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

upon those around, and treat the unfortunate as well as the fortunate

with a graceful mien, he continued to use diligence and perseverance.

All this lighted a spark in his heart that changed his whole character,

and like the unyielding Deity that follows the storm to check its

rage in the forest, he resolves for the first time to shake off

his embarrassment and return where he had before only worshiped.

At last we begin to get the Major’s measure. We are able to put

this and that casual fact together, and build the man up before

our eyes, and look at him. And after we have got him built, we find

him worth the trouble. By the above comparison between his age

and Ambulinia’s, we guess the war-worn veteran to be twenty-two;

and the other facts stand thus: he had grown up in the Cherokee

country with the same equal proportions as one of the natives–

how flowing and graceful the language, and yet how tantalizing

as to meaning!–he had been turned adrift by his father, to whom he

had been “somewhat of a dutiful son”; he wandered in distant lands;

came back frequently “to the scenes of his boyhood, almost destitute

of many of the comforts of life,” in order to get into the presence

of his father’s winter-worn locks, and spread a humid veil of

darkness around his expectations; but he was always promptly sent

back to the cold charity of the combat again; he learned to play

the fiddle, and made a name for himself in that line; he had dwelt

among the wild tribes; he had philosophized about the despoilers

of the kingdoms of the earth, and found out–the cunning creature–

that they refer their differences to the learned for settlement;

he had achieved a vast fame as a military chieftain, the Achilles

of the Florida campaigns, and then had got him a spelling-book

and started to school; he had fallen in love with Ambulinia Valeer

while she was teething, but had kept it to himself awhile, out of

the reverential awe which he felt for the child; but now at last,

like the unyielding Deity who follows the storm to check its rage in

the forest, he resolves to shake off his embarrassment, and to return

where before he had only worshiped. The Major, indeed, has made up

his mind to rise up and shake his faculties together, and to see

if HE can’t do that thing himself. This is not clear. But no matter

about that: there stands the hero, compact and visible; and he is

no mean structure, considering that his creator had never structure,

considering that his creator had never created anything before,

and hadn’t anything but rags and wind to build with this time.

It seems to me that no one can contemplate this odd creature, this quaint

and curious blatherskite, without admiring McClintock, or, at any rate,

loving him and feeling grateful to him; for McClintock made him,

he gave him to us; without McClintock we could not have had him,

and would now be poor.

But we must come to the feast again. Here is a courtship scene, down

there in the romantic glades among the raccoons, alligators, and things,

that has merit, peculiar literary merit. See how Achilles woos.

Dwell upon the second sentence (particularly the close of it) and the

beginning of the third. Never mind the new personage, Leos, who is

intruded upon us unheralded and unexplained. That is McClintock’s way;

it is his habit; it is a part of his genius; he cannot help it;

he never interrupts the rush of his narrative to make introductions.

It could not escape Ambulinia’s penetrating eye that he sought

an interview with her, which she as anxiously avoided, and assumed

a more distant calmness than before, seemingly to destroy all hope.

After many efforts and struggles with his own person, with timid

steps the Major approached the damsel, with the same caution

as he would have done in a field of battle. “Lady Ambulinia,”

said he, trembling, “I have long desired a moment like this.

I dare not let it escape. I fear the consequences; yet I hope

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Categories: Twain, Mark