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

about whatever was new to him–his reverence for wise old age,

and his ardent desire to learn many of the fine arts, soon brought

him into respectable notice.

One mild winter day, as he walked along the streets toward the Academy,

which stood upon a small eminence, surrounded by native growth–

some venerable in its appearance, others young and prosperous–

all seemed inviting, and seemed to be the very place for learning as

well as for genius to spend its research beneath its spreading shades.

He entered its classic walls in the usual mode of southern manners.

The artfulness of this man! None knows so well as he how to pique

the curiosity of the reader–and how to disappoint it. He raises

the hope, here, that he is going to tell all about how one enters

a classic wall in the usual mode of Southern manners; but does he?

No; he smiles in his sleeve, and turns aside to other matters.

The principal of the Institution begged him to be seated and listen

to the recitations that were going on. He accordingly obeyed

the request, and seemed to be much pleased. After the school

was dismissed, and the young hearts regained their freedom,

with the songs of the evening, laughing at the anticipated pleasures

of a happy home, while others tittered at the actions of the past day,

he addressed the teacher in a tone that indicated a resolution–

with an undaunted mind. He said he had determined to become

a student, if he could meet with his approbation. “Sir,” said he,

“I have spent much time in the world. I have traveled among

the uncivilized inhabitants of America. I have met with friends,

and combated with foes; but none of these gratify my ambition,

or decide what is to be my destiny. I see the learned world

have an influence with the voice of the people themselves.

The despoilers of the remotest kingdoms of the earth refer their

differences to this class of persons. This the illiterate and

inexperienced little dream of; and now if you will receive me as I am,

with these deficiencies–with all my misguided opinions, I will give

you my honor, sir, that I will never disgrace the Institution,

or those who have placed you in this honorable station.”

The instructor, who had met with many disappointments, knew how to

feel for a stranger who had been thus turned upon the charities

of an unfeeling community. He looked at him earnestly, and said:

“Be of good cheer–look forward, sir, to the high destination you

may attain. Remember, the more elevated the mark at which you aim,

the more sure, the more glorious, the more magnificent the prize.”

From wonder to wonder, his encouragement led the impatient listener.

A strange nature bloomed before him–giant streams promised

him success–gardens of hidden treasures opened to his view.

All this, so vividly described, seemed to gain a new witchery from his

glowing fancy.

It seems to me that this situation is new in romance. I feel

sure it has not been attempted before. Military celebrities have

been disguised and set at lowly occupations for dramatic effect,

but I think McClintock is the first to send one of them to school.

Thus, in this book, you pass from wonder to wonder, through gardens

of hidden treasure, where giant streams bloom before you,

and behind you, and all around, and you feel as happy, and groggy,

and satisfied with your quart of mixed metaphor aboard as you would

if it had been mixed in a sample-room and delivered from a jug.

Now we come upon some more McClintockian surprise–a sweetheart

who is sprung upon us without any preparation, along with a name

for her which is even a little more of a surprise than she herself is.

In 1842 he entered the class, and made rapid progress in the English

and Latin departments. Indeed, he continued advancing with such

rapidity that he was like to become the first in his class,

and made such unexpected progress, and was so studious, that he had

almost forgotten the pictured saint of his affections. The fresh

wreaths of the pine and cypress had waited anxiously to drop once

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Categories: Twain, Mark