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

your indulgence will at least hear my petition. Can you not

anticipate what I would say, and what I am about to express?

Will not you, like Minerva, who sprung from the brain of Jupiter,

release me from thy winding chains or cure me–” “Say no more,

Elfonzo,” answered Ambulinia, with a serious look, raising her hand

as if she intended to swear eternal hatred against the whole world;

“another lady in my place would have perhaps answered your question

in bitter coldness. I know not the little arts of my sex.

I care but little for the vanity of those who would chide me,

and am unwilling as well as ashamed to be guilty of anything

that would lead you to think ‘all is not gold that glitters’;

so be no rash in your resolution. It is better to repent now,

than to do it in a more solemn hour. Yes, I know what you would say.

I know you have a costly gift for me–the noblest that man can make–

YOUR HEART! You should not offer it to one so unworthy.

Heaven, you know, has allowed my father’s house to be made a house

of solitude, a home of silent obedience, which my parents say

is more to be admired than big names and high-sounding titles.

Notwithstanding all this, let me speak the emotions of an honest heart–

allow me to say in the fullness of my hopes that I anticipate

better days. The bird may stretch its wings toward the sun,

which it can never reach; and flowers of the field appear to

ascend in the same direction, because they cannot do otherwise;

but man confides his complaints to the saints in whom he believes;

for in their abodes of light they know no more sorrow. From your

confession and indicative looks, I must be that person; if so deceive

not yourself.”

Elfonzo replied, “Pardon me, my dear madam, for my frankness.

I have loved you from my earliest days–everything grand and beautiful

hath borne the image of Ambulinia; while precipices on every hand

surrounded me, your GUARDIAN ANGEL stood and beckoned me away from

the deep abyss. In every trial, in every misfortune, I have met

with your helping hand; yet I never dreamed or dared to cherish

thy love, till a voice impaired with age encouraged the cause,

and declared they who acquired thy favor should win a victory.

I saw how Leos worshiped thee. I felt my own unworthiness.

I began to KNOW JEALOUSLY, a strong guest–indeed, in my bosom,–

yet I could see if I gained your admiration Leos was to be my rival.

I was aware that he had the influence of your parents, and the wealth

of a deceased relative, which is too often mistaken for permanent

and regular tranquillity; yet I have determined by your permission

to beg an interest in your prayers–to ask you to animate my drooping

spirits by your smiles and your winning looks; for if you but speak

I shall be conqueror, my enemies shall stagger like Olympus shakes.

And though earth and sea may tremble, and the charioteer of the sun

may forget his dashing steed, yet I am assured that it is only

to arm me with divine weapons which will enable me to complete my

long-tried intention.”

“Return to yourself, Elfonzo,” said Ambulinia, pleasantly: “a dream

of vision has disturbed your intellect; you are above the atmosphere,

dwelling in the celestial regions; nothing is there that urges

or hinders, nothing that brings discord into our present litigation.

I entreat you to condescend a little, and be a man, and forget it all.

When Homer describes the battle of the gods and noble men fighting

with giants and dragons, they represent under this image our struggles

with the delusions of our passions. You have exalted me, an unhappy girl,

to the skies; you have called me a saint, and portrayed in your

imagination an angel in human form. Let her remain such to you,

let her continue to be as you have supposed, and be assured that she

will consider a share in your esteem as her highest treasure.

Think not that I would allure you from the path in which your

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Categories: Twain, Mark