyond price, because of their sweet
source, and sacred because her child’s hand had touched them.

At last came that kindly friend who brings healing and peace to all.
The lights were burning low. In the solemn hush which precedes the dawn
vague figures flitted soundless along the dim hall and gathered silent
and awed in Helen’s chamber, and grouped themselves about her bed, for
a warning had gone forth, and they knew. The dying girl lay with closed
lids, and unconscious, the drapery upon her breast faintly rising and
falling as her wasting life ebbed away. At intervals a sigh or a muffled
sob broke upon the stillness. The same haunting thought was in all minds
there: the pity of this death, the going out into the great darkness,
and the mother not here to help and hearten and bless.

Helen stirred; her hands began to grope wistfully about as if they
sought something--she had been blind some hours. The end was come; all
knew it. With a great sob Hester gathered her to her breast, crying,
“Oh, my child, my darling!” A rapturous light broke in the dying girl’s
face, for it was mercifully vouchsafed her to mistake those sheltering
arms for another’s; and she went to her rest murmuring, “Oh, mamma, I am
so happy--I longed for you--now I can die.”

Two hours later Hester made her report. The mother asked:

“How is it with the child?”

“She is well.”


A sheaf of white crape and black was hung upon the door of the house,
and there it swayed and rustled in the wind and whispered its tidings.
At noon the preparation of the dead was finished, and in the coffin lay
the fair young form, beautiful, and in the sweet face a great peace. Two
mourners sat by it, grieving and worshipping--Hannah and the black woman
Tilly. Hester came, and she was trembling, for a great trouble was upon
her spirit. She said:

“She asks for a note.”

Hannah’s face blanched. She had not thought of this; it had seemed that
that pathetic service was ended. But she realized now that that could
not be. For a little while the two women stood looking into each other’s
face, with vacant eyes; then Hannah said:

“There is no way out of it--she must have it; she will suspect, else.”

“And she would find out.”

“Yes. It would break her heart.” She looked at the dead face, and her
eyes filled. “I will write it,” she said.

Hester carried it. The closing line said:

“Darling Mousie, dear sweet mother, we shall soon be together again. Is
not that good news? And it is true; they all say it is true.”

The mother mourned, saying:

“Poor child, how will she bear it when she knows? I shall never see her
again in life. It is hard, so hard. She does not suspect? You guard her
from that?”

“She thinks you will soon be well.”

“How good you are, and careful, dear Aunt Hester! None goes near her who
could carry the infection?”

“It would be a crime.”

“But you _see _her?”

“With a distance between--yes.”

“That is so good. Others one could not trust; but you two guardian
angels--steel is not so true as you. Others would be unfaithful; and
many would deceive, and lie.”

Hester’s eyes fell, and her poor old lips trembled.

“Let me kiss you for her, Aunt Hester; and when I am gone, and the
danger is past, place the kiss upon her dear lips some day, and say her
mother sent it, and all her mother’s broken heart is in it.”

Within the hour, Hester, raining tears upon the dead face, performed her
pathetic mission.


Another day dawned, and grew, and spread its sunshine in the earth. Aunt
Hannah brought comforting news to the failing mother, and a happy note,
which said again, “We have but a little time to wait, darling mother,
then we shall be together.”

The deep note of a bell came moaning down the wind.

“Aunt Hannah, it is tolling. Some poor soul is at rest. As I shall be
soon. You will not let her forget me?”

“Oh, God knows she never will!”

“Do not you hear strange noises, Aunt Hannah? It sounds like the
shuffling of many feet.”

“We hoped you would not hear it, dear. It is a little company gathering,
for--for Helen’s sake, poor little prisoner. There will be music--and
she loves it so. We thought you would not mind.”

“Mind? Oh no, no--oh, give her everything her dear heart can desire. How
good you two are to her, and how good to me! God bless you both always!”

After a listening pause:

“How lovely! It is her organ. Is she playing it herself, do you think?”
 Faint and rich and inspiring the chords floating to her ears on the
still air. “Yes, it is her touch, dear heart, I recognize it. They are
singing. Why--it is a hymn! and the sacredest of all, the most touching,
the most consoling.... It seems to open the gates of paradise to me....
If I could die now....”

Faint and far the words rose out of the stillness:

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee,

E’en though it be a cross

That raiseth me.

With the closing of the hymn another soul passed to its rest, and they
that had been one in life were not sundered in death. The sisters,
mourning and rejoicing, said:

“How blessed it was that she never knew!”


At midnight they sat together, grieving, and the angel of the Lord
appeared in the midst transfigured with a radiance not of earth; and
speaking, said:

“For liars a place is appointed. There they burn in the fires of hell
from everlasting unto everlasting. Repent!”

The bereaved fell upon their knees before him and clasped their hands
and bowed their gray heads, adoring. But their tongues clove to the roof
of their mouths, and they were dumb.

“Speak! that I may bear the message to the chancery of heaven and bring
again the decree from which there is no appeal.”

Then they bowed their heads yet lower, and one said:

“Our sin is great, and we suffer shame; but only perfect and final
repentance can make us whole; and we are poor creatures who have learned
our human weakness, and we know that if we were in those hard straits
again our hearts would fail again, and we should sin as before. The
strong could prevail, and so be saved, but we are lost.”

They lifted their heads in supplication. The angel was gone. While
they marveled and wept he came again; and bending low, he whispered the


Was it Heaven? Or Hell?


By courtesy of Mr. Cable I came into possession of a singular book
eight or ten years ago. It is likely that mine is now the only copy in
existence. Its title-page, unabbreviated, reads as follows:

“The Enemy Conquered; or, Love Triumphant. By G. Ragsdale McClintock,
(1) author of ‘An Address,’ etc., delivered at Sunflower Hill, South
Carolina, and member of the Yale Law School. New Haven: published by T.
H. Pease, 83 Chapel Street, 1845.”

No one can take up this book and lay it down again unread. Whoever reads
one line of it is caught, is chained; he has become the contented slave
of its fascinations; and he will read and read, devour and devour, and
will not let it go out of his hand till it is finished to the last line,
though the house be on fire over his head. And after a first reading he
will not throw it aside, but will keep it by him, with his Shakespeare
and his Homer, and will take it up many and many a time, when the
world is dark and his spirits are low, and be straightway cheered and
refreshed. Yet this work has been allowed to lie wholly neglected,
unmentioned, and apparently unregretted, for nearly half a century.

The reader must not imagine that he is to find in it wisdom, brilliancy,
fertility of invention, ingenuity of construction, excellence of form,
purity of style, perfection of imagery, truth to nature, clearness of
statement, humanly possible situations, humanly possible people, fluent
narrative, connected sequence of events--or philosophy, or logic, or
sense. No; the rich, deep, beguiling charm of the book lies in the total
and miraculous _absence _from it of all these qualities--a charm which
is completed and perfected by the evident fact that the author, whose
naive innocence easily and surely wins our regard, and almost our
worship, does not know that they are absent, does not even suspect
that they are absent. When read by the light of these helps to an
understanding of the situation, the book is delicious--profoundly and
satisfyingly delicious.

I call it a book because the author calls it a book, I call it a work
because he calls it a work; but, in truth, it is merely a duodecimo
pamphlet of thirty-one pages. It was written for fame and money, as the
author very frankly--yes, and very hopefully, too, poor fellow--says
in his preface. The money never came--no penny of it ever came; and how
long, how pathetically long, the fame has been deferred--forty-seven
years! He was young then, it would have been so much to him then; but
will he care for it now?

As time is measured in America, McClintock’s epoch is antiquity. In his
long-vanished day the Southern author had a passion for “eloquence”;
it was his pet, his darling. He would be eloquent, or perish. And he
recognized only one kind of eloquence--the lurid, the tempestuous, the
volcanic. He liked words--big words, fine words, grand words, rumbling,
thundering, reverberating words; with sense attaching if it could be got
in without marring the sound, but not otherwise. He loved to stand
up before a dazed world, and pour forth flame and smoke and lava and
pumice-stone into the skies, and work his subterranean thunders, and
shake himself with earthquakes, and stench himself with sulphur fumes.
If he consumed his own fields and vineyards, that was a pity, yes; but
he would have his eruption at any cost. Mr. McClintock’s eloquence--and
he is always eloquent, his crater is always spouting--is of the pattern
common to his day, but he departs from the custom of the time in one
respect: his brethren allowed sense to intrude when it did not mar the
sound, but he does not allow it to intrude at all. For example, consider
this figure, which he used in the village “Address” referred to with
such candid complacency in the title-page above quoted--“like the
topmost topaz of an ancient tower.” Please read it again; contemplate
it; measure it; walk around it; climb up it; try to get at an
approximate realization of the size of it. Is the fellow to that to be
found in literature, ancient or modern, foreign or domestic, living or
dead, drunk or sober? One notices how fine and grand it sounds. We know
that if it was loftily uttered, it got a noble burst of applause from
the villagers; yet there isn’t a ray of sense in it, or meaning to it.

McClintock finished his education at Yale in 1843, and came to Hartford
on a visit that same year. I have talked with men who at that time
talked with him, and felt of him, and knew he was real. One needs to
remember that fact and to keep fast hold of it; it is the only way to
keep McClintock’s book from undermining one’s faith in McClintock’s

As to the book. The first four pages are devoted to an inflamed
eulogy of Woman--simply Woman in general, or perhaps as an
Institution--wherein, among other compliments to her details, he pays a
unique one to her voice. He says it “fills the breast with fond alarms,
echoed by every rill.” It sounds well enough, but it is not true. After
the eulogy he takes up his real work and the novel begins. It begins in
the woods, near the village of Sunflower Hill.

Brightening clouds seemed to rise from the mist of the fair
Chattahoochee, to spread their beauty over the thick forest, to guide
the hero whose bosom beats with aspirations to conquer the enemy that
would tarnish his name, and to win back the admiration of his long-tried

It seems a general remark, but it is not general; the hero mentioned is
the to-be hero of the book; and in this abrupt fashion, and without
name or description, he is shoveled into the tale. “With aspirations to
conquer the enemy that would tarnish his name” is merely a phrase flung
in for the sake of the sound--let it not mislead the reader. No one is
trying to tarnish this person; no one has thought of it. The rest of the
sentence is also merely a phrase; the man has no friend as yet, and
of course has had no chance to try him, or win back his admiration, or
disturb him in any other way.

The hero climbs up over “Sawney’s Mountain,” and down the other side,
making for an old Indian “castle”--which becomes “the red man’s hut”
 in the next sentence; and when he gets there at last, he “surveys with
wonder and astonishment” the invisible structure, “which time has buried
in the dust, and thought to himself his happiness was not yet complete.”
 One doesn’t know why it wasn’t, nor how near it came to being complete,
nor what was still wanting to round it up and make it so. Maybe it was
the Indian; but the book does not say. At this point we have an episode:

Beside the shore of the brook sat a young man, about eighteen or twenty,
who seemed to be reading some favorite book, and who had a remarkably
noble countenance--eyes which betrayed more than a common mind. This
of course made the youth a welcome guest, and gained him friends in
whatever condition of his life he might be placed. The traveler observed
that he was a well-built figure which showed strength and grace in every
movement. He accordingly addressed him in quite a gentlemanly manner,
and inquired of him the way to the village. After he had received the
desired information, and was about taking his leave, the youth said,
“Are you not Major Elfonzo, the great musician (2)--the champion of a
noble cause--the modern Achilles, who gained so many victories in the
Florida War?” “I bear that name,” said the Major, “and those titles,
trusting at the same time that the ministers of grace will carry me
triumphantly through all my laudable undertakings, and if,” continued
the Major, “you, sir, are the patronizer of noble deeds, I should like
to make you my confidant and learn your address.” The youth looked
somewhat amazed, bowed low, mused for a moment, and began: “My name is
Roswell. I have been recently admitted to the bar, and can only give a
faint outline of my future success in that honorable profession; but I
trust, sir, like the Eagle, I shall look down from the lofty rocks upon
the dwellings of man, and shall ever be ready to give you any assistance
in my official capacity, and whatever this muscular arm of mine can
do, whenever it shall be called from its buried _greatness_.” The Major
grasped him by the hand, and exclaimed: “O! thou exalted spirit of
inspiration--thou flame of burning prosperity, may the Heaven-directed
blaze be the glare of thy soul, and battle down every rampart that seems
to impede your progress!”

There is a strange sort of originality about McClintock; he imitates
other people’s styles, but nobody can imitate his, not even an idiot.
Other people can be windy, but McClintock blows a gale; other people can
blubber sentiment, but McClintock spews it; other people can mishandle
metaphors, but only McClintock knows how to make a business of it.
McClintock is always McClintock, he is always consistent, his style is
always his own style. He does not make the mistake of being relevant on
one page and irrelevant on another; he is irrelevant on all of them.
He does not make the mistake of being lucid in one place and obscure
in another; he is obscure all the time. He does not make the mistake
of slipping in a name here and there that is out of character with
his work; he always uses names that exactly and fantastically fit his
lunatics. In the matter of undeviating consistency he stands alone in
authorship. It is this that makes his style unique, and entitles it to
a name of its own--McClintockian. It is this that protects it from being
mistaken for anybody else’s. Uncredited quotations from other writers
often leave a reader in doubt as to their authorship, but McClintock is
safe from that accident; an uncredited quotation from him would always
be recognizable. When a boy nineteen years old, who had just been
admitted to the bar, says, “I trust, sir, like the Eagle, I shall
look down from lofty rocks upon the dwellings of man,” we know who is
speaking through that boy; we should recognize that note anywhere. There
be myriads of instruments in this world’s literary orchestra, and a
multitudinous confusion of sounds that they make, wherein fiddles
are drowned, and guitars smothered, and one sort of drum mistaken
for another sort; but whensoever the brazen note of the McClintockian
trombone breaks through that fog of music, that note is recognizable,
and about it there can be no blur of doubt.

The novel now arrives at the point where the Major goes home to see his
father. When McClintock wrote this interview he probably believed it was

The road which led to the town presented many attractions Elfonzo had
bid farewell to the youth of deep feeling, and was now wending his way
to the dreaming spot of his fondness. The south winds whistled through
the woods, as the waters dashed against the banks, as rapid fire in the
pent furnace roars. This brought him to remember while alone, that he
quietly left behind the hospitality of a father’s house, and gladly
entered the world, with higher hopes than are often realized. But as he
journeyed onward, he was mindful of the advice of his father, who had
often looked sadly on the ground, when tears of cruelly deceived hope
moistened his eyes. Elfonzo had been somewhat a dutiful son; yet fond
of the amusements of life--had been in distant lands--had enjoyed the
pleasure of the world, and had frequently returned to the scenes of
his boyhood, almost destitute of many of the comforts of life. In this
condition, he would frequently say to his father, “Have I offended you,
that you look upon me as a stranger, and frown upon me with stinging
looks? Will you not favor me with the sound of your voice? If I have
trampled upon your veneration, or have spread a humid veil of darkness
around your expectations, send me back into the world, where no heart
beats for me--where the foot of man had never yet trod; but give me at
least one kind word--allow me to come into the presence sometimes of
thy winter-worn locks.” “Forbid it, Heaven, that I should be angry with
thee,” answered the father, “my son, and yet I send thee back to the
children of the world--to the cold charity of the combat, and to a
land of victory. I read another destiny in thy countenance--I learn
thy inclinations from the flame that has already kindled in my soul a
strange sensation. It will seek thee, my dear _Elfonzo_, it will find
thee--thou canst not escape that lighted torch, which shall blot out
from the remembrance of men a long train of prophecies which they have
foretold against thee. I once thought not so. Once, I was blind; but
now the path of life is plain before me, and my sight is clear; yet,
Elfonzo, return to thy worldly occupation--take again in thy hand that
chord of sweet sounds--struggle with the civilized world and with your
own heart; fly swiftly to the enchanted ground--let the night-_owl_ send
forth its screams from the stubborn oak--let the sea sport upon the
beach, and the stars sing together; but learn of these, Elfonzo, thy
doom, and thy hiding-place. Our most innocent as well as our most lawful
_desires_ must often be denied us, that we may learn to sacrifice them
to a Higher will.”

Remembering such admonitions with gratitude, Elfonzo was immediately
urged by the recollection of his father’s family to keep moving.

McClintock has a fine gift in the matter of surprises; but as a rule
they are not pleasant ones, they jar upon the feelings. His closing
sentence in the last quotation is of that sort. It brings one down out
of the tinted clouds in too sudden and collapsed a fashion. It incenses
one against the author for a moment. It makes the reader want to take
him by his winter-worn locks, and trample on his veneration, and deliver
him over to the cold charity of combat, and blot him out with his own
lighted torch. But the feeling does not last. The master takes again
in his hand that concord of sweet sounds of his, and one is reconciled,

His steps became quicker and quicker--he hastened through the _piny_
woods, dark as the forest was, and with joy he very soon reached the
little village of repose, in whose bosom rested the boldest chivalry.
His close attention to every important object--his modest questions
about whatever was new to him--his reverence for wise old age, and his
ardent desire to learn many of the fine arts, soon brought him into
respectable notice.

One mild winter day, as he walked along the streets toward the Academy,
which stood upon a small eminence, surrounded by native growth--some
venerable in its appearance, others young and prosperous--all seemed
inviting, and seemed to be the very place for learning as well as for
genius to spend its research beneath its spreading shades. He entered
its classic walls in the usual mode of southern manners.

The artfulness of this man! None knows so well as he how to pique the
curiosity of the reader--and how to disappoint it. He raises the hope,
here, that he is going to tell all about how one enters a classic wall
in the usual mode of Southern manners; but does he? No; he smiles in his
sleeve, and turns aside to other matters.

The principal of the Institution begged him to be seated and listen to
the recitations that were going on. He accordingly obeyed the request,
and seemed to be much pleased. After the school was dismissed, and the
young hearts regained their freedom, with the songs of the evening,
laughing at the anticipated pleasures of a happy home, while others
tittered at the actions of the past day, he addressed the teacher in a
tone that indicated a resolution--with an undaunted mind. He said he had
determined to become a student, if he could meet with his approbation.
“Sir,” said he, “I have spent much time in the world. I have traveled
among the uncivilized inhabitants of America. I have met with friends,
and combated with foes; but none of these gratify my ambition, or decide
what is to be my destiny. I see the learned world have an influence
with the voice of the people themselves. The despoilers of the remotest
kingdoms of the earth refer their differences to this class of persons.
This the illiterate and inexperienced little dream of; and now if you
will receive me as I am, with these deficiencies--with all my misguided
opinions, I will give you my honor, sir, that I will never disgrace the
Institution, or those who have placed you in this honorable station.”
 The instructor, who had met with many disappointments, knew how to
feel for a stranger who had been thus turned upon the charities of an
unfeeling community. He looked at him earnestly, and said: “Be of
good cheer--look forward, sir, to the high destination you may attain.
Remember, the more elevated the mark at which you aim, the more sure,
the more glorious, the more magnificent the prize.” From wonder to
wonder, his encouragement led the impatient listener. A strange nature
bloomed before him--giant streams promised him success--gardens of
hidden treasures opened to his view. All this, so vividly described,
seemed to gain a new witchery from his glowing fancy.

It seems to me that this situation is new in romance. I feel sure it has
not been attempted before. Military celebrities have been disguised and
set at lowly occupations for dramatic effect, but I think McClintock is
the first to send one of them to school. Thus, in this book, you pass
from wonder to wonder, through gardens of hidden treasure, where giant
streams bloom before you, and behind you, and all around, and you feel
as happy, and groggy, and satisfied with your quart of mixed metaphor
aboard as you would if it had been mixed in a sample-room and delivered
from a jug.

Now we come upon some more McClintockian surprises--a sweetheart who is
sprung upon us without any preparation, along with a name for her which
is even a little more of a surprise than she herself is.

In 1842 he entered the class, and made rapid progress in the English
and Latin departments. Indeed, he continued advancing with such rapidity
that he was like to become the first in his class, and made such
unexpected progress, and was so studious, that he had almost forgotten
the pictured saint of his affections. The fresh wreaths of the pine and
cypress had waited anxiously to drop once more the dews of Heaven upon
the heads of those who had so often poured forth the tender emotions of
their souls under its boughs. He was aware of the pleasure that he had
seen there. So one evening, as he was returning from his reading, he
concluded he would pay a visit to this enchanting spot. Little did he
think of witnessing a shadow of his former happiness, though no doubt
he wished it might be so. He continued sauntering by the roadside,
meditating on the past. The nearer he approached the spot, the more
anxious he became. At that moment a tall female figure flitted across
his path, with a bunch of roses in her hand; her countenance showed
uncommon vivacity, with a resolute spirit; her ivory teeth already
appeared as she smiled beautifully, promenading--while her ringlets of
hair dangled unconsciously around her snowy neck. Nothing was wanting
to complete her beauty. The tinge of the rose was in full bloom upon
her cheek; the charms of sensibility and tenderness were always her
associates. In Ambulinia’s bosom dwelt a noble soul--one that never
faded--one that never was conquered.

Ambulinia! It can hardly be matched in fiction. The full name is
Ambulinia Valeer. Marriage will presently round it out and perfect it.
Then it will be Mrs. Ambulinia Valeer Elfonzo. It takes the chromo.

Her heart yielded to no feeling but the love of Elfonzo, on whom she
gazed with intense delight, and to whom she felt herself more closely
bound, because he sought the hand of no other. Elfonzo was roused
from his apparent reverie. His books no longer were his inseparable
companions--his thoughts arrayed themselves to encourage him to the
field of victory. He endeavored to speak to his supposed Ambulinia, but
his speech appeared not in words. No, his effort was a stream of fire,
that kindled his soul into a flame of admiration, and carried his senses
away captive. Ambulinia had disappeared, to make him more mindful of
his duty. As she walked speedily away through the piny woods, she calmly
echoed: “O! Elfonzo, thou wilt now look from thy sunbeams. Thou shalt
now walk in a new path--perhaps thy way leads through darkness; but fear
not, the stars foretell happiness.”

To McClintock that jingling jumble of fine words meant something, no
doubt, or seemed to mean something; but it is useless for us to try to
divine what it was. Ambulinia comes--we don’t know whence nor why; she
mysteriously intimates--we don’t know what; and then she goes echoing
away--we don’t know whither; and down comes the curtain. McClintock’s
art is subtle; McClintock’s art is deep.

Not many days afterward, as surrounded by fragrant flowers she sat one
evening at twilight, to enjoy the cool breeze that whispered notes of
melody along the distant groves, the little birds perched on every
side, as if to watch the movements of their new visitor. The bells were
tolling, when Elfonzo silently stole along by the wild wood flowers,
holding in his hand his favorite instrument of music--his eye
continually searching for Ambulinia, who hardly seemed to perceive him,
as she played carelessly with the songsters that hopped from branch to
branch. Nothing could be more striking than the difference between the
two. Nature seemed to have given the more tender soul to Elfonzo, and
the stronger and more courageous to Ambulinia. A deep feeling spoke from
the eyes of Elfonzo--such a feeling as can only be expressed by those
who are blessed as admirers, and by those who are able to return the
same with sincerity of heart. He was a few years older than Ambulinia:
she had turned a little into her seventeenth. He had almost grown up
in the Cherokee country, with the same equal proportions as one of the
natives. But little intimacy had existed between them until the year
forty-one--because the youth felt that the character of such a lovely
girl was too exalted to inspire any other feeling than that of quiet
reverence. But as lovers will not always be insulted, at all times and
under all circumstances, by the frowns and cold looks of crabbed old
age, which should continually reflect dignity upon those around, and
treat the unfortunate as well as the fortunate with a graceful mien, he
continued to use diligence and perseverance. All this lighted a spark
in his heart that changed his whole character, and like the unyielding
Deity that follows the storm to check its rage in the forest, he
resolves for the first time to shake off his embarrassment and return
where he had before only worshiped.

At last we begin to get the Major’s measure. We are able to put this
and that casual fact together, and build the man up before our eyes,
and look at him. And after we have got him built, we find him worth the
trouble. By the above comparison between his age and Ambulinia’s, we
guess the war-worn veteran to be twenty-two; and the other facts stand
thus: he had grown up in the Cherokee country with the same equal
proportions as one of the natives--how flowing and graceful the
language, and yet how tantalizing as to meaning!--he had been turned
adrift by his father, to whom he had been “somewhat of a dutiful son”;
he wandered in distant lands; came back frequently “to the scenes of his
boyhood, almost destitute of many of the comforts of life,” in order to
get into the presence of his father’s winter-worn locks, and spread
a humid veil of darkness around his expectations; but he was always
promptly sent back to the cold charity of the combat again; he learned
to play the fiddle, and made a name for himself in that line; he had
dwelt among the wild tribes; he had philosophized about the despoilers
of the kingdoms of the earth, and found out--the cunning creature--that
they refer their differences to the learned for settlement; he had
achieved a vast fame as a military chieftain, the Achilles of the
Florida campaigns, and then had got him a spelling-book and started
to school; he had fallen in love with Ambulinia Valeer while she was
teething, but had kept it to himself awhile, out of the reverential awe
which he felt for the child; but now at last, like the unyielding Deity
who follows the storm to check its rage in the forest, he resolves to
shake off his embarrassment, and to return where before he had only
worshiped. The Major, indeed, has made up his mind to rise up and shake
his faculties together, and to see if_ he_ can’t do that thing himself.
This is not clear. But no matter about that: there stands the hero,
compact and visible; and he is no mean structure, considering that his
creator had never created anything before, and hadn’t anything but
rags and wind to build with this time. It seems to me that no one can
contemplate this odd creature, this quaint and curious blatherskite,
without admiring McClintock, or, at any rate, loving him and feeling
grateful to him; for McClintock made him, he gave him to us; without
McClintock we could not have had him, and would now be poor.

But we must come to the feast again. Here is a courtship scene, down
there in the romantic glades among the raccoons, alligators, and things,
that has merit, peculiar literary merit. See how Achilles woos.
Dwell upon the second sentence (particularly the close of it) and the
beginning of the third. Never mind the new personage, Leos, who is
intruded upon us unheralded and unexplained. That is McClintock’s way;
it is his habit; it is a part of his genius; he cannot help it; he never
interrupts the rush of his narrative to make introductions.

It could not escape Ambulinia’s penetrating eye that he sought an
interview with her, which she as anxiously avoided, and assumed a more
distant calmness than before, seemingly to destroy all hope. After many
efforts and struggles with his own person, with timid steps the Major
approached the damsel, with the same caution as he would have done in
a field of battle. “Lady Ambulinia,” said he, trembling, “I have
long desired a moment like this. I dare not let it escape. I fear the
consequences; yet I hope your indulgence will at least hear my petition.
Can you not anticipate what I would say, and what I am about to express?
Will not you, like Minerva, who sprung from the brain of Jupiter,
release me from thy winding chains or cure me--” “Say no more, Elfonzo,”
 answered Ambulinia, with a serious look, raising her hand as if she
intended to swear eternal hatred against the whole world; “another
lady in my place would have perhaps answered your question in bitter
coldness. I know not the little arts of my sex. I care but little for
the vanity of those who would chide me, and am unwilling as well as
ashamed to be guilty of anything that would lead you to think ‘all is
not gold that glitters’; so be not rash in your resolution. It is better
to repent now, than to do it in a more solemn hour. Yes, I know what you
would say. I know you have a costly gift for me--the noblest that man
can make--_your heart!_ You should not offer it to one so unworthy.
Heaven, you know, has allowed my father’s house to be made a house of
solitude, a home of silent obedience, which my parents say is more to
be admired than big names and high-sounding titles. Notwithstanding all
this, let me speak the emotions of an honest heart--allow me to say in
the fullness of my hopes that I anticipate better days. The bird may
stretch its wings toward the sun, which it can never reach; and flowers
of the field appear to ascend in the same direction, because they cannot
do otherwise; but man confides his complaints to the saints in whom he
believes; for in their abodes of light they know no more sorrow. From
your confession and indicative looks, I must be that person; if so
deceive not yourself.”

Elfonzo replied, “Pardon me, my dear madam, for my frankness. I have
loved you from my earliest days--everything grand and beautiful hath
borne the image of Ambulinia; while precipices on every hand surrounded
me, your _guardian angel_ stood and beckoned me away from the deep
abyss. In every trial, in every misfortune, I have met with your helping
hand; yet I never dreamed or dared to cherish thy love, till a voice
impaired with age encouraged the cause, and declared they who acquired
thy favor should win a victory. I saw how Leos worshiped thee. I felt my
own unworthiness. I began to _know jealously_, a strong guest--indeed,
in my bosom,--yet I could see if I gained your admiration Leos was to be
my rival. I was aware that he had the influence of your parents, and the
wealth of a deceased relative, which is too often mistaken for permanent
and regular tranquillity; yet I have determined by your permission
to beg an interest in your prayers--to ask you to animate my drooping
spirits by your smiles and your winning looks; for if you but speak I
shall be conqueror, my enemies shall stagger like Olympus shakes. And
though earth and sea may tremble, and the charioteer of the sun may
forget his dashing steed, yet I am assured that it is only to arm me
with divine weapons which will enable me to complete my long-tried

“Return to yourself, Elfonzo,” said Ambulinia, pleasantly: “a dream
of vision has disturbed your intellect; you are above the atmosphere,
dwelling in the celestial regions; nothing is there that urges or
hinders, nothing that brings discord into our present litigation. I
entreat you to condescend a little, and be a man, and forget it all.
When Homer describes the battle of the gods and noble men fighting with
giants and dragons, they represent under this image our struggles with
the delusions of our passions. You have exalted me, an unhappy girl, to
the skies; you have called me a saint, and portrayed in your imagination
an angel in human form. Let her remain such to you, let her continue to
be as you have supposed, and be assured that she will consider a share
in your esteem as her highest treasure. Think not that I would allure
you from the path in which your conscience leads you; for you know I
respect the conscience of others, as I would die for my own. Elfonzo, if
I am worthy of thy love, let such conversation never again pass between
us. Go, seek a nobler theme! we will seek it in the stream of time, as
the sun set in the Tigris.” As she spake these words she grasped the
hand of Elfonzo, saying at the same time--“Peace and prosperity
attend you, my hero; be up and doing!” Closing her remarks with this
expression, she walked slowly away, leaving Elfonzo astonished and
amazed. He ventured not to follow or detain her. Here he stood alone,
gazing at the stars; confounded as he was, here he stood.

Yes; there he stood. There seems to be no doubt about that. Nearly half
of this delirious story has now been delivered to the reader. It seems a
pity to reduce the other half to a cold synopsis. Pity! it is more
than a pity, it is a crime; for to synopsize McClintock is to reduce
a sky-flushing conflagration to dull embers, it is to reduce barbaric
splendor to ragged poverty. McClintock never wrote a line that was not
precious; he never wrote one that could be spared; he never framed one
from which a word could be removed without damage. Every sentence that
this master has produced may be likened to a perfect set of teeth,
white, uniform, beautiful. If you pull one, the charm is gone.

Still, it is now necessary to begin to pull, and to keep it up; for lack
of space requires us to synopsize.

We left Elfonzo standing there amazed. At what, we do not know. Not at
the girl’s speech. No; we ourselves should have been amazed at it,
of course, for none of us has ever heard anything resembling it; but
Elfonzo was used to speeches made up of noise and vacancy, and could
listen to them with undaunted mind like the “topmost topaz of an ancient
tower”; he was used to making them himself; he--but let it go, it cannot
be guessed out; we shall never know what it was that astonished him. He
stood there awhile; then he said, “Alas! am I now Grief’s disappointed
son at last?” He did not stop to examine his mind, and to try to find
out what he probably meant by that, because, for one reason, “a mixture
of ambition and greatness of soul moved upon his young heart,” and
started him for the village. He resumed his bench in school, “and
reasonably progressed in his education.” His heart was heavy, but
he went into society, and sought surcease of sorrow in its light
distractions. He made himself popular with his violin, “which seemed to
have a thousand chords--more symphonious than the Muses of Apollo, and
more enchanting than the ghost of the Hills.” This is obscure, but let
it go.

During this interval Leos did some unencouraged courting, but at last,
“choked by his undertaking,” he desisted.

Presently “Elfonzo again wends his way to the stately walls and
new-built village.” He goes to the house of his beloved; she opens the
door herself. To my surprise--for Ambulinia’s heart had still seemed
free at the time of their last interview--love beamed from the girl’s
eyes. One sees that Elfonzo was surprised, too; for when he caught that
light, “a halloo of smothered shouts ran through every vein.” A neat
figure--a very neat figure, indeed! Then he kissed her. “The scene was
overwhelming.” They went into the parlor. The girl said it was safe,
for her parents were abed, and would never know. Then we have this
fine picture--flung upon the canvas with hardly an effort, as you will

Advancing toward him, she gave a bright display of her rosy neck, and
from her head the ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance; her robe
hung waving to his view, while she stood like a goddess confessed before

There is nothing of interest in the couple’s interview. Now at this
point the girl invites Elfonzo to a village show, where jealousy is the
motive of the play, for she wants to teach him a wholesome lesson, if he
is a jealous person. But this is a sham, and pretty shallow. McClintock
merely wants a pretext to drag in a plagiarism of his upon a scene or
two in “Othello.”

The lovers went to the play. Elfonzo was one of the fiddlers. He and
Ambulinia must not be seen together, lest trouble follow with the girl’s
malignant father; we are made to understand that clearly. So the two sit
together in the orchestra, in the midst of the musicians. This does not
seem to be good art. In the first place, the girl would be in the way,
for orchestras are always packed closely together, and there is no room
to spare for people’s girls; in the next place, one cannot conceal a
girl in an orchestra without everybody taking notice of it. There can be
no doubt, it seems to me, that this is bad art.

Leos is present. Of course, one of the first things that catches his eye
is the maddening spectacle of Ambulinia “leaning upon Elfonzo’s chair.”
 This poor girl does not seem to understand even the rudiments of
concealment. But she is “in her seventeenth,” as the author phrases it,
and that is her justification.

Leos meditates, constructs a plan--with personal violence as a basis,
of course. It was their way down there. It is a good plain plan, without
any imagination in it. He will go out and stand at the front door, and
when these two come out he will “arrest Ambulinia from the hands of the
insolent Elfonzo,” and thus make for himself a “more prosperous field of
immortality than ever was decreed by Omnipotence, or ever pencil drew
or artist imagined.” But, dear me, while he is waiting there the couple
climb out at the back window and scurry home! This is romantic enough,
but there is a lack of dignity in the situation.

At this point McClintock puts in the whole of his curious play--which we

Some correspondence follows now. The bitter father and the distressed
lovers write the letters. Elopements are attempted. They are idiotically
planned, and they fail. Then we have several pages of romantic powwow
and confusion signifying nothing. Another elopement is planned; it is to
take place on Sunday, when everybody is at church. But the “hero” cannot
keep the secret; he tells everybody. Another author would have found
another instrument when he decided to defeat this elopement; but that is
not McClintock’s way. He uses the person that is nearest at hand.

The evasion failed, of course. Ambulinia, in her flight, takes refuge
in a neighbor’s house. Her father drags her home. The villagers gather,
attracted by the racket.

Elfonzo was moved at this sight. The people followed on to see what was
going to become of Ambulinia, while he, with downcast looks, kept at
a distance, until he saw them enter the abode of the father, thrusting
her, that was the sigh of his soul, out of his presence into a solitary
apartment, when she exclaimed, “Elfonzo! Elfonzo! oh, Elfonzo! where
art thou, with all thy heroes? haste, oh! haste, come thou to my relief.
Ride on the wings of the wind! Turn thy force loose like a tempest, and
roll on thy army like a whirlwind, over this mountain of trouble and
confusion. Oh friends! if any pity me, let your last efforts throng upon
the green hills, and come to the relief of Ambulinia, who is guilty of
nothing but innocent love.” Elfonzo called out with a loud voice, “My
God, can I stand this! arouse up, I beseech you, and put an end to this
tyranny. Come, my brave boys,” said he, “are you ready to go forth to
your duty?” They stood around him. “Who,” said he, “will call us to
arms? Where are my thunderbolts of war? Speak ye, the first who will
meet the foe! Who will go forward with me in this ocean of grievous
temptation? If there is one who desires to go, let him come and shake
hands upon the altar of devotion, and swear that he will be a hero; yes,
a Hector in a cause like this, which calls aloud for a speedy remedy.”
 “Mine be the deed,” said a young lawyer, “and mine alone; Venus alone
shall quit her station before I will forsake one jot or tittle of my
promise to you; what is death to me? what is all this warlike army,
if it is not to win a victory? I love the sleep of the lover and the
mighty; nor would I give it over till the blood of my enemies should
wreak with that of my own. But God forbid that our fame should soar
on the blood of the slumberer.” Mr. Valeer stands at his door with the
frown of a demon upon his brow, with his dangerous weapon (3) ready to
strike the first man who should enter his door. “Who will arise and go
forward through blood and carnage to the rescue of my Ambulinia?” said
Elfonzo. “All,” exclaimed the multitude; and onward they went, with
their implements of battle. Others, of a more timid nature, stood among
the distant hills to see the result of the contest.

It will hardly be believed that after all this thunder and lightning not
a drop of rain fell; but such is the fact. Elfonzo and his gang stood up
and black-guarded Mr. Valeer with vigor all night, getting their outlay
back with interest; then in the early morning the army and its general
retired from the field, leaving the victory with their solitary
adversary and his crowbar. This is the first time this has happened in
romantic literature. The invention is original. Everything in this book
is original; there is nothing hackneyed about it anywhere. Always, in
other romances, when you find the author leading up to a climax, you
know what is going to happen. But in this book it is different; the
thing which seems inevitable and unavoidable never happens; it is
circumvented by the art of the author every time.

Another elopement was attempted. It failed.

We have now arrived at the end. But it is not exciting. McClintock
thinks it is; but it isn’t. One day Elfonzo sent Ambulinia another
note--a note proposing elopement No. 16. This time the plan is
admirable; admirable, sagacious, ingenious, imaginative, deep--oh,
everything, and perfectly easy. One wonders why it was never thought of
before. This is the scheme. Ambulinia is to leave the breakfast-table,
ostensibly to “attend to the placing of those flowers, which should have
been done a week ago”--artificial ones, of course; the others wouldn’t
keep so long--and then, instead of fixing the flowers, she is to walk
out to the grove, and go off with Elfonzo. The invention of this plan
overstrained the author that is plain, for he straightway shows failing
powers. The details of the plan are not many or elaborate. The author
shall state them himself--this good soul, whose intentions are always
better than his English:

“You walk carelessly toward the academy grove, where you will find me
with a lightning steed, elegantly equipped to bear you off where we
shall be joined in wedlock with the first connubial rights.”

Last scene of all, which the author, now much enfeebled, tries to
smarten up and make acceptable to his spectacular heart by introducing
some new properties--silver bow, golden harp, olive branch--things that
can all come good in an elopement, no doubt, yet are not to be compared
to an umbrella for real handiness and reliability in an excursion of
that kind.

And away she ran to the sacred grove, surrounded with glittering pearls,
that indicated her coming. Elfonzo hails her with his silver bow and his
golden harp. They meet--Ambulinia’s countenance brightens--Elfonzo leads
up the winged steed. “Mount,” said he, “ye true-hearted, ye fearless
soul--the day is ours.” She sprang upon the back of the young
thunderbolt, a brilliant star sparkles upon her head, with one hand she
grasps the reins, and with the other she holds an olive branch. “Lend
thy aid, ye strong winds,” they exclaimed, “ye moon, ye sun, and all ye
fair host of heaven, witness the enemy conquered.” “Hold,” said Elfonzo,
“thy dashing steed.” “Ride on,” said Ambulinia, “the voice of thunder is
behind us.” And onward they went, with such rapidity that they very soon
arrived at Rural Retreat, where they dismounted, and were united with
all the solemnities that usually attended such divine operations.

There is but one Homer, there is but one Shakespeare, there is but one
McClintock--and his immortal book is before you. Homer could not have
written this book, Shakespeare could not have written it, I could not
have done it myself. There is nothing just like it in the literature of
any country or of any epoch. It stands alone; it is monumental. It
adds G. Ragsdale McClintock’s to the sum of the republic’s imperishable

1. The name here given is a substitute for the one actually attached to
the pamphlet.

2. Further on it will be seen that he is a country expert on the fiddle,
and has a three-township fame.

3. It is a crowbar.



(The foregoing review of the great work of G. Ragsdale McClintock is
liberally illuminated with sample extracts, but these cannot appease the
appetite. Only the complete book, unabridged, can do that. Therefore it
is here printed.--M.T.)


Sweet girl, thy smiles are full of charms,

Thy voice is sweeter still,

It fills the breast with fond alarms,

Echoed by every rill.

