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

with exultation.

“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 thrones!”

“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 margin?”

“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


Blutwurst, Hereditary Grant 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 morganatic.”

“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! 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 SELL!”

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,

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Categories: Twain, Mark