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

said a young lawyer, “and mine alone; Venus alone shall quit her

station before I will forsake one jot or tittle of my promise to you;

what is death to me? what is all this warlike army, if it is not

to win a victory? I love the sleep of the lover and the mighty;

nor would I give it over till the blood of my enemies should wreak

with that of my own. But God forbid that our fame should soar

on the blood of the slumberer.” Mr. Valeer stands at his door

with the frown of a demon upon his brow, with his dangerous weapon

[3] ready to strike the first man who should enter his door.

“Who will arise and go forward through blood and carnage to the rescue

of my Ambulinia?” said Elfonzo. “All,” exclaimed the multitude;

and onward they went, with their implements of battle. Others, of a

more timid nature, stood among the distant hills to see the result of

the contest.

It will hardly be believed that after all this thunder and lightning

not a drop of rain fell; but such is the fact. Elfonzo and his

gang stood up and black-guarded Mr. Valeer with vigor all night,

getting their outlay back with interest; then in the early

morning the army and its general retired from the field,

leaving the victory with their solitary adversary and his crowbar.

This is the first time this has happened in romantic literature.

The invention is original. Everything in this book is original;

there is nothing hackneyed about it anywhere. Always, in other

romances, when you find the author leading up to a climax,

you know what is going to happen. But in this book it is different;

the thing which seems inevitable and unavoidable never happens;

it is circumvented by the art of the author every time.

Another elopement was attempted. It failed.

We have now arrived at the end. But it is not exciting.

McClintock thinks it is; but it isn’t. One day Elfonzo sent Ambulinia

another note–a note proposing elopement No. 16. This time the plan

is admirable; admirable, sagacious, ingenious, imaginative, deep–

oh, everything, and perfectly easy. One wonders why it was never

thought of before. This is the scheme. Ambulinia is to leave the

breakfast-table, ostensibly to “attend to the placing of those flowers,

which should have been done a week ago”–artificial ones, of course;

the others wouldn’t keep so long–and then, instead of fixing

the flowers, she is to walk out to the grove, and go off with Elfonzo.

The invention of this plan overstrained the author that is plain,

for he straightway shows failing powers. The details of the plan

are not many or elaborate. The author shall state them himself–

this good soul, whose intentions are always better than his English:

“You walk carelessly toward the academy grove, where you will find

me with a lightning steed, elegantly equipped to bear you off

where we shall be joined in wedlock with the first connubial rights.”

Last scene of all, which the author, now much enfeebled,

tries to smarten up and make acceptable to his spectacular heart

by introducing some new properties–silver bow, golden harp,

olive branch–things that can all come good in an elopement,

no doubt, yet are not to be compared to an umbrella for real

handiness and reliability in an excursion of that kind.

And away she ran to the sacred grove, surrounded with glittering pearls,

that indicated her coming. Elfonzo hails her with his silver bow

and his golden harp. The meet–Ambulinia’s countenance brightens–

Elfonzo leads up the winged steed. “Mount,” said he, “ye true-hearted,

ye fearless soul–the day is ours.” She sprang upon the back

of the young thunderbolt, a brilliant star sparkles upon her head,

with one hand she grasps the reins, and with the other she holds

an olive branch. “Lend thy aid, ye strong winds,” they exclaimed,

“ye moon, ye sun, and all ye fair host of heaven, witness the

enemy conquered.” “Hold,” said Elfonzo, “thy dashing steed.”

“Ride on,” said Ambulinia, “the voice of thunder is behind us.”

And onward they went, with such rapidity that they very soon arrived

at Rural Retreat, where they dismounted, and were united with all

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Categories: Twain, Mark