I begin this little work with an eulogy upon woman, who has ever been
distinguished for her perseverance, her constancy, and her devoted
attention to those upon whom she has been pleased to place her
_affections_. Many have been the themes upon which writers and public
speakers have dwelt with intense and increasing interest. Among these
delightful themes stands that of woman, the balm to all our sighs and
disappointments, and the most pre-eminent of all other topics. Here the
poet and orator have stood and gazed with wonder and with admiration;
they have dwelt upon her innocence, the ornament of all her virtues.
First viewing her external charms, such as set forth in her form and
benevolent countenance, and then passing to the deep hidden springs of
loveliness and disinterested devotion. In every clime, and in every age,
she has been the pride of her _nation_. Her watchfulness is untiring;
she who guarded the sepulcher was the first to approach it, and the last
to depart from its awful yet sublime scene. Even here, in this highly
favored land, we look to her for the security of our institutions, and
for our future greatness as a nation. But, strange as it may appear,
woman’s charms and virtues are but slightly appreciated by thousands.
Those who should raise the standard of female worth, and paint her value
with her virtues, in living colors, upon the banners that are fanned by
the zephyrs of heaven, and hand them down to posterity as emblematical
of a rich inheritance, do not properly estimate them.

Man is not sensible, at all times, of the nature and the emotions which
bear that name; he does not understand, he will not comprehend; his
intelligence has not expanded to that degree of glory which drinks in
the vast revolution of humanity, its end, its mighty destination, and
the causes which operated, and are still operating, to produce a
more elevated station, and the objects which energize and enliven its
consummation. This he is a stranger to; he is not aware that woman is
the recipient of celestial love, and that man is dependent upon her
to perfect his character; that without her, philosophically and truly
speaking, the brightest of his intelligence is but the coldness of a
winter moon, whose beams can produce no fruit, whose solar light is not
its own, but borrowed from the great dispenser of effulgent beauty. We
have no disposition in the world to flatter the fair sex, we would raise
them above those dastardly principles which only exist in little souls,
contracted hearts, and a distracted brain. Often does she unfold herself
in all her fascinating loveliness, presenting the most captivating
charms; yet we find man frequently treats such purity of purpose with
indifference. Why does he do it? Why does he baffle that which is
inevitably the source of his better days? Is he so much of a stranger
to those excellent qualities as not to appreciate woman, as not to have
respect to her dignity? Since her art and beauty first captivated man,
she has been his delight and his comfort; she has shared alike in his
misfortunes and in his prosperity.

Whenever the billows of adversity and the tumultuous waves of trouble
beat high, her smiles subdue their fury. Should the tear of sorrow and
the mournful sigh of grief interrupt the peace of his mind, her voice
removes them all, and she bends from her circle to encourage him onward.
When darkness would obscure his mind, and a thick cloud of gloom would
bewilder its operations, her intelligent eye darts a ray of streaming
light into his heart. Mighty and charming is that disinterested devotion
which she is ever ready to exercise toward man, not waiting till
the last moment of his danger, but seeks to relieve him in his early
afflictions. It gushes forth from the expansive fullness of a tender and
devoted heart, where the noblest, the purest, and the most elevated and
refined feelings are matured and developed in those many kind offices
which invariably make her character.

In the room of sorrow and sickness, this unequaled characteristic
may always been seen, in the performance of the most charitable acts;
nothing that she can do to promote the happiness of him who she claims
to be her protector will be omitted; all is invigorated by the animating
sunbeams which awaken the heart to songs of gaiety. Leaving this point,
to notice another prominent consideration, which is generally one of
great moment and of vital importance. Invariably she is firm and steady
in all her pursuits and aims. There is required a combination of forces
and extreme opposition to drive her from her position; she takes her
stand, not to be moved by the sound of Apollo’s lyre or the curved bow
of pleasure.

Firm and true to what she undertakes, and that which she requires by
her own aggrandizement, and regards as being within the strict rules of
propriety, she will remain stable and unflinching to the last. A more
genuine principle is not to be found in the most determined, resolute
heart of man. For this she deserves to be held in the highest
commendation, for this she deserves the purest of all other blessings,
and for this she deserves the most laudable reward of all others. It is
a noble characteristic and is worthy of imitation of any age. And when
we look at it in one particular aspect, it is still magnified, and grows
brighter and brighter the more we reflect upon its eternal duration.
What will she not do, when her word as well as her affections and _love
_are pledged to her lover? Everything that is dear to her on earth,
all the hospitalities of kind and loving parents, all the sincerity and
loveliness of sisters, and the benevolent devotion of brothers, who have
surrounded her with every comfort; she will forsake them all, quit the
harmony and sweet sound of the lute and the harp, and throw herself upon
the affections of some devoted admirer, in whom she fondly hopes to
find more than she has left behind, which is not often realized by many.
Truth and virtue all combined! How deserving our admiration and love! Ah
cruel would it be in man, after she has thus manifested such an unshaken
confidence in him, and said by her determination to abandon all the
endearments and blandishments of home, to act a villainous part, and
prove a traitor in the revolution of his mission, and then turn Hector
over the innocent victim whom he swore to protect, in the presence of
Heaven, recorded by the pen of an angel.

Striking as this trait may unfold itself in her character, and as
pre-eminent as it may stand among the fair display of her other
qualities, yet there is another, which struggles into existence, and
adds an additional luster to what she already possesses. I mean that
disposition in woman which enables her, in sorrow, in grief, and in
distress, to bear all with enduring patience. This she has done, and
can and will do, amid the din of war and clash of arms. Scenes and
occurrences which, to every appearance, are calculated to rend the heart
with the profoundest emotions of trouble, do not fetter that exalted
principle imbued in her very nature. It is true, her tender and feeling
heart may often be moved (as she is thus constituted), but she is not
conquered, she has not given up to the harlequin of disappointments, her
energies have not become clouded in the last movement of misfortune, but
she is continually invigorated by the archetype of her affections. She
may bury her face in her hands, and let the tear of anguish roll, she
may promenade the delightful walks of some garden, decorated with all
the flowers of nature, or she may steal out along some gently rippling
stream, and there, as the silver waters uninterruptedly move forward,
shed her silent tears; they mingle with the waves, and take a last
farewell of their agitated home, to seek a peaceful dwelling among
the rolling floods; yet there is a voice rushing from her breast,
that proclaims _victory _along the whole line and battlement of her
affections. That voice is the voice of patience and resignation; that
voice is one that bears everything calmly and dispassionately, amid the
most distressing scenes; when the fates are arrayed against her peace,
and apparently plotting for her destruction, still she is resigned.

Woman’s affections are deep, consequently her troubles may be made to
sink deep. Although you may not be able to mark the traces of her grief
and the furrowings of her anguish upon her winning countenance, yet be
assured they are nevertheless preying upon her inward person, sapping
the very foundation of that heart which alone was made for the weal and
not the woe of man. The deep recesses of the soul are fields for their
operation. But they are not destined simply to take the regions of
the heart for their dominion, they are not satisfied merely with
interrupting her better feelings; but after a while you may see the
blooming cheek beginning to droop and fade, her intelligent eye no
longer sparkles with the starry light of heaven, her vibrating pulse
long since changed its regular motion, and her palpitating bosom beats
once more for the midday of her glory. Anxiety and care ultimately throw
her into the arms of the haggard and grim monster death. But, oh, how
patient, under every pining influence! Let us view the matter in bolder
colors; see her when the dearest object of her affections recklessly
seeks every bacchanalian pleasure, contents himself with the last
rubbish of creation. With what solicitude she awaits his return! Sleep
fails to perform its office--she weeps while the nocturnal shades of the
night triumph in the stillness. Bending over some favorite book, whilst
the author throws before her mind the most beautiful imagery, she
startles at every sound. The midnight silence is broken by the solemn
announcement of the return of another morning. He is still absent; she
listens for that voice which has so often been greeted by the melodies
of her own; but, alas! stern silence is all that she receives for her

Mark her unwearied watchfulness, as the night passes away. At last,
brutalized by the accursed thing, he staggers along with rage, and,
shivering with cold, he makes his appearance. Not a murmur is heard from
her lips. On the contrary, she meets him with a smile--she caresses him
with tender arms, with all the gentleness and softness of her sex. Here,
then, is seen her disposition, beautifully arrayed. Woman, thou art more
to be admired than the spicy gales of Arabia, and more sought for than
the gold of Golconda. We believe that Woman should associate freely with
man, and we believe that it is for the preservation of her rights. She
should become acquainted with the metaphysical designs of those who
condescended to sing the siren song of flattery. This, we think, should
be according to the unwritten law of decorum, which is stamped upon
every innocent heart. The precepts of prudery are often steeped in the
guilt of contamination, which blasts the expectations of better moments.
Truth, and beautiful dreams--loveliness, and delicacy of character, with
cherished affections of the ideal woman--gentle hopes and aspirations,
are enough to uphold her in the storms of darkness, without the
transferred colorings of a stained sufferer. How often have we seen it
in our public prints, that woman occupies a false station in the world!
and some have gone so far as to say it was an unnatural one. So long has
she been regarded a weak creature, by the rabble and illiterate--they
have looked upon her as an insufficient actress on the great stage of
human life--a mere puppet, to fill up the drama of human existence--a
thoughtless, inactive being--that she has too often come to the same
conclusion herself, and has sometimes forgotten her high destination, in
the meridian of her glory. We have but little sympathy or patience for
those who treat her as a mere Rosy Melindi--who are always fishing for
pretty complements--who are satisfied by the gossamer of Romance,
and who can be allured by the verbosity of high-flown words, rich in
language, but poor and barren in sentiment. Beset, as she has been, by
the intellectual vulgar, the selfish, the designing, the cunning, the
hidden, and the artful--no wonder she has sometimes folded her wings
in despair, and forgotten her _heavenly _mission in the delirium of
imagination; no wonder she searches out some wild desert, to find a
peaceful home. But this cannot always continue. A new era is moving
gently onward, old things are rapidly passing away; old superstitions,
old prejudices, and old notions are now bidding farewell to their old
associates and companions, and giving way to one whose wings are plumed
with the light of heaven and tinged by the dews of the morning. There
is a remnant of blessedness that clings to her in spite of all evil
influence, there is enough of the Divine Master left to accomplish the
noblest work ever achieved under the canopy of the vaulted skies; and
that time is fast approaching, when the picture of the true woman will
shine from its frame of glory, to captivate, to win back, to restore,
and to call into being once more, _the object of her mission_.

Star of the brave! thy glory shed, O’er all the earth, thy army led--
Bold meteor of immortal birth! Why come from Heaven to dwell on Earth?

Mighty and glorious are the days of youth; happy the moments of the
_lover_, mingled with smiles and tears of his devoted, and long to be
remembered are the achievements which he gains with a palpitating heart
and a trembling hand. A bright and lovely dawn, the harbinger of a fair
and prosperous day, had arisen over the beautiful little village
of Cumming, which is surrounded by the most romantic scenery in the
Cherokee country. Brightening clouds seemed to rise from the mist of
the fair Chattahoochee, to spread their beauty over the thick forest, to
guide the hero whose bosom beats with aspirations to conquer the enemy
that would tarnish his name, and to win back the admiration of his
long-tried friend. He endeavored to make his way through Sawney’s
Mountain, where many meet to catch the gales that are continually
blowing for the refreshment of the stranger and the traveler. Surrounded
as he was by hills on every side, naked rocks dared the efforts of his
energies. Soon the sky became overcast, the sun buried itself in the
clouds, and the fair day gave place to gloomy twilight, which lay
heavily on the Indian Plains. He remembered an old Indian Castle, that
once stood at the foot of the mountain. He thought if he could make his
way to this, he would rest contented for a short time. The mountain
air breathed fragrance--a rosy tinge rested on the glassy waters that
murmured at its base. His resolution soon brought him to the remains of
the red man’s hut: he surveyed with wonder and astonishment the decayed
building, which time had buried in the dust, and thought to himself,
his happiness was not yet complete. Beside the shore of the brook sat
a young man, about eighteen or twenty, who seemed to be reading some
favorite book, and who had a remarkably noble countenance--eyes which
betrayed more than a common mind. This of course made the youth a
welcome guest, and gained him friends in whatever condition of life he
might be placed. The traveler observed that he was a well-built figure,
which showed strength and grace in every movement. He accordingly
addressed him in quite a gentlemanly manner, and inquired of him the way
to the village. After he had received the desired information, and was
about taking his leave, the youth said, “Are you not Major Elfonzo, the
great musician--the champion of a noble cause--the modern Achilles, who
gained so many victories in the Florida War?” “I bear that name,”
 said the Major, “and those titles, trusting at the same time that the
ministers of grace will carry me triumphantly through all my laudable
undertakings, and if,” continued the Major, “you, sir, are the
patronizer of noble deeds, I should like to make you my confidant and
learn your address.” The youth looked somewhat amazed, bowed low, mused
for a moment, and began: “My name is Roswell. I have been recently
admitted to the bar, and can only give a faint outline of my future
success in that honorable profession; but I trust, sir, like the Eagle,
I shall look down from lofty rocks upon the dwellings of man, and shall
ever be ready to give you any assistance in my official capacity, and
whatever this muscular arm of mine can do, whenever it shall be called
from its buried _greatness_.” The Major grasped him by the hand, and
exclaimed: “O! thou exalted spirit of inspiration--thou flame of burning
prosperity, may the Heaven-directed blaze be the glare of thy soul, and
battle down every rampart that seems to impede your progress!”

The road which led to the town presented many attractions. Elfonzo had
bid farewell to the youth of deep feeling, and was now wending his way
to the dreaming spot of his fondness. The south winds whistled through
the woods, as the waters dashed against the banks, as rapid fire in the
pent furnace roars. This brought him to remember while alone, that he
quietly left behind the hospitality of a father’s house, and gladly
entered the world, with higher hopes than are often realized. But as he
journeyed onward, he was mindful of the advice of his father, who had
often looked sadly on the ground when tears of cruelly deceived hope
moistened his eye. Elfonzo had been somewhat of a dutiful son; yet fond
of the amusements of life--had been in distant lands--had enjoyed the
pleasure of the world and had frequently returned to the scenes of
his boyhood, almost destitute of many of the comforts of life. In this
condition, he would frequently say to his father, “Have I offended you,
that you look upon me as a stranger, and frown upon me with stinging
looks? Will you not favor me with the sound of your voice? If I have
trampled upon your veneration, or have spread a humid veil of darkness
around your expectations, send me back into the world where no heart
beats for me--where the foot of man has never yet trod; but give me at
least one kind word--allow me to come into the presence sometimes of
thy winter-worn locks.” “Forbid it, Heaven, that I should be angry with
thee,” answered the father, “my son, and yet I send thee back to the
children of the world--to the cold charity of the combat, and to a
land of victory. I read another destiny in thy countenance--I learn
thy inclinations from the flame that has already kindled in my soul a
strange sensation. It will seek thee, my dear _Elfonzo_, it will find
thee--thou canst not escape that lighted torch, which shall blot out
from the remembrance of men a long train of prophecies which they have
foretold against thee. I once thought not so. Once, I was blind; but now
the path of life is plain before me, and my sight is clear; yet Elfonzo,
return to thy worldly occupation--take again in thy hand that chord
of sweet sounds--struggle with the civilized world, and with your own
heart; fly swiftly to the enchanted ground--let the night-_owl_ send forth
its screams from the stubborn oak--let the sea sport upon the beach, and
the stars sing together; but learn of these, Elfonzo, thy doom, and
thy hiding-place. Our most innocent as well as our most lawful _desires
_must often be denied us, that we may learn to sacrifice them to a
Higher will.”

Remembering such admonitions with gratitude, Elfonzo was immediately
urged by the recollection of his father’s family to keep moving. His
steps became quicker and quicker--he hastened through the _piny _woods,
dark as the forest was, and with joy he very soon reached the little
village of repose, in whose bosom rested the boldest chivalry. His close
attention to every important object--his modest questions about whatever
was new to him--his reverence for wise old age, and his ardent desire to
learn many of the fine arts, soon brought him into respectable notice.

One mild winter day as he walked along the streets toward the Academy,
which stood upon a small eminence, surrounded by native growth--some
venerable in its appearance, others young and prosperous--all seemed
inviting, and seemed to be the very place for learning as well as for
genius to spend its research beneath its spreading shades. He entered
its classic walls in the usual mode of southern manners. The principal
of the Institution begged him to be seated and listen to the recitations
that were going on. He accordingly obeyed the request, and seemed to
be much pleased. After the school was dismissed, and the young hearts
regained their freedom, with the songs of the evening, laughing at the
anticipated pleasures of a happy home, while others tittered at the
actions of the past day, he addressed the teacher in a tone that
indicated a resolution--with an undaunted mind. He said he had
determined to become a student, if he could meet with his approbation.
“Sir,” said he, “I have spent much time in the world. I have traveled
among the uncivilized inhabitants of America. I have met with friends,
and combated with foes; but none of these gratify my ambition, or decide
what is to be my destiny. I see the learned would have an influence
with the voice of the people themselves. The despoilers of the remotest
kingdoms of the earth refer their differences to this class of persons.
This the illiterate and inexperienced little dream of; and now if you
will receive me as I am, with these deficiencies--with all my misguided
opinions, I will give you my honor, sir, that I will never disgrace the
Institution, or those who have placed you in this honorable station.”
 The instructor, who had met with many disappointments, knew how to
feel for a stranger who had been thus turned upon the charities of an
unfeeling community. He looked at him earnestly, and said: “Be of
good cheer--look forward, sir, to the high destination you may attain.
Remember, the more elevated the mark at which you aim, the more sure,
the more glorious, the more magnificent the prize.” From wonder to
wonder, his encouragement led the impatient listener. A strange nature
bloomed before him--giant streams promised him success--gardens of
hidden treasures opened to his view. All this, so vividly described,
seemed to gain a new witchery from his glowing fancy.

In 1842 he entered the class, and made rapid progress in the English
and Latin departments. Indeed, he continued advancing with such rapidity
that he was like to become the first in his class, and made such
unexpected progress, and was so studious, that he had almost forgotten
the pictured saint of his affections. The fresh wreaths of the pine and
cypress had waited anxiously to drop once more the dews of Heavens upon
the heads of those who had so often poured forth the tender emotions of
their souls under its boughs. He was aware of the pleasure that he had
seen there. So one evening, as he was returning from his reading, he
concluded he would pay a visit to this enchanting spot. Little did he
think of witnessing a shadow of his former happiness, though no doubt
he wished it might be so. He continued sauntering by the roadside,
meditating on the past. The nearer he approached the spot, the more
anxious he became. At the moment a tall female figure flitted across his
path, with a bunch of roses in her hand; her countenance showed uncommon
vivacity, with a resolute spirit; her ivory teeth already appeared as
she smiled beautifully, promenading--while her ringlets of hair dangled
unconsciously around her snowy neck. Nothing was wanting to complete
her beauty. The tinge of the rose was in full bloom upon her cheek; the
charms of sensibility and tenderness were always her associates.. In
Ambulinia’s bosom dwelt a noble soul--one that never faded--one that
never was conquered. Her heart yielded to no feeling but the love of
Elfonzo, on whom she gazed with intense delight, and to whom she felt
herself more closely bound, because he sought the hand of no other.
Elfonzo was roused from his apparent reverie. His books no longer were
his inseparable companions--his thoughts arrayed themselves to encourage
him in the field of victory. He endeavored to speak to his supposed
Ambulinia, but his speech appeared not in words. No, his effort was a
stream of fire, that kindled his soul into a flame of admiration, and
carried his senses away captive. Ambulinia had disappeared, to make him
more mindful of his duty. As she walked speedily away through the
piny woods she calmly echoed: “O! Elfonzo, thou wilt now look from
thy sunbeams. Thou shalt now walk in a new path--perhaps thy way leads
through darkness; but fear not, the stars foretell happiness.”

Not many days afterward, as surrounded by fragrant flowers she sat one
evening at twilight, to enjoy the cool breeze that whispered notes of
melody along the distant groves, the little birds perched on every
side, as if to watch the movements of their new visitor. The bells were
tolling when Elfonzo silently stole along by the wild wood flowers,
holding in his hand his favorite instrument of music--his eye
continually searching for Ambulinia, who hardly seemed to perceive him,
as she played carelessly with the songsters that hopped from branch to
branch. Nothing could be more striking than the difference between the
two. Nature seemed to have given the more tender soul to Elfonzo, and
the stronger and more courageous to Ambulinia. A deep feeling spoke from
the eyes of Elfonzo--such a feeling as can only be expressed by those
who are blessed as admirers, and by those who are able to return the
same with sincerity of heart. He was a few years older than Ambulinia:
she had turned a little into her seventeenth. He had almost grown up
in the Cherokee country, with the same equal proportions as one of the
natives. But little intimacy had existed between them until the year
forty-one--because the youth felt that the character of such a lovely
girl was too exalted to inspire any other feeling than that of quiet
reverence. But as lovers will not always be insulted, at all times and
under all circumstances, by the frowns and cold looks of crabbed old
age, which should continually reflect dignity upon those around, and
treat unfortunate as well as the fortunate with a graceful mien, he
continued to use diligence and perseverance. All this lighted a spark
in his heart that changed his whole character, and like the unyielding
Deity that follows the storm to check its rage in the forest, he
resolves for the first time to shake off his embarrassment and return
where he had before only worshiped.

It could not escape Ambulinia’s penetrating eye that he sought an
interview with her, which she as anxiously avoided, and assumed a more
distant calmness than before, seemingly to destroy all hope. After many
efforts and struggles with his own person, with timid steps the Major
approached the damsel, with the same caution as he would have done in
a field of battle. “Lady Ambulinia,” said he, trembling, “I have
long desired a moment like this. I dare not let it escape. I fear the
consequences; yet I hope your indulgence will at least hear my petition.
Can you not anticipate what I would say, and what I am about to express?
Will not you, like Minerva, who sprung from the brain of Jupiter,
release me from thy winding chains or cure me--” “Say no more, Elfonzo,”
 answered Ambulinia, with a serious look, raising her hand as if she
intended to swear eternal hatred against the whole world; “another
lady in my place would have perhaps answered your question in bitter
coldness. I know not the little arts of my sex. I care but little for
the vanity of those who would chide me, and am unwilling as well as
shamed to be guilty of anything that would lead you to think ‘all is not
gold that glitters’; so be not rash in your resolution. It is better
to repent now than to do it in a more solemn hour. Yes, I know what you
would say. I know you have a costly gift for me--the noblest that man
can make--_your heart!_ you should not offer it to one so unworthy.
Heaven, you know, has allowed my father’s house to be made a house of
solitude, a home of silent obedience, which my parents say is more to
be admired than big names and high-sounding titles. Notwithstanding all
this, let me speak the emotions of an honest heart; allow me to say in
the fullness of my hopes that I anticipate better days. The bird may
stretch its wings toward the sun, which it can never reach; and flowers
of the field appear to ascend in the same direction, because they cannot
do otherwise; but man confides his complaints to the saints in whom he
believes; for in their abodes of light they know no more sorrow. From
your confession and indicative looks, I must be that person; if so,
deceive not yourself.”

Elfonzo replied, “Pardon me, my dear madam, for my frankness. I have
loved you from my earliest days; everything grand and beautiful hath
borne the image of Ambulinia; while precipices on every hand surrounded
me, your _guardian angel_ stood and beckoned me away from the deep
abyss. In every trial, in every misfortune, I have met with your helping
hand; yet I never dreamed or dared to cherish thy love till a voice
impaired with age encouraged the cause, and declared they who acquired
thy favor should win a victory. I saw how Leos worshipped thee. I felt
my own unworthiness. I began to _know jealousy_--a strong guest, indeed,
in my bosom--yet I could see if I gained your admiration Leos was to be
my rival. I was aware that he had the influence of your parents, and the
wealth of a deceased relative, which is too often mistaken for permanent
and regular tranquillity; yet I have determined by your permission
to beg an interest in your prayers--to ask you to animate my drooping
spirits by your smiles and your winning looks; for if you but speak I
shall be conqueror, my enemies shall stagger like Olympus shakes. And
though earth and sea may tremble, and the charioteer of the sun may
forget his dashing steed, yet I am assured that it is only to arm me
with divine weapons which will enable me to complete my long-tried

“Return to your self, Elfonzo,” said Ambulinia, pleasantly; “a dream
of vision has disturbed your intellect; you are above the atmosphere,
dwelling in the celestial regions; nothing is there that urges or
hinders, nothing that brings discord into our present litigation. I
entreat you to condescend a little, and be a man, and forget it all.
When Homer describes the battle of the gods and noble men fighting with
giants and dragons, they represent under this image our struggles with
the delusions of our passions. You have exalted me, an unhappy girl, to
the skies; you have called me a saint, and portrayed in your imagination
an angel in human form. Let her remain such to you, let her continue to
be as you have supposed, and be assured that she will consider a share
in your esteem as her highest treasure. Think not that I would allure
you from the path in which your conscience leads you; for you know I
respect the conscience of others, as I would die for my own. Elfonzo, if
I am worthy of thy love, let such conversation never again pass between
us. Go, seek a nobler theme! we will seek it in the stream of time as
the sun set in the Tigris.” As she spake these words she grasped the
hand of Elfonzo, saying at the same time, “Peace and prosperity
attend you, my hero: be up and doing!” Closing her remarks with this
expression, she walked slowly away, leaving Elfonzo astonished and
amazed. He ventured not to follow or detain her. Here he stood alone,
gazing at the stars; confounded as he was, here he stood. The rippling
stream rolled on at his feet. Twilight had already begun to draw her
sable mantle over the earth, and now and then the fiery smoke would
ascend from the little town which lay spread out before him. The
citizens seemed to be full of life and good-humor; but poor Elfonzo saw
not a brilliant scene. No; his future life stood before him, stripped of
the hopes that once adorned all his sanguine desires. “Alas!” said he,
“am I now Grief’s disappointed son at last.” Ambulinia’s image rose
before his fancy. A mixture of ambition and greatness of soul moved upon
his young heart, and encouraged him to bear all his crosses with the
patience of a Job, notwithstanding he had to encounter with so many
obstacles. He still endeavored to prosecute his studies, and reasonably
progressed in his education. Still, he was not content; there was
something yet to be done before his happiness was complete. He would
visit his friends and acquaintances. They would invite him to social
parties, insisting that he should partake of the amusements that were
going on. This he enjoyed tolerably well. The ladies and gentlemen were
generally well pleased with the Major; as he delighted all with his
violin, which seemed to have a thousand chords--more symphonious than
the Muses of Apollo and more enchanting than the ghost of the Hills.
He passed some days in the country. During that time Leos had made many
calls upon Ambulinia, who was generally received with a great deal of
courtesy by the family. They thought him to be a young man worthy of
attention, though he had but little in his soul to attract the attention
or even win the affections of her whose graceful manners had almost made
him a slave to every bewitching look that fell from her eyes. Leos made
several attempts to tell her of his fair prospects--how much he loved
her, and how much it would add to his bliss if he could but think she
would be willing to share these blessings with him; but, choked by his
undertaking, he made himself more like an inactive drone than he did
like one who bowed at beauty’s shrine.

Elfonzo again wends his way to the stately walls and new-built village.
He now determines to see the end of the prophesy which had been foretold
to him. The clouds burst from his sight; he believes if he can but see
his Ambulinia, he can open to her view the bloody altars that have
been misrepresented to stigmatize his name. He knows that her breast is
transfixed with the sword of reason, and ready at all times to detect
the hidden villainy of her enemies. He resolves to see her in her own
home, with the consoling theme: “‘I can but perish if I go.’ Let
the consequences be what they may,” said he, “if I die, it shall be
contending and struggling for my own rights.”

Night had almost overtaken him when he arrived in town. Colonel Elder, a
noble-hearted, high-minded, and independent man, met him at his door as
usual, and seized him by the hand. “Well, Elfonzo,” said the Colonel,
“how does the world use you in your efforts?” “I have no objection to
the world,” said Elfonzo, “but the people are rather singular in some of
their opinions.” “Aye, well,” said the Colonel, “you must remember that
creation is made up of many mysteries; just take things by the right
handle; be always sure you know which is the smooth side before you
attempt your polish; be reconciled to your fate, be it what it may;
and never find fault with your condition, unless your complaining will
benefit it. Perseverance is a principle that should be commendable
in those who have judgment to govern it. I should never have been so
successful in my hunting excursions had I waited till the deer, by some
magic dream, had been drawn to the muzzle of the gun before I made an
attempt to fire at the game that dared my boldness in the wild forest.
The great mystery in hunting seems to be--a good marksman, a resolute
mind, a fixed determination, and my word for it, you will never return
home without sounding your horn with the breath of a new victory. And
so with every other undertaking. Be confident that your ammunition is of
the right kind--always pull your trigger with a steady hand, and so soon
as you perceive a calm, touch her off, and the spoils are yours.”

This filled him with redoubled vigor, and he set out with a stronger
anxiety than ever to the home of Ambulinia. A few short steps soon
brought him to the door, half out of breath. He rapped gently.
Ambulinia, who sat in the parlor alone, suspecting Elfonzo was near,
ventured to the door, opened it, and beheld the hero, who stood in an
humble attitude, bowed gracefully, and as they caught each other’s looks
the light of peace beamed from the eyes of Ambulinia. Elfonzo caught the
expression; a halloo of smothered shouts ran through every vein, and for
the first time he dared to impress a kiss upon her cheek. The scene was
overwhelming; had the temptation been less animating, he would not have
ventured to have acted so contrary to the desired wish of his Ambulinia;
but who could have withstood the irrestistable temptation! What society
condemns the practice but a cold, heartless, uncivilized people that
know nothing of the warm attachments of refined society? Here the dead
was raised to his long-cherished hopes, and the lost was found. Here
all doubt and danger were buried in the vortex of oblivion; sectional
differences no longer disunited their opinions; like the freed bird from
the cage, sportive claps its rustling wings, wheels about to heaven in a
joyful strain, and raises its notes to the upper sky. Ambulinia insisted
upon Elfonzo to be seated, and give her a history of his unnecessary
absence; assuring him the family had retired, consequently they would
ever remain ignorant of his visit. Advancing toward him, she gave a
bright display of her rosy neck, and from her head the ambrosial locks
breathed divine fragrance; her robe hung waving to his view, while she
stood like a goddess confessed before him.

“It does seem to me, my dear sir,” said Ambulinia, “that you have been
gone an age. Oh, the restless hours I have spent since I last saw you,
in yon beautiful grove. There is where I trifled with your feelings for
the express purpose of trying your attachment for me. I now find you are
devoted; but ah! I trust you live not unguarded by the powers of Heaven.
Though oft did I refuse to join my hand with thine, and as oft did
I cruelly mock thy entreaties with borrowed shapes: yes, I feared to
answer thee by terms, in words sincere and undissembled. O! could I
pursue, and you have leisure to hear the annals of my woes, the evening
star would shut Heaven’s gates upon the impending day before my
tale would be finished, and this night would find me soliciting your

“Dismiss thy fears and thy doubts,” replied Elfonzo.

“Look, O! look: that angelic look of thine--bathe not thy visage in
tears; banish those floods that are gathering; let my confession and my
presence bring thee some relief.” “Then, indeed, I will be cheerful,”
 said Ambulinia, “and I think if we will go to the exhibition this
evening, we certainly will see something worthy of our attention. One
of the most tragical scenes is to be acted that has ever been witnessed,
and one that every jealous-hearted person should learn a lesson from. It
cannot fail to have a good effect, as it will be performed by those who
are young and vigorous, and learned as well as enticing. You are aware,
Major Elfonzo, who are to appear on the stage, and what the characters
are to represent.” “I am acquainted with the circumstances,” replied
Elfonzo, “and as I am to be one of the musicians upon that interesting
occasion, I should be much gratified if you would favor me with your
company during the hours of the exercises.”

“What strange notions are in your mind?” inquired Ambulinia. “Now I know
you have something in view, and I desire you to tell me why it is that
you are so anxious that I should continue with you while the exercises
are going on; though if you think I can add to your happiness and
predilections, I have no particular objection to acquiesce in your
request. Oh, I think I foresee, now, what you anticipate.” “And will
you have the goodness to tell me what you think it will be?” inquired
Elfonzo. “By all means,” answered Ambulinia; “a rival, sir, you would
fancy in your own mind; but let me say for you, fear not! fear not! I
will be one of the last persons to disgrace my sex by thus encouraging
every one who may feel disposed to visit me, who may honor me with their
graceful bows and their choicest compliments. It is true that young men
too often mistake civil politeness for the finer emotions of the heart,
which is tantamount to courtship; but, ah! how often are they deceived,
when they come to test the weight of sunbeams with those on whose
strength hangs the future happiness of an untried life.”

The people were now rushing to the Academy with impatient anxiety; the
band of music was closely followed by the students; then the parents
and guardians; nothing interrupted the glow of spirits which ran through
every bosom, tinged with the songs of a Virgil and the tide of a Homer.
Elfonzo and Ambulinia soon repaired to the scene, and fortunately for
them both the house was so crowded that they took their seats together
in the music department, which was not in view of the auditory. This
fortuitous circumstances added more the bliss of the Major than a
thousand such exhibitions would have done. He forgot that he was man;
music had lost its charms for him; whenever he attempted to carry his
part, the string of the instrument would break, the bow became stubborn,
and refused to obey the loud calls of the audience. Here, he said, was
the paradise of his home, the long-sought-for opportunity; he felt as
though he could send a million supplications to the throne of Heaven for
such an exalted privilege. Poor Leos, who was somewhere in the crowd,
looking as attentively as if he was searching for a needle in a
haystack; here he stood, wondering to himself why Ambulinia was not
there. “Where can she be? Oh! if she was only here, how I could relish
the scene! Elfonzo is certainly not in town; but what if he is? I have
got the wealth, if I have not the dignity, and I am sure that the squire
and his lady have always been particular friends of mine, and I think
with this assurance I shall be able to get upon the blind side of the
rest of the family and make the heaven-born Ambulinia the mistress of
all I possess.” Then, again, he would drop his head, as if attempting
to solve the most difficult problem in Euclid. While he was thus
conjecturing in his own mind, a very interesting part of the exhibition
was going on, which called the attention of all present. The curtains
of the stage waved continually by the repelled forces that were given
to them, which caused Leos to behold Ambulinia leaning upon the chair
of Elfonzo. Her lofty beauty, seen by the glimmering of the chandelier,
filled his heart with rapture, he knew not how to contain himself; to go
where they were would expose him to ridicule; to continue where he was,
with such an object before him, without being allowed an explanation in
that trying hour, would be to the great injury of his mental as well as
of his physical powers; and, in the name of high heaven, what must he
do? Finally, he resolved to contain himself as well as he conveniently
could, until the scene was over, and then he would plant himself at the
door, to arrest Ambulinia from the hands of the insolent Elfonzo, and
thus make for himself a more prosperous field of immortality than ever
was decreed by Omnipotence, or ever pencil drew or artist imagined.
Accordingly he made himself sentinel, immediately after the performance
of the evening--retained his position apparently in defiance of all the
world; he waited, he gazed at every lady, his whole frame trembled; here
he stood, until everything like human shape had disappeared from the
institution, and he had done nothing; he had failed to accomplish that
which he so eagerly sought for. Poor, unfortunate creature! he had
not the eyes of an Argus, or he might have seen his Juno and Elfonzo,
assisted by his friend Sigma, make their escape from the window, and,
with the rapidity of a race-horse, hurry through the blast of the storm
to the residence of her father, without being recognized. He did not
tarry long, but assured Ambulinia the endless chain of their existence
was more closely connected than ever, since he had seen the virtuous,
innocent, imploring, and the constant Amelia murdered by the
jealous-hearted Farcillo, the accursed of the land.

The following is the tragical scene, which is only introduced to show
the subject-matter that enabled Elfonzo to come to such a determinate
resolution that nothing of the kind should ever dispossess him of his
true character, should he be so fortunate as to succeed in his present

Amelia was the wife of Farcillo, and a virtuous woman; Gracia, a young
lady, was her particular friend and confidant. Farcillo grew jealous
of Amelia, murders her, finds out that he was deceived, _and stabs
himself_. Amelia appears alone, talking to herself.

A. Hail, ye solitary ruins of antiquity, ye sacred tombs and silent
walks! it is your aid I invoke; it is to you, my soul, wrapt in deep
mediation, pours forth its prayer. Here I wander upon the stage of
mortality, since the world hath turned against me. Those whom I believed
to be my friends, alas! are now my enemies, planting thorns in all my
paths, poisoning all my pleasures, and turning the past to pain. What a
lingering catalogue of sighs and tears lies just before me, crowding
my aching bosom with the fleeting dream of humanity, which must shortly
terminate. And to what purpose will all this bustle of life, these
agitations and emotions of the heart have conduced, if it leave behind
it nothing of utility, if it leave no traces of improvement? Can it be
that I am deceived in my conclusions? No, I see that I have nothing to
hope for, but everything to fear, which tends to drive me from the walks
of time.

Oh! in this dead night, if loud winds arise,

To lash the surge and bluster in the skies,

May the west its furious rage display,

Toss me with storms in the watery way.

(Enter Gracia.)

G. Oh, Amelia, is it you, the object of grief, the daughter of opulence,
of wisdom and philosophy, that thus complaineth? It cannot be you are
the child of misfortune, speaking of the monuments of former ages, which
were allotted not for the reflection of the distressed, but for the
fearless and bold.

A. Not the child of poverty, Gracia, or the heir of glory and peace, but
of fate. Remember, I have wealth more than wit can number; I have had
power more than kings could emcompass; yet the world seems a desert; all
nature appears an afflictive spectacle of warring passions. This blind
fatality, that capriciously sports with the rules and lives of mortals,
tells me that the mountains will never again send forth the water of
their springs to my thirst. Oh, that I might be freed and set at liberty
from wretchedness! But I fear, I fear this will never be.

G. Why, Amelia, this untimely grief? What has caused the sorrows that
bespeak better and happier days, to those lavish out such heaps of
misery? You are aware that your instructive lessons embellish the mind
with holy truths, by wedding its attention to none but great and noble

A. This, of course, is some consolation. I will ever love my own species
with feelings of a fond recollection, and while I am studying to advance
the universal philanthropy, and the spotless name of my own sex, I will
try to build my own upon the pleasing belief that I have accelerated the
advancement of one who whispers of departed confidence.

And I, like some poor peasant fated to reside

Remote from friends, in a forest wide.

Oh, see what woman’s woes and human wants require,

Since that great day hath spread the seed of sinful fire.

G. Look up, thou poor disconsolate; you speak of quitting earthly
enjoyments. Unfold thy bosom to a friend, who would be willing to
sacrifice every enjoyment for the restoration of the dignity and
gentleness of mind which used to grace your walks, and which is so
natural to yourself; not only that, but your paths were strewed with
flowers of every hue and of every order.

With verdant green the mountains glow,

For thee, for thee, the lilies grow;

Far stretched beneath the tented hills,

A fairer flower the valley fills.

A. Oh, would to Heaven I could give you a short narrative of my
former prospects for happiness, since you have acknowledged to be an
unchangeable confidant--the richest of all other blessings. Oh, ye names
forever glorious, ye celebrated scenes, ye renowned spot of my hymeneal
moments; how replete is your chart with sublime reflections! How many
profound vows, decorated with immaculate deeds, are written upon the
surface of that precious spot of earth where I yielded up my life of
celibacy, bade youth with all its beauties a final adieu, took a last
farewell of the laurels that had accompanied me up the hill of my
juvenile career. It was then I began to descend toward the valley of
disappointment and sorrow; it was then I cast my little bark upon a
mysterious ocean of wedlock, with him who then smiled and caressed me,
but, alas! now frowns with bitterness, and has grown jealous and cold
toward me, because the ring he gave me is misplaced or lost. Oh, bear
me, ye flowers of memory, softly through the eventful history of past
times; and ye places that have witnessed the progression of man in
the circle of so many societies, and, of, aid my recollection, while I
endeavor to trace the vicissitudes of a life devoted in endeavoring to
comfort him that I claim as the object of my wishes.

Ah! ye mysterious men, of all the world, how few

Act just to Heaven and to your promise true!

But He who guides the stars with a watchful eye,

The deeds of men lay open without disguise;

Oh, this alone will avenge the wrongs I bear,

For all the oppressed are His peculiar care.

(F. makes a slight noise.)

A. Who is there--Farcillo?

G. Then I must gone. Heaven protect you. Oh, Amelia, farewell, be of
good cheer.

May you stand like Olympus’ towers,

Against earth and all jealous powers!

May you, with loud shouts ascend on high

Swift as an eagle in the upper sky.

A. Why so cold and distant tonight, Farcillo? Come, let us each other
greet, and forget all the past, and give security for the future.

F. Security! talk to me about giving security for the future--what an
insulting requisition! Have you said your prayers tonight, Madam Amelia?

A. Farcillo, we sometimes forget our duty, particularly when we expect
to be caressed by others.

F. If you bethink yourself of any crime, or of any fault, that is yet
concealed from the courts of Heaven and the thrones of grace, I bid you
ask and solicit forgiveness for it now.

A. Oh, be kind, Farcillo, don’t treat me so. What do you mean by all

F. Be kind, you say; you, madam, have forgot that kindness you owe to
me, and bestowed it upon another; you shall suffer for your conduct
when you make your peace with your God. I would not slay thy unprotected
spirit. I call to Heaven to be my guard and my watch--I would not kill
thy soul, in which all once seemed just, right, and perfect; but I must
be brief, woman.

