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

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 muttered:

“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

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Categories: Twain, Mark