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

let the sea sport upon the beach, and the stars sing together;

but learn of these, Elfonzo, thy doom, and thy hiding-place. Our most

innocent as well as our most lawful DESIRES must often be denied us,

that we may learn to sacrifice them to a Higher will.”

Remembering such admonitions with gratitude, Elfonzo was immediately

urged by the recollection of his father’s family to keep moving.

His steps became quicker and quicker–he hastened through the PINY woods,

dark as the forest was, and with joy he very soon reached the little

village or repose, in whose bosom rested the boldest chivalry.

His close attention to every important object–his modest questions

about whatever was new to him–his reverence for wise old age,

and his ardent desire to learn many of the fine arts, soon brought him

into respectable notice.

One mild winter day as he walked along the streets toward the Academy,

which stood upon a small eminence, surrounded by native growth–

some venerable in its appearance, others young and prosperous–

all seemed inviting, and seemed to be the very place for learning as

well as for genius to spend its research beneath its spreading shades.

He entered its classic walls in the usual mode of southern manners.

The principal of the Institution begged him to be seated and listen

to the recitations that were going on. He accordingly obeyed

the request, and seemed to be much pleased. After the school

was dismissed, and the young hearts regained their freedom,

with the songs of the evening, laughing at the anticipated pleasures

of a happy home, while others tittered at the actions of the past day,

he addressed the teacher in a tone that indicated a resolution–

with an undaunted mind. He said he had determined to become

a student, if he could meet with his approbation. “Sir,” said he,

“I have spent much time in the world. I have traveled among

the uncivilized inhabitants of America. I have met with friends,

and combated with foes; but none of these gratify my ambition,

or decide what is to be my destiny. I see the learned would

have an influence with the voice of the people themselves.

The despoilers of the remotest kingdoms of the earth refer their

differences to this class of persons. This the illiterate and

inexperienced little dream of; and now if you will receive me as I am,

with these deficiencies–with all my misguided opinions, I will give

you my honor, sir, that I will never disgrace the Institution,

or those who have placed you in this honorable station.”

The instructor, who had met with many disappointments, knew how to

feel for a stranger who had been thus turned upon the charities

of an unfeeling community. He looked at him earnestly, and said:

“Be of good cheer–look forward, sir, to the high destination you

may attain. Remember, the more elevated the mark at which you aim,

the more sure, the more glorious, the more magnificent the prize.”

From wonder to wonder, his encouragement led the impatient listener.

A stranger nature bloomed before him–giant streams promised

him success–gardens of hidden treasures opened to his view.

All this, so vividly described, seemed to gain a new witchery from his

glowing fancy.

In 1842 he entered the class, and made rapid progress in the English

and Latin departments. Indeed, he continued advancing with such

rapidity that he was like to become the first in his class,

and made such unexpected progress, and was so studious, that he had

almost forgotten the pictured saint of his affections. The fresh

wreaths of the pine and cypress had waited anxiously to drop once

more the dews of Heavens upon the heads of those who had so often

poured forth the tender emotions of their souls under its boughs.

He was aware of the pleasure that he had seen there. So one evening,

as he was returning from his reading, he concluded he would pay a visit

to this enchanting spot. Little did he think of witnessing a shadow

of his former happiness, though no doubt he wished it might be so.

He continued sauntering by the roadside, meditating on the past.

The nearer he approached the spot, the more anxious he became.

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Categories: Twain, Mark