A. What, talk you of killing? Oh, Farcillo, Farcillo, what is the

F. Aye, I do, without doubt; mark what I say, Amelia.

A. Then, O God, O Heaven, and Angels, be propitious, and have mercy upon

F. Amen to that, madam, with all my heart, and with all my soul.

A. Farcillo, listen to me one moment; I hope you will not kill me.

F. Kill you, aye, that I will; attest it, ye fair host of light, record
it, ye dark imps of hell!

A. Oh, I fear you--you are fatal when darkness covers your brow; yet I
know not why I should fear, since I never wronged you in all my life. I
stand, sir, guiltless before you.

F. You pretend to say you are guiltless! Think of thy sins, Amelia;
think, oh, think, hidden woman.

A. Wherein have I not been true to you? That death is unkind, cruel, and
unnatural, that kills for living.

F. Peace, and be still while I unfold to thee.

A. I will, Farcillo, and while I am thus silent, tell me the cause of
such cruel coldness in an hour like this.

F. That _ring_, oh, that ring I so loved, and gave thee as the ring of
my heart; the allegiance you took to be faithful, when it was presented;
the kisses and smiles with which you honored it. You became tired of
the donor, despised it as a plague, and finally gave it to Malos, the
hidden, the vile traitor.

A. No, upon my word and honor, I never did; I appeal to the Most High to
bear me out in this matter. Send for Malos, and ask him.

F. Send for Malos, aye! Malos you wish to see; I thought so. I knew you
could not keep his name concealed. Amelia, sweet Amelia, take heed,
take heed of perjury; you are on the stage of death, to suffer for _your

A. What, not to die I hope, my Farcillo, my ever beloved.

F. Yes, madam, to die a traitor’s death. Shortly your spirit shall take
its exit; therefore confess freely thy sins, for to deny tends only to
make me groan under the bitter cup thou hast made for me. Thou art to
die with the name of traitor on thy brow!

A. Then, O Lord, have mercy upon me; give me courage, give me grace and
fortitude to stand this hour of trial.

F. Amen, I say, with all my heart.

A. And, oh, Farcillo, will you have mercy, too? I never intentionally
offended you in all my life, never _loved _Malos, never gave him cause
to think so, as the high court of Justice will acquit me before its

F. Oh, false, perjured woman, thou didst chill my blood, and makest me a
demon like thyself. I saw the ring.

A. He found it, then, or got it clandestinely; send for him, and let him
confess the truth; let his confession be sifted.

F. And you still wish to see him! I tell you, madam, he hath already
confessed, and thou knowest the darkness of thy heart.

A. What, my deceived Farcillo, that I gave him the ring, in which all my
affections were concentrated? Oh, surely not.

F. Aye, he did. Ask thy conscience, and it will speak with a voice of
thunder to thy soul.

A. He will not say so, he dare not, he cannot.

F. No, he will not say so now, because his mouth, I trust, is hushed in
death, and his body stretched to the four winds of heaven, to be torn to
pieces by carnivorous birds.

A. What, he is dead, and gone to the world of spirits with that
declaration in his mouth? Oh, unhappy man! Oh, insupportable hour!

F. Yes, and had all his sighs and looks and tears been lives, my great
revenge could have slain them all, without the least condemnation.

A. Alas! he is ushered into eternity without testing the matter for
which I am abused and sentenced and condemned to die.

F. Cursed, infernal woman! Weepest thou for him to my face? He that hath
robbed me of my peace, my energy, the whole love of my life? Could I
call the fabled Hydra, I would have him live and perish, survive and
die, until the sun itself would grow dim with age. I would make him
have the thirst of a Tantalus, and roll the wheel of an Ixion, until the
stars of heaven should quit their brilliant stations.

A. Oh, invincible God, save me! Oh, unsupportable moment! Oh, heavy
hour! Banish me, Farcillo--send me where no eye can ever see me, where
no sound shall ever great my ear; but, oh, slay me not, Farcillo; vent
thy rage and thy spite upon this emaciated frame of mine, only spare my

F. Your petitions avail nothing, cruel Amelia.

A. Oh, Farcillo, perpetrate the dark deed tomorrow; let me live till
then, for my past kindness to you, and it may be some kind angel will
show to you that I am not only the object of innocence, but one who
never loved another but your noble self.

F. Amelia, the decree has gone forth, it is to be done, and that
quickly; thou art to die, madam.

A. But half an hour allow me, to see my father and my only child, to
tell her the treachery and vanity of this world.

F. There is no alternative, there is no pause: my daughter shall not see
its deceptive mother die; your father shall not know that his daughter
fell disgraced, despised by all but her enchanting Malos.

A. Oh, Farcillo, put up thy threatening dagger into its scabbard; let
it rest and be still, just while I say one prayer for thee and for my

F. It is too late, thy doom is fixed, thou hast not confessed to Heaven
or to me, my child’s protector--thou art to die. Ye powers of earth and
heaven, protect and defend me in this alone. (_Stabs her while imploring
for mercy._)

A. Oh, Farcillo, Farcillo, a guiltless death I die.

F. Die! die! die!

(Gracia enters running, falls on her knees weeping, and kisses Amelia.)

G. Oh, Farcillo, Farcillo! oh, Farcillo!

F. I am here, the genius of the age, and the avenger of my wrongs.

G. Oh, lady, speak once more; sweet Amelia, oh, speak again. Gone,
gone--yes, forever gone! Farcillo, oh, cold-hearted Farcillo, some evil
fiend hath urged you to do this, Farcillo.

F. Say not so again, or you shall receive the same fate. I did the
glorious deed, madam--beware, then, how you talk.

G. I fear not your implements of war; I will let you know you have not
the power to do me harm. If you have a heart of triple brass, it shall
be reached and melted, and thy blood shall chill thy veins and grow
stiff in thy arteries. Here is the ring of the virtuous and innocent
murdered Amelia; I obtained it from Malos, who yet lives, in hopes
that he will survive the wound given him, and says he got it
clandestinely--declares Amelia to be the princess of truth and virtue,
invulnerable to anything like forgetting her first devotion to thee.
The world has heard of your conduct and your jealousy, and with one
universal voice declares her to be the best of all in piety; that she is
the star of this great universe, and a more virtuous woman never lived
since the wheels of time began. Oh, had you waited till tomorrow, or
until I had returned, some kind window would have been opened to her
relief. But, alas! she is gone--yes, forever gone, to try the realities
of an unknown world!

(Farcillo leaning over the body of Amelia.)

F. Malos not dead, and here is my ring! Oh, Amelia! falsely murdered!
Oh, bloody deed! Oh, wretch that I am! Oh, angels forgive me! Oh, God,
withhold thy vengeance! Oh, Amelia! if Heaven would make a thousand
worlds like this, set with diamonds, and all of one perfect chrysolite,
I would not have done this for them all, I would not have frowned and
cursed as I did. Oh, she was heavenly true, nursed in the very lap
of bright angels! Cursed slave that I am! Jealousy, oh! thou infernal
demon! Lost, lost to every sense of honor! Oh! Amelia--heaven-born
Amelia--dead, dead! Oh! oh! oh!--then let me die with thee. Farewell!
farewell! ye world that deceived me! (_Stabs himself_.)

Soon after the excitement of this tragical scene was over, and the
enlisted feeling for Amelia had grown more buoyant with Elfonzo and
Ambulinia, he determined to visit his retired home, and make the
necessary improvements to enjoy a better day; consequently he conveyed
the following lines to Ambulinia:

Go tell the world that hope is glowing,

Go bid the rocks their silence break,

Go tell the stars that love is glowing,

Then bid the hero his lover take.

In the region where scarcely the foot of man hath ever trod, where the
woodman hath not found his way, lies a blooming grove, seen only by the
sun when he mounts his lofty throne, visited only by the light of the
stars, to whom are entrusted the guardianship of earth, before the
sun sinks to rest in his rosy bed. High cliffs of rocks surround the
romantic place, and in the small cavity of the rocky wall grows the
daffodil clear and pure; and as the wind blows along the enchanting
little mountain which surrounds the lonely spot, it nourishes the
flowers with the dew-drops of heaven. Here is the seat of Elfonzo;
darkness claims but little victory over this dominion, and in vain does
she spread out her gloomy wings. Here the waters flow perpetually, and
the trees lash their tops together to bid the welcome visitor a happy
muse. Elfonzo, during his short stay in the country, had fully persuaded
himself that it was his duty to bring this solemn matter to an issue.
A duty that he individually owed, as a gentleman, to the parents of
Ambulinia, a duty in itself involving not only his own happiness and
his own standing in society, but one that called aloud the act of the
parties to make it perfect and complete. How he should communicate his
intentions to get a favorable reply, he was at a loss to know; he knew
not whether to address Esq. Valeer in prose or in poetry, in a jocular
or an argumentative manner, or whether he should use moral suasion,
legal injunction, or seizure and take by reprisal; if it was to do the
latter, he would have no difficulty in deciding in his own mind, but his
gentlemanly honor was at stake; so he concluded to address the following
letter to the father and mother of Ambulinia, as his address in person
he knew would only aggravate the old gentleman, and perhaps his lady.

Cumming, Ga., January 22, 1844

Mr. and Mrs. Valeer--

Again I resume the pleasing task of addressing you, and once more beg
an immediate answer to my many salutations. From every circumstance that
has taken place, I feel in duty bound to comply with my obligations; to
forfeit my word would be more than I dare do; to break my pledge, and my
vows that have been witnessed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of
an unseen Deity, would be disgraceful on my part, as well as ruinous to
Ambulinia. I wish no longer to be kept in suspense about this matter. I
wish to act gentlemanly in every particular. It is true, the promises I
have made are unknown to any but Ambulinia, and I think it unnecessary
to here enumerate them, as they who promise the most generally perform
the least. Can you for a moment doubt my sincerity or my character? My
only wish is, sir, that you may calmly and dispassionately look at
the situation of the case, and if your better judgment should dictate
otherwise, my obligations may induce me to pluck the flower that you
so diametrically opposed. We have sworn by the saints--by the gods
of battle, and by that faith whereby just men are made perfect--to be
united. I hope, my dear sir, you will find it convenient as well as
agreeable to give me a favorable answer, with the signature of Mrs.
Valeer, as well as yourself.

With very great esteem,

your humble servant,

J. I. Elfonzo.

The moon and stars had grown pale when Ambulinia had retired to rest. A
crowd of unpleasant thoughts passed through her bosom. Solitude dwelt
in her chamber--no sound from the neighboring world penetrated its
stillness; it appeared a temple of silence, of repose, and of mystery.
At that moment she heard a still voice calling her father. In an
instant, like the flash of lightning, a thought ran through her mind
that it must be the bearer of Elfonzo’s communication. “It is not a
dream!” she said, “no, I cannot read dreams. Oh! I would to Heaven I was
near that glowing eloquence--that poetical language--it charms the
mind in an inexpressible manner, and warms the coldest heart.” While
consoling herself with this strain, her father rushed into her room
almost frantic with rage, exclaiming: “Oh, Ambulinia! Ambulinia!!
undutiful, ungrateful daughter! What does this mean? Why does this
letter bear such heart-rending intelligence? Will you quit a father’s
house with this debased wretch, without a place to lay his distracted
head; going up and down the country, with every novel object that may
chance to wander through this region. He is a pretty man to make love
known to his superiors, and you, Ambulinia, have done but little credit
to yourself by honoring his visits. Oh, wretchedness! can it be that
my hopes of happiness are forever blasted! Will you not listen to a
father’s entreaties, and pay some regard to a mother’s tears. I know,
and I do pray that God will give me fortitude to bear with this sea
of troubles, and rescue my daughter, my Ambulinia, as a brand from the
eternal burning.” “Forgive me, father, oh! forgive thy child,” replied
Ambulinia. “My heart is ready to break, when I see you in this grieved
state of agitation. Oh! think not so meanly of me, as that I mourn for
my own danger. Father, I am only woman. Mother, I am only the templement
of thy youthful years, but will suffer courageously whatever punishment
you think proper to inflict upon me, if you will but allow me to comply
with my most sacred promises--if you will but give me my personal right
and my personal liberty. Oh, father! if your generosity will but give me
these, I ask nothing more. When Elfonzo offered me his heart, I gave
him my hand, never to forsake him, and now may the mighty God banish me
before I leave him in adversity. What a heart must I have to rejoice in
prosperity with him whose offers I have accepted, and then, when poverty
comes, haggard as it may be, for me to trifle with the oracles of
Heaven, and change with every fluctuation that may interrupt our
happiness--like the politician who runs the political gantlet for office
one day, and the next day, because the horizon is darkened a little,
he is seen running for his life, for fear he might perish in its ruins.
Where is the philosophy, where is the consistency, where is the charity,
in conduct like this? Be happy then, my beloved father, and forget me;
let the sorrow of parting break down the wall of separation and make
us equal in our feeling; let me now say how ardently I love you; let
me kiss that age-worn cheek, and should my tears bedew thy face, I will
wipe them away. Oh, I never can forget you; no, never, never!”

“Weep not,” said the father, “Ambulinia. I will forbid Elfonzo my house,
and desire that you may keep retired a few days. I will let him know
that my friendship for my family is not linked together by cankered
chains; and if he ever enters upon my premises again, I will send him
to his long home.” “Oh, father! let me entreat you to be calm upon this
occasion, and though Elfonzo may be the sport of the clouds and winds,
yet I feel assured that no fate will send him to the silent tomb until
the God of the Universe calls him hence with a triumphant voice.”

Here the father turned away, exclaiming: “I will answer his letter in a
very few words, and you, madam, will have the goodness to stay at home
with your mother; and remember, I am determined to protect you from the
consuming fire that looks so fair to your view.”

Cumming, January 22, 1844.

Sir--In regard to your request, I am as I ever have been, utterly
opposed to your marrying into my family; and if you have any regard for
yourself, or any gentlemanly feeling, I hope you will mention it to me
no more; but seek some other one who is not so far superior to you in

W. W. Valeer.

When Elfonzo read the above letter, he became so much depressed in
spirits that many of his friends thought it advisable to use other means
to bring about the happy union. “Strange,” said he, “that the contents
of this diminutive letter should cause me to have such depressed
feelings; but there is a nobler theme than this. I know not why my
_military title_ is not as great as that of _Squire Valeer_. For my life
I cannot see that my ancestors are inferior to those who are so bitterly
opposed to my marriage with Ambulinia. I know I have seen huge mountains
before me, yet, when I think that I know gentlemen will insult me upon
this delicate matter, should I become angry at fools and babblers, who
pride themselves in their impudence and ignorance? No. My equals! I
know not where to find them. My inferiors! I think it beneath me; and my
superiors! I think it presumption; therefore, if this youthful heart is
protected by any of the divine rights, I never will betray my trust.”

He was aware that Ambulinia had a confidence that was, indeed, as firm
and as resolute as she was beautiful and interesting. He hastened to the
cottage of Louisa, who received him in her usual mode of pleasantness,
and informed him that Ambulinia had just that moment left. “Is it
possible?” said Elfonzo. “Oh, murdered hours! Why did she not remain and
be the guardian of my secrets? But hasten and tell me how she has stood
this trying scene, and what are her future determinations.” “You know,”
 said Louisa, “Major Elfonzo, that you have Ambulinia’s first love, which
is of no small consequence. She came here about twilight, and shed many
precious tears in consequence of her own fate with yours. We walked
silently in yon little valley you see, where we spent a momentary
repose. She seemed to be quite as determined as ever, and before we left
that beautiful spot she offered up a prayer to Heaven for thee.” “I will
see her then,” replied Elfonzo, “though legions of enemies may oppose.
She is mine by foreordination--she is mine by prophesy--she is mine
by her own free will, and I will rescue her from the hands of her
oppressors. Will you not, Miss Louisa, assist me in my capture?”

“I will certainly, by the aid of Divine Providence,” answered Louisa,
“endeavor to break those slavish chains that bind the richest of prizes;
though allow me, Major, to entreat you to use no harsh means on this
important occasion; take a decided stand, and write freely to Ambulinia
upon this subject, and I will see that no intervening cause hinders its
passage to her. God alone will save a mourning people. Now is the day
and now is the hour to obey a command of such valuable worth.” The Major
felt himself grow stronger after this short interview with Louisa. He
felt as if he could whip his weight in wildcats--he knew he was master
of his own feelings, and could now write a letter that would bring this
litigation to _an issue._

Cumming, January 24, 1844.

Dear Ambulinia--

We have now reached the most trying moment of our lives; we are pledged
not to forsake our trust; we have waited for a favorable hour to
come, thinking your friends would settle the matter agreeably among
themselves, and finally be reconciled to our marriage; but as I have
waited in vain, and looked in vain, I have determined in my own mind to
make a proposition to you, though you may think it not in accord with
your station, or compatible with your rank; yet, “sub hoc signo
vinces.” You know I cannot resume my visits, in consequence of the utter
hostility that your father has to me; therefore the consummation of
our union will have to be sought for in a more sublime sphere, at the
residence of a respectable friend of this village. You cannot have
any scruples upon this mode of proceeding, if you will but remember it
emanates from one who loves you better than his own life--who is more
than anxious to bid you welcome to a new and happy home. Your warmest
associates say come; the talented, the learned, the wise, and the
experienced say come;--all these with their friends say, come. Viewing
these, with many other inducements, I flatter myself that you will come
to the embraces of your Elfonzo; for now is the time of your acceptance
of the day of your liberation. You cannot be ignorant, Ambulinia, that
thou art the desire of my heart; its thoughts are too noble, and too
pure, to conceal themselves from you. I shall wait for your answer to
this impatiently, expecting that you will set the time to make your
departure, and to be in readiness at a moment’s warning to share the
joys of a more preferable life. This will be handed to you by Louisa,
who will take a pleasure in communicating anything to you that may
relieve your dejected spirits, and will assure you that I now stand
ready, willing, and waiting to make good my vows.

I am, dear Ambulinia, yours

truly, and forever,

J. I. Elfonzo.

Louisa made it convenient to visit Mr. Valeer’s, though they did not
suspect her in the least the bearer of love epistles; consequently,
she was invited in the room to console Ambulinia, where they were left
alone. Ambulinia was seated by a small table--her head resting on her
hand--her brilliant eyes were bathed in tears. Louisa handed her the
letter of Elfonzo, when another spirit animated her features--the
spirit of renewed confidence that never fails to strengthen the
female character in an hour of grief and sorrow like this, and as she
pronounced the last accent of his name, she exclaimed, “And does he love
me yet! I never will forget your generosity, Louisa. Oh, unhappy and yet
blessed Louisa! may you never feel what I have felt--may you never know
the pangs of love. Had I never loved, I never would have been unhappy;
but I turn to Him who can save, and if His wisdom does not will my
expected union, I know He will give me strength to bear my lot. Amuse
yourself with this little book, and take it as an apology for my
silence,” said Ambulinia, “while I attempt to answer this volume of
consolation.” “Thank you,” said Louisa, “you are excusable upon this
occasion; but I pray you, Ambulinia, to be expert upon this momentous
subject, that there may be nothing mistrustful upon my part.” “I will,”
 said Ambulinia, and immediately resumed her seat and addressed the
following to Elfonzo:

Cumming, Ga., January 28, 1844.

Devoted Elfonzo--

I hail your letter as a welcome messenger of faith, and can now say
truly and firmly that my feelings correspond with yours. Nothing shall
be wanting on my part to make my obedience your fidelity. Courage and
perseverance will accomplish success. Receive this as my oath, that
while I grasp your hand in my own imagination, we stand united before a
higher tribunal than any on earth. All the powers of my life, soul, and
body, I devote to thee. Whatever dangers may threaten me, I fear not to
encounter them. Perhaps I have determined upon my own destruction, by
leaving the house of the best of parents; be it so; I flee to you; I
share your destiny, faithful to the end. The day that I have concluded
upon for this task is _sabbath _next, when the family with the citizens
are generally at church. For Heaven’s sake let not that day pass
unimproved: trust not till tomorrow, it is the cheat of life--the future
that never comes--the grave of many noble births--the cavern of ruined
enterprise: which like the lightning’s flash is born, and dies, and
perishes, ere the voice of him who sees can cry, _behold! behold!!_ You
may trust to what I say, no power shall tempt me to betray confidence.
Suffer me to add one word more.

I will soothe thee, in all thy grief,

Beside the gloomy river;

And though thy love may yet be brief;

Mine is fixed forever.

Receive the deepest emotions of my heart for thy constant love, and
may the power of inspiration be thy guide, thy portion, and thy all. In
great haste,

Yours faithfully,


“I now take my leave of you, sweet girl,” said Louisa, “sincerely
wishing you success on Sabbath next.” When Ambulinia’s letter was handed
to Elfonzo, he perused it without doubting its contents. Louisa charged
him to make but few confidants; but like most young men who happened to
win the heart of a beautiful girl, he was so elated with the idea that
he felt as a commanding general on parade, who had confidence in all,
consequently gave orders to all. The appointed Sabbath, with a delicious
breeze and cloudless sky, made its appearance. The people gathered in
crowds to the church--the streets were filled with neighboring citizens,
all marching to the house of worship. It is entirely useless for me
to attempt to describe the feelings of Elfonzo and Ambulinia, who were
silently watching the movements of the multitude, apparently counting
them as then entered the house of God, looking for the last one to
darken the door. The impatience and anxiety with which they waited,
and the bliss they anticipated on the eventful day, is altogether
indescribable. Those that have been so fortunate as to embark in such a
noble enterprise know all its realities; and those who have not had this
inestimable privilege will have to taste its sweets before they can tell
to others its joys, its comforts, and its Heaven-born worth. Immediately
after Ambulinia had assisted the family off to church, she took
advantage of that opportunity to make good her promises. She left a home
of enjoyment to be wedded to one whose love had been justifiable. A few
short steps brought her to the presence of Louisa, who urged her to make
good use of her time, and not to delay a moment, but to go with her to
her brother’s house, where Elfonzo would forever make her happy. With
lively speed, and yet a graceful air, she entered the door and found
herself protected by the champion of her confidence. The necessary
arrangements were fast making to have the two lovers united--everything
was in readiness except the parson; and as they are generally very
sanctimonious on such occasions, the news got to the parents of
Ambulinia before the everlasting knot was tied, and they both came
running, with uplifted hands and injured feelings, to arrest their
daughter from an unguarded and hasty resolution. Elfonzo desired to
maintain his ground, but Ambulinia thought it best for him to leave, to
prepare for a greater contest. He accordingly obeyed, as it would have
been a vain endeavor for him to have battled against a man who was armed
with deadly weapons; and besides, he could not resist the request of
such a pure heart. Ambulinia concealed herself in the upper story of
the house, fearing the rebuke of her father; the door was locked, and no
chastisement was now expected. Esquire Valeer, whose pride was already
touched, resolved to preserve the dignity of his family. He entered
the house almost exhausted, looking wildly for Ambulinia. “Amazed and
astonished indeed I am,” said he, “at a people who call themselves
civilized, to allow such behavior as this. Ambulinia, Ambulinia!”
 he cried, “come to the calls of your first, your best, and your only
friend. I appeal to you, sir,” turning to the gentleman of the house,
“to know where Ambulinia has gone, or where is she?” “Do you mean
to insult me, sir, in my own house?” inquired the gentleman. “I will
burst,” said Mr. V., “asunder every door in your dwelling, in search of
my daughter, if you do not speak quickly, and tell me where she is.
I care nothing about that outcast rubbish of creation, that mean,
low-lived Elfonzo, if I can but obtain Ambulinia. Are you not going to
open this door?” said he. “By the Eternal that made Heaven and earth!
I will go about the work instantly, if this is not done!” The confused
citizens gathered from all parts of the village, to know the cause of
this commotion. Some rushed into the house; the door that was locked
flew open, and there stood Ambulinia, weeping. “Father, be still,” said
she, “and I will follow thee home.” But the agitated man seized her, and
bore her off through the gazing multitude. “Father!” she exclaimed, “I
humbly beg your pardon--I will be dutiful--I will obey thy commands.
Let the sixteen years I have lived in obedience to thee be my future
security.” “I don’t like to be always giving credit, when the old score
is not paid up, madam,” said the father. The mother followed almost in a
state of derangement, crying and imploring her to think beforehand, and
ask advice from experienced persons, and they would tell her it was a
rash undertaking. “Oh!” said she, “Ambulinia, my daughter, did you know
what I have suffered--did you know how many nights I have whiled away in
agony, in pain, and in fear, you would pity the sorrows of a heartbroken

“Well, mother,” replied Ambulinia, “I know I have been disobedient; I
am aware that what I have done might have been done much better; but
oh! what shall I do with my honor? it is so dear to me; I am pledged
to Elfonzo. His high moral worth is certainly worth some attention;
moreover, my vows, I have no doubt, are recorded in the book of life,
and must I give these all up? must my fair hopes be forever blasted?
Forbid it, father; oh! forbid it, mother; forbid it, Heaven.” “I have
seen so many beautiful skies overclouded,” replied the mother, “so many
blossoms nipped by the frost, that I am afraid to trust you to the
care of those fair days, which may be interrupted by thundering and
tempestuous nights. You no doubt think as I did--life’s devious ways
were strewn with sweet-scented flowers, but ah! how long they have
lingered around me and took their flight in the vivid hope that laughs
at the drooping victims it has murdered.” Elfonzo was moved at this
sight. The people followed on to see what was going to become of
Ambulinia, while he, with downcast looks, kept at a distance, until he
saw them enter the abode of the father, thrusting her, that was the sigh
of his soul, out of his presence into a solitary apartment, when she
exclaimed, “Elfonzo! Elfonzo! oh, Elfonzo! where art thou, with all thy
heroes? haste, oh! haste, come thou to my relief. Ride on the wings of
the wind! Turn thy force loose like a tempest, and roll on thy army like
a whirlwind, over this mountain of trouble and confusion. Oh, friends!
if any pity me, let your last efforts throng upon the green hills, and
come to the relief of Ambulinia, who is guilty of nothing but innocent
love.” Elfonzo called out with a loud voice, “My God, can I stand this!
arise up, I beseech you, and put an end to this tyranny. Come, my brave
boys,” said he, “are you ready to go forth to your duty?” They stood
around him. “Who,” said he, “will call us to arms? Where are my
thunderbolts of war? Speak ye, the first who will meet the foe! Who will
go forward with me in this ocean of grievous temptation? If there is
one who desires to go, let him come and shake hands upon the altar of
devotion, and swear that he will be a hero; yes, a Hector in a cause
like this, which calls aloud for a speedy remedy.” “Mine be the deed,”
 said a young lawyer, “and mine alone; Venus alone shall quit her station
before I will forsake one jot or tittle of my promise to you; what
is death to me? what is all this warlike army, if it is not to win a
victory? I love the sleep of the lover and the mighty; nor would I give
it over till the blood of my enemies should wreak with that of my own.
But God forbid that our fame should soar on the blood of the slumberer.”
 Mr. Valeer stands at his door with the frown of a demon upon his brow,
with his dangerous weapon ready to strike the first man who should enter
his door. “Who will arise and go forward through blood and carnage
to the rescue of my Ambulinia?” said Elfonzo. “All,” exclaimed the
multitude; and onward they went, with their implements of battle.
Others, of a more timid nature, stood among the distant hills to see the
result of the contest.

Elfonzo took the lead of his band. Night arose in clouds; darkness
concealed the heavens; but the blazing hopes that stimulated them
gleamed in every bosom. All approached the anxious spot; they rushed to
the front of the house and, with one exclamation, demanded Ambulinia.
“Away, begone, and disturb my peace no more,” said Mr. Valeer. “You are
a set of base, insolent, and infernal rascals. Go, the northern star
points your path through the dim twilight of the night; go, and vent
your spite upon the lonely hills; pour forth your love, you poor,
weak-minded wretch, upon your idleness and upon your guitar, and your
fiddle; they are fit subjects for your admiration, for let me assure
you, though this sword and iron lever are cankered, yet they frown in
sleep, and let one of you dare to enter my house this night and you
shall have the contents and the weight of these instruments.” “Never
yet did base dishonor blur my name,” said Elfonzo; “mine is a cause of
renown; here are my warriors; fear and tremble, for this night, though
hell itself should oppose, I will endeavor to avenge her whom thou hast
banished in solitude. The voice of Ambulinia shall be heard from that
dark dungeon.” At that moment Ambulinia appeared at the window above,
and with a tremulous voice said, “Live, Elfonzo! oh! live to raise my
stone of moss! why should such language enter your heart? why should
thy voice rend the air with such agitation? I bid thee live, once more
remembering these tears of mine are shed alone for thee, in this dark
and gloomy vault, and should I perish under this load of trouble, join
the song of thrilling accents with the raven above my grave, and lay
this tattered frame beside the banks of the Chattahoochee or the stream
of Sawney’s brook; sweet will be the song of death to your Ambulinia. My
ghost shall visit you in the smiles of Paradise, and tell your high
fame to the minds of that region, which is far more preferable than this
lonely cell. My heart shall speak for thee till the latest hour; I know
faint and broken are the sounds of sorrow, yet our souls, Elfonzo, shall
hear the peaceful songs together. One bright name shall be ours on high,
if we are not permitted to be united here; bear in mind that I still
cherish my old sentiments, and the poet will mingle the names of Elfonzo
and Ambulinia in the tide of other days.” “Fly, Elfonzo,” said the
voices of his united band, “to the wounded heart of your beloved. All
enemies shall fall beneath thy sword. Fly through the clefts, and the
dim spark shall sleep in death.” Elfonzo rushes forward and strikes
his shield against the door, which was barricaded, to prevent any
intercourse. His brave sons throng around him. The people pour along
the streets, both male and female, to prevent or witness the melancholy

“To arms, to arms!” cried Elfonzo; “here is a victory to be won, a prize
to be gained that is more to me that the whole world beside.” “It
cannot be done tonight,” said Mr. Valeer. “I bear the clang of death; my
strength and armor shall prevail. My Ambulinia shall rest in this hall
until the break of another day, and if we fall, we fall together. If we
die, we die clinging to our tattered rights, and our blood alone shall
tell the mournful tale of a murdered daughter and a ruined father.” Sure
enough, he kept watch all night, and was successful in defending his
house and family. The bright morning gleamed upon the hills, night
vanished away, the Major and his associates felt somewhat ashamed that
they had not been as fortunate as they expected to have been; however,
they still leaned upon their arms in dispersed groups; some were walking
the streets, others were talking in the Major’s behalf. Many of
the citizen suspended business, as the town presented nothing but
consternation. A novelty that might end in the destruction of some
worthy and respectable citizens. Mr. Valeer ventured in the streets,
though not without being well armed. Some of his friends congratulated
him on the decided stand he had taken, and hoped he would settle the
matter amicably with Elfonzo, without any serious injury. “Me,” he
replied, “what, me, condescend to fellowship with a coward, and a
low-lived, lazy, undermining villain? no, gentlemen, this cannot be; I
had rather be borne off, like the bubble upon the dark blue ocean, with
Ambulinia by my side, than to have him in the ascending or descending
line of relationship. Gentlemen,” continued he, “if Elfonzo is so much
of a distinguished character, and is so learned in the fine arts, why do
you not patronize such men? why not introduce him into your families, as
a gentleman of taste and of unequaled magnanimity? why are you so very
anxious that he should become a relative of mine? Oh, gentlemen, I fear
you yet are tainted with the curiosity of our first parents, who were
beguiled by the poisonous kiss of an old ugly serpent, and who, for
one _apple, damned_ all mankind. I wish to divest myself, as far as
possible, of that untutored custom. I have long since learned that the
perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy, is to proportion
our wants to our possessions, our ambition to our capacities; we will
then be a happy and a virtuous people.” Ambulinia was sent off to
prepare for a long and tedious journey. Her new acquaintances had been
instructed by her father how to treat her, and in what manner, and to
keep the anticipated visit entirely secret. Elfonzo was watching the
movements of everybody; some friends had told him of the plot that was
laid to carry off Ambulinia. At night, he rallied some two or three of
his forces, and went silently along to the stately mansion; a faint and
glimmering light showed through the windows; lightly he steps to the
door; there were many voices rallying fresh in fancy’s eye; he tapped
the shutter; it was opened instantly, and he beheld once more, seated
beside several ladies, the hope of all his toils; he rushed toward
her, she rose from her seat, rejoicing; he made one mighty grasp, when
Ambulinia exclaimed, “Huzza for Major Elfonzo! I will defend myself and
you, too, with this conquering instrument I hold in my hand; huzza, I
say, I now invoke time’s broad wing to shed around us some dewdrops of
verdant spring.”

But the hour had not come for this joyous reunion; her friends struggled
with Elfonzo for some time, and finally succeeded in arresting her from
his hands. He dared not injure them, because they were matrons whose
courage needed no spur; she was snatched from the arms of Elfonzo, with
so much eagerness, and yet with such expressive signification, that he
calmly withdrew from this lovely enterprise, with an ardent hope that he
should be lulled to repose by the zephyrs which whispered peace to his
soul. Several long days and nights passed unmolested, all seemed to have
grounded their arms of rebellion, and no callidity appeared to be going
on with any of the parties. Other arrangements were made by Ambulinia;
she feigned herself to be entirely the votary of a mother’s care, and
she, by her graceful smiles, that manhood might claim his stern dominion
in some other region, where such boisterous love was not so prevalent.
This gave the parents a confidence that yielded some hours of sober joy;
they believed that Ambulinia would now cease to love Elfonzo, and that
her stolen affections would now expire with her misguided opinions. They
therefore declined the idea of sending her to a distant land. But oh!
they dreamed not of the rapture that dazzled the fancy of Ambulinia, who
would say, when alone, youth should not fly away on his rosy pinions,
and leave her to grapple in the conflict with unknown admirers.

No frowning age shall control

The constant current of my soul,

Nor a tear from pity’s eye

Shall check my sympathetic sigh.

With this resolution fixed in her mind, one dark and dreary night, when
the winds whistled and the tempest roared, she received intelligence
that Elfonzo was then waiting, and every preparation was then ready, at
the residence of Dr. Tully, and for her to make a quick escape while
the family was reposing. Accordingly she gathered her books, went the
wardrobe supplied with a variety of ornamental dressing, and ventured
alone in the streets to make her way to Elfonzo, who was near at hand,
impatiently looking and watching her arrival. “What forms,” said she,
“are those rising before me? What is that dark spot on the clouds? I do
wonder what frightful ghost that is, gleaming on the red tempest? Oh,
be merciful and tell me what region you are from. Oh, tell me, ye strong
spirits, or ye dark and fleeting clouds, that I yet have a friend.” “A
friend,” said a low, whispering voice. “I am thy unchanging, thy aged,
and thy disappointed mother. Why brandish in that hand of thine a
javelin of pointed steel? Why suffer that lip I have kissed a thousand
times to equivocate? My daughter, let these tears sink deep into thy
soul, and no longer persist in that which may be your destruction and
ruin. Come, my dear child, retract your steps, and bear me company to
your welcome home.” Without one retorting word, or frown from her brow,
she yielded to the entreaties of her mother, and with all the mildness
of her former character she went along with the silver lamp of age, to
the home of candor and benevolence. Her father received her cold and
formal politeness--“Where has Ambulinia been, this blustering evening,
Mrs. Valeer?” inquired he. “Oh, she and I have been taking a solitary
walk,” said the mother; “all things, I presume, are now working for the

Elfonzo heard this news shortly after it happened. “What,” said he,
“has heaven and earth turned against me? I have been disappointed times
without number. Shall I despair?--must I give it over? Heaven’s decrees
will not fade; I will write again--I will try again; and if it traverses
a gory field, I pray forgiveness at the altar of justice.”

Desolate Hill, Cumming, Geo., 1844.

Unconquered and Beloved Ambulinia-- I have only time to say to you, not
to despair; thy fame shall not perish; my visions are brightening before
me. The whirlwind’s rage is past, and we now shall subdue our enemies
without doubt. On Monday morning, when your friends are at breakfast,
they will not suspect your departure, or even mistrust me being in town,
as it has been reported advantageously that I have left for the west.
You walk carelessly toward the academy grove, where you will find me
with a lightning steed, elegantly equipped to bear you off where we
shall be joined in wedlock with the first connubial rights. Fail not
to do this--think not of the tedious relations of our wrongs--be
invincible. You alone occupy all my ambition, and I alone will make you
my happy spouse, with the same unimpeached veracity. I remain, forever,
your devoted friend and admirer, J. I. Elfonzo.

The appointed day ushered in undisturbed by any clouds; nothing
disturbed Ambulinia’s soft beauty. With serenity and loveliness she
obeys the request of Elfonzo. The moment the family seated themselves
at the table--“Excuse my absence for a short time,” said she, “while I
attend to the placing of those flowers, which should have been done
a week ago.” And away she ran to the sacred grove, surrounded with
glittering pearls, that indicated her coming. Elfonzo hails her with
his silver bow and his golden harp. They meet--Ambulinia’s countenance
brightens--Elfonzo leads up his winged steed. “Mount,” said he, “ye
true-hearted, ye fearless soul--the day is ours.” She sprang upon the
back of the young thunder bolt, a brilliant star sparkles upon her head,
with one hand she grasps the reins, and with the other she holds an
olive branch. “Lend thy aid, ye strong winds,” they exclaimed, “ye moon,
ye sun, and all ye fair host of heaven, witness the enemy conquered.”
 “Hold,” said Elfonzo, “thy dashing steed.” “Ride on,” said Ambulinia,
“the voice of thunder is behind us.” And onward they went, with such
rapidity that they very soon arrived at Rural Retreat, where they
dismounted, and were united with all the solemnities that usually attend
such divine operations. They passed the day in thanksgiving and great
rejoicing, and on that evening they visited their uncle, where many of
their friends and acquaintances had gathered to congratulate them in the
field of untainted bliss. The kind old gentleman met them in the yard:
“Well,” said he, “I wish I may die, Elfonzo, if you and Ambulinia
haven’t tied a knot with your tongue that you can’t untie with your
teeth. But come in, come in, never mind, all is right--the world still
moves on, and no one has fallen in this great battle.”

Happy now is their lot! Unmoved by misfortune, they live among the fair
beauties of the South. Heaven spreads their peace and fame upon the arch
of the rainbow, and smiles propitiously at their triumph, _through the
tears of the storm._


Thirty-five years ago I was out prospecting on the Stanislaus, tramping
all day long with pick and pan and horn, and washing a hatful of dirt
here and there, always expecting to make a rich strike, and never doing
it. It was a lovely region, woodsy, balmy, delicious, and had once been
populous, long years before, but now the people had vanished and the
charming paradise was a solitude. They went away when the surface
diggings gave out. In one place, where a busy little city with banks
and newspapers and fire companies and a mayor and aldermen had been, was
nothing but a wide expanse of emerald turf, with not even the faintest
sign that human life had ever been present there. This was down toward
Tuttletown. In the country neighborhood thereabouts, along the dusty
roads, one found at intervals the prettiest little cottage homes, snug
and cozy, and so cobwebbed with vines snowed thick with roses that the
doors and windows were wholly hidden from sight--sign that these were
deserted homes, forsaken years ago by defeated and disappointed families
who could neither sell them nor give them away. Now and then, half an
hour apart, one came across solitary log cabins of the earliest
mining days, built by the first gold-miners, the predecessors of the
cottage-builders. In some few cases these cabins were still occupied;
and when this was so, you could depend upon it that the occupant was the
very pioneer who had built the cabin; and you could depend on another
thing, too--that he was there because he had once had his opportunity
to go home to the States rich, and had not done it; had rather lost
his wealth, and had then in his humiliation resolved to sever all
communication with his home relatives and friends, and be to them
thenceforth as one dead. Round about California in that day were
scattered a host of these living dead men--pride-smitten poor fellows,
grizzled and old at forty, whose secret thoughts were made all of
regrets and longings--regrets for their wasted lives, and longings to be
out of the struggle and done with it all.

It was a lonesome land! Not a sound in all those peaceful expanses of
grass and woods but the drowsy hum of insects; no glimpse of man or
beast; nothing to keep up your spirits and make you glad to be alive.
And so, at last, in the early part of the afternoon, when I caught sight
of a human creature, I felt a most grateful uplift. This person was a
man about forty-five years old, and he was standing at the gate of one
of those cozy little rose-clad cottages of the sort already referred to.
However, this one hadn’t a deserted look; it had the look of being lived
in and petted and cared for and looked after; and so had its front yard,
which was a garden of flowers, abundant, gay, and flourishing. I was
invited in, of course, and required to make myself at home--it was the
custom of the country.

It was delightful to be in such a place, after long weeks of daily and
nightly familiarity with miners’ cabins--with all which this implies of
dirt floor, never-made beds, tin plates and cups, bacon and beans and
black coffee, and nothing of ornament but war pictures from the
Eastern illustrated papers tacked to the log walls. That was all hard,
cheerless, materialistic desolation, but here was a nest which had
aspects to rest the tired eye and refresh that something in one’s nature
which, after long fasting, recognizes, when confronted by the
belongings of art, howsoever cheap and modest they may be, that it has
unconsciously been famishing and now has found nourishment. I could not
have believed that a rag carpet could feast me so, and so content me;
or that there could be such solace to the soul in wall-paper and framed
lithographs, and bright-colored tidies and lamp-mats, and Windsor
chairs, and varnished what-nots, with sea-shells and books and china
vases on them, and the score of little unclassifiable tricks and touches
that a woman’s hand distributes about a home, which one sees without
knowing he sees them, yet would miss in a moment if they were taken
away. The delight that was in my heart showed in my face, and the man
saw it and was pleased; saw it so plainly that he answered it as if it
had been spoken.

