THE $30,000 BEQUEST and Other Stories by Mark Twain

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!”

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Categories: Twain, Mark