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

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 or 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

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Categories: Twain, Mark