“All her work,” he said, caressingly; “she did it all herself--every
bit,” and he took the room in with a glance which was full of
affectionate worship. One of those soft Japanese fabrics with which
women drape with careful negligence the upper part of a picture-frame
was out of adjustment. He noticed it, and rearranged it with cautious
pains, stepping back several times to gauge the effect before he got it
to suit him. Then he gave it a light finishing pat or two with his hand,
and said: “She always does that. You can’t tell just what it lacks, but
it does lack something until you’ve done that--you can see it yourself
after it’s done, but that is all you know; you can’t find out the law of
it. It’s like the finishing pats a mother gives the child’s hair after
she’s got it combed and brushed, I reckon. I’ve seen her fix all these
things so much that I can do them all just her way, though I don’t know
the law of any of them. But she knows the law. She knows the why and the
how both; but I don’t know the why; I only know the how.”

He took me into a bedroom so that I might wash my hands; such a bedroom
as I had not seen for years: white counterpane, white pillows, carpeted
floor, papered walls, pictures, dressing-table, with mirror and
pin-cushion and dainty toilet things; and in the corner a wash-stand,
with real china-ware bowl and pitcher, and with soap in a china dish,
and on a rack more than a dozen towels--towels too clean and white for
one out of practice to use without some vague sense of profanation. So
my face spoke again, and he answered with gratified words:

“All her work; she did it all herself--every bit. Nothing here that
hasn’t felt the touch of her hand. Now you would think--But I mustn’t
talk so much.”

By this time I was wiping my hands and glancing from detail to detail
of the room’s belongings, as one is apt to do when he is in a new place,
where everything he sees is a comfort to his eye and his spirit; and
I became conscious, in one of those unaccountable ways, you know, that
there was something there somewhere that the man wanted me to discover
for myself. I knew it perfectly, and I knew he was trying to help me by
furtive indications with his eye, so I tried hard to get on the right
track, being eager to gratify him. I failed several times, as I could
see out of the corner of my eye without being told; but at last I knew I
must be looking straight at the thing--knew it from the pleasure issuing
in invisible waves from him. He broke into a happy laugh, and rubbed his
hands together, and cried out:

“That’s it! You’ve found it. I knew you would. It’s her picture.”

I went to the little black-walnut bracket on the farther wall, and
did find there what I had not yet noticed--a daguerreotype-case. It
contained the sweetest girlish face, and the most beautiful, as it
seemed to me, that I had ever seen. The man drank the admiration from my
face, and was fully satisfied.

“Nineteen her last birthday,” he said, as he put the picture back; “and
that was the day we were married. When you see her--ah, just wait till
you see her!”

“Where is she? When will she be in?”

“Oh, she’s away now. She’s gone to see her people. They live forty or
fifty miles from here. She’s been gone two weeks today.”

“When do you expect her back?”

“This is Wednesday. She’ll be back Saturday, in the evening--about nine
o’clock, likely.”

I felt a sharp sense of disappointment.

“I’m sorry, because I’ll be gone then,” I said, regretfully.

“Gone? No--why should you go? Don’t go. She’ll be disappointed.”

She would be disappointed--that beautiful creature! If she had said the
words herself they could hardly have blessed me more. I was feeling
a deep, strong longing to see her--a longing so supplicating, so
insistent, that it made me afraid. I said to myself: “I will go straight
away from this place, for my peace of mind’s sake.”

“You see, she likes to have people come and stop with us--people who
know things, and can talk--people like you. She delights in it; for she
knows--oh, she knows nearly everything herself, and can talk, oh, like
a bird--and the books she reads, why, you would be astonished. Don’t go;
it’s only a little while, you know, and she’ll be so disappointed.”

I heard the words, but hardly noticed them, I was so deep in my
thinkings and strugglings. He left me, but I didn’t know. Presently he
was back, with the picture case in his hand, and he held it open before
me and said:

“There, now, tell her to her face you could have stayed to see her, and
you wouldn’t.”

That second glimpse broke down my good resolution. I would stay and take
the risk. That night we smoked the tranquil pipe, and talked till late
about various things, but mainly about her; and certainly I had had no
such pleasant and restful time for many a day. The Thursday followed and
slipped comfortably away. Toward twilight a big miner from three miles
away came--one of the grizzled, stranded pioneers--and gave us warm
salutation, clothed in grave and sober speech. Then he said:

“I only just dropped over to ask about the little madam, and when is she
coming home. Any news from her?”

“Oh, yes, a letter. Would you like to hear it, Tom?”

“Well, I should think I would, if you don’t mind, Henry!”

Henry got the letter out of his wallet, and said he would skip some of
the private phrases, if we were willing; then he went on and read the
bulk of it--a loving, sedate, and altogether charming and gracious
piece of handiwork, with a postscript full of affectionate regards
and messages to Tom, and Joe, and Charley, and other close friends and

As the reader finished, he glanced at Tom, and cried out:

“Oho, you’re at it again! Take your hands away, and let me see your
eyes. You always do that when I read a letter from her. I will write and
tell her.”

“Oh no, you mustn’t, Henry. I’m getting old, you know, and any little
disappointment makes me want to cry. I thought she’d be here herself,
and now you’ve got only a letter.”

“Well, now, what put that in your head? I thought everybody knew she
wasn’t coming till Saturday.”

“Saturday! Why, come to think, I did know it. I wonder what’s the matter
with me lately? Certainly I knew it. Ain’t we all getting ready for her?
Well, I must be going now. But I’ll be on hand when she comes, old man!”

Late Friday afternoon another gray veteran tramped over from his cabin a
mile or so away, and said the boys wanted to have a little gaiety and
a good time Saturday night, if Henry thought she wouldn’t be too tired
after her journey to be kept up.

“Tired? She tired! Oh, hear the man! Joe, _you _know she’d sit up six
weeks to please any one of you!”

When Joe heard that there was a letter, he asked to have it read, and
the loving messages in it for him broke the old fellow all up; but he
said he was such an old wreck that _that _would happen to him if she
only just mentioned his name. “Lord, we miss her so!” he said.

Saturday afternoon I found I was taking out my watch pretty often. Henry
noticed it, and said, with a startled look:

“You don’t think she ought to be here soon, do you?”

I felt caught, and a little embarrassed; but I laughed, and said it was
a habit of mine when I was in a state of expenctancy. But he didn’t seem
quite satisfied; and from that time on he began to show uneasiness. Four
times he walked me up the road to a point whence we could see a long
distance; and there he would stand, shading his eyes with his hand, and
looking. Several times he said:

“I’m getting worried, I’m getting right down worried. I know she’s not
due till about nine o’clock, and yet something seems to be trying
to warn me that something’s happened. You don’t think anything has
happened, do you?”

I began to get pretty thoroughly ashamed of him for his childishness;
and at last, when he repeated that imploring question still another
time, I lost my patience for the moment, and spoke pretty brutally to
him. It seemed to shrivel him up and cow him; and he looked so wounded
and so humble after that, that I detested myself for having done the
cruel and unnecessary thing. And so I was glad when Charley, another
veteran, arrived toward the edge of the evening, and nestled up to
Henry to hear the letter read, and talked over the preparations for the
welcome. Charley fetched out one hearty speech after another, and did
his best to drive away his friend’s bodings and apprehensions.

“Anything _happened _to her? Henry, that’s pure nonsense. There isn’t
anything going to happen to her; just make your mind easy as to that.
What did the letter say? Said she was well, didn’t it? And said she’d
be here by nine o’clock, didn’t it? Did you ever know her to fail of her
word? Why, you know you never did. Well, then, don’t you fret; she’ll_
be_ here, and that’s absolutely certain, and as sure as you are born.
Come, now, let’s get to decorating--not much time left.”

Pretty soon Tom and Joe arrived, and then all hands set about adorning
the house with flowers. Toward nine the three miners said that as they
had brought their instruments they might as well tune up, for the
boys and girls would soon be arriving now, and hungry for a good,
old-fashioned break-down. A fiddle, a banjo, and a clarinet--these were
the instruments. The trio took their places side by side, and began to
play some rattling dance-music, and beat time with their big boots.

It was getting very close to nine. Henry was standing in the door with
his eyes directed up the road, his body swaying to the torture of his
mental distress. He had been made to drink his wife’s health and safety
several times, and now Tom shouted:

“All hands stand by! One more drink, and she’s here!”

Joe brought the glasses on a waiter, and served the party. I reached for
one of the two remaining glasses, but Joe growled under his breath:

“Drop that! Take the other.”

Which I did. Henry was served last. He had hardly swallowed his drink
when the clock began to strike. He listened till it finished, his face
growing pale and paler; then he said:

“Boys, I’m sick with fear. Help me--I want to lie down!”

They helped him to the sofa. He began to nestle and drowse, but
presently spoke like one talking in his sleep, and said: “Did I hear
horses’ feet? Have they come?”

One of the veterans answered, close to his ear: “It was Jimmy Parish
come to say the party got delayed, but they’re right up the road a
piece, and coming along. Her horse is lame, but she’ll be here in half
an hour.”

“Oh, I’m_ so_ thankful nothing has happened!”

He was asleep almost before the words were out of his mouth. In a moment
those handy men had his clothes off, and had tucked him into his bed in
the chamber where I had washed my hands. They closed the door and came
back. Then they seemed preparing to leave; but I said: “Please don’t go,
gentlemen. She won’t know me; I am a stranger.”

They glanced at each other. Then Joe said:

“She? Poor thing, she’s been dead nineteen years!”


“That or worse. She went to see her folks half a year after she was
married, and on her way back, on a Saturday evening, the Indians
captured her within five miles of this place, and she’s never been heard
of since.”

“And he lost his mind in consequence?”

“Never has been sane an hour since. But he only gets bad when that time
of year comes round. Then we begin to drop in here, three days before
she’s due, to encourage him up, and ask if he’s heard from her,
and Saturday we all come and fix up the house with flowers, and get
everything ready for a dance. We’ve done it every year for nineteen
years. The first Saturday there was twenty-seven of us, without counting
the girls; there’s only three of us now, and the girls are gone. We
drug him to sleep, or he would go wild; then he’s all right for another
year--thinks she’s with him till the last three or four days come round;
then he begins to look for her, and gets out his poor old letter, and we
come and ask him to read it to us. Lord, she was a darling!”


Once or twice a year I get a letter of a certain pattern, a pattern that
never materially changes, in form and substance, yet I cannot get used
to that letter--it always astonishes me. It affects me as the locomotive
always affects me: I say to myself, “I have seen you a thousand times,
you always look the same way, yet you are always a wonder, and you are
always impossible; to contrive you is clearly beyond human genius--you
can’t exist, you don’t exist, yet here you are!”

I have a letter of that kind by me, a very old one. I yearn to print it,
and where is the harm? The writer of it is dead years ago, no doubt, and
if I conceal her name and address--her this-world address--I am sure
her shade will not mind. And with it I wish to print the answer which
I wrote at the time but probably did not send. If it went--which is not
likely--it went in the form of a copy, for I find the original still
here, pigeonholed with the said letter. To that kind of letters we all
write answers which we do not send, fearing to hurt where we have no
desire to hurt; I have done it many a time, and this is doubtless a case
of the sort.


X------, California, JUNE 3, 1879.

Mr. S. L. Clemens, HARTFORD, CONN.:

Dear Sir,--You will doubtless be surprised to know who has presumed to
write and ask a favor of you. Let your memory go back to your days in
the Humboldt mines--‘62-’63. You will remember, you and Clagett and
Oliver and the old blacksmith Tillou lived in a lean-to which was
half-way up the gulch, and there were six log cabins in the camp--strung
pretty well separated up the gulch from its mouth at the desert to where
the last claim was, at the divide. The lean-to you lived in was the one
with a canvas roof that the cow fell down through one night, as told
about by you in _Roughing It_--my uncle Simmons remembers it very well.
He lived in the principal cabin, half-way up the divide, along with
Dixon and Parker and Smith. It had two rooms, one for kitchen and the
other for bunks, and was the only one that had. You and your party
were there on the great night, the time they had dried-apple-pie, Uncle
Simmons often speaks of it. It seems curious that dried-apple-pie
should have seemed such a great thing, but it was, and it shows how far
Humboldt was out of the world and difficult to get to, and how slim the
regular bill of fare was. Sixteen years ago--it is a long time. I was a
little girl then, only fourteen. I never saw you, I lived in Washoe. But
Uncle Simmons ran across you every now and then, all during those weeks
that you and party were there working your claim which was like the
rest. The camp played out long and long ago, there wasn’t silver enough
in it to make a button. You never saw my husband, but he was there after
you left, _and lived in that very lean-to_, a bachelor then but married
to me now. He often wishes there had been a photographer there in
those days, he would have taken the lean-to. He got hurt in the old Hal
Clayton claim that was abandoned like the others, putting in a blast and
not climbing out quick enough, though he scrambled the best he could.
It landed him clear down on the train and hit a Piute. For weeks they
thought he would not get over it but he did, and is all right, now. Has
been ever since. This is a long introduction but it is the only way
I can make myself known. The favor I ask I feel assured your generous
heart will grant: Give me some advice about a book I have written. I do
not claim anything for it only it is mostly true and as interesting as
most of the books of the times. I am unknown in the literary world and
you know what that means unless one has some one of influence (like
yourself) to help you by speaking a good word for you. I would like to
place the book on royalty basis plan with any one you would suggest.

This is a secret from my husband and family. I intend it as a surprise
in case I get it published.

Feeling you will take an interest in this and if possible write me a
letter to some publisher, or, better still, if you could see them for me
and then let me hear.

I appeal to you to grant me this favor. With deepest gratitude I think
you for your attention.

One knows, without inquiring, that the twin of that embarrassing letter
is forever and ever flying in this and that and the other direction
across the continent in the mails, daily, nightly, hourly, unceasingly,
unrestingly. It goes to every well-known merchant, and railway official,
and manufacturer, and capitalist, and Mayor, and Congressman, and
Governor, and editor, and publisher, and author, and broker, and
banker--in a word, to every person who is supposed to have “influence.”
 It always follows the one pattern: “You do not know me, _but you once
knew a relative of mine,_” etc., etc. We should all like to help the
applicants, we should all be glad to do it, we should all like to return
the sort of answer that is desired, but--Well, there is not a thing we
can do that would be a help, for not in any instance does that latter
ever come from anyone who _can _be helped. The struggler whom you _could
_help does his own helping; it would not occur to him to apply to you,
stranger. He has talent and knows it, and he goes into his fight eagerly
and with energy and determination--all alone, preferring to be alone.
That pathetic letter which comes to you from the incapable, the
unhelpable--how do you who are familiar with it answer it? What do you
find to say? You do not want to inflict a wound; you hunt ways to avoid
that. What do you find? How do you get out of your hard place with a
content conscience? Do you try to explain? The old reply of mine to such
a letter shows that I tried that once. Was I satisfied with the result?
Possibly; and possibly not; probably not; almost certainly not. I have
long ago forgotten all about it. But, anyway, I append my effort:


I know Mr. H., and I will go to him, dear madam, if upon reflection you
find you still desire it. There will be a conversation. I know the form
it will take. It will be like this:

MR. H. How do her books strike you?

MR. CLEMENS. I am not acquainted with them.

H. Who has been her publisher?

C. I don’t know.

H. She _has _one, I suppose?

C. I--I think not.

H. Ah. You think this is her first book?

C. Yes--I suppose so. I think so.

H. What is it about? What is the character of it?

C. I believe I do not know.

H. Have you seen it?

C. Well--no, I haven’t.

H. Ah-h. How long have you known her?

C. I don’t know her.

H. Don’t know her?

C. No.

H. Ah-h. How did you come to be interested in her book, then?

C. Well, she--she wrote and asked me to find a publisher for her, and
mentioned you.

H. Why should she apply to you instead of me?

C. She wished me to use my influence.

H. Dear me, what has _influence _to do with such a matter?

C. Well, I think she thought you would be more likely to examine her
book if you were influenced.

H. Why, what we are here _for _is to examine books--anybody’s book
that comes along. It’s our _business_. Why should we turn away a book
unexamined because it’s a stranger’s? It would be foolish. No publisher
does it. On what ground did she request your influence, since you do not
know her? She must have thought you knew her literature and could speak
for it. Is that it?

C. No; she knew I didn’t.

H. Well, what then? She had a reason of _some _sort for believing you
competent to recommend her literature, and also under obligations to do

C. Yes, I--I knew her uncle.

H. Knew her _uncle_?

C. Yes.

H. Upon my word! So, you knew her uncle; her uncle knows her literature;
he endorses it to you; the chain is complete, nothing further needed;
you are satisfied, and therefore--

C._ No_, that isn’t all, there are other ties. I know the cabin her
uncle lived in, in the mines; I knew his partners, too; also I came
near knowing her husband before she married him, and I _did _know the
abandoned shaft where a premature blast went off and he went flying
through the air and clear down to the trail and hit an Indian in the
back with almost fatal consequences.

H. To _him_, or to the Indian?

C. She didn’t say which it was.

H. (_With a sigh_). It certainly beats the band! You don’t know _her_,
you don’t know her literature, you don’t know who got hurt when the
blast went off, you don’t know a single thing for us to build an
estimate of her book upon, so far as I--

C. I knew her uncle. You are forgetting her uncle.

H. Oh, what use is_ he_? Did you know him long? How long was it?

C. Well, I don’t know that I really knew him, but I must have met him,
anyway. I think it was that way; you can’t tell about these things, you
know, except when they are recent.

H. Recent? When was all this?

C. Sixteen years ago.

H. What a basis to judge a book upon! As first you said you knew him,
and now you don’t know whether you did or not.

C. Oh yes, I know him; anyway, I think I thought I did; I’m perfectly
certain of it.

H. What makes you think you thought you knew him?

C. Why, she says I did, herself.

H._ She_ says so!

C. Yes, she does, and I _did _know him, too, though I don’t remember it

H. Come--how can you know it when you don’t remember it.

C. _I_ don’t know. That is, I don’t know the process, but I_ do_ know
lots of things that I don’t remember, and remember lots of things that I
don’t know. It’s so with every educated person.

H. (_After a pause_). Is your time valuable?

C. No--well, not very.

H. Mine is.

So I came away then, because he was looking tired. Overwork, I reckon; I
never do that; I have seen the evil effects of it. My mother was always
afraid I would overwork myself, but I never did.

Dear madam, you see how it would happen if I went there. He would ask
me those questions, and I would try to answer them to suit him, and he
would hunt me here and there and yonder and get me embarrassed more
and more all the time, and at last he would look tired on account of
overwork, and there it would end and nothing done. I wish I could be
useful to you, but, you see, they do not care for uncles or any of those
things; it doesn’t move them, it doesn’t have the least effect, they
don’t care for anything but the literature itself, and they as good as
despise influence. But they do care for books, and are eager to get them
and examine them, no matter whence they come, nor from whose pen. If you
will send yours to a publisher--any publisher--he will certainly examine
it, I can assure you of that.


Consider that a conversation by telephone--when you are simply sitting
by and not taking any part in that conversation--is one of the solemnest
curiosities of modern life. Yesterday I was writing a deep article on a
sublime philosophical subject while such a conversation was going on
in the room. I notice that one can always write best when somebody is
talking through a telephone close by. Well, the thing began in this way.
A member of our household came in and asked me to have our house put
into communication with Mr. Bagley’s downtown. I have observed, in many
cities, that the sex always shrink from calling up the central office
themselves. I don’t know why, but they do. So I touched the bell, and
this talk ensued:

_Central Office. (Gruffly.)_ Hello!

I. Is it the Central Office?

C. O. Of course it is. What do you want?

I. Will you switch me on to the Bagleys, please?

C. O. All right. Just keep your ear to the telephone.

Then I heard _k-look, k-look, k’look--klook-klook-klook-look-look!_ then a
horrible “gritting” of teeth, and finally a piping female voice: Y-e-s?
(_Rising inflection._) Did you wish to speak to me?

Without answering, I handed the telephone to the applicant, and sat
down. Then followed that queerest of all the queer things in this
world--a conversation with only one end to it. You hear questions asked;
you don’t hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no
thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by
apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise or
sorrow or dismay. You can’t make head or tail of the talk, because you
never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.
Well, I heard the following remarkable series of observations, all from
the one tongue, and all shouted--for you can’t ever persuade the sex to
speak gently into a telephone:

Yes? Why, how did _that _happen?


What did you say?


Oh no, I don’t think it was.


_ No_! Oh no, I didn’t mean _that_. I meant, put it in while it is still
boiling--or just before it _comes _to a boil.




I turned it over with a backstitch on the selvage edge.


Yes, I like that way, too; but I think it’s better to baste it on with
Valenciennes or bombazine, or something of that sort. It gives it such
an air--and attracts so much noise.


It’s forty-ninth Deuteronomy, sixty-forth to ninety-seventh inclusive. I
think we ought all to read it often.


Perhaps so; I generally use a hair pin.


What did you say? (_Aside_.) Children, do be quiet!


_Oh!_ B _flat!_ Dear me, I thought you said it was the cat!


Since _when_?


Why, _I_ never heard of it.


You astound me! It seems utterly impossible!


_Who _did?


Good-ness gracious!


Well, what_ is_ this world coming to? Was it right in _church_?


And was her _mother _there?


Why, Mrs. Bagley, I should have died of humiliation! What did they_ do_?

Long pause.

I can’t be perfectly sure, because I haven’t the notes by me; but
I think it goes something like this: te-rolly-loll-loll, loll
lolly-loll-loll, O tolly-loll-loll-_lee-ly-li_-i-do! And then _repeat_,
you know.


Yes, I think it_ is_ very sweet--and very solemn and impressive, if you
get the andantino and the pianissimo right.


Oh, gum-drops, gum-drops! But I never allow them to eat striped candy.
And of course they _can’t_, till they get their teeth, anyway.




Oh, not in the least--go right on. He’s here writing--it doesn’t bother


Very well, I’ll come if I canI’ll come if I can. (_Aside_.) Dear me, how it does tire a
person’s arm to hold this thing up so long! I wish she’d--


Oh no, not at all; I _like _to talk--but I’m afraid I’m keeping you from
your affairs.




No, we never use butter on them.


Yes, that is a very good way; but all the cook-books say they are very
unhealthy when they are out of season. And_ he_ doesn’t like them,
anyway--especially canned.


Oh, I think that is too high for them; we have never paid over fifty
cents a bunch.


_Must _you go? Well, _good_-by.


Yes, I think so. _good_-by.


Four o’clock, then--I’ll be ready. _good_-by.


Thank you ever so much. _good_-by.


Oh, not at all!--just as fresh--_which_? Oh, I’m glad to hear you say
that. _Good_-by.

(Hangs up the telephone and says, “Oh, it _does _tire a person’s arm

A man delivers a single brutal “Good-by,” and that is the end of it.
Not so with the gentle sex--I say it in their praise; they cannot abide


These two were distantly related to each other--seventh cousins, or
something of that sort. While still babies they became orphans, and were
adopted by the Brants, a childless couple, who quickly grew very fond
of them. The Brants were always saying: “Be pure, honest, sober,
industrious, and considerate of others, and success in life is assured.”
 The children heard this repeated some thousands of times before they
understood it; they could repeat it themselves long before they could
say the Lord’s Prayer; it was painted over the nursery door, and was
about the first thing they learned to read. It was destined to be the
unswerving rule of Edward Mills’s life. Sometimes the Brants changed
the wording a little, and said: “Be pure, honest, sober, industrious,
considerate, and you will never lack friends.”

Baby Mills was a comfort to everybody about him. When he wanted candy
and could not have it, he listened to reason, and contented himself
without it. When Baby Benton wanted candy, he cried for it until he got
it. Baby Mills took care of his toys; Baby Benton always destroyed his
in a very brief time, and then made himself so insistently disagreeable
that, in order to have peace in the house, little Edward was persuaded
to yield up his play-things to him.

When the children were a little older, Georgie became a heavy expense
in one respect: he took no care of his clothes; consequently, he shone
frequently in new ones, which was not the case with Eddie. The boys
grew apace. Eddie was an increasing comfort, Georgie an increasing
solicitude. It was always sufficient to say, in answer to Eddie’s
petitions, “I would rather you would not do it”--meaning swimming,
skating, picnicking, berrying, circusing, and all sorts of things which
boys delight in. But_ no_ answer was sufficient for Georgie; he had
to be humored in his desires, or he would carry them with a high hand.
Naturally, no boy got more swimming skating, berrying, and so forth than
he; no body ever had a better time. The good Brants did not allow the
boys to play out after nine in summer evenings; they were sent to bed at
that hour; Eddie honorably remained, but Georgie usually slipped out
of the window toward ten, and enjoyed himself until midnight. It seemed
impossible to break Georgie of this bad habit, but the Brants managed
it at last by hiring him, with apples and marbles, to stay in. The good
Brants gave all their time and attention to vain endeavors to regulate
Georgie; they said, with grateful tears in their eyes, that Eddie needed
no efforts of theirs, he was so good, so considerate, and in all ways so

By and by the boys were big enough to work, so they were apprenticed to
a trade: Edward went voluntarily; George was coaxed and bribed. Edward
worked hard and faithfully, and ceased to be an expense to the good
Brants; they praised him, so did his master; but George ran away, and it
cost Mr. Brant both money and trouble to hunt him up and get him back.
By and by he ran away again--more money and more trouble. He ran away
a third time--and stole a few things to carry with him. Trouble and
expense for Mr. Brant once more; and, besides, it was with the greatest
difficulty that he succeeded in persuading the master to let the youth
go unprosecuted for the theft.

Edward worked steadily along, and in time became a full partner in his
master’s business. George did not improve; he kept the loving hearts of
his aged benefactors full of trouble, and their hands full of inventive
activities to protect him from ruin. Edward, as a boy, had interested
himself in Sunday-schools, debating societies, penny missionary affairs,
anti-tobacco organizations, anti-profanity associations, and all such
things; as a man, he was a quiet but steady and reliable helper in the
church, the temperance societies, and in all movements looking to
the aiding and uplifting of men. This excited no remark, attracted no
attention--for it was his “natural bent.”

Finally, the old people died. The will testified their loving pride in
Edward, and left their little property to George--because he “needed
it”; whereas, “owing to a bountiful Providence,” such was not the case
with Edward. The property was left to George conditionally: he must
buy out Edward’s partner with it; else it must go to a benevolent
organization called the Prisoner’s Friend Society. The old people left
a letter, in which they begged their dear son Edward to take their place
and watch over George, and help and shield him as they had done.

Edward dutifully acquiesced, and George became his partner in the
business. He was not a valuable partner: he had been meddling with drink
before; he soon developed into a constant tippler now, and his flesh and
eyes showed the fact unpleasantly. Edward had been courting a sweet
and kindly spirited girl for some time. They loved each other dearly,
and--But about this period George began to haunt her tearfully and
imploringly, and at last she went crying to Edward, and said her high
and holy duty was plain before her--she must not let her own selfish
desires interfere with it: she must marry “poor George” and “reform
him.” It would break her heart, she knew it would, and so on; but duty
was duty. So she married George, and Edward’s heart came very near
breaking, as well as her own. However, Edward recovered, and married
another girl--a very excellent one she was, too.

Children came to both families. Mary did her honest best to reform her
husband, but the contract was too large. George went on drinking, and by
and by he fell to misusing her and the little ones sadly. A great many
good people strove with George--they were always at it, in fact--but he
calmly took such efforts as his due and their duty, and did not mend his
ways. He added a vice, presently--that of secret gambling. He got deeply
in debt; he borrowed money on the firm’s credit, as quietly as he could,
and carried this system so far and so successfully that one morning the
sheriff took possession of the establishment, and the two cousins found
themselves penniless.

Times were hard, now, and they grew worse. Edward moved his family into
a garret, and walked the streets day and night, seeking work. He begged
for it, but it was really not to be had. He was astonished to see how
soon his face became unwelcome; he was astonished and hurt to see how
quickly the ancient interest which people had had in him faded out and
disappeared. Still, he _must _get work; so he swallowed his chagrin, and
toiled on in search of it. At last he got a job of carrying bricks up a
ladder in a hod, and was a grateful man in consequence; but after that
_nobody _knew him or cared anything about him. He was not able to keep
up his dues in the various moral organizations to which he belonged,
and had to endure the sharp pain of seeing himself brought under the
disgrace of suspension.

But the faster Edward died out of public knowledge and interest, the
faster George rose in them. He was found lying, ragged and drunk, in the
gutter one morning. A member of the Ladies’ Temperance Refuge fished him
out, took him in hand, got up a subscription for him, kept him sober
a whole week, then got a situation for him. An account of it was

General attention was thus drawn to the poor fellow, and a great many
people came forward and helped him toward reform with their countenance
and encouragement. He did not drink a drop for two months, and meantime
was the pet of the good. Then he fell--in the gutter; and there was
general sorrow and lamentation. But the noble sisterhood rescued him
again. They cleaned him up, they fed him, they listened to the mournful
music of his repentances, they got him his situation again. An account
of this, also, was published, and the town was drowned in happy tears
over the re-restoration of the poor beast and struggling victim of
the fatal bowl. A grand temperance revival was got up, and after some
rousing speeches had been made the chairman said, impressively: “We are
not about to call for signers; and I think there is a spectacle in
store for you which not many in this house will be able to view with dry
eyes.” There was an eloquent pause, and then George Benton, escorted
by a red-sashed detachment of the Ladies of the Refuge, stepped forward
upon the platform and signed the pledge. The air was rent with applause,
and everybody cried for joy. Everybody wrung the hand of the new convert
when the meeting was over; his salary was enlarged next day; he was the
talk of the town, and its hero. An account of it was published.

George Benton fell, regularly, every three months, but was faithfully
rescued and wrought with, every time, and good situations were found for
him. Finally, he was taken around the country lecturing, as a reformed
drunkard, and he had great houses and did an immense amount of good.

He was so popular at home, and so trusted--during his sober
intervals--that he was enabled to use the name of a principal citizen,
and get a large sum of money at the bank. A mighty pressure was brought
to bear to save him from the consequences of his forgery, and it was
partially successful--he was “sent up” for only two years. When, at the
end of a year, the tireless efforts of the benevolent were crowned
with success, and he emerged from the penitentiary with a pardon in
his pocket, the Prisoner’s Friend Society met him at the door with a
situation and a comfortable salary, and all the other benevolent people
came forward and gave him advice, encouragement and help. Edward Mills
had once applied to the Prisoner’s Friend Society for a situation, when
in dire need, but the question, “Have you been a prisoner?” made brief
work of his case.

While all these things were going on, Edward Mills had been quietly
making head against adversity. He was still poor, but was in receipt of
a steady and sufficient salary, as the respected and trusted cashier
of a bank. George Benton never came near him, and was never heard to
inquire about him. George got to indulging in long absences from the
town; there were ill reports about him, but nothing definite.

One winter’s night some masked burglars forced their way into the bank,
and found Edward Mills there alone. They commanded him to reveal the
“combination,” so that they could get into the safe. He refused. They
threatened his life. He said his employers trusted him, and he could not
be traitor to that trust. He could die, if he must, but while he lived
he would be faithful; he would not yield up the “combination.” The
burglars killed him.

The detectives hunted down the criminals; the chief one proved to be
George Benton. A wide sympathy was felt for the widow and orphans of the
dead man, and all the newspapers in the land begged that all the banks
in the land would testify their appreciation of the fidelity and heroism
of the murdered cashier by coming forward with a generous contribution
of money in aid of his family, now bereft of support. The result was
a mass of solid cash amounting to upward of five hundred dollars--an
average of nearly three-eights of a cent for each bank in the Union. The
cashier’s own bank testified its gratitude by endeavoring to show (but
humiliatingly failed in it) that the peerless servant’s accounts were
not square, and that he himself had knocked his brains out with a
bludgeon to escape detection and punishment.

George Benton was arraigned for trial. Then everybody seemed to forget
the widow and orphans in their solicitude for poor George. Everything
that money and influence could do was done to save him, but it all
failed; he was sentenced to death. Straightway the Governor was besieged
with petitions for commutation or pardon; they were brought by tearful
young girls; by sorrowful old maids; by deputations of pathetic widows;
by shoals of impressive orphans. But no, the Governor--for once--would
not yield.

Now George Benton experienced religion. The glad news flew all around.
From that time forth his cell was always full of girls and women and
fresh flowers; all the day long there was prayer, and hymn-singing,
and thanksgiving, and homilies, and tears, with never an interruption,
except an occasional five-minute intermission for refreshments.

This sort of thing continued up to the very gallows, and George Benton
went proudly home, in the black cap, before a wailing audience of the
sweetest and best that the region could produce. His grave had fresh
flowers on it every day, for a while, and the head-stone bore these
words, under a hand pointing aloft: “He has fought the good fight.”

The brave cashier’s head-stone has this inscription: “Be pure, honest,
sober, industrious, considerate, and you will never--”

Nobody knows who gave the order to leave it that way, but it was so

The cashier’s family are in stringent circumstances, now, it is said;
but no matter; a lot of appreciative people, who were not willing that
an act so brave and true as his should go unrewarded, have collected
forty-two thousand dollars--and built a Memorial Church with it.


Chapter I

In the morning of life came a good fairy with her basket, and said:

“Here are gifts. Take one, leave the others. And be wary, choose wisely;
oh, choose wisely! for only one of them is valuable.”

The gifts were five: Fame, Love, Riches, Pleasure, Death. The youth
said, eagerly:

“There is no need to consider”; and he chose Pleasure.

He went out into the world and sought out the pleasures that youth
delights in. But each in its turn was short-lived and disappointing,
vain and empty; and each, departing, mocked him. In the end he said:
“These years I have wasted. If I could but choose again, I would choose

Chapter II

The fairy appeared, and said:

“Four of the gifts remain. Choose once more; and oh, remember--time is
flying, and only one of them is precious.”

The man considered long, then chose Love; and did not mark the tears
that rose in the fairy’s eyes.

After many, many years the man sat by a coffin, in an empty home. And he
communed with himself, saying: “One by one they have gone away and left
me; and now she lies here, the dearest and the last. Desolation after
desolation has swept over me; for each hour of happiness the treacherous
trader, Love, has sold me I have paid a thousand hours of grief. Out of
my heart of hearts I curse him.”

Chapter III

“Choose again.” It was the fairy speaking.

“The years have taught you wisdom--surely it must be so. Three gifts
remain. Only one of them has any worth--remember it, and choose warily.”

The man reflected long, then chose Fame; and the fairy, sighing, went
her way.

Years went by and she came again, and stood behind the man where he sat
solitary in the fading day, thinking. And she knew his thought:

“My name filled the world, and its praises were on every tongue, and it
seemed well with me for a little while. How little a while it was! Then
came envy; then detraction; then calumny; then hate; then persecution.
Then derision, which is the beginning of the end. And last of all came
pity, which is the funeral of fame. Oh, the bitterness and misery of
renown! target for mud in its prime, for contempt and compassion in its

Chapter IV

“Chose yet again.” It was the fairy’s voice.

“Two gifts remain. And do not despair. In the beginning there was but
one that was precious, and it is still here.”

“Wealth--which is power! How blind I was!” said the man. “Now, at last,
life will be worth the living. I will spend, squander, dazzle. These
mockers and despisers will crawl in the dirt before me, and I will feed
my hungry heart with their envy. I will have all luxuries, all joys, all
enchantments of the spirit, all contentments of the body that man holds
dear. I will buy, buy, buy! deference, respect, esteem, worship--every
pinchbeck grace of life the market of a trivial world can furnish forth.
I have lost much time, and chosen badly heretofore, but let that pass; I
was ignorant then, and could but take for best what seemed so.”

Three short years went by, and a day came when the man sat shivering in
a mean garret; and he was gaunt and wan and hollow-eyed, and clothed in
rags; and he was gnawing a dry crust and mumbling:

“Curse all the world’s gifts, for mockeries and gilded lies! And
miscalled, every one. They are not gifts, but merely lendings. Pleasure,
Love, Fame, Riches: they are but temporary disguises for lasting
realities--Pain, Grief, Shame, Poverty. The fairy said true; in all her
store there was but one gift which was precious, only one that was not
valueless. How poor and cheap and mean I know those others now to be,
compared with that inestimable one, that dear and sweet and kindly one,
that steeps in dreamless and enduring sleep the pains that persecute the
body, and the shames and griefs that eat the mind and heart. Bring it! I
am weary, I would rest.”

Chapter V

The fairy came, bringing again four of the gifts, but Death was wanting.
She said:

“I gave it to a mother’s pet, a little child. It was ignorant, but
trusted me, asking me to choose for it. You did not ask me to choose.”

“Oh, miserable me! What is left for me?”

“What not even you have deserved: the wanton insult of Old Age.”


From My Unpublished Autobiography

Some days ago a correspondent sent in an old typewritten sheet, faded by
age, containing the following letter over the signature of Mark Twain:

“Hartford, March 10, 1875.

“Please do not use my name in any way. Please do not even divulge that
fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the typewriter,
for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to anybody
without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only
describe the machine, but state what progress I had made in the use of
it, etc., etc. I don’t like to write letters, and so I don’t want people
to know I own this curiosity-breeding little joker.”

A note was sent to Mr. Clemens asking him if the letter was genuine
and whether he really had a typewriter as long ago as that. Mr.
Clemens replied that his best answer is the following chapter from his
unpublished autobiography:


Dictating autobiography to a typewriter is a new experience for me, but
it goes very well, and is going to save time and “language”--the kind of
language that soothes vexation.

I have dictated to a typewriter before--but not autobiography. Between
that experience and the present one there lies a mighty gap--more than
thirty years! It is a sort of lifetime. In that wide interval much
has happened--to the type-machine as well as to the rest of us. At the
beginning of that interval a type-machine was a curiosity. The person
who owned one was a curiosity, too. But now it is the other way about:
the person who _doesn’t_ own one is a curiosity. I saw a type-machine
for the first time in--what year? I suppose it was 1873--because
Nasby was with me at the time, and it was in Boston. We must have been
lecturing, or we could not have been in Boston, I take it. I quitted the
platform that season.

But never mind about that, it is no matter. Nasby and I saw the machine
through a window, and went in to look at it. The salesman explained it
to us, showed us samples of its work, and said it could do fifty-seven
words a minute--a statement which we frankly confessed that we did not
believe. So he put his type-girl to work, and we timed her by the
watch. She actually did the fifty-seven in sixty seconds. We were partly
convinced, but said it probably couldn’t happen again. But it did. We
timed the girl over and over again--with the same result always: she won
out. She did her work on narrow slips of paper, and we pocketed them as
fast as she turned them out, to show as curiosities. The price of the
machine was one hundred and twenty-five dollars. I bought one, and we
went away very much excited.

At the hotel we got out our slips and were a little disappointed to find
that they contained the same words. The girl had economized time
and labor by using a formula which she knew by heart. However, we
argued--safely enough--that the _first _type-girl must naturally take
rank with the first billiard-player: neither of them could be expected
to get out of the game any more than a third or a half of what was in
it. If the machine survived--_if_ it survived--experts would come to the
front, by and by, who would double the girl’s output without a doubt.
They would do one hundred words a minute--my talking speed on the
platform. That score has long ago been beaten.

At home I played with the toy, repeating and repeating and repeating
“The Boy stood on the Burning Deck,” until I could turn that boy’s
adventure out at the rate of twelve words a minute; then I resumed the
pen, for business, and only worked the machine to astonish inquiring
visitors. They carried off many reams of the boy and his burning deck.

By and by I hired a young woman, and did my first dictating (letters,
merely), and my last until now. The machine did not do both capitals and
lower case (as now), but only capitals. Gothic capitals they were, and
sufficiently ugly. I remember the first letter I dictated, it was to
Edward Bok, who was a boy then. I was not acquainted with him at that
time. His present enterprising spirit is not new--he had it in that
early day. He was accumulating autographs, and was not content with mere
signatures, he wanted a whole autograph _letter_. I furnished it--in
type-written capitals, _signature and all._ It was long; it was a
sermon; it contained advice; also reproaches. I said writing was my
_trade_, my bread-and-butter; I said it was not fair to ask a man
to give away samples of his trade; would he ask the blacksmith for a
horseshoe? would he ask the doctor for a corpse?

Now I come to an important matter--as I regard it. In the year ‘74
the young woman copied a considerable part of a book of mine _on the
machine_. In a previous chapter of this Autobiography I have claimed
that I was the first person in the world that ever had a telephone
in the house for practical purposes; I will now claim--until
dispossessed--that I was the first person in the world to _apply the
type-machine to literature_. That book must have been _The Adventures Of
Tom Sawyer._ I wrote the first half of it in ‘72, the rest of it in ‘74.
My machinist type-copied a book for me in ‘74, so I concluded it was
that one.

