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

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

blas’e 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 revealing, 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


she had gone into business again; she had risked their whole

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135

Categories: Twain, Mark