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

This of course made the youth a welcome guest, and gained him

friends in whatever condition of life he might be placed.

The traveler observed that he was a well-built figure, which showed

strength and grace in every movement. He accordingly addressed

him in quite a gentlemanly manner, and inquired of him the way

to the village. After he had received the desired information,

and was about taking his leave, the youth said, “Are you not

Major Elfonzo, the great musician–the champion of a noble cause–

the modern Achilles, who gained so many victories in the Florida War?”

“I bear that name,” said the Major, “and those titles,

trusting at the same time that the ministers of grace will carry

me triumphantly through all my laudable undertakings, and if,”

continued the Major, “you, sir, are the patronizer of noble deeds,

I should like to make you my confidant and learn your address.”

The youth looked somewhat amazed, bowed low, mused for a moment,

and began: “My name is Roswell. I have been recently admitted

to the bar, and can only give a faint outline of my future success

in that honorable profession; but I trust, sir, like the Eagle,

I shall look down from lofty rocks upon the dwellings of man, and shall

ever be ready to give you any assistance in my official capacity,

and whatever this muscular arm of mine can do, whenever it shall be

called from its buried GREATNESS.” The Major grasped him by the hand,

and exclaimed: “O! thou exalted spirit of inspiration–thou flame

of burning prosperity, may the Heaven-directed blaze be the glare

of thy soul, and battle down every rampart that seems to impede

your progress!”

The road which led to the town presented many attractions.

Elfonzo had bid farewell to the youth of deep feeling, and was

not wending his way to the dreaming spot of his fondness.

The south winds whistled through the woods, as the waters dashed

against the banks, as rapid fire in the pent furnace roars.

This brought him to remember while alone, that he quietly left behind

the hospitality of a father’s house, and gladly entered the world,

with higher hopes than are often realized. But as he journeyed onward,

he was mindful of the advice of his father, who had often looked

sadly on the ground when tears of cruelly deceived hope moistened

his eye. Elfonzo had been somewhat of a dutiful son; yet fond

of the amusements of life–had been in distant lands–had enjoyed

the pleasure of the world and had frequently returned to the scenes

of his boyhood, almost destitute of many of the comforts of life.

In this condition, he would frequently say to his father, “Have I

offended you, that you look upon me as a stranger, and frown upon

me with stinging looks? Will you not favor me with the sound of

your voice? If I have trampled upon your veneration, or have spread

a humid veil of darkness around your expectations, send me back into

the world where no heart beats for me–where the foot of man has

never yet trod; but give me at least one kind word–allow me to come

into the presence sometimes of thy winter-worn locks.” “Forbid it,

Heaven, that I should be angry with thee,” answered the father,

“my son, and yet I send thee back to the children of the world–

to the cold charity of the combat, and to a land of victory. I read

another destiny in thy countenance–I learn thy inclinations from

the flame that has already kindled in my soul a stranger sensation.

It will seek thee, my dear ELFONZO, it will find thee–thou canst

not escape that lighted torch, which shall blot out from the

remembrance of men a long train of prophecies which they have

foretold against thee. I once thought not so. Once, I was blind;

but now the path of life is plain before me, and my sight is clear;

yet Elfonzo, return to thy worldly occupation–take again in thy

hand that chord of sweet sounds–struggle with the civilized world,

and with your own heart; fly swiftly to the enchanted ground–

let the night-OWL send forth its screams from the stubborn oak–

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Categories: Twain, Mark