That early machine was full of caprices, full of defects--devilish ones.
It had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues. After
a year or two I found that it was degrading my character, so I thought
I would give it to Howells. He was reluctant, for he was suspicious of
novelties and unfriendly toward them, and he remains so to this day. But
I persuaded him. He had great confidence in me, and I got him to believe
things about the machine that I did not believe myself. He took it home
to Boston, and my morals began to improve, but his have never recovered.

He kept it six months, and then returned it to me. I gave it away twice
after that, but it wouldn’t stay; it came back. Then I gave it to our
coachman, Patrick McAleer, who was very grateful, because he did not
know the animal, and thought I was trying to make him wiser and better.
As soon as he got wiser and better he traded it to a heretic for a
side-saddle which he could not use, and there my knowledge of its
history ends.


It is almost a fortnight now that I am domiciled in a medieval villa in
the country, a mile or two from Florence. I cannot speak the language;
I am too old now to learn how, also too busy when I am busy, and too
indolent when I am not; wherefore some will imagine that I am having a
dull time of it. But it is not so. The “help” are all natives; they talk
Italian to me, I answer in English; I do not understand them, they
do not understand me, consequently no harm is done, and everybody is
satisfied. In order to be just and fair, I throw in an Italian word when
I have one, and this has a good influence. I get the word out of the
morning paper. I have to use it while it is fresh, for I find that
Italian words do not keep in this climate. They fade toward night, and
next morning they are gone. But it is no matter; I get a new one out of
the paper before breakfast, and thrill the domestics with it while it
lasts. I have no dictionary, and I do not want one; I can select words
by the sound, or by orthographic aspect. Many of them have French or
German or English look, and these are the ones I enslave for the day’s
service. That is, as a rule. Not always. If I find a learnable phrase
that has an imposing look and warbles musically along I do not care to
know the meaning of it; I pay it out to the first applicant, knowing
that if I pronounce it carefully_ he_ will understand it, and that’s

Yesterday’s word was _avanti_. It sounds Shakespearian, and probably
means Avaunt and quit my sight. Today I have a whole phrase: _sono
dispiacentissimo_. I do not know what it means, but it seems to fit
in everywhere and give satisfaction. Although as a rule my words and
phrases are good for one day and train only, I have several that stay by
me all the time, for some unknown reason, and these come very handy
when I get into a long conversation and need things to fire up with
in monotonous stretches. One of the best ones is _dov è il gatto_. It
nearly always produces a pleasant surprise, therefore I save it up for
places where I want to express applause or admiration. The fourth word
has a French sound, and I think the phrase means “that takes the cake.”

During my first week in the deep and dreamy stillness of this woodsy
and flowery place I was without news of the outside world, and was well
content without it. It had been four weeks since I had seen a newspaper,
and this lack seemed to give life a new charm and grace, and to saturate
it with a feeling verging upon actual delight. Then came a change that
was to be expected: the appetite for news began to rise again, after
this invigorating rest. I had to feed it, but I was not willing to let
it make me its helpless slave again; I determined to put it on a diet,
and a strict and limited one. So I examined an Italian paper, with
the idea of feeding it on that, and on that exclusively. On that
exclusively, and without help of a dictionary. In this way I should
surely be well protected against overloading and indigestion.

A glance at the telegraphic page filled me with encouragement. There
were no scare-heads. That was good--supremely good. But there were
headings--one-liners and two-liners--and that was good too; for without
these, one must do as one does with a German paper--pay out precious
time in finding out what an article is about, only to discover, in many
cases, that there is nothing in it of interest to you. The headline is a
valuable thing.

Necessarily we are all fond of murders, scandals, swindles, robberies,
explosions, collisions, and all such things, when we know the people,
and when they are neighbors and friends, but when they are strangers we
do not get any great pleasure out of them, as a rule. Now the trouble
with an American paper is that it has no discrimination; it rakes the
whole earth for blood and garbage, and the result is that you are daily
overfed and suffer a surfeit. By habit you stow this muck every day, but
you come by and by to take no vital interest in it--indeed, you
almost get tired of it. As a rule, forty-nine-fiftieths of it concerns
strangers only--people away off yonder, a thousand miles, two thousand
miles, ten thousand miles from where you are. Why, when you come to
think of it, who cares what becomes of those people? I would not give
the assassination of one personal friend for a whole massacre of those
others. And, to my mind, one relative or neighbor mixed up in a scandal
is more interesting than a whole Sodom and Gomorrah of outlanders gone
rotten. Give me the home product every time.

Very well. I saw at a glance that the Florentine paper would suit me:
five out of six of its scandals and tragedies were local; they were
adventures of one’s very neighbors, one might almost say one’s friends.
In the matter of world news there was not too much, but just about
enough. I subscribed. I have had no occasion to regret it. Every morning
I get all the news I need for the day; sometimes from the headlines,
sometimes from the text. I have never had to call for a dictionary yet.
I read the paper with ease. Often I do not quite understand, often some
of the details escape me, but no matter, I get the idea. I will cut out
a passage or two, then you see how limpid the language is:

Il ritorno dei Beati d’Italia

Elargizione del Re all’ Ospedale italiano

The first line means that the Italian sovereigns are coming back--they
have been to England. The second line seems to mean that they enlarged
the King at the Italian hospital. With a banquet, I suppose. An English
banquet has that effect. Further:

_Il ritorno dei sovrani_

a Roma

ROMA, 24, ore 22,50.--_I Sovrani e le Principessine Reali si attendono a
Roma domani alle ore_ 15,51.

Return of the sovereigns to Rome, you see. Date of the telegram, Rome,
November 24, ten minutes before twenty-three o’clock. The telegram seems
to say, “The Sovereigns and the Royal Children expect themselves at Rome
tomorrow at fifty-one minutes after fifteen o’clock.”

I do not know about Italian time, but I judge it begins at midnight
and runs through the twenty-four hours without breaking bulk. In the
following ad, the theaters open at half-past twenty. If these are not
matinees, 20.30 must mean 8.30 P.M., by my reckoning.

Spettacolli del di 25

ALFIERI.--Compagnia drammatica Drago--(Ore 20,30)--LA LEGGE.
ALHAMBRA--(Ore 20,30)--Spettacolo variato. SALA EDISON--Grandioso
spettacolo Cinematografico: QUO-VADIS?--Inaugurazione della
Chiesa Russa -- In coda al Direttissimo -- Vedute di Firenze con gran
movimeno -- America: Transporto tronchi giganteschi--I ladri in casa del
Diavolo -- Scene comiche. CINEMATOGRAFO -- Via Brunelleschi n. 4.--Programma
straordinario, DON CHISCIOTTE -- Prezzi populari.

The whole of that is intelligible to me--and sane and rational,
too--except the remark about the Inauguration of a Russian Cheese. That
one oversizes my hand. Gimme me five cards.

This is a four-page paper; and as it is set in long primer leaded
and has a page of advertisements, there is no room for the crimes,
disasters, and general sweepings of the outside world--thanks be! Today
I find only a single importation of the off-color sort:

Una Principessa

che fugge con un cocchiere

PARIGI, 24.--Il MATIN ha da Berlino che la principessa
Schovenbare-Waldenbure scomparve il 9 novembre. Sarebbe partita col suo

La Principassa ha 27 anni.

Twenty-seven years old, and scomparve--scampered--on the 9th November.
You see by the added detail that she departed with her coachman. I hope
Sarebbe has not made a mistake, but I am afraid the chances are that she
has. _Sono dispiacentissimo_.

There are several fires: also a couple of accidents. This is one of

Grave disgrazia sul Ponte Vecchio

Stammattina, circe le 7,30, mentre Giuseppe Sciatti, di anni 55, di
Casellina e Torri, passava dal Ponte Vecchio, stando seduto sopra un
barroccio carico di verdura, perse l’ equilibrio e cadde al suolo,
rimanendo con la gamba destra sotto una ruota del veicolo.

Lo Sciatti fu subito raccolto da alcuni cittadini, che, per mezzo della
pubblica vettura n. 365, lo transporto a San Giovanni di Dio.

Ivi il medico di guardia gli riscontro la frattura della gamba destra
e alcune lievi escoriazioni giudicandolo guaribile in 50 giorni salvo

What it seems to say is this: “Serious Disgrace on the Old Old Bridge.
This morning about 7.30, Mr. Joseph Sciatti, aged 55, of Casellina and
Torri, while standing up in a sitting posture on top of a carico barrow
of vedure (foliage? hay? vegetables?), lost his equilibrium and fell
on himself, arriving with his left leg under one of the wheels of the

“Said Sciatti was suddenly harvested (gathered in?) by several citizens,
who by means of public cab No. 365 transported him to St. John of God.”

Paragraph No. 3 is a little obscure, but I think it says that the medico
set the broken left leg--right enough, since there was nothing the
matter with the other one--and that several are encouraged to hope that
fifty days well fetch him around in quite giudicandolo-guaribile way, if
no complications intervene.

I am sure I hope so myself.

There is a great and peculiar charm about reading news-scraps in a
language which you are not acquainted with--the charm that always goes
with the mysterious and the uncertain. You can never be absolutely
sure of the meaning of anything you read in such circumstances; you are
chasing an alert and gamy riddle all the time, and the baffling turns
and dodges of the prey make the life of the hunt. A dictionary would
spoil it. Sometimes a single word of doubtful purport will cast a veil
of dreamy and golden uncertainty over a whole paragraph of cold and
practical certainties, and leave steeped in a haunting and adorable
mystery an incident which had been vulgar and commonplace but for that
benefaction. Would you be wise to draw a dictionary on that gracious
word? would you be properly grateful?

After a couple of days’ rest I now come back to my subject and seek
a case in point. I find it without trouble, in the morning paper; a
cablegram from Chicago and Indiana by way of Paris. All the words save
one are guessable by a person ignorant of Italian:

Revolverate in teatro

PARIGI, 27.--La PATRIE ha da Chicago:

Il guardiano del teatro dell’opera di Walace (Indiana), avendo voluto
espellare uno spettatore che continuava a fumare malgrado il diviety,
questo spalleggiato dai suoi amici tir`o diversi colpi di rivoltella.
Il guardiano ripose. Nacque una scarica generale. Grande panico tra gli
spettatori. Nessun ferito.

_Translation._--“Revolveration in Theater. _Paris, 27th. La Patrie_ has
from Chicago: The cop of the theater of the opera of Wallace, Indiana,
had willed to expel a spectator which continued to smoke in spite of the
prohibition, who, spalleggiato by his friends, tire (_Fr. Tire, Anglice
Pulled_) manifold revolver-shots; great panic among the spectators.
Nobody hurt.”

It is bettable that that harmless cataclysm in the theater of the opera
of Wallace, Indiana, excited not a person in Europe but me, and so came
near to not being worth cabling to Florence by way of France. But it
does excite me. It excites me because I cannot make out, for sure, what
it was that moved the spectator to resist the officer. I was gliding
along smoothly and without obstruction or accident, until I came to that
word “spalleggiato,” then the bottom fell out. You notice what a rich
gloom, what a somber and pervading mystery, that word sheds all over the
whole Wallachian tragedy. That is the charm of the thing, that is the
delight of it. This is where you begin, this is where you revel. You can
guess and guess, and have all the fun you like; you need not be afraid
there will be an end to it; none is possible, for no amount of guessing
will ever furnish you a meaning for that word that you can be sure is
the right one. All the other words give you hints, by their form, their
sound, or their spelling--this one doesn’t, this one throws out no
hints, this one keeps its secret. If there is even the slightest slight
shadow of a hint anywhere, it lies in the very meagerly suggestive fact
that “spalleggiato” carries our word “egg” in its stomach. Well, make
the most out of it, and then where are you at? You conjecture that
the spectator which was smoking in spite of the prohibition and become
reprohibited by the guardians, was “egged on” by his friends, and that
was owing to that evil influence that he initiated the revolveration in
theater that has galloped under the sea and come crashing through the
European press without exciting anybody but me. But are you sure, are
you dead sure, that that was the way of it? No. Then the uncertainty
remains, the mystery abides, and with it the charm. Guess again.

If I had a phrase-book of a really satisfactory sort I would study it,
and not give all my free time to undictionarial readings, but there is
no such work on the market. The existing phrase-books are inadequate.
They are well enough as far as they go, but when you fall down and skin
your leg they don’t tell you what to say.


I found that a person of large intelligence could read this beautiful
language with considerable facility without a dictionary, but I
presently found that to such a person a grammar could be of use at
times. It is because, if he does not know the _were’s_ and the
_was’s_ and the _maybe’s_ and the _has-beens’s_ apart, confusions and
uncertainties can arise. He can get the idea that a thing is going to
happen next week when the truth is that it has already happened week
before last. Even more previously, sometimes. Examination and inquiry
showed me that the adjectives and such things were frank and fair-minded
and straightforward, and did not shuffle; it was the Verb that mixed the
hands, it was the Verb that lacked stability, it was the Verb that had
no permanent opinion about anything, it was the Verb that was always
dodging the issue and putting out the light and making all the trouble.

Further examination, further inquiry, further reflection, confirmed this
judgment, and established beyond peradventure the fact that the Verb was
the storm-center. This discovery made plain the right and wise course to
pursue in order to acquire certainty and exactness in understanding the
statements which the newspaper was daily endeavoring to convey to me: I
must catch a Verb and tame it. I must find out its ways, I must spot
its eccentricities, I must penetrate its disguises, I must intelligently
foresee and forecast at least the commoner of the dodges it was likely
to try upon a stranger in given circumstances, I must get in on its main
shifts and head them off, I must learn its game and play the limit.

I had noticed, in other foreign languages, that verbs are bred in
families, and that the members of each family have certain features or
resemblances that are common to that family and distinguish it from the
other families--the other kin, the cousins and what not. I had noticed
that this family-mark is not usually the nose or the hair, so to speak,
but the tail--the Termination--and that these tails are quite definitely
differentiated; insomuch that an expert can tell a Pluperfect from a
Subjunctive by its tail as easily and as certainly as a cowboy can tell
a cow from a horse by the like process, the result of observation and
culture. I should explain that I am speaking of legitimate verbs, those
verbs which in the slang of the grammar are called Regular. There are
others--I am not meaning to conceal this; others called Irregulars, born
out of wedlock, of unknown and uninteresting parentage, and naturally
destitute of family resemblances, as regards to all features, tails
included. But of these pathetic outcasts I have nothing to say. I do not
approve of them, I do not encourage them; I am prudishly delicate and
sensitive, and I do not allow them to be used in my presence.

But, as I have said, I decided to catch one of the others and break it
into harness. One is enough. Once familiar with its assortment of tails,
you are immune; after that, no regular verb can conceal its specialty
from you and make you think it is working the past or the future or the
conditional or the unconditional when it is engaged in some other line
of business--its tail will give it away. I found out all these things by
myself, without a teacher.

I selected the verb _amare, to love._ Not for any personal reason, for
I am indifferent about verbs; I care no more for one verb than for
another, and have little or no respect for any of them; but in foreign
languages you always begin with that one. Why, I don’t know. It is
merely habit, I suppose; the first teacher chose it, Adam was satisfied,
and there hasn’t been a successor since with originality enough to start
a fresh one. For they _are _a pretty limited lot, you will admit that?
Originality is not in their line; they can’t think up anything new,
anything to freshen up the old moss-grown dullness of the language
lesson and put life and “go” into it, and charm and grace and

I knew I must look after those details myself; therefore I thought them
out and wrote them down, and sent for the _facchino _and explained them
to him, and said he must arrange a proper plant, and get together a
good stock company among the _contadini_, and design the costumes, and
distribute the parts; and drill the troupe, and be ready in three days
to begin on this Verb in a shipshape and workman-like manner. I told him
to put each grand division of it under a foreman, and each subdivision
under a subordinate of the rank of sergeant or corporal or something
like that, and to have a different uniform for each squad, so that I
could tell a Pluperfect from a Compound Future without looking at the
book; the whole battery to be under his own special and particular
command, with the rank of Brigadier, and I to pay the freight.

I then inquired into the character and possibilities of the selected
verb, and was much disturbed to find that it was over my size, it being
chambered for fifty-seven rounds--fifty-seven ways of saying I _love_
without reloading; and yet none of them likely to convince a girl that
was laying for a title, or a title that was laying for rocks.

It seemed to me that with my inexperience it would be foolish to go into
action with this mitrailleuse, so I ordered it to the rear and told the
facchino to provide something a little more primitive to start with,
something less elaborate, some gentle old-fashioned flint-lock,
smooth-bore, double-barreled thing, calculated to cripple at two hundred
yards and kill at forty--an arrangement suitable for a beginner who
could be satisfied with moderate results on the offstart and did not
wish to take the whole territory in the first campaign.

But in vain. He was not able to mend the matter, all the verbs being
of the same build, all Gatlings, all of the same caliber and delivery,
fifty-seven to the volley, and fatal at a mile and a half. But he said
the auxiliary verb _avere, to have_, was a tidy thing, and easy to
handle in a seaway, and less likely to miss stays in going about than
some of the others; so, upon his recommendation I chose that one,
and told him to take it along and scrape its bottom and break out its
spinnaker and get it ready for business.

I will explain that a facchino is a general-utility domestic. Mine was a
horse-doctor in his better days, and a very good one.

At the end of three days the facchino-doctor-brigadier was ready. I was
also ready, with a stenographer. We were in a room called the Rope-Walk.
This is a formidably long room, as is indicated by its facetious name,
and is a good place for reviews. At 9:30 the F.-D.-B. took his place
near me and gave the word of command; the drums began to rumble and
thunder, the head of the forces appeared at an upper door, and the
“march-past” was on. Down they filed, a blaze of variegated color, each
squad gaudy in a uniform of its own and bearing a banner inscribed with
its verbal rank and quality: first the Present Tense in Mediterranean
blue and old gold, then the Past Definite in scarlet and black, then the
Imperfect in green and yellow, then the Indicative Future in the stars
and stripes, then the Old Red Sandstone Subjunctive in purple
and silver--and so on and so on, fifty-seven privates and twenty
commissioned and non-commissioned officers; certainly one of the most
fiery and dazzling and eloquent sights I have ever beheld. I could not
keep back the tears. Presently:

“Halt!” commanded the Brigadier.


“Right dress!”

“Stand at ease!”

“One--two--three. In unison--_recite!_”

It was fine. In one noble volume of sound of all the fifty-seven
Haves in the Italian language burst forth in an exalting and splendid
confusion. Then came commands:

“About--face! Eyes--front! Helm alee--hard aport! Forward--march!” and
the drums let go again.

When the last Termination had disappeared, the commander said the
instruction drill would now begin, and asked for suggestions. I said:

“They say _I have, thou hast, he has_, and so on, but they don’t say
_what_. It will be better, and more definite, if they have something to
have; just an object, you know, a something--anything will do; anything
that will give the listener a sort of personal as well as grammatical
interest in their joys and complaints, you see.”

He said:

“It is a good point. Would a dog do?”

I said I did not know, but we could try a dog and see. So he sent out an
aide-de-camp to give the order to add the dog.

The six privates of the Present Tense now filed in, in charge of
Sergeant Avere (_to have_), and displaying their banner. They formed in
line of battle, and recited, one at a time, thus:

“_Io ho un cane,_ I have a dog.”

“_Tu hai un cane_, thou hast a dog.”

_“Egli ha un cane, _he has a dog.”

_“Noi abbiamo un cane_, we have a dog.”

“_Voi avete un cane_, you have a dog.”

“_Eglino hanno un cane,_ they have a dog.”

No comment followed. They returned to camp, and I reflected a while. The
commander said:

“I fear you are disappointed.”

“Yes,” I said; “they are too monotonous, too singsong, to
dead-and-alive; they have no expression, no elocution. It isn’t natural;
it could never happen in real life. A person who had just acquired a dog
is either blame’ glad or blame’ sorry. He is not on the fence. I never
saw a case. What the nation do you suppose is the matter with these

He thought maybe the trouble was with the dog. He said:

“These are _contadini_, you know, and they have a prejudice against
dogs--that is, against marimane. Marimana dogs stand guard over people’s
vines and olives, you know, and are very savage, and thereby a grief and
an inconvenience to persons who want other people’s things at night. In
my judgment they have taken this dog for a marimana, and have soured on

I saw that the dog was a mistake, and not functionable: we must try
something else; something, if possible, that could evoke sentiment,
interest, feeling.

“What is cat, in Italian?” I asked.


“Is it a gentleman cat, or a lady?”

“Gentleman cat.”

“How are these people as regards that animal?”

“We-ll, they--they--”

“You hesitate: that is enough. How are they about chickens?”

He tilted his eyes toward heaven in mute ecstasy. I understood.

“What is chicken, in Italian?” I asked.

“Pollo, _Podere._” (Podere is Italian for master. It is a title of
courtesy, and conveys reverence and admiration.) “Pollo is one chicken
by itself; when there are enough present to constitute a plural, it is

“Very well, polli will do. Which squad is detailed for duty next?”

“The Past Definite.”

“Send out and order it to the front--with chickens. And let them
understand that we don’t want any more of this cold indifference.”

He gave the order to an aide, adding, with a haunting tenderness in his
tone and a watering mouth in his aspect:

“Convey to them the conception that these are unprotected chickens.” He
turned to me, saluting with his hand to his temple, and explained, “It
will inflame their interest in the poultry, sire.”

A few minutes elapsed. Then the squad marched in and formed up, their
faces glowing with enthusiasm, and the file-leader shouted:

“_Ebbi polli_, I had chickens!”

“Good!” I said. “Go on, the next.”

“_Avest polli_, thou hadst chickens!”

“Fine! Next!”

“_Ebbe polli_, he had chickens!”

“Moltimoltissimo! Go on, the next!”

“_Avemmo polli,_ we had chickens!”

“Basta-basta aspettatto avanti--last man--_charge_!”

“_Ebbero polli_, they had chickens!”

Then they formed in echelon, by columns of fours, refused the left, and
retired in great style on the double-quick. I was enchanted, and said:

“Now, doctor, that is something _like_! Chickens are the ticket, there
is no doubt about it. What is the next squad?”

“The Imperfect.”

“How does it go?”

“_Io Aveva_, I had, _tu avevi_, thou hadst, _egli aveva_, he had, _noi

“Wait--we’ve just _had _the hads. What are you giving me?”

“But this is another breed.”

“What do we want of another breed? Isn’t one breed enough? _Had_ is
_had_, and your tricking it out in a fresh way of spelling isn’t going
to make it any hadder than it was before; now you know that yourself.”

“But there is a distinction--they are not just the same Hads.”

“How do you make it out?”

“Well, you use that first Had when you are referring to something that
happened at a named and sharp and perfectly definite moment; you use the
other when the thing happened at a vaguely defined time and in a more
prolonged and indefinitely continuous way.”

“Why, doctor, it is pure nonsense; you know it yourself. Look here: If
I have had a had, or have wanted to have had a had, or was in a position
right then and there to have had a had that hadn’t had any chance to go
out hadding on account of this foolish discrimination which lets one Had
go hadding in any kind of indefinite grammatical weather but restricts
the other one to definite and datable meteoric convulsions, and keeps it
pining around and watching the barometer all the time, and liable to
get sick through confinement and lack of exercise, and all that sort of
thing, why--why, the inhumanity of it is enough, let alone the
wanton superfluity and uselessness of any such a loafing consumptive
hospital-bird of a Had taking up room and cumbering the place for
nothing. These finical refinements revolt me; it is not right, it is not
honorable; it is constructive nepotism to keep in office a Had that is
so delicate it can’t come out when the wind’s in the nor’west--I won’t
have this dude on the payroll. Cancel his exequator; and look here--”

“But you miss the point. It is like this. You see--”

“Never mind explaining, I don’t care anything about it. Six Hads is
enough for me; anybody that needs twelve, let him subscribe; I don’t
want any stock in a Had Trust. Knock out the Prolonged and Indefinitely
Continuous; four-fifths of it is water, anyway.”

“But I beg you, podere! It is often quite indispensable in cases

“Pipe the next squad to the assault!”

But it was not to be; for at that moment the dull boom of the noon
gun floated up out of far-off Florence, followed by the usual softened
jangle of church-bells, Florentine and suburban, that bursts out in
murmurous response; by labor-union law the _colazione_ (1) must stop;
stop promptly, stop instantly, stop definitely, like the chosen and best
of the breed of Hads.

1. Colazione is Italian for a collection, a meeting, a seance, a


Two or three persons having at different times intimated that if I would
write an autobiography they would read it when they got leisure, I yield
at last to this frenzied public demand and herewith tender my history.

Ours is a noble house, and stretches a long way back into antiquity.
The earliest ancestor the Twains have any record of was a friend of the
family by the name of Higgins. This was in the eleventh century, when
our people were living in Aberdeen, county of Cork, England. Why it is
that our long line has ever since borne the maternal name (except when
one of them now and then took a playful refuge in an alias to avert
foolishness), instead of Higgins, is a mystery which none of us has ever
felt much desire to stir. It is a kind of vague, pretty romance, and we
leave it alone. All the old families do that way.

Arthour Twain was a man of considerable note--a solicitor on the highway
in William Rufus’s time. At about the age of thirty he went to one of
those fine old English places of resort called Newgate, to see about
something, and never returned again. While there he died suddenly.

Augustus Twain seems to have made something of a stir about the year
1160. He was as full of fun as he could be, and used to take his old
saber and sharpen it up, and get in a convenient place on a dark night,
and stick it through people as they went by, to see them jump. He was a
born humorist. But he got to going too far with it; and the first time
he was found stripping one of these parties, the authorities removed one
end of him, and put it up on a nice high place on Temple Bar, where it
could contemplate the people and have a good time. He never liked any
situation so much or stuck to it so long.

Then for the next two hundred years the family tree shows a succession
of soldiers--noble, high-spirited fellows, who always went into battle
singing, right behind the army, and always went out a-whooping, right
ahead of it.

This is a scathing rebuke to old dead Froissart’s poor witticism that
our family tree never had but one limb to it, and that that one stuck
out at right angles, and bore fruit winter and summer.

Early in the fifteenth century we have Beau Twain, called “the Scholar.”
 He wrote a beautiful, beautiful hand. And he could imitate anybody’s
hand so closely that it was enough to make a person laugh his head off
to see it. He had infinite sport with his talent. But by and by he took
a contract to break stone for a road, and the roughness of the work
spoiled his hand. Still, he enjoyed life all the time he was in the
stone business, which, with inconsiderable intervals, was some forty-two
years. In fact, he died in harness. During all those long years he gave
such satisfaction that he never was through with one contract a week
till the government gave him another. He was a perfect pet. And he was
always a favorite with his fellow-artists, and was a conspicuous member
of their benevolent secret society, called the Chain Gang. He always
wore his hair short, had a preference for striped clothes, and died
lamented by the government. He was a sore loss to his country. For he
was so regular.

Some years later we have the illustrious John Morgan Twain. He came over
to this country with Columbus in 1492 as a passenger. He appears to have
been of a crusty, uncomfortable disposition. He complained of the food
all the way over, and was always threatening to go ashore unless there
was a change. He wanted fresh shad. Hardly a day passed over his head
that he did not go idling about the ship with his nose in the air,
sneering about the commander, and saying he did not believe Columbus
knew where he was going to or had ever been there before. The memorable
cry of “Land ho!” thrilled every heart in the ship but his. He gazed
awhile through a piece of smoked glass at the penciled line lying on the
distant water, and then said: “Land be hanged--it’s a raft!”

When this questionable passenger came on board the ship, he brought
nothing with him but an old newspaper containing a handkerchief marked
“B. G.,” one cotton sock marked “L. W. C.,” one woolen one marked “D.
F.,” and a night-shirt marked “O. M. R.” And yet during the voyage he
worried more about his “trunk,” and gave himself more airs about it,
than all the rest of the passengers put together. If the ship was “down
by the head,” and would not steer, he would go and move his “trunk”
 further aft, and then watch the effect. If the ship was “by the stern,”
 he would suggest to Columbus to detail some men to “shift that baggage.”
 In storms he had to be gagged, because his wailings about his “trunk”
 made it impossible for the men to hear the orders. The man does not
appear to have been openly charged with any gravely unbecoming thing,
but it is noted in the ship’s log as a “curious circumstance” that
albeit he brought his baggage on board the ship in a newspaper, he took
it ashore in four trunks, a queensware crate, and a couple of champagne
baskets. But when he came back insinuating, in an insolent, swaggering
way, that some of this things were missing, and was going to search
the other passengers’ baggage, it was too much, and they threw him
overboard. They watched long and wonderingly for him to come up, but not
even a bubble rose on the quietly ebbing tide. But while every one was
most absorbed in gazing over the side, and the interest was momentarily
increasing, it was observed with consternation that the vessel was
adrift and the anchor-cable hanging limp from the bow. Then in the
ship’s dimmed and ancient log we find this quaint note:

“In time it was discouvered yt ye troblesome passenger hadde gone downe
and got ye anchor, and toke ye same and solde it to ye dam sauvages from
ye interior, saying yt he hadde founde it, ye sonne of a ghun!”

Yet this ancestor had good and noble instincts, and it is with pride
that we call to mind the fact that he was the first white person who
ever interested himself in the work of elevating and civilizing our
Indians. He built a commodious jail and put up a gallows, and to
his dying day he claimed with satisfaction that he had had a more
restraining and elevating influence on the Indians than any other
reformer that ever labored among them. At this point the chronicle
becomes less frank and chatty, and closes abruptly by saying that the
old voyager went to see his gallows perform on the first white man ever
hanged in America, and while there received injuries which terminated in
his death.

The great-grandson of the “Reformer” flourished in sixteen hundred and
something, and was known in our annals as “the old Admiral,” though in
history he had other titles. He was long in command of fleets of swift
vessels, well armed and manned, and did great service in hurrying up
merchantmen. Vessels which he followed and kept his eagle eye on, always
made good fair time across the ocean. But if a ship still loitered
in spite of all he could do, his indignation would grow till he could
contain himself no longer--and then he would take that ship home where
he lived and keep it there carefully, expecting the owners to come for
it, but they never did. And he would try to get the idleness and sloth
out of the sailors of that ship by compelling them to take invigorating
exercise and a bath. He called it “walking a plank.” All the pupils
liked it. At any rate, they never found any fault with it after trying
it. When the owners were late coming for their ships, the Admiral always
burned them, so that the insurance money should not be lost. At last
this fine old tar was cut down in the fullness of his years and honors.
And to her dying day, his poor heart-broken widow believed that if
he had been cut down fifteen minutes sooner he might have been

Charles Henry Twain lived during the latter part of the seventeenth
century, and was a zealous and distinguished missionary. He converted
sixteen thousand South Sea islanders, and taught them that a dog-tooth
necklace and a pair of spectacles was not enough clothing to come to
divine service in. His poor flock loved him very, very dearly; and
when his funeral was over, they got up in a body (and came out of the
restaurant) with tears in their eyes, and saying, one to another, that
he was a good tender missionary, and they wished they had some more of

Pah-go-to-wah-wah-pukketekeewis (Mighty-Hunter-with-a-Hog-Eye-Twain)
adorned the middle of the eighteenth century, and aided General Braddock
with all his heart to resist the oppressor Washington. It was this
ancestor who fired seventeen times at our Washington from behind a tree.
So far the beautiful romantic narrative in the moral story-books is
correct; but when that narrative goes on to say that at the seventeenth
round the awe-stricken savage said solemnly that that man was being
reserved by the Great Spirit for some mighty mission, and he dared not
lift his sacrilegious rifle against him again, the narrative seriously
impairs the integrity of history. What he did say was:

“It ain’t no (hic) no use. ‘At man’s so drunk he can’t stan’ still long
enough for a man to hit him. I (hic) I can’t ‘ford to fool away any more
am’nition on him.”

That was why he stopped at the seventeenth round, and it was a good,
plain, matter-of-fact reason, too, and one that easily commends itself
to us by the eloquent, persuasive flavor of probability there is about

I also enjoyed the story-book narrative, but I felt a marring misgiving
that every Indian at Braddock’s Defeat who fired at a soldier a couple
of times (two easily grows to seventeen in a century), and missed
him, jumped to the conclusion that the Great Spirit was reserving that
soldier for some grand mission; and so I somehow feared that the only
reason why Washington’s case is remembered and the others forgotten is,
that in his the prophecy came true, and in that of the others it
didn’t. There are not books enough on earth to contain the record of the
prophecies Indians and other unauthorized parties have made; but one may
carry in his overcoat pockets the record of all the prophecies that have
been fulfilled.

I will remark here, in passing, that certain ancestors of mine are so
thoroughly well-known in history by their aliases, that I have not felt
it to be worth while to dwell upon them, or even mention them in the
order of their birth. Among these may be mentioned Richard Brinsley
Twain, alias Guy Fawkes; John Wentworth Twain, alias Sixteen-String
Jack; William Hogarth Twain, alias Jack Sheppard; Ananias Twain, alias
Baron Munchausen; John George Twain, alias Captain Kydd; and then there
are George Francis Twain, Tom Pepper, Nebuchadnezzar, and Baalam’s
Ass--they all belong to our family, but to a branch of it somewhat
distinctly removed from the honorable direct line--in fact, a collateral
branch, whose members chiefly differ from the ancient stock in that, in
order to acquire the notoriety we have always yearned and hungered for,
they have got into a low way of going to jail instead of getting hanged.

It is not well, when writing an autobiography, to follow your ancestry
down too close to your own time--it is safest to speak only vaguely of
your great-grandfather, and then skip from there to yourself, which I
now do.

I was born without teeth--and there Richard III. had the advantage of
me; but I was born without a humpback, likewise, and there I had the
advantage of him. My parents were neither very poor nor conspicuously

But now a thought occurs to me. My own history would really seem so tame
contrasted with that of my ancestors, that it is simply wisdom to leave
it unwritten until I am hanged. If some other biographies I have read
had stopped with the ancestry until a like event occurred, it would have
been a felicitous thing for the reading public. How does it strike you?


The Humorous Story an American Development.--Its Difference from Comic
and Witty Stories

I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only
claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily
in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years.

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind--the
humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is
American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The
humorous story depends for its effect upon the _manner _of the telling;
the comic story and the witty story upon the _matter_.

The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander
around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the
comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous
story bubbles gently along, the others burst.

The humorous story is strictly a work of art--high and delicate art--and
only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic
and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous
story--understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print--was created in
America, and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal
the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about
it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is
one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager
delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And
sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that
he will repeat the “nub” of it and glance around from face to face,
collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to

Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story
finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it.
Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will
divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and
indifferent way, with the pretense that he does not know it is a nub.

Artemus Ward used that trick a good deal; then when the belated audience
presently caught the joke he would look up with innocent surprise, as if
wondering what they had found to laugh at. Dan Setchell used it before
him, Nye and Riley and others use it today.

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at
you--every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and
Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whopping exclamation-points after
it, and sometimes explains it in a parenthesis. All of which is very
depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better

Let me set down an instance of the comic method, using an anecdote which
has been popular all over the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years.
The teller tells it in this way:


In the course of a certain battle a soldier whose leg had been shot
off appealed to another soldier who was hurrying by to carry him to the
rear, informing him at the same time of the loss which he had sustained;
whereupon the generous son of Mars, shouldering the unfortunate,
proceeded to carry out his desire. The bullets and cannon-balls were
flying in all directions, and presently one of the latter took the
wounded man’s head off--without, however, his deliverer being aware of
it. In no long time he was hailed by an officer, who said:

“Where are you going with that carcass?”

“To the rear, sir--he’s lost his leg!”

“His leg, forsooth?” responded the astonished officer; “you mean his
head, you booby.”

Whereupon the soldier dispossessed himself of his burden, and stood
looking down upon it in great perplexity. At length he said:

“It is true, sir, just as you have said.” Then after a pause he added,
“_But he TOLD me IT WAS HIS LEG!!!!!_”

Here the narrator bursts into explosion after explosion of thunderous
horse-laughter, repeating that nub from time to time through his gasping
and shriekings and suffocatings.

It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its comic-story form;
and isn’t worth the telling, after all. Put into the humorous-story
form it takes ten minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever
listened to--as James Whitcomb Riley tells it.

He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old farmer who has just
heard it for the first time, thinks it is unspeakably funny, and is
trying to repeat it to a neighbor. But he can’t remember it; so he gets
all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and round, putting in tedious
details that don’t belong in the tale and only retard it; taking them
out conscientiously and putting in others that are just as useless;
making minor mistakes now and then and stopping to correct them and
explain how he came to make them; remembering things which he forgot
to put in in their proper place and going back to put them in there;
stopping his narrative a good while in order to try to recall the name
of the soldier that was hurt, and finally remembering that the soldier’s
name was not mentioned, and remarking placidly that the name is of no
real importance, anyway--better, of course, if one knew it, but not
essential, after all--and so on, and so on, and so on.

The teller is innocent and happy and pleased with himself, and has
to stop every little while to hold himself in and keep from laughing
outright; and does hold in, but his body quakes in a jelly-like way with
interior chuckles; and at the end of the ten minutes the audience have
laughed until they are exhausted, and the tears are running down their

The simplicity and innocence and sincerity and unconsciousness of the
old farmer are perfectly simulated, and the result is a performance
which is thoroughly charming and delicious. This is art--and fine and
beautiful, and only a master can compass it; but a machine could tell
the other story.

To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and
sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they
are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is
correct. Another feature is the slurring of the point. A third is the
dropping of a studied remark apparently without knowing it, as if one
where thinking aloud. The fourth and last is the pause.

Artemus Ward dealt in numbers three and four a good deal. He would begin
to tell with great animation something which he seemed to think was
wonderful; then lose confidence, and after an apparently absent-minded
pause add an incongruous remark in a soliloquizing way; and that was the
remark intended to explode the mine--and it did.

For instance, he would say eagerly, excitedly, “I once knew a man in New
Zealand who hadn’t a tooth in his head”--here his animation would
die out; a silent, reflective pause would follow, then he would say
dreamily, and as if to himself, “and yet that man could beat a drum
better than any man I ever saw.”

The pause is an exceedingly important feature in any kind of story, and
a frequently recurring feature, too. It is a dainty thing, and delicate,
and also uncertain and treacherous; for it must be exactly the right
length--no more and no less--or it fails of its purpose and makes
trouble. If the pause is too short the impressive point is passed, and
the audience have had time to divine that a surprise is intended--and
then you can’t surprise them, of course.

On the platform I used to tell a negro ghost story that had a pause in
front of the snapper on the end, and that pause was the most important
thing in the whole story. If I got it the right length precisely, I
could spring the finishing ejaculation with effect enough to make some
impressible girl deliver a startled little yelp and jump out of her
seat--and that was what I was after. This story was called “The
Golden Arm,” and was told in this fashion. You can practice with it
yourself--and mind you look out for the pause and get it right.


Once ‘pon a time dey wuz a monsus mean man, en he live ‘way out in de
prairie all ‘lone by hisself, ‘cep’n he had a wife. En bimeby she died,
en he tuck en toted her way out dah in de prairie en buried her. Well,
she had a golden arm--all solid gold, fum de shoulder down. He wuz
pow’ful mean--pow’ful; en dat night he couldn’t sleep, caze he want dat
golden arm so bad.

When it come midnight he couldn’t stan’ it no mo’; so he git up, he did,
en tuck his lantern en shoved out thoo de storm en dug her up en got de
golden arm; en he bent his head down ‘gin de win’, en plowed en plowed
en plowed thoo de snow. Den all on a sudden he stop (make a considerable
pause here, and look startled, and take a listening attitude) en say:
“My _lan’_, what’s dat?”

En he listen--en listen--en de win’ say (set your teeth together and
imitate the wailing and wheezing singsong of the wind), “Bzzz-z-zzz”--en
den, way back yonder whah de grave is, he hear a _voice_!--he hear
a voice all mix’ up in de win’--can’t hardly tell ‘em ‘part--
“Bzzz--zzz--W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y--g-o-l-d-e-n _arm?_” (You must begin to
shiver violently now.)

En he begin to shiver en shake, en say, “Oh, my! _Oh_, my lan’!” en de
win’ blow de lantern out, en de snow en sleet blow in his face en mos’
choke him, en he start a-plowin’ knee-deep toward home mos’ dead, he so
sk’yerd--en pooty soon he hear de voice agin, en (pause) it ‘us comin
_after _him! “Bzzz--zzz--zzz W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y--g-o-l-d-e-n--_arm_?”

When he git to de pasture he hear it agin--closter now, en
_a-comin’!_--a-comin’ back dah in de dark en de storm--(repeat the wind
and the voice). When he git to de house he rush upstairs en jump in de
bed en kiver up, head and years, en lay da shiverin’ en shakin’--en
den way out dah he hear it _agin!_--en a-_comin’_! En bimeby he hear
(pause--awed, listening attitude)--pat--pat--pat _Hit’s a-comin’
upstairs!_ Den he hear de latch, en he _know _it’s in de room!

Den pooty soon he know it’s a-_stannin’ by de bed!_ (Pause.) Den--he
know it’s a-_bendin’ down over him_--en he cain’t skasely git his
breath! Den--den--he seem to feel someth’n’ _c-o-l-d_, right down ‘most
agin his head! (Pause.)

