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

conscience leads you; for you know I respect the conscience of others,

as I would die for my own. Elfonzo, if I am worthy of thy love,

let such conversation never again pass between us. Go, seek a nobler

theme! we will seek it in the stream of time, as the sun set in

the Tigris.” As she spake these words she grasped the hand of Elfonzo,

saying at the same time–“Peace and prosperity attend you, my hero;

be up and doing!” Closing her remarks with this expression,

she walked slowly away, leaving Elfonzo astonished and amazed.

He ventured not to follow or detain her. Here he stood alone,

gazing at the stars; confounded as he was, here he stood.

Yes; there he stood. There seems to be no doubt about that.

Nearly half of this delirious story has now been delivered to the reader.

It seems a pity to reduce the other half to a cold synopsis.

Pity! it is more than a pity, it is a crime; for to synopsize McClintock

is to reduce a sky-flushing conflagration to dull embers, it is to

reduce barbaric splendor to ragged poverty. McClintock never wrote

a line that was not precious; he never wrote one that could be spared;

he never framed one from which a word could be removed without damage.

Every sentence that this master has produced may be likened to a

perfect set of teeth, white, uniform, beautiful. If you pull one,

the charm is gone.

Still, it is now necessary to begin to pull, and to keep it up;

for lack of space requires us to synopsize.

We left Elfonzo standing there amazed. At what, we do not know.

Not at the girl’s speech. No; we ourselves should have been

amazed at it, of course, for none of us has ever heard anything

resembling it; but Elfonzo was used to speeches made up of noise

and vacancy, and could listen to them with undaunted mind like

the “topmost topaz of an ancient tower”; he was used to making

them himself; he–but let it go, it cannot be guessed out; we shall

never know what it was that astonished him. He stood there awhile;

then he said, “Alas! am I now Grief’s disappointed son at last?”

He did not stop to examine his mind, and to try to find out what

he probably meant by that, because, for one reason, “a mixture

of ambition and greatness of soul moved upon his young heart,”

and started him for the village. He resumed his bench in school,

“and reasonably progressed in his education.” His heart was heavy,

but he went into society, and sought surcease of sorrow in its

light distractions. He made himself popular with his violin,

“which seemed to have a thousand chords–more symphonious than the

Muses of Apollo, and more enchanting than the ghost of the Hills.”

This is obscure, but let it go.

During this interval Leos did some unencouraged courting, but at last,

“choked by his undertaking,” he desisted.

Presently “Elfonzo again wends his way to the stately walls and

new-built village.” He goes to the house of his beloved; she opens

the door herself. To my surprise–for Ambulinia’s heart had still

seemed free at the time of their last interview–love beamed from the

girl’s eyes. One sees that Elfonzo was surprised, too; for when he caught

that light, “a halloo of smothered shouts ran through every vein.”

A neat figure–a very neat figure, indeed! Then he kissed her.

“The scene was overwhelming.” They went into the parlor. The girl

said it was safe, for her parents were abed, and would never know.

Then we have this fine picture–flung upon the canvas with hardly

an effort, as you will notice.

Advancing toward him, she gave a bright display of her rosy neck,

and from her head the ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance;

her robe hung waving to his view, while she stood like a goddess

confessed before him.

There is nothing of interest in the couple’s interview. Now at this

point the girl invites Elfonzo to a village show, where jealousy is

the motive of the play, for she wants to teach him a wholesome lesson,

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Categories: Twain, Mark