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

around and listened, and tried to learn, for the sake of my mother,

and in loving memory of her, although it was a pain to me, as realizing

what she was losing out of her life and I gaining nothing at all;

for try as I might, I was never able to make anything out of it

at all.

Other times I lay on the floor in the mistress’s work-room and slept,

she gently using me for a foot-stool, knowing it pleased me,

for it was a caress; other times I spent an hour in the nursery,

and got well tousled and made happy; other times I watched by the

crib there, when the baby was asleep and the nurse out for a few

minutes on the baby’s affairs; other times I romped and raced

through the grounds and the garden with Sadie till we were tired out,

then slumbered on the grass in the shade of a tree while she read

her book; other times I went visiting among the neighbor dogs–

for there were some most pleasant ones not far away, and one very

handsome and courteous and graceful one, a curly-haired Irish

setter by the name of Robin Adair, who was a Presbyterian like me,

and belonged to the Scotch minister.

The servants in our house were all kind to me and were fond of me,

and so, as you see, mine was a pleasant life. There could not be

a happier dog that I was, nor a gratefuler one. I will say this

for myself, for it is only the truth: I tried in all ways to do

well and right, and honor my mother’s memory and her teachings,

and earn the happiness that had come to me, as best I could.

By and by came my little puppy, and then my cup was full, my happiness

was perfect. It was the dearest little waddling thing, and so smooth

and soft and velvety, and had such cunning little awkward paws,

and such affectionate eyes, and such a sweet and innocent face;

and it made me so proud to see how the children and their mother

adored it, and fondled it, and exclaimed over every little wonderful

thing it did. It did seem to me that life was just too lovely to–

Then came the winter. One day I was standing a watch in the nursery.

That is to say, I was asleep on the bed. The baby was asleep in

the crib, which was alongside the bed, on the side next the fireplace.

It was the kind of crib that has a lofty tent over it made of gauzy

stuff that you can see through. The nurse was out, and we two

sleepers were alone. A spark from the wood-fire was shot out, and it

lit on the slope of the tent. I suppose a quiet interval followed,

then a scream from the baby awoke me, and there was that tent

flaming up toward the ceiling! Before I could think, I sprang

to the floor in my fright, and in a second was half-way to the door;

but in the next half-second my mother’s farewell was sounding

in my ears, and I was back on the bed again., I reached my head

through the flames and dragged the baby out by the waist-band,

and tugged it along, and we fell to the floor together in a cloud

of smoke; I snatched a new hold, and dragged the screaming little

creature along and out at the door and around the bend of the hall,

and was still tugging away, all excited and happy and proud,

when the master’s voice shouted:

“Begone you cursed beast!” and I jumped to save myself; but he

was furiously quick, and chased me up, striking furiously at me

with his cane, I dodging this way and that, in terror, and at last a

strong blow fell upon my left foreleg, which made me shriek and fall,

for the moment, helpless; the came went up for another blow,

but never descended, for the nurse’s voice rang wildly out,

“The nursery’s on fire!” and the master rushed away in that direction,

and my other bones were saved.

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Categories: Twain, Mark