Den de voice say, _right at his year_--“W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y g-o-l-d-e-n
_arm?_” (You must wail it out very plaintively and accusingly; then
you stare steadily and impressively into the face of the farthest-gone
auditor--a girl, preferably--and let that awe-inspiring pause begin to
build itself in the deep hush. When it has reached exactly the right
length, jump suddenly at that girl and yell, “_You’ve_ got it!”)

If you’ve got the _pause _right, she’ll fetch a dear little yelp and
spring right out of her shoes. But you _must _get the pause right; and
you will find it the most troublesome and aggravating and uncertain
thing you ever undertook.


A Biographical Sketch

The stirring part of this celebrated colored man’s life properly began
with his death--that is to say, the notable features of his biography
began with the first time he died. He had been little heard of up to
that time, but since then we have never ceased to hear of him; we have
never ceased to hear of him at stated, unfailing intervals. His was a
most remarkable career, and I have thought that its history would make
a valuable addition to our biographical literature. Therefore, I
have carefully collated the materials for such a work, from authentic
sources, and here present them to the public. I have rigidly excluded
from these pages everything of a doubtful character, with the object in
view of introducing my work into the schools for the instruction of the
youth of my country.

The name of the famous body-servant of General Washington was George.
After serving his illustrious master faithfully for half a century, and
enjoying throughout this long term his high regard and confidence, it
became his sorrowful duty at last to lay that beloved master to rest in
his peaceful grave by the Potomac. Ten years afterward--in 1809--full
of years and honors, he died himself, mourned by all who knew him. The
_Boston Gazette_ of that date thus refers to the event:

George, the favorite body-servant of the lamented Washington, died in
Richmond, Va., last Tuesday, at the ripe age of 95 years. His intellect
was unimpaired, and his memory tenacious, up to within a few minutes of
his decease. He was present at the second installation of Washington as
President, and also at his funeral, and distinctly remembered all the
prominent incidents connected with those noted events.

From this period we hear no more of the favorite body-servant of General
Washington until May, 1825, at which time he died again. A Philadelphia
paper thus speaks of the sad occurrence:

At Macon, Ga., last week, a colored man named George, who was the
favorite body-servant of General Washington, died at the advanced age
of 95 years. Up to within a few hours of his dissolution he was in full
possession of all his faculties, and could distinctly recollect the
second installation of Washington, his death and burial, the surrender
of Cornwallis, the battle of Trenton, the griefs and hardships of Valley
Forge, etc. Deceased was followed to the grave by the entire population
of Macon.

On the Fourth of July, 1830, and also of 1834 and 1836, the subject of
this sketch was exhibited in great state upon the rostrum of the
orator of the day, and in November of 1840 he died again. The St. Louis
_Republican_ of the 25th of that month spoke as follows:


“George, once the favorite body-servant of General Washington, died
yesterday at the house of Mr. John Leavenworth in this city, at
the venerable age of 95 years. He was in the full possession of his
faculties up to the hour of his death, and distinctly recollected the
first and second installations and death of President Washington,
the surrender of Cornwallis, the battles of Trenton and Monmouth, the
sufferings of the patriot army at Valley Forge, the proclamation of the
Declaration of Independence, the speech of Patrick Henry in the Virginia
House of Delegates, and many other old-time reminiscences of stirring
interest. Few white men die lamented as was this aged negro. The funeral
was very largely attended.”

During the next ten or eleven years the subject of this sketch appeared
at intervals at Fourth-of-July celebrations in various parts of the
country, and was exhibited upon the rostrum with flattering success. But
in the fall of 1855 he died again. The California papers thus speak of
the event:


Died, at Dutch Flat, on the 7th of March, George (once the confidential
body-servant of General Washington), at the great age of 95 years. His
memory, which did not fail him till the last, was a wonderful storehouse
of interesting reminiscences. He could distinctly recollect the
first and second installations and death of President Washington, the
surrender of Cornwallis, the battles of Trenton and Monmouth, and
Bunker Hill, the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence, and
Braddock’s defeat. George was greatly respected in Dutch Flat, and it is
estimated that there were 10,000 people present at his funeral.

The last time the subject of this sketch died was in June, 1864;
and until we learn the contrary, it is just to presume that he died
permanently this time. The Michigan papers thus refer to the sorrowful


George, a colored man, and once the favorite body-servant of George
Washington, died in Detroit last week, at the patriarchal age of 95
years. To the moment of his death his intellect was unclouded, and he
could distinctly remember the first and second installations and death
of Washington, the surrender of Cornwallis, the battles of Trenton
and Monmouth, and Bunker Hill, the proclamation of the Declaration of
Independence, Braddock’s defeat, the throwing over of the tea in Boston
harbor, and the landing of the Pilgrims. He died greatly respected, and
was followed to the grave by a vast concourse of people.

The faithful old servant is gone! We shall never see him more until
he turns up again. He has closed his long and splendid career of
dissolution, for the present, and sleeps peacefully, as only they sleep
who have earned their rest. He was in all respects a remarkable man. He
held his age better than any celebrity that has figured in history; and
the longer he lived the stronger and longer his memory grew. If he lives
to die again, he will distinctly recollect the discovery of America.

The above resume of his biography I believe to be substantially correct,
although it is possible that he may have died once or twice in obscure
places where the event failed of newspaper notoriety. One fault I find
in all the notices of his death I have quoted, and this ought to be
corrected. In them he uniformly and impartially died at the age of 95.
This could not have been. He might have done that once, or maybe twice,
but he could not have continued it indefinitely. Allowing that when he
first died, he died at the age of 95, he was 151 years old when he died
last, in 1864. But his age did not keep pace with his recollections.
When he died the last time, he distinctly remembered the landing of the
Pilgrims, which took place in 1620. He must have been about twenty years
old when he witnessed that event, wherefore it is safe to assert that
the body-servant of General Washington was in the neighborhood of
two hundred and sixty or seventy years old when he departed this life

Having waited a proper length of time, to see if the subject of his
sketch had gone from us reliably and irrevocably, I now publish his
biography with confidence, and respectfully offer it to a mourning

P.S.--I see by the papers that this infamous old fraud has just died
again, in Arkansas. This makes six times that he is known to have died,
and always in a new place. The death of Washington’s body-servant has
ceased to be a novelty; it’s charm is gone; the people are tired of
it; let it cease. This well-meaning but misguided negro has now put six
different communities to the expense of burying him in state, and has
swindled tens of thousands of people into following him to the grave
under the delusion that a select and peculiar distinction was being
conferred upon them. Let him stay buried for good now; and let that
newspaper suffer the severest censure that shall ever, in all the future
time, publish to the world that General Washington’s favorite colored
body-servant has died again.


All infants appear to have an impertinent and disagreeable fashion
nowadays of saying “smart” things on most occasions that offer, and
especially on occasions when they ought not to be saying anything at
all. Judging by the average published specimens of smart sayings, the
rising generation of children are little better than idiots. And the
parents must surely be but little better than the children, for in most
cases they are the publishers of the sunbursts of infantile imbecility
which dazzle us from the pages of our periodicals. I may seem to speak
with some heat, not to say a suspicion of personal spite; and I do admit
that it nettles me to hear about so many gifted infants in these days,
and remember that I seldom said anything smart when I was a child. I
tried it once or twice, but it was not popular. The family were not
expecting brilliant remarks from me, and so they snubbed me sometimes
and spanked me the rest. But it makes my flesh creep and my blood run
cold to think what might have happened to me if I had dared to utter
some of the smart things of this generation’s “four-year-olds” where my
father could hear me. To have simply skinned me alive and considered his
duty at an end would have seemed to him criminal leniency toward one
so sinning. He was a stern, unsmiling man, and hated all forms of
precocity. If I had said some of the things I have referred to, and said
them in his hearing, he would have destroyed me. He would, indeed. He
would, provided the opportunity remained with him. But it would not, for
I would have had judgment enough to take some strychnine first and say
my smart thing afterward. The fair record of my life has been tarnished
by just one pun. My father overheard that, and he hunted me over four
or five townships seeking to take my life. If I had been full-grown, of
course he would have been right; but, child as I was, I could not know
how wicked a thing I had done.

I made one of those remarks ordinarily called “smart things” before
that, but it was not a pun. Still, it came near causing a serious
rupture between my father and myself. My father and mother, my uncle
Ephraim and his wife, and one or two others were present, and the
conversation turned on a name for me. I was lying there trying some
India-rubber rings of various patterns, and endeavoring to make a
selection, for I was tired of trying to cut my teeth on people’s
fingers, and wanted to get hold of something that would enable me to
hurry the thing through and get something else. Did you ever notice
what a nuisance it was cutting your teeth on your nurse’s finger, or how
back-breaking and tiresome it was trying to cut them on your big toe?
And did you never get out of patience and wish your teeth were in Jerico
long before you got them half cut? To me it seems as if these things
happened yesterday. And they did, to some children. But I digress. I
was lying there trying the India-rubber rings. I remember looking at the
clock and noticing that in an hour and twenty-five minutes I would be
two weeks old, and thinking how little I had done to merit the blessings
that were so unsparingly lavished upon me. My father said:

“Abraham is a good name. My grandfather was named Abraham.”

My mother said:

“Abraham is a good name. Very well. Let us have Abraham for one of his

I said:

“Abraham suits the subscriber.”

My father frowned, my mother looked pleased; my aunt said:

“What a little darling it is!”

My father said:

“Isaac is a good name, and Jacob is a good name.”

My mother assented, and said:

“No names are better. Let us add Isaac and Jacob to his names.”

I said:

“All right. Isaac and Jacob are good enough for yours truly. Pass me
that rattle, if you please. I can’t chew India-rubber rings all day.”

Not a soul made a memorandum of these sayings of mine, for publication.
I saw that, and did it myself, else they would have been utterly lost.
So far from meeting with a generous encouragement like other children
when developing intellectually, I was now furiously scowled upon by my
father; my mother looked grieved and anxious, and even my aunt had about
her an expression of seeming to think that maybe I had gone too far. I
took a vicious bite out of an India-rubber ring, and covertly broke the
rattle over the kitten’s head, but said nothing. Presently my father

“Samuel is a very excellent name.”

I saw that trouble was coming. Nothing could prevent it. I laid down my
rattle; over the side of the cradle I dropped my uncle’s silver watch,
the clothes-brush, the toy dog, my tin soldier, the nutmeg-grater, and
other matters which I was accustomed to examine, and meditate upon and
make pleasant noises with, and bang and batter and break when I needed
wholesome entertainment. Then I put on my little frock and my little
bonnet, and took my pygmy shoes in one hand and my licorice in the
other, and climbed out on the floor. I said to myself, Now, if the worse
comes to worst, I am ready. Then I said aloud, in a firm voice:

“Father, I cannot, cannot wear the name of Samuel.”

“My son!”

“Father, I mean it. I cannot.”


“Father, I have an invincible antipathy to that name.”

“My son, this is unreasonable. Many great and good men have been named

“Sir, I have yet to hear of the first instance.”

“What! There was Samuel the prophet. Was not he great and good?”

“Not so very.”

“My son! With His own voice the Lord called him.”

“Yes, sir, and had to call him a couple times before he could come!”

And then I sallied forth, and that stern old man sallied forth after
me. He overtook me at noon the following day, and when the interview
was over I had acquired the name of Samuel, and a thrashing, and other
useful information; and by means of this compromise my father’s wrath
was appeased and a misunderstanding bridged over which might have become
a permanent rupture if I had chosen to be unreasonable. But just judging
by this episode, what would my father have done to me if I had
ever uttered in his hearing one of the flat, sickly things these
“two-years-olds” say in print nowadays? In my opinion there would have
been a case of infanticide in our family.


I take the following paragraph from an article in the Boston


Perhaps the most successful flights of humor of Mark Twain have been
descriptions of the persons who did not appreciate his humor at all. We
have become familiar with the Californians who were thrilled with terror
by his burlesque of a newspaper reporter’s way of telling a story,
and we have heard of the Pennsylvania clergyman who sadly returned his
_Innocents Abroad_ to the book-agent with the remark that “the man who
could shed tears over the tomb of Adam must be an idiot.” But Mark Twain
may now add a much more glorious instance to his string of trophies.
The _Saturday Review,_ in its number of October 8th, reviews his book
of travels, which has been republished in England, and reviews it
seriously. We can imagine the delight of the humorist in reading this
tribute to his power; and indeed it is so amusing in itself that he can
hardly do better than reproduce the article in full in his next monthly

(Publishing the above paragraph thus, gives me a sort of authority for
reproducing the _Saturday Review’s_ article in full in these pages. I
dearly wanted to do it, for I cannot write anything half so delicious
myself. If I had a cast-iron dog that could read this English criticism
and preserve his austerity, I would drive him off the door-step.)

(From the London “Saturday Review.”)


_The Innocents Abroad_. A Book of Travels. By Mark Twain. London:
Hotten, publisher. 1870.

Lord Macaulay died too soon. We never felt this so deeply as when we
finished the last chapter of the above-named extravagant work. Macaulay
died too soon--for none but he could mete out complete and comprehensive
justice to the insolence, the impertinence, the presumption, the
mendacity, and, above all, the majestic ignorance of this author.

To say that _The Innocents Abroad_ is a curious book, would be to use
the faintest language--would be to speak of the Matterhorn as a neat
elevation or of Niagara as being “nice” or “pretty.” “Curious” is too
tame a word wherewith to describe the imposing insanity of this work.
There is no word that is large enough or long enough. Let us, therefore,
photograph a passing glimpse of book and author, and trust the rest to
the reader. Let the cultivated English student of human nature
picture to himself this Mark Twain as a person capable of doing the
following-described things--and not only doing them, but with incredible
innocence _printing them_ calmly and tranquilly in a book. For instance:

He states that he entered a hair-dresser’s in Paris to get shaved, and
the first “rake” the barber gave him with his razor it _loosened his
“hide”_ and _lifted him out of the chair._

This is unquestionably exaggerated. In Florence he was so annoyed by
beggars that he pretends to have seized and eaten one in a frantic
spirit of revenge. There is, of course, no truth in this. He gives at
full length a theatrical program seventeen or eighteen hundred years
old, which he professes to have found in the ruins of the Coliseum,
among the dirt and mold and rubbish. It is a sufficient comment upon
this statement to remark that even a cast-iron program would not have
lasted so long under such circumstances. In Greece he plainly betrays
both fright and flight upon one occasion, but with frozen effrontery
puts the latter in this falsely tamed form: “We _sidled _toward the
Piraeus.” “Sidled,” indeed! He does not hesitate to intimate that at
Ephesus, when his mule strayed from the proper course, he got down, took
him under his arm, carried him to the road again, pointed him right,
remounted, and went to sleep contentedly till it was time to restore the
beast to the path once more. He states that a growing youth among his
ship’s passengers was in the constant habit of appeasing his hunger with
soap and oakum between meals. In Palestine he tells of ants that
came eleven miles to spend the summer in the desert and brought their
provisions with them; yet he shows by his description of the country
that the feat was an impossibility. He mentions, as if it were the most
commonplace of matters, that he cut a Moslem in two in broad daylight
in Jerusalem, with Godfrey de Bouillon’s sword, and would have shed
more blood _if he had had a graveyard of his own._ These statements are
unworthy a moment’s attention. Mr. Twain or any other foreigner who did
such a thing in Jerusalem would be mobbed, and would infallibly lose his
life. But why go on? Why repeat more of his audacious and exasperating
falsehoods? Let us close fittingly with this one: he affirms that “in
the mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople I got my feet so stuck up
with a complication of gums, slime, and general impurity, that I wore
out more than two thousand pair of bootjacks getting my boots off that
night, and even then some Christian hide peeled off with them.” It is
monstrous. Such statements are simply lies--there is no other name
for them. Will the reader longer marvel at the brutal ignorance that
pervades the American nation when we tell him that we are informed
upon perfectly good authority that this extravagant compilation of
falsehoods, this exhaustless mine of stupendous lies, this _Innocents
Abroad_, has actually been adopted by the schools and colleges of
several of the states as a text-book!

But if his falsehoods are distressing, his innocence and his ignorance
are enough to make one burn the book and despise the author. In one
place he was so appalled at the sudden spectacle of a murdered man,
unveiled by the moonlight, that he jumped out of the window, going
through sash and all, and then remarks with the most childlike
simplicity that he “was not scared, but was considerably agitated.”
 It puts us out of patience to note that the simpleton is densely
unconscious that Lucrezia Borgia ever existed off the stage. He is
vulgarly ignorant of all foreign languages, but is frank enough to
criticize, the Italians’ use of their own tongue. He says they spell the
name of their great painter “Vinci, but pronounce it Vinchy”--and then
adds with a naivete possible only to helpless ignorance, “foreigners
always spell better than they pronounce.” In another place he commits
the bald absurdity of putting the phrase “tare an ouns” into an
Italian’s mouth. In Rome he unhesitatingly believes the legend that St.
Philip Neri’s heart was so inflamed with divine love that it burst
his ribs--believes it wholly because an author with a learned list of
university degrees strung after his name endorses it--“otherwise,” says
this gentle idiot, “I should have felt a curiosity to know what Philip
had for dinner.” Our author makes a long, fatiguing journey to the
Grotto del Cane on purpose to test its poisoning powers on a dog--got
elaborately ready for the experiment, and then discovered that he had no
dog. A wiser person would have kept such a thing discreetly to himself,
but with this harmless creature everything comes out. He hurts his foot
in a rut two thousand years old in exhumed Pompeii, and presently, when
staring at one of the cinder-like corpses unearthed in the next square,
conceives the idea that maybe it is the remains of the ancient Street
Commissioner, and straightway his horror softens down to a sort of
chirpy contentment with the condition of things. In Damascus he visits
the well of Ananias, three thousand years old, and is as surprised and
delighted as a child to find that the water is “as pure and fresh as if
the well had been dug yesterday.” In the Holy Land he gags desperately
at the hard Arabic and Hebrew Biblical names, and finally concludes to
call them Baldwinsville, Williamsburgh, and so on, “for convenience of

We have thus spoken freely of this man’s stupefying simplicity and
innocence, but we cannot deal similarly with his colossal ignorance. We
do not know where to begin. And if we knew where to begin, we certainly
would not know where to leave off. We will give one specimen, and one
only. He did not know, until he got to Rome, that Michael Angelo
was dead! And then, instead of crawling away and hiding his shameful
ignorance somewhere, he proceeds to express a pious, grateful sort of
satisfaction that he is gone and out of his troubles!

No, the reader may seek out the author’s exhibition of his uncultivation
for himself. The book is absolutely dangerous, considering the magnitude
and variety of its misstatements, and the convincing confidence with
which they are made. And yet it is a text-book in the schools of

The poor blunderer mouses among the sublime creations of the Old
Masters, trying to acquire the elegant proficiency in art-knowledge,
which he has a groping sort of comprehension is a proper thing for a
traveled man to be able to display. But what is the manner of his study?
And what is the progress he achieves? To what extent does he
familiarize himself with the great pictures of Italy, and what degree of
appreciation does he arrive at? Read:

“When we see a monk going about with a lion and looking up into heaven,
we know that that is St. Mark. When we see a monk with a book and a pen,
looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know
that that is St. Matthew. When we see a monk sitting on a rock, looking
tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside him, and without
other baggage, we know that that is St. Jerome. Because we know that
he always went flying light in the matter of baggage. When we see other
monks looking tranquilly up to heaven, but having no trade-mark, we
always ask who those parties are. We do this because we humbly wish to

He then enumerates the thousands and thousand of copies of these several
pictures which he has seen, and adds with accustomed simplicity that he
feels encouraged to believe that when he has seen “Some More” of each,
and had a larger experience, he will eventually “begin to take an
absorbing interest in them”--the vulgar boor.

That we have shown this to be a remarkable book, we think no one
will deny. That it is a pernicious book to place in the hands of the
confiding and uniformed, we think we have also shown. That the book is
a deliberate and wicked creation of a diseased mind, is apparent upon
every page. Having placed our judgment thus upon record, let us close
with what charity we can, by remarking that even in this volume there is
some good to be found; for whenever the author talks of his own country
and lets Europe alone, he never fails to make himself interesting, and
not only interesting but instructive. No one can read without benefit
his occasional chapters and paragraphs, about life in the gold and
silver mines of California and Nevada; about the Indians of the plains
and deserts of the West, and their cannibalism; about the raising of
vegetables in kegs of gunpowder by the aid of two or three teaspoons of
guano; about the moving of small arms from place to place at night in
wheelbarrows to avoid taxes; and about a sort of cows and mules in
the Humboldt mines, that climb down chimneys and disturb the people at
night. These matters are not only new, but are well worth knowing. It is
a pity the author did not put in more of the same kind. His book is well
written and is exceedingly entertaining, and so it just barely escaped
being quite valuable also.

(One month later)

Latterly I have received several letters, and see a number of newspaper
paragraphs, all upon a certain subject, and all of about the same tenor.
I here give honest specimens. One is from a New York paper, one is from
a letter from an old friend, and one is from a letter from a New York
publisher who is a stranger to me. I humbly endeavor to make these bits
toothsome with the remark that the article they are praising (which
appeared in the December _Galaxy_, and _pretended _to be a criticism
from the London _Saturday Review_ on my _Innocents Abroad_) _was written
by myself, every line of it_:

The _Herald _says the richest thing out is the “serious critique” in the
London _Saturday Review_, on Mark Twain’s _Innocents Abroad_. We thought
before we read it that it must be “serious,” as everybody said so, and
were even ready to shed a few tears; but since perusing it, we are bound
to confess that next to Mark Twain’s “_Jumping Frog_” it’s the finest
bit of humor and sarcasm that we’ve come across in many a day.

(I do not get a compliment like that every day.)

I used to think that your writings were pretty good, but after reading
the criticism in _The Galaxy_ from the _London Review_, have discovered
what an ass I must have been. If suggestions are in order, mine is,
that you put that article in your next edition of the _Innocents_, as
an extra chapter, if you are not afraid to put your own humor in
competition with it. It is as rich a thing as I ever read.

(Which is strong commendation from a book publisher.)
The London Reviewer, my friend, is not the stupid, “serious” creature he
pretends to be, _I_ think; but, on the contrary, has a keen appreciation
and enjoyment of your book. As I read his article in _The Galaxy_, I
could imagine him giving vent to many a hearty laugh. But he is writing
for Catholics and Established Church people, and high-toned, antiquated,
conservative gentility, whom it is a delight to him to help you shock,
while he pretends to shake his head with owlish density. He is a
magnificent humorist himself.

(Now that is graceful and handsome. I take off my hat to my life-long
friend and comrade, and with my feet together and my fingers spread over
my heart, I say, in the language of Alabama, “You do me proud.”)

I stand guilty of the authorship of the article, but I did not mean any
harm. I saw by an item in the Boston _Advertiser_ that a solemn, serious
critique on the English edition of my book had appeared in the London
_Saturday Review_, and the idea of _such _a literary breakfast by a
stolid, ponderous British ogre of the quill was too much for a naturally
weak virtue, and I went home and burlesqued it--reveled in it, I may
say. I never saw a copy of the real _Saturday Review_ criticism until
after my burlesque was written and mailed to the printer. But when I
did get hold of a copy, I found it to be vulgar, awkwardly written,
ill-natured, and entirely serious and in earnest. The gentleman who
wrote the newspaper paragraph above quoted had not been misled as to its

If any man doubts my word now, I will kill him. No, I will not kill him;
I will win his money. I will bet him twenty to one, and let any New York
publisher hold the stakes, that the statements I have above made as to
the authorship of the article in question are entirely true. Perhaps
I may get wealthy at this, for I am willing to take all the bets that
offer; and if a man wants larger odds, I will give him all he requires.
But he ought to find out whether I am betting on what is termed “a sure
thing” or not before he ventures his money, and he can do that by
going to a public library and examining the London _Saturday Review_ of
October 8th, which contains the real critique.

Bless me, some people thought that _I_ was the “sold” person!

P.S.--I cannot resist the temptation to toss in this most savory thing
of all--this easy, graceful, philosophical disquisition, with his happy,
chirping confidence. It is from the Cincinnati _Enquirer_:

Nothing is more uncertain than the value of a fine cigar. Nine smokers
out of ten would prefer an ordinary domestic article, three for a
quarter, to a fifty-cent Partaga, if kept in ignorance of the cost of
the latter. The flavor of the Partaga is too delicate for palates that
have been accustomed to Connecticut seed leaf. So it is with humor. The
finer it is in quality, the more danger of its not being recognized
at all. Even Mark Twain has been taken in by an English review of his
_Innocents Abroad_. Mark Twain is by no means a coarse humorist, but the
Englishman’s humor is so much finer than his, that he mistakes it for
solid earnest, and “larfs most consumedly.”

A man who cannot learn stands in his own light. Hereafter, when I write
an article which I know to be good, but which I may have reason to fear
will not, in some quarters, be considered to amount to much, coming
from an American, I will aver that an Englishman wrote it and that it
is copied from a London journal. And then I will occupy a back seat and
enjoy the cordial applause.

(Still later)

Mark Twain at last sees that the _Saturday Review’s_ criticism of his
_Innocents Abroad_ was not serious, and he is intensely mortified at the
thought of having been so badly sold. He takes the only course left him,
and in the last _Galaxy _claims that _he _wrote the criticism himself,
and published it in _The Galaxy_ to sell the public. This is ingenious,
but unfortunately it is not true. If any of our readers will take the
trouble to call at this office we sill show them the original article
in the _Saturday Review_ of October 8th, which, on comparison, will be
found to be identical with the one published in _The Galaxy._ The best
thing for Mark to do will be to admit that he was sold, and say no more
about it.

The above is from the Cincinnati _Enquirer_, and is a falsehood. Come to
the proof. If the _Enquirer _people, through any agent, will produce
at _The Galaxy_ office a London _Saturday Review_ of October 8th,
containing an article which, on comparison, will be found to be
identical with the one published in _The Galaxy_, I will pay to that
agent five hundred dollars cash. Moreover, if at any specified time I
fail to produce at the same place a copy of the London _Saturday Review_
of October 8th, containing a lengthy criticism upon the _Innocents
Abroad_, entirely different, in every paragraph and sentence, from the
one I published in _The Galaxy,_ I will pay to the _Enquirer_ agent
another five hundred dollars cash. I offer Sheldon & Co., publishers,
500 Broadway, New York, as my “backers.” Any one in New York, authorized
by the _Enquirer_, will receive prompt attention. It is an easy and
profitable way for the _Enquirer _people to prove that they have not
uttered a pitiful, deliberate falsehood in the above paragraphs. Will
they swallow that falsehood ignominiously, or will they send an agent to
_ The Galaxy _office. I think the Cincinnati _Enquirer _must be edited
by children.


Riverdale-on-the-Hudson, OCTOBER 15, 1902.

_The Hon. The Secretary Of The Treasury,_ WASHINGTON, D. C.:

Sir,--Prices for the customary kinds of winter fuel having reached
an altitude which puts them out of the reach of literary persons in
straitened circumstances, I desire to place with you the following

Forty-five tons best old dry government bonds, suitable for furnace,
gold 7 per cents., 1864, preferred.

Twelve tons early greenbacks, range size, suitable for cooking.

Eight barrels seasoned 25 and 50 cent postal currency, vintage of 1866,
eligible for kindlings.

Please deliver with all convenient despatch at my house in Riverdale at
lowest rates for spot cash, and send bill to

Your obliged servant,

Mark Twain, Who will be very grateful, and will vote right.



Sir,--I am approaching seventy; it is in sight; it is only three years
away. Necessarily, I must go soon. It is but matter-of-course wisdom,
then, that I should begin to set my worldly house in order now, so that
it may be done calmly and with thoroughness, in place of waiting until
the last day, when, as we have often seen, the attempt to set both
houses in order at the same time has been marred by the necessity for
haste and by the confusion and waste of time arising from the inability
of the notary and the ecclesiastic to work together harmoniously, taking
turn about and giving each other friendly assistance--not perhaps in
fielding, which could hardly be expected, but at least in the minor
offices of keeping game and umpiring; by consequence of which conflict
of interests and absence of harmonious action a draw has frequently
resulted where this ill-fortune could not have happened if the houses
had been set in order one at a time and hurry avoided by beginning in
season, and giving to each the amount of time fairly and justly proper
to it.

In setting my earthly house in order I find it of moment that I should
attend in person to one or two matters which men in my position have
long had the habit of leaving wholly to others, with consequences often
most regrettable. I wish to speak of only one of these matters at this
time: Obituaries. Of necessity, an Obituary is a thing which cannot be
so judiciously edited by any hand as by that of the subject of it. In
such a work it is not the Facts that are of chief importance, but the
light which the obituarist shall throw upon them, the meaning which he
shall dress them in, the conclusions which he shall draw from them,
and the judgments which he shall deliver upon them. The Verdicts, you
understand: that is the danger-line.

In considering this matter, in view of my approaching change, it has
seemed to me wise to take such measures as may be feasible, to acquire,
by courtesy of the press, access to my standing obituaries, with the
privilege--if this is not asking too much--of editing, not their Facts,
but their Verdicts. This, not for the present profit, further than as
concerns my family, but as a favorable influence usable on the Other
Side, where there are some who are not friendly to me.

With this explanation of my motives, I will now ask you of your courtesy
to make an appeal for me to the public press. It is my desire that
such journals and periodicals as have obituaries of me lying in their
pigeonholes, with a view to sudden use some day, will not wait longer,
but will publish them now, and kindly send me a marked copy. My address
is simply New York City--I have no other that is permanent and not

I will correct them--not the Facts, but the Verdicts--striking out such
clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the Other Side, and
replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character. I should,
of course, expect to pay double rates for both the omissions and the
substitutions; and I should also expect to pay quadruple rates for
all obituaries which proved to be rightly and wisely worded in the
originals, thus requiring no emendations at all.

It is my desire to leave these Amended Obituaries neatly bound behind
me as a perennial consolation and entertainment to my family, and as an
heirloom which shall have a mournful but definite commercial value for
my remote posterity.

I beg, sir, that you will insert this Advertisement (1t-eow, agate,
inside), and send the bill to

Yours very respectfully.

Mark Twain.

P.S.--For the best Obituary--one suitable for me to read in public, and
calculated to inspire regret--I desire to offer a Prize, consisting of
a Portrait of me done entirely by myself in pen and ink without previous
instructions. The ink warranted to be the kind used by the very best


Some one has revealed to the _Tribune _that I once suggested to Rev.
Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, New York, that we get up a monument to
Adam, and that Mr. Beecher favored the project. There is more to it
than that. The matter started as a joke, but it came somewhat near to

It is long ago--thirty years. Mr. Darwin’s _Descent of Man_ has been in
print five or six years, and the storm of indignation raised by it was
still raging in pulpits and periodicals. In tracing the genesis of the
human race back to its sources, Mr. Darwin had left Adam out altogether.
We had monkeys, and “missing links,” and plenty of other kinds of
ancestors, but no Adam. Jesting with Mr. Beecher and other friends in
Elmira, I said there seemed to be a likelihood that the world would
discard Adam and accept the monkey, and that in the course of time
Adam’s very name would be forgotten in the earth; therefore this
calamity ought to be averted; a monument would accomplish this, and
Elmira ought not to waste this honorable opportunity to do Adam a favor
and herself a credit.

Then the unexpected happened. Two bankers came forward and took hold of
the matter--not for fun, not for sentiment, but because they saw in the
monument certain commercial advantages for the town. The project had
seemed gently humorous before--it was more than that now, with this
stern business gravity injected into it. The bankers discussed the
monument with me. We met several times. They proposed an indestructible
memorial, to cost twenty-five thousand dollars. The insane oddity of a
monument set up in a village to preserve a name that would outlast the
hills and the rocks without any such help, would advertise Elmira to the
ends of the earth--and draw custom. It would be the only monument on the
planet to Adam, and in the matter of interest and impressiveness could
never have a rival until somebody should set up a monument to the Milky

People would come from every corner of the globe and stop off to look
at it, no tour of the world would be complete that left out Adam’s
monument. Elmira would be a Mecca; there would be pilgrim ships at
pilgrim rates, pilgrim specials on the continent’s railways; libraries
would be written about the monument, every tourist would kodak it,
models of it would be for sale everywhere in the earth, its form would
become as familiar as the figure of Napoleon.

One of the bankers subscribed five thousand dollars, and I think the
other one subscribed half as much, but I do not remember with certainty
now whether that was the figure or not. We got designs made--some of
them came from Paris.

In the beginning--as a detail of the project when it was yet a joke--I
had framed a humble and beseeching and perfervid petition to Congress
begging the government to build the monument, as a testimony of the
Great Republic’s gratitude to the Father of the Human Race and as a
token of her loyalty to him in this dark day of humiliation when his
older children were doubting and deserting him. It seemed to me that
this petition ought to be presented, now--it would be widely and
feelingly abused and ridiculed and cursed, and would advertise our
scheme and make our ground-floor stock go off briskly. So I sent it
to General Joseph R. Hawley, who was then in the House, and he said he
would present it. But he did not do it. I think he explained that when
he came to read it he was afraid of it: it was too serious, to gushy,
too sentimental--the House might take it for earnest.

We ought to have carried out our monument scheme; we could have managed
it without any great difficulty, and Elmira would now be the most
celebrated town in the universe.

Very recently I began to build a book in which one of the minor
characters touches incidentally upon a project for a monument to Adam,
and now the _Tribune _has come upon a trace of the forgotten jest of
thirty years ago. Apparently mental telegraphy is still in business. It
is odd; but the freaks of mental telegraphy are usually odd.


(The following letter, signed by Satan and purporting to come from
him, we have reason to believe was not written by him, but by Mark


Dear Sir and Kinsman,--Let us have done with this frivolous talk.
The American Board accepts contributions from me every year: then why
shouldn’t it from Mr. Rockefeller? In all the ages, three-fourths of the
support of the great charities has been conscience-money, as my books
will show: then what becomes of the sting when that term is applied to
Mr. Rockefeller’s gift? The American Board’s trade is financed mainly
from the graveyards. Bequests, you understand. Conscience-money.
Confession of an old crime and deliberate perpetration of a new one;
for deceased’s contribution is a robbery of his heirs. Shall the Board
decline bequests because they stand for one of these offenses every time
and generally for both?

Allow me to continue. The charge most persistently and resentfully
and remorselessly dwelt upon is that Mr. Rockefeller’s contribution is
incurably tainted by perjury--perjury proved against him in the courts.
_It makes us smile_--down in my place! Because there isn’t a rich man
in your vast city who doesn’t perjure himself every year before the tax
board. They are all caked with perjury, many layers thick. Iron-clad,
so to speak. If there is one that isn’t, I desire to acquire him for my
museum, and will pay Dinosaur rates. Will you say it isn’t infraction
of the law, but only annual evasion of it? Comfort yourselves with that
nice distinction if you like--_for the present_. But by and by, when
you arrive, I will show you something interesting: a whole hell-full
of evaders! Sometimes a frank law-breaker turns up elsewhere, but I get
those others every time.

To return to my muttons. I wish you to remember that my rich perjurers
are contributing to the American Board with frequency: it is money
filched from the sworn-off personal tax; therefore it is the wages of
sin; therefore it is my money; therefore it is _I_ that contribute it;
and, finally, it is therefore as I have said: since the Board daily
accepts contributions from me, why should it decline them from Mr.
Rockefeller, who is as good as I am, let the courts say what they may?



by Pedro Carolino

In this world of uncertainties, there is, at any rate, one thing which
may be pretty confidently set down as a certainty: and that is, that
this celebrated little phrase-book will never die while the English
language lasts. Its delicious unconscious ridiculousness, and its
enchanting naivete, are as supreme and unapproachable, in their way,
as are Shakespeare’s sublimities. Whatsoever is perfect in its kind, in
literature, is imperishable: nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody
can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect, it must and will stand
alone: its immortality is secure.

It is one of the smallest books in the world, but few big books have
received such wide attention, and been so much pondered by the grave and
learned, and so much discussed and written about by the thoughtful,
the thoughtless, the wise, and the foolish. Long notices of it have
appeared, from time to time, in the great English reviews, and in
erudite and authoritative philological periodicals; and it has been
laughed at, danced upon, and tossed in a blanket by nearly every
newspaper and magazine in the English-speaking world. Every scribbler,
almost, has had his little fling at it, at one time or another; I had
mine fifteen years ago. The book gets out of print, every now and then,
and one ceases to hear of it for a season; but presently the nations and
near and far colonies of our tongue and lineage call for it once more,
and once more it issues from some London or Continental or American
press, and runs a new course around the globe, wafted on its way by the
wind of a world’s laughter.

Many persons have believed that this book’s miraculous stupidities
were studied and disingenuous; but no one can read the volume carefully
through and keep that opinion. It was written in serious good faith and
deep earnestness, by an honest and upright idiot who believed he knew
something of the English language, and could impart his knowledge to
others. The amplest proof of this crops out somewhere or other upon each
and every page. There are sentences in the book which could have been
manufactured by a man in his right mind, and with an intelligent and
deliberate purposes to seem innocently ignorant; but there are other
sentences, and paragraphs, which no mere pretended ignorance could ever
achieve--nor yet even the most genuine and comprehensive ignorance, when
unbacked by inspiration.

It is not a fraud who speaks in the following paragraph of the author’s
Preface, but a good man, an honest man, a man whose conscience is at
rest, a man who believes he has done a high and worthy work for his
nation and his generation, and is well pleased with his performance:

We expect then, who the little book (for the care what we wrote him, and
for her typographical correction) that may be worth the acceptation of
the studious persons, and especially of the Youth, at which we dedicate
him particularly.

One cannot open this book anywhere and not find richness. To prove that
this is true, I will open it at random and copy the page I happen to
stumble upon. Here is the result:


For To See the Town

Anothony, go to accompany they gentilsmen, do they see the town.

We won’t to see all that is it remarquable here.

Come with me, if you please. I shall not folget nothing what can to
merit your attention. Here we are near to cathedral; will you come in

We will first to see him in oudside, after we shall go in there for to
look the interior.

Admire this master piece gothic architecture’s.

The chasing of all they figures is astonishing’ indeed.

The cupola and the nave are not less curious to see.

What is this palace how I see yonder?

It is the town hall.

And this tower here at this side?

It is the Observatory.

The bridge is very fine, it have ten arches, and is constructed of free

The streets are very layed out by line and too paved.

What is the circuit of this town?

Two leagues.

There is it also hospitals here?

It not fail them.

What are then the edifices the worthest to have seen?

It is the arsnehal, the spectacle’s hall, the Cusiomhouse, and the

We are going too see the others monuments such that the public
pawnbroker’s office, the plants garden’s, the money office’s, the

That it shall be for another day; we are tired.


To Inform One’self of a Person

How is that gentilman who you did speak by and by?

Is a German.

I did think him Englishman.

He is of the Saxony side.

He speak the french very well.

Tough he is German, he speak so much well italyan, french, spanish and
english, that among the Italyans, they believe him Italyan, he speak
the frenche as the Frenches himselves. The Spanishesmen believe him
Spanishing, and the Englishes, Englishman. It is difficult to enjoy well
so much several languages.

The last remark contains a general truth; but it ceases to be a truth
when one contracts it and applies it to an individual--provided that that
individual is the author of this book, Senhor Pedro Carolino. I am
sure I should not find it difficult “to enjoy well so much several
languages”--or even a thousand of them--if he did the translating for me
from the originals into his ostensible English.


Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every
trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under
peculiarly aggravated circumstances.

If you have nothing but a rag-doll stuffed with sawdust, while one of
your more fortunate little playmates has a costly China one, you should
treat her with a show of kindness nevertheless. And you ought not to
attempt to make a forcible swap with her unless your conscience would
justify you in it, and you know you are able to do it.

You ought never to take your little brother’s “chewing-gum” away from
him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of
the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a
grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this time of life, he
will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction. In all ages of the
world this eminently plausible fiction has lured the obtuse infant to
financial ruin and disaster.

If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not
correct him with mud--never, on any account, throw mud at him, because
it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little, for then
you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate attention to the
lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time your hot water will
have a tendency to move impurities from his person, and possibly the
skin, in spots.

If your mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply that you
won’t. It is better and more becoming to intimate that you will do as
she bids you, and then afterward act quietly in the matter according to
the dictates of your best judgment.

You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you
are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from
school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect
their little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with
their little foibles until they get to crowding you too much.

Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought
never to “sass” old people unless they “sass” you first.


In Philadelphia they have a custom which it would be pleasant to see
adopted throughout the land. It is that of appending to published
death-notices a little verse or two of comforting poetry. Any one who is
in the habit of reading the daily Philadelphia _Ledger _must frequently
be touched by these plaintive tributes to extinguished worth. In
Philadelphia, the departure of a child is a circumstance which is not
more surely followed by a burial than by the accustomed solacing poesy
in the _Public Ledger_. In that city death loses half its terror because
the knowledge of its presence comes thus disguised in the sweet drapery
of verse. For instance, in a late _Ledger _I find the following (I
change the surname):


Hawks.--On the 17th inst., Clara, the daughter of Ephraim and Laura
Hawks, aged 21 months and 2 days.

