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

a phrase whose delicate flattery was music to his ears, and whose

capital T was such an enchanting and vivid object to him that he

could SEE it when it fell out of a person’s mouth even in the dark.

Many who were fond of him stood on their consciences with both feet

and brazenly called him by that large title habitually, because it

was a pleasure to them to do anything that would please him;

and with eager and cordial malice his extensive and diligently

cultivated crop of enemies gilded it, beflowered it, expanded it

to “The ONLY Christian.” Of these two titles, the latter had

the wider currency; the enemy, being greatly in the majority,

attended to that. Whatever the doctor believed, he believed with

all his heart, and would fight for it whenever he got the chance;

and if the intervals between chances grew to be irksomely wide,

he would invent ways of shortening them himself. He was

severely conscientious, according to his rather independent lights,

and whatever he took to be a duty he performed, no matter whether

the judgment of the professional moralists agreed with his own

or not. At sea, in his young days, he had used profanity freely,

but as soon as he was converted he made a rule, which he rigidly stuck

to ever afterward, never to use it except on the rarest occasions,

and then only when duty commanded. He had been a hard drinker at sea,

but after his conversion he became a firm and outspoken teetotaler,

in order to be an example to the young, and from that time forth he

seldom drank; never, indeed, except when it seemed to him to be a duty–

a condition which sometimes occurred a couple of times a year, but never

as many as five times.

Necessarily, such a man is impressionable, impulsive, emotional.

This one was, and had no gift at hiding his feelings; or if he

had it he took no trouble to exercise it. He carried his soul’s

prevailing weather in his face, and when he entered a room

the parasols or the umbrellas went up–figuratively speaking–

according to the indications. When the soft light was in his eye

it meant approval, and delivered a benediction; when he came with a

frown he lowered the temperature ten degrees. He was a well-beloved

man in the house of his friends, but sometimes a dreaded one.

He had a deep affection for the Lester household and its several

members returned this feeling with interest. They mourned over

his kind of Christianity, and he frankly scoffed at theirs;

but both parties went on loving each other just the same.

He was approaching the house–out of the distance; the aunts

and the culprit were moving toward the sick-chamber.


The three last named stood by the bed; the aunts austere,

the transgressor softly sobbing. The mother turned her head

on the pillow; her tired eyes flamed up instantly with sympathy

and passionate mother-love when they fell upon her child,

and she opened the refuge and shelter of her arms.

“Wait!” said Aunt Hannah, and put out her hand and stayed the girl

from leaping into them.

“Helen,” said the other aunt, impressively, “tell your mother all.

Purge your soul; leave nothing unconfessed.”

Standing stricken and forlorn before her judges, the young girl

mourned her sorrowful tale through the end, then in a passion

of appeal cried out:

“Oh, mother, can’t you forgive me? won’t you forgive me?–I am

so desolate!”

“Forgive you, my darling? Oh, come to my arms!–there, lay your head

upon my breast, and be at peace. If you had told a thousand lies–”

There was a sound–a warning–the clearing of a throat. The aunts

glanced up, and withered in their clothes–there stood the doctor,

his face a thunder-cloud. Mother and child knew nothing of

his presence; they lay locked together, heart to heart, steeped in

immeasurable content, dead to all things else. The physician

stood many moments glaring and glooming upon the scene before him;

studying it, analyzing it, searching out its genesis; then he put

up his hand and beckoned to the aunts. They came trembling to him,

and stood humbly before him and waited. He bent down and whispered:

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