That merry shout no more I hear, No laughing child I see, No little arms
are around my neck, No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek, These lips are sealed to me. Dear Lord,
how could I give Clara up To any but to Thee?

A child thus mourned could not die wholly discontented. From the _Ledger
_of the same date I make the following extract, merely changing the
surname, as before:

Becket.--On Sunday morning, 19th inst., John P., infant son of George
and Julia Becket, aged 1 year, 6 months, and 15 days.

That merry shout no more I hear, No laughing child I see, No little arms
are round my neck, No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek; These lips are sealed to me. Dear Lord,
how could I give Johnnie up To any but to Thee?

The similarity of the emotions as produced in the mourners in these two
instances is remarkably evidenced by the singular similarity of thought
which they experienced, and the surprising coincidence of language used
by them to give it expression.

In the same journal, of the same date, I find the following (surname
suppressed, as before):

Wagner.--On the 10th inst., Ferguson G., the son of William L. and
Martha Theresa Wagner, aged 4 weeks and 1 day.

That merry shout no more I hear, No laughing child I see, No little arms
are round my neck, No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek, These lips are sealed to me. Dear Lord,
how could I give Ferguson up To any but to Thee?

It is strange what power the reiteration of an essentially poetical
thought has upon one’s feelings. When we take up the _Ledger _and read
the poetry about little Clara, we feel an unaccountable depression of
the spirits. When we drift further down the column and read the poetry
about little Johnnie, the depression and spirits acquires an added
emphasis, and we experience tangible suffering. When we saunter along
down the column further still and read the poetry about little Ferguson,
the word torture but vaguely suggests the anguish that rends us.

In the _Ledger _(same copy referred to above) I find the following (I
alter surname, as usual):

Welch.--On the 5th inst., Mary C. Welch, wife of William B. Welch, and
daughter of Catharine and George W. Markland, in the 29th year of her

A mother dear, a mother kind, Has gone and left us all behind. Cease to
weep, for tears are vain, Mother dear is out of pain.

Farewell, husband, children dear, Serve thy God with filial fear, And
meet me in the land above, Where all is peace, and joy, and love.

What could be sweeter than that? No collection of salient facts (without
reduction to tabular form) could be more succinctly stated than is done
in the first stanza by the surviving relatives, and no more concise and
comprehensive program of farewells, post-mortuary general orders, etc.,
could be framed in any form than is done in verse by deceased in the
last stanza. These things insensibly make us wiser and tenderer, and
better. Another extract:

Ball.--On the morning of the 15th inst., Mary E., daughter of John and
Sarah F. Ball.

‘Tis sweet to rest in lively hope That when my change shall come Angels
will hover round my bed, To waft my spirit home.

The following is apparently the customary form for heads of families:

Burns.--On the 20th inst., Michael Burns, aged 40 years.

Dearest father, thou hast left us, Here thy loss we deeply feel; But
‘tis God that has bereft us, He can all our sorrows heal.

Funeral at 2 o’clock sharp.

There is something very simple and pleasant about the following, which,
in Philadelphia, seems to be the usual form for consumptives of long
standing. (It deplores four distinct cases in the single copy of the
_Ledger _which lies on the Memoranda editorial table):

Bromley.--On the 29th inst., of consumption, Philip Bromley, in the 50th
year of his age.

Affliction sore long time he bore, Physicians were in vain-- Till God at
last did hear him mourn, And eased him of his pain.

That friend whom death from us has torn, We did not think so soon to
part; An anxious care now sinks the thorn Still deeper in our bleeding

This beautiful creation loses nothing by repetition. On the
contrary, the oftener one sees it in the _Ledger_, the more grand and
awe-inspiring it seems.

With one more extract I will close:

Doble.--On the 4th inst., Samuel Pervil Worthington Doble, aged 4 days.

Our little Sammy’s gone, His tiny spirit’s fled; Our little boy we loved
so dear Lies sleeping with the dead.

A tear within a father’s eye, A mother’s aching heart, Can only tell the
agony How hard it is to part.

Could anything be more plaintive than that, without requiring further
concessions of grammar? Could anything be likely to do more toward
reconciling deceased to circumstances, and making him willing to go?
Perhaps not. The power of song can hardly be estimated. There is an
element about some poetry which is able to make even physical suffering
and death cheerful things to contemplate and consummations to be
desired. This element is present in the mortuary poetry of Philadelphia,
and in a noticeable degree of development.

The custom I have been treating of is one that should be adopted in all
the cities of the land.

It is said that once a man of small consequence died, and the Rev. T.
K. Beecher was asked to preach the funeral sermon--a man who abhors the
lauding of people, either dead or alive, except in dignified and simple
language, and then only for merits which they actually possessed or
possess, not merits which they merely ought to have possessed. The
friends of the deceased got up a stately funeral. They must have had
misgivings that the corpse might not be praised strongly enough, for
they prepared some manuscript headings and notes in which nothing was
left unsaid on that subject that a fervid imagination and an unabridged
dictionary could compile, and these they handed to the minister as he
entered the pulpit. They were merely intended as suggestions, and so the
friends were filled with consternation when the minister stood in the
pulpit and proceeded to read off the curious odds and ends in ghastly
detail and in a loud voice! And their consternation solidified to
petrification when he paused at the end, contemplated the multitude
reflectively, and then said, impressively:

“The man would be a fool who tried to add anything to that. Let us

And with the same strict adhesion to truth it can be said that the man
would be a fool who tried to add anything to the following transcendent
obituary poem. There is something so innocent, so guileless, so
complacent, so unearthly serene and self-satisfied about this peerless
“hog-wash,” that the man must be made of stone who can read it without a
dulcet ecstasy creeping along his backbone and quivering in his marrow.
There is no need to say that this poem is genuine and in earnest, for
its proofs are written all over its face. An ingenious scribbler
might imitate it after a fashion, but Shakespeare himself could not
counterfeit it. It is noticeable that the country editor who published
it did not know that it was a treasure and the most perfect thing of its
kind that the storehouses and museums of literature could show. He did
not dare to say no to the dread poet--for such a poet must have been
something of an apparition--but he just shoveled it into his paper
anywhere that came handy, and felt ashamed, and put that disgusted
“Published by Request” over it, and hoped that his subscribers would
overlook it or not feel an impulse to read it:

(Published by Request)


Composed on the death of Samuel and Catharine Belknap’s children

by M. A. Glaze

Friends and neighbors all draw near, And listen to what I have to say;
And never leave your children dear When they are small, and go away.

But always think of that sad fate, That happened in year of ‘63; Four
children with a house did burn, Think of their awful agony.

Their mother she had gone away, And left them there alone to stay; The
house took fire and down did burn; Before their mother did return.

Their piteous cry the neighbors heard, And then the cry of fire was
given; But, ah! before they could them reach, Their little spirits had
flown to heaven.

Their father he to war had gone, And on the battle-field was slain; But
little did he think when he went away, But what on earth they would meet

The neighbors often told his wife Not to leave his children there,
Unless she got some one to stay, And of the little ones take care.

The oldest he was years not six, And the youngest only eleven months
old, But often she had left them there alone, As, by the neighbors, I
have been told.

How can she bear to see the place. Where she so oft has left them there,
Without a single one to look to them, Or of the little ones to take good

Oh, can she look upon the spot, Whereunder their little burnt bones lay,
But what she thinks she hears them say, ‘‘Twas God had pity, and took us
on high.’

And there may she kneel down and pray, And ask God her to forgive; And
she may lead a different life While she on earth remains to live.

Her husband and her children too, God has took from pain and woe. May
she reform and mend her ways, That she may also to them go.

And when it is God’s holy will, O, may she be prepared To meet her God
and friends in peace, And leave this world of care.

1. Written in 1870.


The man in the ticket-office said:

“Have an accident insurance ticket, also?”

“No,” I said, after studying the matter over a little. “No, I believe
not; I am going to be traveling by rail all day today. However, tomorrow
I don’t travel. Give me one for tomorrow.”

The man looked puzzled. He said:

“But it is for accident insurance, and if you are going to travel by

“If I am going to travel by rail I sha’n’t need it. Lying at home in bed
is the thing _I_ am afraid of.”

I had been looking into this matter. Last year I traveled twenty
thousand miles, almost entirely by rail; the year before, I traveled
over twenty-five thousand miles, half by sea and half by rail; and the
year before that I traveled in the neighborhood of ten thousand miles,
exclusively by rail. I suppose if I put in all the little odd journeys
here and there, I may say I have traveled sixty thousand miles during
the three years I have mentioned. _And never an accident._

For a good while I said to myself every morning: “Now I have escaped
thus far, and so the chances are just that much increased that I shall
catch it this time. I will be shrewd, and buy an accident ticket.” And
to a dead moral certainty I drew a blank, and went to bed that night
without a joint started or a bone splintered. I got tired of that sort
of daily bother, and fell to buying accident tickets that were good
for a month. I said to myself, “A man _can’t_ buy thirty blanks in one

But I was mistaken. There was never a prize in the the lot. I could read
of railway accidents every day--the newspaper atmosphere was foggy with
them; but somehow they never came my way. I found I had spent a good
deal of money in the accident business, and had nothing to show for it.
My suspicions were aroused, and I began to hunt around for somebody that
had won in this lottery. I found plenty of people who had invested,
but not an individual that had ever had an accident or made a cent. I
stopped buying accident tickets and went to ciphering. The result was

I hunted up statistics, and was amazed to find that after all the
glaring newspaper headlines concerning railroad disasters, less than
_three hundred_ people had really lost their lives by those disasters
in the preceding twelve months. The Erie road was set down as the most
murderous in the list. It had killed forty-six--or twenty-six, I do not
exactly remember which, but I know the number was double that of any
other road. But the fact straightway suggested itself that the Erie was
an immensely long road, and did more business than any other line in
the country; so the double number of killed ceased to be matter for

By further figuring, it appeared that between New York and Rochester the
Erie ran eight passenger-trains each way every day--16 altogether; and
carried a daily average of 6,000 persons. That is about a million in six
months--the population of New York City. Well, the Erie kills from 13 to
23 persons of _its_ million in six months; and in the same time 13,000
of New York’s million die in their beds! My flesh crept, my hair stood
on end. “This is appalling!” I said. “The danger isn’t in traveling by
rail, but in trusting to those deadly beds. I will never sleep in a bed

I had figured on considerably less than one-half the length of the Erie
road. It was plain that the entire road must transport at least eleven
or twelve thousand people every day. There are many short roads running
out of Boston that do fully half as much; a great many such roads. There
are many roads scattered about the Union that do a prodigious passenger
business. Therefore it was fair to presume that an average of 2,500
passengers a day for each road in the country would be almost correct.
There are 846 railway lines in our country, and 846 times 2,500 are
2,115,000. So the railways of America move more than two millions of
people every day; six hundred and fifty millions of people a year,
without counting the Sundays. They do that, too--there is no question
about it; though where they get the raw material is clear beyond the
jurisdiction of my arithmetic; for I have hunted the census through and
through, and I find that there are not that many people in the United
States, by a matter of six hundred and ten millions at the very least.
They must use some of the same people over again, likely.

San Francisco is one-eighth as populous as New York; there are 60 deaths
a week in the former and 500 a week in the latter--if they have luck.
That is 3,120 deaths a year in San Francisco, and eight times as many
in New York--say about 25,000 or 26,000. The health of the two places is
the same. So we will let it stand as a fair presumption that this will
hold good all over the country, and that consequently 25,000 out of
every million of people we have must die every year. That amounts to
one-fortieth of our total population. One million of us, then, die
annually. Out of this million ten or twelve thousand are stabbed, shot,
drowned, hanged, poisoned, or meet a similarly violent death in some
other popular way, such as perishing by kerosene-lamp and hoop-skirt
conflagrations, getting buried in coal-mines, falling off house-tops,
breaking through church, or lecture-room floors, taking patent
medicines, or committing suicide in other forms. The Erie railroad kills
23 to 46; the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man
each; and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that
appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds!

You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds. The
railroads are good enough for me.

And my advice to all people is, Don’t stay at home any more than you can
help; but when you have _got _to stay at home a while, buy a package of
those insurance tickets and sit up nights. You cannot be too cautious.

(One can see now why I answered that ticket-agent in the manner recorded
at the top of this sketch.)

The moral of this composition is, that thoughtless people grumble more
than is fair about railroad management in the United States. When we
consider that every day and night of the year full fourteen thousand
railway-trains of various kinds, freighted with life and armed with
death, go thundering over the land, the marvel is, _not _that they kill
three hundred human beings in a twelvemonth, but that they do not kill
three hundred times three hundred!


I never can look at those periodical portraits in _The Galaxy_ magazine
without feeling a wild, tempestuous ambition to be an artist. I have
seen thousands and thousands of pictures in my time--acres of them here
and leagues of them in the galleries of Europe--but never any that moved
me as these portraits do.

There is a portrait of Monsignore Capel in the November number, now
_could_ anything be sweeter than that? And there was Bismarck’s, in the
October number; who can look at that without being purer and stronger
and nobler for it? And Thurlow and Weed’s picture in the September
number; I would not have died without seeing that, no, not for anything
this world can give. But look back still further and recall my own
likeness as printed in the August number; if I had been in my grave a
thousand years when that appeared, I would have got up and visited the

I sleep with all these portraits under my pillow every night, so that I
can go on studying them as soon as the day dawns in the morning. I know
them all as thoroughly as if I had made them myself; I know every line
and mark about them. Sometimes when company are present I shuffle the
portraits all up together, and then pick them out one by one and call
their names, without referring to the printing on the bottom. I seldom
make a mistake--never, when I am calm.

I have had the portraits framed for a long time, waiting till my aunt
gets everything ready for hanging them up in the parlor. But first one
thing and then another interferes, and so the thing is delayed. Once she
said they would have more of the peculiar kind of light they needed in
the attic. The old simpleton! it is as dark as a tomb up there. But she
does not know anything about art, and so she has no reverence for it.
When I showed her my “Map of the Fortifications of Paris,” she said it
was rubbish.

Well, from nursing those portraits so long, I have come at last to have
a perfect infatuation for art. I have a teacher now, and my enthusiasm
continually and tumultuously grows, as I learn to use with more and
more facility the pencil, brush, and graver. I am studying under De
Mellville, the house and portrait painter. (His name was Smith when he
lived in the West.) He does any kind of artist work a body wants, having
a genius that is universal, like Michael Angelo. Resembles that great
artist, in fact. The back of his head is like his, and he wears his
hat-brim tilted down on his nose to expose it.

I have been studying under De Mellville several months now. The first
month I painted fences, and gave general satisfaction. The next month I
white-washed a barn. The third, I was doing tin roofs; the forth, common
signs; the fifth, statuary to stand before cigar shops. This present
month is only the sixth, and I am already in portraits!

The humble offering which accompanies these remarks (see figure)--the
portrait of his Majesty William III., King of Prussia--is my fifth
attempt in portraits, and my greatest success. It has received unbounded
praise from all classes of the community, but that which gratifies me
most is the frequent and cordial verdict that it resembles the _Galaxy_
portraits. Those were my first love, my earliest admiration, the
original source and incentive of my art-ambition. Whatever I am in Art
today, I owe to these portraits. I ask no credit for myself--I deserve
none. And I never take any, either. Many a stranger has come to my
exhibition (for I have had my portrait of King William on exhibition at
one dollar a ticket), and would have gone away blessing_ me_, if I had
let him, but I never did. I always stated where I got the idea.

King William wears large bushy side-whiskers, and some critics have
thought that this portrait would be more complete if they were added.
But it was not possible. There was not room for side-whiskers and
epaulets both, and so I let the whiskers go, and put in the epaulets,
for the sake of style. That thing on his hat is an eagle. The Prussian
eagle--it is a national emblem. When I say hat I mean helmet; but it
seems impossible to make a picture of a helmet that a body can have
confidence in.

I wish kind friends everywhere would aid me in my endeavor to attract a
little attention to the _Galaxy _portraits. I feel persuaded it can be
accomplished, if the course to be pursued be chosen with judgment. I
write for that magazine all the time, and so do many abler men, and if
I can get these portraits into universal favor, it is all I ask; the
reading-matter will take care of itself.


There is nothing like it in the Vatican. Pius IX.

It has none of that vagueness, that dreamy spirituality about it, which
many of the first critics of Arkansas have objected to in the Murillo
school of Art. Ruskin.

The expression is very interesting. J.W. Titian.

(Keeps a macaroni store in Venice, at the old family stand.)

It is the neatest thing in still life I have seen for years.

Rosa Bonheur.

The smile may be almost called unique. Bismarck.

I never saw such character portrayed in a picture face before. De

There is a benignant simplicity about the execution of this work which
warms the heart toward it as much, full as much, as it fascinates the
eye. Landseer.

One cannot see it without longing to contemplate the artist.

Frederick William.

Send me the entire edition--together with the plate and the original
portrait--and name your own price. And--would you like to come over and
stay awhile with Napoleon at Wilhelmshohe? It shall not cost you a cent.
William III.


Often a quite assified remark becomes sanctified by use and petrified by
custom; it is then a permanency, its term of activity a geologic period.

The day after the arrival of Prince Henry I met an English friend, and
he rubbed his hands and broke out with a remark that was charged to the
brim with joy--joy that was evidently a pleasant salve to an old sore

“Many a time I’ve had to listen without retort to an old saying that is
irritatingly true, and until now seemed to offer no chance for a return
jibe: ‘An Englishman does dearly love a lord’; but after this I shall
talk back, and say, ‘How about the Americans?’”

It is a curious thing, the currency that an idiotic saying can get. The
man that first says it thinks he has made a discovery. The man he
says it to, thinks the same. It departs on its travels, is received
everywhere with admiring acceptance, and not only as a piece of rare and
acute observation, but as being exhaustively true and profoundly wise;
and so it presently takes its place in the world’s list of recognized
and established wisdoms, and after that no one thinks of examining it to
see whether it is really entitled to its high honors or not. I call to
mind instances of this in two well-established proverbs, whose dullness
is not surpassed by the one about the Englishman and his love for a
lord: one of them records the American’s Adoration of the Almighty
Dollar, the other the American millionaire-girl’s ambition to trade cash
for a title, with a husband thrown in.

It isn’t merely the American that adores the Almighty Dollar, it is the
human race. The human race has always adored the hatful of shells, or
the bale of calico, or the half-bushel of brass rings, or the handful of
steel fish-hooks, or the houseful of black wives, or the zareba full of
cattle, or the two-score camels and asses, or the factory, or the farm,
or the block of buildings, or the railroad bonds, or the bank stock, or
the hoarded cash, or--anything that stands for wealth and consideration
and independence, and can secure to the possessor that most precious of
all things, another man’s envy. It was a dull person that invented the
idea that the American’s devotion to the dollar is more strenuous than

Rich American girls do buy titles, but they did not invent that idea;
it had been worn threadbare several hundred centuries before America
was discovered. European girls still exploit it as briskly as ever;
and, when a title is not to be had for the money in hand, they buy the
husband without it. They must put up the “dot,” or there is no trade.
The commercialization of brides is substantially universal, except in
America. It exists with us, to some little extent, but in no degree
approaching a custom.

“The Englishman dearly loves a lord.”

What is the soul and source of this love? I think the thing could be
more correctly worded:

“The human race dearly envies a lord.”

That is to say, it envies the lord’s place. Why? On two accounts, I
think: its Power and its Conspicuousness.

Where Conspicuousness carries with it a Power which, by the light of our
own observation and experience, we are able to measure and comprehend, I
think our envy of the possessor is as deep and as passionate as is
that of any other nation. No one can care less for a lord than the
backwoodsman, who has had no personal contact with lords and has seldom
heard them spoken of; but I will not allow that any Englishman has a
profounder envy of a lord than has the average American who has lived
long years in a European capital and fully learned how immense is the
position the lord occupies.

Of any ten thousand Americans who eagerly gather, at vast inconvenience,
to get a glimpse of Prince Henry, all but a couple of hundred will be
there out of an immense curiosity; they are burning up with desire to
see a personage who is so much talked about. They envy him; but it is
Conspicuousness they envy mainly, not the Power that is lodged in his
royal quality and position, for they have but a vague and spectral
knowledge and appreciation of that; through their environment and
associations they have been accustomed to regard such things lightly,
and as not being very real; consequently, they are not able to value
them enough to consumingly envy them.

But, whenever an American (or other human being) is in the presence,
for the first time, of a combination of great Power and Conspicuousness
which he thoroughly understands and appreciates, his eager curiosity and
pleasure will be well-sodden with that other passion--envy--whether he
suspects it or not. At any time, on any day, in any part of America,
you can confer a happiness upon any passing stranger by calling his
attention to any other passing stranger and saying:

“Do you see that gentleman going along there? It is Mr. Rockefeller.”

Watch his eye. It is a combination of power and conspicuousness which
the man understands.

When we understand rank, we always like to rub against it. When a man
is conspicuous, we always want to see him. Also, if he will pay us an
attention we will manage to remember it. Also, we will mention it now
and then, casually; sometimes to a friend, or if a friend is not handy,
we will make out with a stranger.

Well, then, what is rank, and what is conspicuousness? At once we
think of kings and aristocracies, and of world-wide celebrities in
soldierships, the arts, letters, etc., and we stop there. But that is a
mistake. Rank holds its court and receives its homage on every round of
the ladder, from the emperor down to the rat-catcher; and distinction,
also, exists on every round of the ladder, and commands its due of
deference and envy.

To worship rank and distinction is the dear and valued privilege of all
the human race, and it is freely and joyfully exercised in democracies
as well as in monarchies--and even, to some extent, among those
creatures whom we impertinently call the Lower Animals. For even they
have some poor little vanities and foibles, though in this matter they
are paupers as compared to us.

A Chinese Emperor has the worship of his four hundred millions of
subjects, but the rest of the world is indifferent to him. A Christian
Emperor has the worship of his subjects and of a large part of
the Christian world outside of his domains; but he is a matter of
indifference to all China. A king, class A, has an extensive worship; a
king, class B, has a less extensive worship; class C, class D, class
E get a steadily diminishing share of worship; class L (Sultan of
Zanzibar), class P (Sultan of Sulu), and class W (half-king of Samoa),
get no worship at all outside their own little patch of sovereignty.

Take the distinguished people along down. Each has his group of
homage-payers. In the navy, there are many groups; they start with the
Secretary and the Admiral, and go down to the quartermaster--and below;
for there will be groups among the sailors, and each of these groups
will have a tar who is distinguished for his battles, or his strength,
or his daring, or his profanity, and is admired and envied by his group.
The same with the army; the same with the literary and journalistic
craft; the publishing craft; the cod-fishery craft; Standard Oil; U. S.
Steel; the class A hotel--and the rest of the alphabet in that line; the
class A prize-fighter--and the rest of the alphabet in his line--clear
down to the lowest and obscurest six-boy gang of little gamins, with
its one boy that can thrash the rest, and to whom he is king of Samoa,
bottom of the royal race, but looked up to with a most ardent admiration
and envy.

There is something pathetic, and funny, and pretty, about this human
race’s fondness for contact with power and distinction, and for the
reflected glory it gets out of it. The king, class A, is happy in the
state banquet and the military show which the emperor provides for him,
and he goes home and gathers the queen and the princelings around him in
the privacy of the spare room, and tells them all about it, and says:

“His Imperial Majesty put his hand upon my shoulder in the most friendly
way--just as friendly and familiar, oh, you can’t imagine it!--and
everybody _seeing _him do it; charming, perfectly charming!”

The king, class G, is happy in the cold collation and the police parade
provided for him by the king, class B, and goes home and tells the
family all about it, and says:

“And His Majesty took me into his own private cabinet for a smoke and a
chat, and there we sat just as sociable, and talking away and laughing
and chatting, just the same as if we had been born in the same bunk; and
all the servants in the anteroom could see us doing it! Oh, it was too
lovely for anything!”

The king, class Q, is happy in the modest entertainment furnished him by
the king, class M, and goes home and tells the household about it,
and is as grateful and joyful over it as were his predecessors in the
gaudier attentions that had fallen to their larger lot.

Emperors, kings, artisans, peasants, big people, little people--at the
bottom we are all alike and all the same; all just alike on the inside,
and when our clothes are off, nobody can tell which of us is which. We
are unanimous in the pride we take in good and genuine compliments paid
us, and distinctions conferred upon us, in attentions shown. There is
not one of us, from the emperor down, but is made like that. Do I
mean attentions shown us by the guest? No, I mean simply flattering
attentions, let them come whence they may. We despise no source that can
pay us a pleasing attention--there is no source that is humble enough
for that. You have heard a dear little girl say to a frowzy and
disreputable dog: “He came right to me and let me pat him on the head,
and he wouldn’t let the others touch him!” and you have seen her eyes
dance with pride in that high distinction. You have often seen that. If
the child were a princess, would that random dog be able to confer the
like glory upon her with his pretty compliment? Yes; and even in her
mature life and seated upon a throne, she would still remember it, still
recall it, still speak of it with frank satisfaction. That charming
and lovable German princess and poet, Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania,
remembers yet that the flowers of the woods and fields “talked to her”
 when she was a girl, and she sets it down in her latest book; and that
the squirrels conferred upon her and her father the valued compliment of
not being afraid of them; and “once one of them, holding a nut between
its sharp little teeth, ran right up against my father”--it has the very
note of “He came right to me and let me pat him on the head”--“and when
it saw itself reflected in his boot it was very much surprised,
and stopped for a long time to contemplate itself in the polished
leather”--then it went its way. And the birds! she still remembers with
pride that “they came boldly into my room,” when she had neglected her
“duty” and put no food on the window-sill for them; she knew all the
wild birds, and forgets the royal crown on her head to remember with
pride that they knew her; also that the wasp and the bee were personal
friends of hers, and never forgot that gracious relationship to her
injury: “never have I been stung by a wasp or a bee.” And here is that
proud note again that sings in that little child’s elation in being
singled out, among all the company of children, for the random dog’s
honor-conferring attentions. “Even in the very worst summer for wasps,
when, in lunching out of doors, our table was covered with them and
every one else was stung, they never hurt me.”

When a queen whose qualities of mind and heart and character are able to
add distinction to so distinguished a place as a throne, remembers
with grateful exultation, after thirty years, honors and distinctions
conferred upon her by the humble, wild creatures of the forest, we are
helped to realize that complimentary attentions, homage,
distinctions, are of no caste, but are above all cast--that they are a
nobility-conferring power apart.

We all like these things. When the gate-guard at the railway-station
passes me through unchallenged and examines other people’s tickets, I
feel as the king, class A, felt when the emperor put the imperial hand
on his shoulder, “everybody seeing him do it”; and as the child felt
when the random dog allowed her to pat his head and ostracized the
others; and as the princess felt when the wasps spared her and stung
the rest; and I felt just so, four years ago in Vienna (and remember it
yet), when the helmeted police shut me off, with fifty others, from a
street which the Emperor was to pass through, and the captain of the
squad turned and saw the situation and said indignantly to that guard:

“Can’t you see it is the Herr Mark Twain? Let him through!”

It was four years ago; but it will be four hundred before I forget the
wind of self-complacency that rose in me, and strained my buttons when I
marked the deference for me evoked in the faces of my fellow-rabble, and
noted, mingled with it, a puzzled and resentful expression which said,
as plainly as speech could have worded it: “And who in the nation is the
Herr Mark Twain _um gotteswillen?_”

How many times in your life have you heard this boastful remark:

“I stood as close to him as I am to you; I could have put out my hand
and touched him.”

We have all heard it many and many a time. It was a proud distinction
to be able to say those words. It brought envy to the speaker, a kind of
glory; and he basked in it and was happy through all his veins. And
who was it he stood so close to? The answer would cover all the grades.
Sometimes it was a king; sometimes it was a renowned highwayman;
sometimes it was an unknown man killed in an extraordinary way and made
suddenly famous by it; always it was a person who was for the moment the
subject of public interest of a village.

“I was there, and I saw it myself.” That is a common and envy-compelling
remark. It can refer to a battle; to a hanging; to a coronation; to the
killing of Jumbo by the railway-train; to the arrival of Jenny Lind at
the Battery; to the meeting of the President and Prince Henry; to the
chase of a murderous maniac; to the disaster in the tunnel; to the
explosion in the subway; to a remarkable dog-fight; to a village
church struck by lightning. It will be said, more or less causally, by
everybody in America who has seen Prince Henry do anything, or try to.
The man who was absent and didn’t see him to anything, will scoff. It
is his privilege; and he can make capital out of it, too; he will seem,
even to himself, to be different from other Americans, and better.
As his opinion of his superior Americanism grows, and swells, and
concentrates and coagulates, he will go further and try to belittle the
distinction of those that saw the Prince do things, and will spoil their
pleasure in it if he can. My life has been embittered by that kind of
person. If you are able to tell of a special distinction that has fallen
to your lot, it gravels them; they cannot bear it; and they try to make
believe that the thing you took for a special distinction was nothing
of the kind and was meant in quite another way. Once I was received in
private audience by an emperor. Last week I was telling a jealous person
about it, and I could see him wince under it, see him bite, see
him suffer. I revealed the whole episode to him with considerable
elaboration and nice attention to detail. When I was through, he asked
me what had impressed me most. I said:

“His Majesty’s delicacy. They told me to be sure and back out from the
presence, and find the door-knob as best I could; it was not allowable
to face around. Now the Emperor knew it would be a difficult ordeal for
me, because of lack of practice; and so, when it was time to part, he
turned, with exceeding delicacy, and pretended to fumble with things on
his desk, so I could get out in my own way, without his seeing me.”

It went home! It was vitriol! I saw the envy and disgruntlement rise
in the man’s face; he couldn’t keep it down. I saw him try to fix up
something in his mind to take the bloom off that distinction. I enjoyed
that, for I judged that he had his work cut out for him. He struggled
along inwardly for quite a while; then he said, with a manner of a
person who has to say something and hasn’t anything relevant to say:

“You said he had a handful of special-brand cigars on the table?”

“Yes; _I_ never saw anything to match them.”

I had him again. He had to fumble around in his mind as much as another
minute before he could play; then he said in as mean a way as I ever
heard a person say anything:

“He could have been counting the cigars, you know.”

I cannot endure a man like that. It is nothing to him how unkind he is,
so long as he takes the bloom off. It is all he cares for.

“An Englishman (or other human being) does dearly love a lord,” (or
other conspicuous person.) It includes us all. We love to be noticed by
the conspicuous person; we love to be associated with such, or with
a conspicuous event, even in a seventh-rate fashion, even in the
forty-seventh, if we cannot do better. This accounts for some of our
curious tastes in mementos. It accounts for the large private trade in
the Prince of Wales’s hair, which chambermaids were able to drive in
that article of commerce when the Prince made the tour of the world in
the long ago--hair which probably did not always come from his brush,
since enough of it was marketed to refurnish a bald comet; it accounts
for the fact that the rope which lynches a negro in the presence of
ten thousand Christian spectators is salable five minutes later at
two dollars and inch; it accounts for the mournful fact that a royal
personage does not venture to wear buttons on his coat in public.

We do love a lord--and by that term I mean any person whose situation
is higher than our own. The lord of the group, for instance: a group of
peers, a group of millionaires, a group of hoodlums, a group of sailors,
a group of newsboys, a group of saloon politicians, a group of college
girls. No royal person has ever been the object of a more delirious
loyalty and slavish adoration than is paid by the vast Tammany herd to
its squalid idol of Wantage. There is not a bifurcated animal in that
menagerie that would not be proud to appear in a newspaper picture in
his company. At the same time, there are some in that organization who
would scoff at the people who have been daily pictured in company with
Prince Henry, and would say vigorously that _they _would not consent
to be photographed with him--a statement which would not be true in any
instance. There are hundreds of people in America who would frankly say
to you that they would not be proud to be photographed in a group
with the Prince, if invited; and some of these unthinking people would
believe it when they said it; yet in no instance would it be true. We
have a large population, but we have not a large enough one, by several
millions, to furnish that man. He has not yet been begotten, and in fact
he is not begettable.

You may take any of the printed groups, and there isn’t a person in the
dim background who isn’t visibly trying to be vivid; if it is a crowd of
ten thousand--ten thousand proud, untamed democrats, horny-handed sons
of toil and of politics, and fliers of the eagle--there isn’t one who
is trying to keep out of range, there isn’t one who isn’t plainly
meditating a purchase of the paper in the morning, with the intention of
hunting himself out in the picture and of framing and keeping it if he
shall find so much of his person in it as his starboard ear.

We all love to get some of the drippings of Conspicuousness, and we
will put up with a single, humble drip, if we can’t get any more. We may
pretend otherwise, in conversation; but we can’t pretend it to ourselves
privately--and we don’t. We do confess in public that we are the
noblest work of God, being moved to it by long habit, and teaching,
and superstition; but deep down in the secret places of our souls we
recognize that, if we _are _the noblest work, the less said about it the

We of the North poke fun at the South for its fondness of titles--a
fondness for titles pure and simple, regardless of whether they are
genuine or pinchbeck. We forget that whatever a Southerner likes the
rest of the human race likes, and that there is no law of predilection
lodged in one people that is absent from another people. There is no
variety in the human race. We are all children, all children of the one
Adam, and we love toys. We can soon acquire that Southern disease if
some one will give it a start. It already has a start, in fact. I have
been personally acquainted with over eighty-four thousand persons who,
at one time or another in their lives, have served for a year or two
on the staffs of our multitudinous governors, and through that
fatality have been generals temporarily, and colonels temporarily, and
judge-advocates temporarily; but I have known only nine among them who
could be hired to let the title go when it ceased to be legitimate. I
know thousands and thousands of governors who ceased to be governors
away back in the last century; but I am acquainted with only three who
would answer your letter if you failed to call them “Governor” in it.
I know acres and acres of men who have done time in a legislature in
prehistoric days, but among them is not half an acre whose resentment
you would not raise if you addressed them as “Mr.” instead of “Hon.”
 The first thing a legislature does is to convene in an impressive
legislative attitude, and get itself photographed. Each member
frames his copy and takes it to the woods and hangs it up in the most
aggressively conspicuous place in his house; and if you visit the house
and fail to inquire what that accumulation is, the conversation will be
brought around to it by that aforetime legislator, and he will show you
a figure in it which in the course of years he has almost obliterated
with the smut of his finger-marks, and say with a solemn joy, “It’s me!”

Have you ever seen a country Congressman enter the hotel breakfast-room
in Washington with his letters?--and sit at his table and let on to
read them?--and wrinkle his brows and frown statesman-like?--keeping a
furtive watch-out over his glasses all the while to see if he is being
observed and admired?--those same old letters which he fetches in every
morning? Have you seen it? Have you seen him show off? It is _the_
sight of the national capital. Except one; a pathetic one. That is the
ex-Congressman: the poor fellow whose life has been ruined by a two-year
taste of glory and of fictitious consequence; who has been superseded,
and ought to take his heartbreak home and hide it, but cannot tear
himself away from the scene of his lost little grandeur; and so he
lingers, and still lingers, year after year, unconsidered, sometimes
snubbed, ashamed of his fallen estate, and valiantly trying to look
otherwise; dreary and depressed, but counterfeiting breeziness and
gaiety, hailing with chummy familiarity, which is not always welcomed,
the more-fortunates who are still in place and were once his mates. Have
you seen him? He clings piteously to the one little shred that is left
of his departed distinction--the “privilege of the floor”; and works it
hard and gets what he can out of it. That is the saddest figure I know

Yes, we do so love our little distinctions! And then we loftily scoff
at a Prince for enjoying his larger ones; forgetting that if we only had
his chance--ah! “Senator” is not a legitimate title. A Senator has no
more right to be addressed by it than have you or I; but, in the several
state capitals and in Washington, there are five thousand Senators who
take very kindly to that fiction, and who purr gratefully when you call
them by it--which you may do quite unrebuked. Then those same Senators
smile at the self-constructed majors and generals and judges of the

Indeed, we do love our distinctions, get them how we may. And we work
them for all they are worth. In prayer we call ourselves “worms of the
dust,” but it is only on a sort of tacit understanding that the remark
shall not be taken at par._ We_--worms of the dust! Oh, no, we are
not that. Except in fact; and we do not deal much in fact when we are
contemplating ourselves.

As a race, we do certainly love a lord--let him be Croker, or a duke, or
a prize-fighter, or whatever other personage shall chance to be the head
of our group. Many years ago, I saw a greasy youth in overalls standing
by the _Herald _office, with an expectant look in his face. Soon a large
man passed out, and gave him a pat on the shoulder. That was what the
boy was waiting for--the large man’s notice. The pat made him proud and
happy, and the exultation inside of him shone out through his eyes; and
his mates were there to see the pat and envy it and wish they could have
that glory. The boy belonged down cellar in the press-room, the large
man was king of the upper floors, foreman of the composing-room. The
light in the boy’s face was worship, the foreman was his lord, head of
his group. The pat was an accolade. It was as precious to the boy as it
would have been if he had been an aristocrat’s son and the accolade had
been delivered by his sovereign with a sword. The quintessence of the
honor was all there; there was no difference in values; in truth there
was no difference present except an artificial one--clothes.

All the human race loves a lord--that is, loves to look upon or be
noticed by the possessor of Power or Conspicuousness; and sometimes
animals, born to better things and higher ideals, descend to man’s level
in this matter. In the Jardin des Plantes I have see a cat that was so
vain of being the personal friend of an elephant that I was ashamed of


MONDAY.--This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way.
It is always hanging around and following me about. I don’t like this; I
am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals....
Cloudy today, wind in the east; think we shall have rain.... _We?_ Where
did I get that word--the new creature uses it.

TUESDAY.--Been examining the great waterfall. It is the finest thing on
the estate, I think. The new creature calls it Niagara Falls--why, I am
sure I do not know. Says it _looks _like Niagara Falls. That is not a
reason, it is mere waywardness and imbecility. I get no chance to name
anything myself. The new creature names everything that comes along,
before I can get in a protest. And always that same pretext is
offered--it _looks _like the thing. There is a dodo, for instance. Says
the moment one looks at it one sees at a glance that it “looks like a
dodo.” It will have to keep that name, no doubt. It wearies me to fret
about it, and it does no good, anyway. Dodo! It looks no more like a
dodo than I do.

WEDNESDAY.--Built me a shelter against the rain, but could not have it
to myself in peace. The new creature intruded. When I tried to put it
out it shed water out of the holes it looks with, and wiped it away with
the back of its paws, and made a noise such as some of the other animals
make when they are in distress. I wish it would not talk; it is always
talking. That sounds like a cheap fling at the poor creature, a slur;
but I do not mean it so. I have never heard the human voice before, and
any new and strange sound intruding itself here upon the solemn hush of
these dreaming solitudes offends my ear and seems a false note. And this
new sound is so close to me; it is right at my shoulder, right at my
ear, first on one side and then on the other, and I am used only to
sounds that are more or less distant from me.

FRIDAY. The naming goes recklessly on, in spite of anything I can do.
I had a very good name for the estate, and it was musical and
pretty--_Garden Of Eden._ Privately, I continue to call it that, but not
any longer publicly. The new creature says it is all woods and rocks and
scenery, and therefore has no resemblance to a garden. Says it
_looks _like a park, and does not look like anything _but _a park.
Consequently, without consulting me, it has been new-named _Niagara
Falls Park_. This is sufficiently high-handed, it seems to me. And
already there is a sign up:


My life is not as happy as it was.

SATURDAY.--The new creature eats too much fruit. We are going to run
short, most likely. “We” again--that is _its_ word; mine, too, now, from
hearing it so much. Good deal of fog this morning. I do not go out in
the fog myself. This new creature does. It goes out in all weathers,
and stumps right in with its muddy feet. And talks. It used to be so
pleasant and quiet here.

SUNDAY.--Pulled through. This day is getting to be more and more trying.
It was selected and set apart last November as a day of rest. I had
already six of them per week before. This morning found the new creature
trying to clod apples out of that forbidden tree.

MONDAY.--The new creature says its name is Eve. That is all right, I
have no objections. Says it is to call it by, when I want it to come.
I said it was superfluous, then. The word evidently raised me in its
respect; and indeed it is a large, good word and will bear repetition.
It says it is not an It, it is a She. This is probably doubtful; yet it
is all one to me; what she is were nothing to me if she would but go by
herself and not talk.

TUESDAY.--She has littered the whole estate with execrable names and
offensive signs:

This way to the Whirlpool

This way to Goat Island

Cave of the Winds this way

She says this park would make a tidy summer resort if there was any
custom for it. Summer resort--another invention of hers--just words,
without any meaning. What is a summer resort? But it is best not to ask
her, she has such a rage for explaining.

FRIDAY.--She has taken to beseeching me to stop going over the Falls.
What harm does it do? Says it makes her shudder. I wonder why; I have
always done it--always liked the plunge, and coolness. I supposed it was
what the Falls were for. They have no other use that I can see, and
they must have been made for something. She says they were only made for
scenery--like the rhinoceros and the mastodon.

I went over the Falls in a barrel--not satisfactory to her. Went over
in a tub--still not satisfactory. Swam the Whirlpool and the Rapids in
a fig-leaf suit. It got much damaged. Hence, tedious complaints about
my extravagance. I am too much hampered here. What I need is a change of

SATURDAY.--I escaped last Tuesday night, and traveled two days, and
built me another shelter in a secluded place, and obliterated my tracks
as well as I could, but she hunted me out by means of a beast which she
has tamed and calls a wolf, and came making that pitiful noise again,
and shedding that water out of the places she looks with. I was obliged
to return with her, but will presently emigrate again when occasion
offers. She engages herself in many foolish things; among others; to
study out why the animals called lions and tigers live on grass and
flowers, when, as she says, the sort of teeth they wear would indicate
that they were intended to eat each other. This is foolish, because to
do that would be to kill each other, and that would introduce what, as
I understand, is called “death”; and death, as I have been told, has not
yet entered the Park. Which is a pity, on some accounts.

SUNDAY.--Pulled through.

MONDAY.--I believe I see what the week is for: it is to give time to
rest up from the weariness of Sunday. It seems a good idea. ... She has
been climbing that tree again. Clodded her out of it. She said nobody
was looking. Seems to consider that a sufficient justification for
chancing any dangerous thing. Told her that. The word justification
moved her admiration--and envy, too, I thought. It is a good word.

TUESDAY.--She told me she was made out of a rib taken from my body.
This is at least doubtful, if not more than that. I have not missed any
rib.... She is in much trouble about the buzzard; says grass does not
agree with it; is afraid she can’t raise it; thinks it was intended to
live on decayed flesh. The buzzard must get along the best it can with
what is provided. We cannot overturn the whole scheme to accommodate the

SATURDAY.--She fell in the pond yesterday when she was looking at
herself in it, which she is always doing. She nearly strangled, and said
it was most uncomfortable. This made her sorry for the creatures which
live in there, which she calls fish, for she continues to fasten names
on to things that don’t need them and don’t come when they are called
by them, which is a matter of no consequence to her, she is such a
numbskull, anyway; so she got a lot of them out and brought them in last
night and put them in my bed to keep warm, but I have noticed them now
and then all day and I don’t see that they are any happier there then
they were before, only quieter. When night comes I shall throw them
outdoors. I will not sleep with them again, for I find them clammy and
unpleasant to lie among when a person hasn’t anything on.

SUNDAY.--Pulled through.

TUESDAY.--She has taken up with a snake now. The other animals are glad,
for she was always experimenting with them and bothering them; and I am
glad because the snake talks, and this enables me to get a rest.

FRIDAY.--She says the snake advises her to try the fruit of the tree,
and says the result will be a great and fine and noble education. I told
her there would be another result, too--it would introduce death into
the world. That was a mistake--it had been better to keep the remark to
myself; it only gave her an idea--she could save the sick buzzard, and
furnish fresh meat to the despondent lions and tigers. I advised her to
keep away from the tree. She said she wouldn’t. I foresee trouble. Will

WEDNESDAY.--I have had a variegated time. I escaped last night, and rode
a horse all night as fast as he could go, hoping to get clear of the
Park and hide in some other country before the trouble should begin; but
it was not to be. About an hour after sun-up, as I was riding through
a flowery plain where thousands of animals were grazing, slumbering, or
playing with each other, according to their wont, all of a sudden they
broke into a tempest of frightful noises, and in one moment the plain
was a frantic commotion and every beast was destroying its neighbor. I
knew what it meant--Eve had eaten that fruit, and death was come into
the world. ... The tigers ate my house, paying no attention when
I ordered them to desist, and they would have eaten me if I had
stayed--which I didn’t, but went away in much haste.... I found this
place, outside the Park, and was fairly comfortable for a few days,
but she has found me out. Found me out, and has named the place
Tonawanda--says it _looks _like that. In fact I was not sorry she came,
for there are but meager pickings here, and she brought some of those
apples. I was obliged to eat them, I was so hungry. It was against my
principles, but I find that principles have no real force except when
one is well fed.... She came curtained in boughs and bunches of leaves,
and when I asked her what she meant by such nonsense, and snatched them
away and threw them down, she tittered and blushed. I had never seen
a person titter and blush before, and to me it seemed unbecoming and
idiotic. She said I would soon know how it was myself. This was correct.
Hungry as I was, I laid down the apple half-eaten--certainly the best
one I ever saw, considering the lateness of the season--and arrayed
myself in the discarded boughs and branches, and then spoke to her with
some severity and ordered her to go and get some more and not make a
spectacle of herself. She did it, and after this we crept down to where
the wild-beast battle had been, and collected some skins, and I made her
patch together a couple of suits proper for public occasions. They are
uncomfortable, it is true, but stylish, and that is the main point about
clothes.... I find she is a good deal of a companion. I see I should be
lonesome and depressed without her, now that I have lost my property.
Another thing, she says it is ordered that we work for our living
hereafter. She will be useful. I will superintend.

TEN DAYS LATER.--She accuses _me _of being the cause of our disaster!
She says, with apparent sincerity and truth, that the Serpent assured
her that the forbidden fruit was not apples, it was chestnuts. I said
I was innocent, then, for I had not eaten any chestnuts. She said the
Serpent informed her that “chestnut” was a figurative term meaning an
aged and moldy joke. I turned pale at that, for I have made many jokes
to pass the weary time, and some of them could have been of that sort,
though I had honestly supposed that they were new when I made them. She
asked me if I had made one just at the time of the catastrophe. I was
obliged to admit that I had made one to myself, though not aloud. It
was this. I was thinking about the Falls, and I said to myself, “How
wonderful it is to see that vast body of water tumble down there!” Then
in an instant a bright thought flashed into my head, and I let it
fly, saying, “It would be a deal more wonderful to see it tumble_ up_
there!”--and I was just about to kill myself with laughing at it when
all nature broke loose in war and death and I had to flee for my life.
“There,” she said, with triumph, “that is just it; the Serpent mentioned
that very jest, and called it the First Chestnut, and said it was coeval
with the creation.” Alas, I am indeed to blame. Would that I were not
witty; oh, that I had never had that radiant thought!

NEXT YEAR.--We have named it Cain. She caught it while I was up country
trapping on the North Shore of the Erie; caught it in the timber a
couple of miles from our dug-out--or it might have been four, she isn’t
certain which. It resembles us in some ways, and may be a relation. That
is what she thinks, but this is an error, in my judgment. The difference
in size warrants the conclusion that it is a different and new kind of
animal--a fish, perhaps, though when I put it in the water to see,
it sank, and she plunged in and snatched it out before there was
opportunity for the experiment to determine the matter. I still think it
is a fish, but she is indifferent about what it is, and will not let
me have it to try. I do not understand this. The coming of the creature
seems to have changed her whole nature and made her unreasonable about
experiments. She thinks more of it than she does of any of the
other animals, but is not able to explain why. Her mind is
disordered--everything shows it. Sometimes she carries the fish in her
arms half the night when it complains and wants to get to the water. At
such times the water comes out of the places in her face that she looks
out of, and she pats the fish on the back and makes soft sounds with her
mouth to soothe it, and betrays sorrow and solicitude in a hundred ways.
I have never seen her do like this with any other fish, and it troubles
me greatly. She used to carry the young tigers around so, and play with
them, before we lost our property, but it was only play; she never took
on about them like this when their dinner disagreed with them.

SUNDAY.--She doesn’t work, Sundays, but lies around all tired out, and
likes to have the fish wallow over her; and she makes fool noises to
amuse it, and pretends to chew its paws, and that makes it laugh. I have
not seen a fish before that could laugh. This makes me doubt.... I have
come to like Sunday myself. Superintending all the week tires a body so.
There ought to be more Sundays. In the old days they were tough, but now
they come handy.

WEDNESDAY.--It isn’t a fish. I cannot quite make out what it is. It
makes curious devilish noises when not satisfied, and says “goo-goo”
 when it is. It is not one of us, for it doesn’t walk; it is not a bird,
for it doesn’t fly; it is not a frog, for it doesn’t hop; it is not
a snake, for it doesn’t crawl; I feel sure it is not a fish, though I
cannot get a chance to find out whether it can swim or not. It merely
lies around, and mostly on its back, with its feet up. I have not seen
any other animal do that before. I said I believed it was an enigma; but
she only admired the word without understanding it. In my judgment it is
either an enigma or some kind of a bug. If it dies, I will take it apart
and see what its arrangements are. I never had a thing perplex me so.

THREE MONTHS LATER.--The perplexity augments instead of diminishing. I
sleep but little. It has ceased from lying around, and goes about on
its four legs now. Yet it differs from the other four legged animals,
in that its front legs are unusually short, consequently this causes the
main part of its person to stick up uncomfortably high in the air, and
this is not attractive. It is built much as we are, but its method of
traveling shows that it is not of our breed. The short front legs and
long hind ones indicate that it is a of the kangaroo family, but it is a
marked variation of that species, since the true kangaroo hops, whereas
this one never does. Still it is a curious and interesting variety,
and has not been catalogued before. As I discovered it, I have felt
justified in securing the credit of the discovery by attaching my name
to it, and hence have called it _Kangaroorum Adamiensis_.... It must
have been a young one when it came, for it has grown exceedingly since.
It must be five times as big, now, as it was then, and when discontented
it is able to make from twenty-two to thirty-eight times the noise
it made at first. Coercion does not modify this, but has the contrary
effect. For this reason I discontinued the system. She reconciles it by
persuasion, and by giving it things which she had previously told me she
wouldn’t give it. As already observed, I was not at home when it first
came, and she told me she found it in the woods. It seems odd that it
should be the only one, yet it must be so, for I have worn myself out
these many weeks trying to find another one to add to my collection, and
for this to play with; for surely then it would be quieter and we
could tame it more easily. But I find none, nor any vestige of any; and
strangest of all, no tracks. It has to live on the ground, it cannot
help itself; therefore, how does it get about without leaving a track?
I have set a dozen traps, but they do no good. I catch all small animals
except that one; animals that merely go into the trap out of curiosity,
I think, to see what the milk is there for. They never drink it.

THREE MONTHS LATER.--The Kangaroo still continues to grow, which is
very strange and perplexing. I never knew one to be so long getting its
growth. It has fur on its head now; not like kangaroo fur, but exactly
like our hair except that it is much finer and softer, and instead of
being black is red. I am like to lose my mind over the capricious and
harassing developments of this unclassifiable zoological freak. If I
could catch another one--but that is hopeless; it is a new variety, and
the only sample; this is plain. But I caught a true kangaroo and brought
it in, thinking that this one, being lonesome, would rather have that
for company than have no kin at all, or any animal it could feel a
nearness to or get sympathy from in its forlorn condition here among
strangers who do not know its ways or habits, or what to do to make it
feel that it is among friends; but it was a mistake--it went into such
fits at the sight of the kangaroo that I was convinced it had never seen
one before. I pity the poor noisy little animal, but there is nothing
I can do to make it happy. If I could tame it--but that is out of the
question; the more I try the worse I seem to make it. It grieves me to
the heart to see it in its little storms of sorrow and passion. I wanted
to let it go, but she wouldn’t hear of it. That seemed cruel and not
like her; and yet she may be right. It might be lonelier than ever; for
since I cannot find another one, how could_ it_?

FIVE MONTHS LATER.--It is not a kangaroo. No, for it supports itself by
holding to her finger, and thus goes a few steps on its hind legs, and
then falls down. It is probably some kind of a bear; and yet it has
no tail--as yet--and no fur, except upon its head. It still keeps on
growing--that is a curious circumstance, for bears get their growth
earlier than this. Bears are dangerous--since our catastrophe--and I
shall not be satisfied to have this one prowling about the place much
longer without a muzzle on. I have offered to get her a kangaroo if she
would let this one go, but it did no good--she is determined to run us
into all sorts of foolish risks, I think. She was not like this before
she lost her mind.

A FORTNIGHT LATER.--I examined its mouth. There is no danger yet: it has
only one tooth. It has no tail yet. It makes more noise now than it ever
did before--and mainly at night. I have moved out. But I shall go over,
mornings, to breakfast, and see if it has more teeth. If it gets a
mouthful of teeth it will be time for it to go, tail or no tail, for a
bear does not need a tail in order to be dangerous.

FOUR MONTHS LATER.--I have been off hunting and fishing a month, up
in the region that she calls Buffalo; I don’t know why, unless it is
because there are not any buffaloes there. Meantime the bear has learned
to paddle around all by itself on its hind legs, and says “poppa” and
“momma.” It is certainly a new species. This resemblance to words may
be purely accidental, of course, and may have no purpose or meaning;
but even in that case it is still extraordinary, and is a thing which no
other bear can do. This imitation of speech, taken together with general
absence of fur and entire absence of tail, sufficiently indicates that
this is a new kind of bear. The further study of it will be exceedingly
interesting. Meantime I will go off on a far expedition among the
forests of the north and make an exhaustive search. There must certainly
be another one somewhere, and this one will be less dangerous when it
has company of its own species. I will go straightway; but I will muzzle
this one first.

THREE MONTHS LATER.--It has been a weary, weary hunt, yet I have had no
success. In the mean time, without stirring from the home estate, she
has caught another one! I never saw such luck. I might have hunted these
woods a hundred years, I never would have run across that thing.

NEXT DAY.--I have been comparing the new one with the old one, and it
is perfectly plain that they are of the same breed. I was going to stuff
one of them for my collection, but she is prejudiced against it for some
reason or other; so I have relinquished the idea, though I think it is
a mistake. It would be an irreparable loss to science if they should
get away. The old one is tamer than it was and can laugh and talk like
a parrot, having learned this, no doubt, from being with the parrot so
much, and having the imitative faculty in a high developed degree. I
shall be astonished if it turns out to be a new kind of parrot; and yet
I ought not to be astonished, for it has already been everything else it
could think of since those first days when it was a fish. The new one is
as ugly as the old one was at first; has the same sulphur-and-raw-meat
complexion and the same singular head without any fur on it. She calls
it Abel.

TEN YEARS LATER.--They are _boys_; we found it out long ago. It was
their coming in that small immature shape that puzzled us; we were not
used to it. There are some girls now. Abel is a good boy, but if Cain
had stayed a bear it would have improved him. After all these years, I
see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to
live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first
I thought she talked too much; but now I should be sorry to have that
voice fall silent and pass out of my life. Blessed be the chestnut that
brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart
and the sweetness of her spirit!


Translated from the Original

SATURDAY.--I am almost a whole day old, now. I arrived yesterday.
That is as it seems to me. And it must be so, for if there was a
day-before-yesterday I was not there when it happened, or I should
remember it. It could be, of course, that it did happen, and that I
was not noticing. Very well; I will be very watchful now, and if any
day-before-yesterdays happen I will make a note of it. It will be best
to start right and not let the record get confused, for some instinct
tells me that these details are going to be important to the historian
some day. For I feel like an experiment, I feel exactly like an
experiment; it would be impossible for a person to feel more like an
experiment than I do, and so I am coming to feel convinced that that is
what I _am_--an experiment; just an experiment, and nothing more.

Then if I am an experiment, am I the whole of it? No, I think not; I
think the rest of it is part of it. I am the main part of it, but
I think the rest of it has its share in the matter. Is my position
assured, or do I have to watch it and take care of it? The latter,
perhaps. Some instinct tells me that eternal vigilance is the price of
supremacy. (That is a good phrase, I think, for one so young.)

Everything looks better today than it did yesterday. In the rush of
finishing up yesterday, the mountains were left in a ragged condition,
and some of the plains were so cluttered with rubbish and remnants that
the aspects were quite distressing. Noble and beautiful works of art
should not be subjected to haste; and this majestic new world is indeed
a most noble and beautiful work. And certainly marvelously near to being
perfect, notwithstanding the shortness of the time. There are too many
stars in some places and not enough in others, but that can be remedied
presently, no doubt. The moon got loose last night, and slid down and
fell out of the scheme--a very great loss; it breaks my heart to think
of it. There isn’t another thing among the ornaments and decorations
that is comparable to it for beauty and finish. It should have been
fastened better. If we can only get it back again--

But of course there is no telling where it went to. And besides, whoever
gets it will hide it; I know it because I would do it myself. I believe
I can be honest in all other matters, but I already begin to realize
that the core and center of my nature is love of the beautiful, a
passion for the beautiful, and that it would not be safe to trust me
with a moon that belonged to another person and that person didn’t know
I had it. I could give up a moon that I found in the daytime, because I
should be afraid some one was looking; but if I found it in the dark,
I am sure I should find some kind of an excuse for not saying anything
about it. For I do love moons, they are so pretty and so romantic. I
wish we had five or six; I would never go to bed; I should never get
tired lying on the moss-bank and looking up at them.

Stars are good, too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I
suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they
are, for they do not look it. When they first showed, last night,
I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn’t reach, which
astonished me; then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never
got one. It was because I am left-handed and cannot throw good. Even
when I aimed at the one I wasn’t after I couldn’t hit the other one,
though I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod
sail right into the midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times,
just barely missing them, and if I could have held out a little longer
maybe I could have got one.

So I cried a little, which was natural, I suppose, for one of my age,
and after I was rested I got a basket and started for a place on the
extreme rim of the circle, where the stars were close to the ground and
I could get them with my hands, which would be better, anyway, because I
could gather them tenderly then, and not break them. But it was farther
than I thought, and at last I had to give it up; I was so tired I
couldn’t drag my feet another step; and besides, they were sore and hurt
me very much.

I couldn’t get back home; it was too far and turning cold; but I found
some tigers and nestled in among them and was most adorably comfortable,
and their breath was sweet and pleasant, because they live on
strawberries. I had never seen a tiger before, but I knew them in a
minute by the stripes. If I could have one of those skins, it would make
a lovely gown.

Today I am getting better ideas about distances. I was so eager to get
hold of every pretty thing that I giddily grabbed for it, sometimes when
it was too far off, and sometimes when it was but six inches away but
seemed a foot--alas, with thorns between! I learned a lesson; also I
made an axiom, all out of my own head--my very first one; _The scratched
experiment shuns the thorn_. I think it is a very good one for one so

I followed the other Experiment around, yesterday afternoon, at a
distance, to see what it might be for, if I could. But I was not able
to make out. I think it is a man. I had never seen a man, but it looked
like one, and I feel sure that that is what it is. I realize that I feel
more curiosity about it than about any of the other reptiles. If it is a
reptile, and I suppose it is; for it has frowzy hair and blue eyes, and
looks like a reptile. It has no hips; it tapers like a carrot; when
it stands, it spreads itself apart like a derrick; so I think it is a
reptile, though it may be architecture.

I was afraid of it at first, and started to run every time it turned
around, for I thought it was going to chase me; but by and by I found it
was only trying to get away, so after that I was not timid any more, but
tracked it along, several hours, about twenty yards behind, which made
it nervous and unhappy. At last it was a good deal worried, and climbed
a tree. I waited a good while, then gave it up and went home.

Today the same thing over. I’ve got it up the tree again.

SUNDAY.--It is up there yet. Resting, apparently. But that is a
subterfuge: Sunday isn’t the day of rest; Saturday is appointed for
that. It looks to me like a creature that is more interested in resting
than in anything else. It would tire me to rest so much. It tires me
just to sit around and watch the tree. I do wonder what it is for; I
never see it do anything.

They returned the moon last night, and I was_ so_ happy! I think it
is very honest of them. It slid down and fell off again, but I was
not distressed; there is no need to worry when one has that kind of
neighbors; they will fetch it back. I wish I could do something to show
my appreciation. I would like to send them some stars, for we have more
than we can use. I mean I, not we, for I can see that the reptile cares
nothing for such things.

It has low tastes, and is not kind. When I went there yesterday evening
in the gloaming it had crept down and was trying to catch the little
speckled fishes that play in the pool, and I had to clod it to make it
go up the tree again and let them alone. I wonder if _that _is what it
is for? Hasn’t it any heart? Hasn’t it any compassion for those little
creature? Can it be that it was designed and manufactured for such
ungentle work? It has the look of it. One of the clods took it back of
the ear, and it used language. It gave me a thrill, for it was the first
time I had ever heard speech, except my own. I did not understand the
words, but they seemed expressive.

When I found it could talk I felt a new interest in it, for I love to
talk; I talk, all day, and in my sleep, too, and I am very interesting,
but if I had another to talk to I could be twice as interesting, and
would never stop, if desired.

If this reptile is a man, it isn’t an_ it_, is it? That wouldn’t be
grammatical, would it? I think it would be _he_. I think so. In
that case one would parse it thus: nominative, _he_; dative, _him_;
possessive, _his’n._ Well, I will consider it a man and call it he until
it turns out to be something else. This will be handier than having so
many uncertainties.

NEXT WEEK SUNDAY.--All the week I tagged around after him and tried
to get acquainted. I had to do the talking, because he was shy, but
I didn’t mind it. He seemed pleased to have me around, and I used
the sociable “we” a good deal, because it seemed to flatter him to be

WEDNESDAY.--We are getting along very well indeed, now, and getting
better and better acquainted. He does not try to avoid me any more,
which is a good sign, and shows that he likes to have me with him. That
pleases me, and I study to be useful to him in every way I can, so as
to increase his regard. During the last day or two I have taken all the
work of naming things off his hands, and this has been a great relief to
him, for he has no gift in that line, and is evidently very grateful.
He can’t think of a rational name to save him, but I do not let him see
that I am aware of his defect. Whenever a new creature comes along I
name it before he has time to expose himself by an awkward silence. In
this way I have saved him many embarrassments. I have no defect like
this. The minute I set eyes on an animal I know what it is. I don’t have
to reflect a moment; the right name comes out instantly, just as if it
were an inspiration, as no doubt it is, for I am sure it wasn’t in me
half a minute before. I seem to know just by the shape of the creature
and the way it acts what animal it is.

When the dodo came along he thought it was a wildcat--I saw it in his
eye. But I saved him. And I was careful not to do it in a way that
could hurt his pride. I just spoke up in a quite natural way of pleased
surprise, and not as if I was dreaming of conveying information,
and said, “Well, I do declare, if there isn’t the dodo!” I
explained--without seeming to be explaining--how I know it for a dodo,
and although I thought maybe he was a little piqued that I knew the
creature when he didn’t, it was quite evident that he admired me.
That was very agreeable, and I thought of it more than once with
gratification before I slept. How little a thing can make us happy when
we feel that we have earned it!

THURSDAY.--my first sorrow. Yesterday he avoided me and seemed to wish
I would not talk to him. I could not believe it, and thought there was
some mistake, for I loved to be with him, and loved to hear him talk,
and so how could it be that he could feel unkind toward me when I had
not done anything? But at last it seemed true, so I went away and sat
lonely in the place where I first saw him the morning that we were made
and I did not know what he was and was indifferent about him; but now it
was a mournful place, and every little thing spoke of him, and my
heart was very sore. I did not know why very clearly, for it was a new
feeling; I had not experienced it before, and it was all a mystery, and
I could not make it out.

But when night came I could not bear the lonesomeness, and went to the
new shelter which he has built, to ask him what I had done that was
wrong and how I could mend it and get back his kindness again; but he
put me out in the rain, and it was my first sorrow.

SUNDAY.--It is pleasant again, now, and I am happy; but those were heavy
days; I do not think of them when I can help it.

I tried to get him some of those apples, but I cannot learn to throw
straight. I failed, but I think the good intention pleased him. They
are forbidden, and he says I shall come to harm; but so I come to harm
through pleasing him, why shall I care for that harm?

MONDAY.--This morning I told him my name, hoping it would interest him.
But he did not care for it. It is strange. If he should tell me his
name, I would care. I think it would be pleasanter in my ears than any
other sound.

He talks very little. Perhaps it is because he is not bright, and is
sensitive about it and wishes to conceal it. It is such a pity that he
should feel so, for brightness is nothing; it is in the heart that the
values lie. I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart
is riches, and riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty.

Although he talks so little, he has quite a considerable vocabulary.
This morning he used a surprisingly good word. He evidently recognized,
himself, that it was a good one, for he worked it in twice afterward,
casually. It was not good casual art, still it showed that he possesses
a certain quality of perception. Without a doubt that seed can be made
to grow, if cultivated.

Where did he get that word? I do not think I have ever used it.

No, he took no interest in my name. I tried to hide my disappointment,
but I suppose I did not succeed. I went away and sat on the moss-bank
with my feet in the water. It is where I go when I hunger for
companionship, some one to look at, some one to talk to. It is not
enough--that lovely white body painted there in the pool--but it is
something, and something is better than utter loneliness. It talks when
I talk; it is sad when I am sad; it comforts me with its sympathy; it
says, “Do not be downhearted, you poor friendless girl; I will be your
friend.” It_ is_ a good friend to me, and my only one; it is my sister.

That first time that she forsook me! ah, I shall never forget
that--never, never. My heart was lead in my body! I said, “She was all
I had, and now she is gone!” In my despair I said, “Break, my heart; I
cannot bear my life any more!” and hid my face in my hands, and there
was no solace for me. And when I took them away, after a little, there
she was again, white and shining and beautiful, and I sprang into her

That was perfect happiness; I had known happiness before, but it was not
like this, which was ecstasy. I never doubted her afterward. Sometimes
she stayed away--maybe an hour, maybe almost the whole day, but I waited
and did not doubt; I said, “She is busy, or she is gone on a journey,
but she will come.” And it was so: she always did. At night she would
not come if it was dark, for she was a timid little thing; but if there
was a moon she would come. I am not afraid of the dark, but she is
younger than I am; she was born after I was. Many and many are the
visits I have paid her; she is my comfort and my refuge when my life is
hard--and it is mainly that.

TUESDAY.--All the morning I was at work improving the estate; and I
purposely kept away from him in the hope that he would get lonely and
come. But he did not.

At noon I stopped for the day and took my recreation by flitting all
about with the bees and the butterflies and reveling in the flowers,
those beautiful creatures that catch the smile of God out of the sky and
preserve it! I gathered them, and made them into wreaths and garlands
and clothed myself in them while I ate my luncheon--apples, of course;
then I sat in the shade and wished and waited. But he did not come.

But no matter. Nothing would have come of it, for he does not care for
flowers. He called them rubbish, and cannot tell one from another, and
thinks it is superior to feel like that. He does not care for me, he
does not care for flowers, he does not care for the painted sky at
eventide--is there anything he does care for, except building shacks to
coop himself up in from the good clean rain, and thumping the melons,
and sampling the grapes, and fingering the fruit on the trees, to see
how those properties are coming along?

I laid a dry stick on the ground and tried to bore a hole in it with
another one, in order to carry out a scheme that I had, and soon I got
an awful fright. A thin, transparent bluish film rose out of the hole,
and I dropped everything and ran! I thought it was a spirit, and I _was
_so frightened! But I looked back, and it was not coming; so I leaned
against a rock and rested and panted, and let my limbs go on trembling
until they got steady again; then I crept warily back, alert, watching,
and ready to fly if there was occasion; and when I was come near, I
parted the branches of a rose-bush and peeped through--wishing the man
was about, I was looking so cunning and pretty--but the sprite was gone.
I went there, and there was a pinch of delicate pink dust in the hole. I
put my finger in, to feel it, and said _ouch_! and took it out again. It
was a cruel pain. I put my finger in my mouth; and by standing first on
one foot and then the other, and grunting, I presently eased my misery;
then I was full of interest, and began to examine.

I was curious to know what the pink dust was. Suddenly the name of it
occurred to me, though I had never heard of it before. It was _fire_! I
was as certain of it as a person could be of anything in the world. So
without hesitation I named it that--fire.

I had created something that didn’t exist before; I had added a new
thing to the world’s uncountable properties; I realized this, and was
proud of my achievement, and was going to run and find him and tell him
about it, thinking to raise myself in his esteem--but I reflected, and
did not do it. No--he would not care for it. He would ask what it
was good for, and what could I answer? for if it was not _good _for
something, but only beautiful, merely beautiful-- So I sighed, and did
not go. For it wasn’t good for anything; it could not build a shack,
it could not improve melons, it could not hurry a fruit crop; it was
useless, it was a foolishness and a vanity; he would despise it and say
cutting words. But to me it was not despicable; I said, “Oh, you fire, I
love you, you dainty pink creature, for you are _beautiful_--and that is
enough!” and was going to gather it to my breast. But refrained. Then
I made another maxim out of my head, though it was so nearly like
the first one that I was afraid it was only a plagiarism: “_The burnt
experiment shuns the fire_.”

I wrought again; and when I had made a good deal of fire-dust I emptied
it into a handful of dry brown grass, intending to carry it home and
keep it always and play with it; but the wind struck it and it sprayed
up and spat out at me fiercely, and I dropped it and ran. When I looked
back the blue spirit was towering up and stretching and rolling away
like a cloud, and instantly I thought of the name of it--smoke!--though,
upon my word, I had never heard of smoke before.

Soon brilliant yellow and red flares shot up through the smoke, and I
named them in an instant--flames--and I was right, too, though these
were the very first flames that had ever been in the world. They climbed
the trees, then flashed splendidly in and out of the vast and increasing
volume of tumbling smoke, and I had to clap my hands and laugh and
dance in my rapture, it was so new and strange and so wonderful and so

He came running, and stopped and gazed, and said not a word for many
minutes. Then he asked what it was. Ah, it was too bad that he should
ask such a direct question. I had to answer it, of course, and I did. I
said it was fire. If it annoyed him that I should know and he must ask;
that was not my fault; I had no desire to annoy him. After a pause he

“How did it come?”

Another direct question, and it also had to have a direct answer.

“I made it.”

The fire was traveling farther and farther off. He went to the edge of
the burned place and stood looking down, and said:

“What are these?”


He picked up one to examine it, but changed his mind and put it down
again. Then he went away. _Nothing _interests him.

But I was interested. There were ashes, gray and soft and delicate
and pretty--I knew what they were at once. And the embers; I knew the
embers, too. I found my apples, and raked them out, and was glad; for
I am very young and my appetite is active. But I was disappointed; they
were all burst open and spoiled. Spoiled apparently; but it was not so;
they were better than raw ones. Fire is beautiful; some day it will be
useful, I think.

FRIDAY.--I saw him again, for a moment, last Monday at nightfall, but
only for a moment. I was hoping he would praise me for trying to improve
the estate, for I had meant well and had worked hard. But he was not
pleased, and turned away and left me. He was also displeased on another
account: I tried once more to persuade him to stop going over the Falls.
That was because the fire had revealed to me a new passion--quite new,
and distinctly different from love, grief, and those others which I
had already discovered--fear. And it is horrible!--I wish I had never
discovered it; it gives me dark moments, it spoils my happiness, it
makes me shiver and tremble and shudder. But I could not persuade him,
for he has not discovered fear yet, and so he could not understand me.


Perhaps I ought to remember that she is very young, a mere girl and make
allowances. She is all interest, eagerness, vivacity, the world is to
her a charm, a wonder, a mystery, a joy; she can’t speak for delight
when she finds a new flower, she must pet it and caress it and smell
it and talk to it, and pour out endearing names upon it. And she is
color-mad: brown rocks, yellow sand, gray moss, green foliage, blue sky;
the pearl of the dawn, the purple shadows on the mountains, the golden
islands floating in crimson seas at sunset, the pallid moon sailing
through the shredded cloud-rack, the star-jewels glittering in the
wastes of space--none of them is of any practical value, so far as I can
see, but because they have color and majesty, that is enough for her,
and she loses her mind over them. If she could quiet down and keep still
a couple minutes at a time, it would be a reposeful spectacle. In that
case I think I could enjoy looking at her; indeed I am sure I could,
for I am coming to realize that she is a quite remarkably comely
creature--lithe, slender, trim, rounded, shapely, nimble, graceful; and
once when she was standing marble-white and sun-drenched on a boulder,
with her young head tilted back and her hand shading her eyes, watching
the flight of a bird in the sky, I recognized that she was beautiful.

MONDAY NOON.--If there is anything on the planet that she is not
interested in it is not in my list. There are animals that I am
indifferent to, but it is not so with her. She has no discrimination,
she takes to all of them, she thinks they are all treasures, every new
one is welcome.

When the mighty brontosaurus came striding into camp, she regarded it as
an acquisition, I considered it a calamity; that is a good sample of
the lack of harmony that prevails in our views of things. She wanted to
domesticate it, I wanted to make it a present of the homestead and move
out. She believed it could be tamed by kind treatment and would be a
good pet; I said a pet twenty-one feet high and eighty-four feet long
would be no proper thing to have about the place, because, even with the
best intentions and without meaning any harm, it could sit down on the
house and mash it, for any one could see by the look of its eye that it
was absent-minded.

Still, her heart was set upon having that monster, and she couldn’t give
it up. She thought we could start a dairy with it, and wanted me to help
milk it; but I wouldn’t; it was too risky. The sex wasn’t right, and we
hadn’t any ladder anyway. Then she wanted to ride it, and look at the
scenery. Thirty or forty feet of its tail was lying on the ground, like
a fallen tree, and she thought she could climb it, but she was mistaken;
when she got to the steep place it was too slick and down she came, and
would have hurt herself but for me.

Was she satisfied now? No. Nothing ever satisfies her but demonstration;
untested theories are not in her line, and she won’t have them. It is
the right spirit, I concede it; it attracts me; I feel the influence of
it; if I were with her more I think I should take it up myself. Well,
she had one theory remaining about this colossus: she thought that if we
could tame it and make him friendly we could stand him in the river
and use him for a bridge. It turned out that he was already plenty tame
enough--at least as far as she was concerned--so she tried her theory,
but it failed: every time she got him properly placed in the river and
went ashore to cross over him, he came out and followed her around like
a pet mountain. Like the other animals. They all do that.

FRIDAY.--Tuesday--Wednesday--Thursday--and today: all without seeing
him. It is a long time to be alone; still, it is better to be alone than

I _had _to have company--I was made for it, I think--so I made friends
with the animals. They are just charming, and they have the kindest
disposition and the politest ways; they never look sour, they never let
you feel that you are intruding, they smile at you and wag their tail,
if they’ve got one, and they are always ready for a romp or an excursion
or anything you want to propose. I think they are perfect gentlemen. All
these days we have had such good times, and it hasn’t been lonesome for
me, ever. Lonesome! No, I should say not. Why, there’s always a swarm
of them around--sometimes as much as four or five acres--you can’t count
them; and when you stand on a rock in the midst and look out over the
furry expanse it is so mottled and splashed and gay with color and
frisking sheen and sun-flash, and so rippled with stripes, that you
might think it was a lake, only you know it isn’t; and there’s storms
of sociable birds, and hurricanes of whirring wings; and when the sun
strikes all that feathery commotion, you have a blazing up of all the
colors you can think of, enough to put your eyes out.

We have made long excursions, and I have seen a great deal of the world;
almost all of it, I think; and so I am the first traveler, and the only
one. When we are on the march, it is an imposing sight--there’s nothing
like it anywhere. For comfort I ride a tiger or a leopard, because it is
soft and has a round back that fits me, and because they are such pretty
animals; but for long distance or for scenery I ride the elephant. He
hoists me up with his trunk, but I can get off myself; when we are ready
to camp, he sits and I slide down the back way.

The birds and animals are all friendly to each other, and there are no
disputes about anything. They all talk, and they all talk to me, but it
must be a foreign language, for I cannot make out a word they say; yet
they often understand me when I talk back, particularly the dog and the
elephant. It makes me ashamed. It shows that they are brighter than I
am, for I want to be the principal Experiment myself--and I intend to
be, too.

I have learned a number of things, and am educated, now, but I wasn’t at
first. I was ignorant at first. At first it used to vex me because, with
all my watching, I was never smart enough to be around when the water
was running uphill; but now I do not mind it. I have experimented and
experimented until now I know it never does run uphill, except in the
dark. I know it does in the dark, because the pool never goes dry, which
it would, of course, if the water didn’t come back in the night. It is
best to prove things by actual experiment; then you _know_; whereas if
you depend on guessing and supposing and conjecturing, you never get

Some things you _can’t_ find out; but you will never know you can’t
by guessing and supposing: no, you have to be patient and go on
experimenting until you find out that you can’t find out. And it is
delightful to have it that way, it makes the world so interesting. If
there wasn’t anything to find out, it would be dull. Even trying to find
out and not finding out is just as interesting as trying to find out and
finding out, and I don’t know but more so. The secret of the water was
a treasure until I _got _it; then the excitement all went away, and I
recognized a sense of loss.

By experiment I know that wood swims, and dry leaves, and feathers, and
plenty of other things; therefore by all that cumulative evidence you
know that a rock will swim; but you have to put up with simply knowing
it, for there isn’t any way to prove it--up to now. But I shall find a
way--then _that _excitement will go. Such things make me sad; because
by and by when I have found out everything there won’t be any more
excitements, and I do love excitements so! The other night I couldn’t
sleep for thinking about it.

At first I couldn’t make out what I was made for, but now I think it was
to search out the secrets of this wonderful world and be happy and thank
the Giver of it all for devising it. I think there are many things to
learn yet--I hope so; and by economizing and not hurrying too fast I
think they will last weeks and weeks. I hope so. When you cast up a
feather it sails away on the air and goes out of sight; then you throw
up a clod and it doesn’t. It comes down, every time. I have tried it
and tried it, and it is always so. I wonder why it is? Of course it
_doesn’t_ come down, but why should it _seem _to? I suppose it is an
optical illusion. I mean, one of them is. I don’t know which one. It
may be the feather, it may be the clod; I can’t prove which it is, I can
only demonstrate that one or the other is a fake, and let a person take
his choice.

By watching, I know that the stars are not going to last. I have seen
some of the best ones melt and run down the sky. Since one can melt,
they can all melt; since they can all melt, they can all melt the same
night. That sorrow will come--I know it. I mean to sit up every night
and look at them as long as I can keep awake; and I will impress those
sparkling fields on my memory, so that by and by when they are taken
away I can by my fancy restore those lovely myriads to the black sky and
make them sparkle again, and double them by the blur of my tears.

After the Fall

When I look back, the Garden is a dream to me. It was beautiful,
surpassingly beautiful, enchantingly beautiful; and now it is lost, and
I shall not see it any more.

The Garden is lost, but I have found _him_, and am content. He loves
me as well as he can; I love him with all the strength of my passionate
nature, and this, I think, is proper to my youth and sex. If I ask
myself why I love him, I find I do not know, and do not really much
care to know; so I suppose that this kind of love is not a product
of reasoning and statistics, like one’s love for other reptiles and
animals. I think that this must be so. I love certain birds because of
their song; but I do not love Adam on account of his singing--no, it is
not that; the more he sings the more I do not get reconciled to it.
Yet I ask him to sing, because I wish to learn to like everything he is
interested in. I am sure I can learn, because at first I could not stand
it, but now I can. It sours the milk, but it doesn’t matter; I can get
used to that kind of milk.

It is not on account of his brightness that I love him--no, it is not
that. He is not to blame for his brightness, such as it is, for he did
not make it himself; he is as God made him, and that is sufficient.
There was a wise purpose in it, _that _I know. In time it will develop,
though I think it will not be sudden; and besides, there is no hurry; he
is well enough just as he is.

It is not on account of his gracious and considerate ways and his
delicacy that I love him. No, he has lacks in this regard, but he is
well enough just so, and is improving.

It is not on account of his industry that I love him--no, it is not
that. I think he has it in him, and I do not know why he conceals it
from me. It is my only pain. Otherwise he is frank and open with me,
now. I am sure he keeps nothing from me but this. It grieves me that he
should have a secret from me, and sometimes it spoils my sleep, thinking
of it, but I will put it out of my mind; it shall not trouble my
happiness, which is otherwise full to overflowing.

It is not on account of his education that I love him--no, it is not
that. He is self-educated, and does really know a multitude of things,
but they are not so.

It is not on account of his chivalry that I love him--no, it is not
that. He told on me, but I do not blame him; it is a peculiarity of sex,
I think, and he did not make his sex. Of course I would not have told on
him, I would have perished first; but that is a peculiarity of sex, too,
and I do not take credit for it, for I did not make my sex.

Then why is it that I love him? _Merely because he is masculine_, I

At bottom he is good, and I love him for that, but I could love him
without it. If he should beat me and abuse me, I should go on loving
him. I know it. It is a matter of sex, I think.

He is strong and handsome, and I love him for that, and I admire him
and am proud of him, but I could love him without those qualities. If
he were plain, I should love him; if he were a wreck, I should love
him; and I would work for him, and slave over him, and pray for him, and
watch by his bedside until I died.

Yes, I think I love him merely because he is _mine _and is _masculine_.
There is no other reason, I suppose. And so I think it is as I first
said: that this kind of love is not a product of reasonings and
statistics. It just _comes_--none knows whence--and cannot explain
itself. And doesn’t need to.

It is what I think. But I am only a girl, the first that has examined
this matter, and it may turn out that in my ignorance and inexperience I
have not got it right.

Forty Years Later

It is my prayer, it is my longing, that we may pass from this life
together--a longing which shall never perish from the earth, but shall
have place in the heart of every wife that loves, until the end of time;
and it shall be called by my name.

But if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I;
for he is strong, I am weak, I am not so necessary to him as he is to
me--life without him would not be life; how could I endure it? This
prayer is also immortal, and will not cease from being offered up while
my race continues. I am the first wife; and in the last wife I shall be


ADAM: Wheresoever she was, _there_ was Eden.

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