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

to appear on the stage, and what the characters are to represent.”

“I am acquainted with the circumstances,” replied Elfonzo, “and as I

am to be one of the musicians upon that interesting occasion,

I should be much gratified if you would favor me with your company

during the hours of the exercises.”

“What strange notions are in your mind?” inquired Ambulinia.

“Now I know you have something in view, and I desire you to tell

me why it is that you are so anxious that I should continue

with you while the exercises are going on; though if you think I

can add to your happiness and predilections, I have no particular

objection to acquiesce in your request. Oh, I think I foresee,

now, what you anticipate.” “And will you have the goodness to tell

me what you think it will be?” inquired Elfonzo. “By all means,”

answered Ambulinia; “a rival, sir, you would fancy in your own mind;

but let me say for you, fear not! fear not! I will be one of the

last persons to disgrace my sex by thus encouraging every one who

may feel disposed to visit me, who may honor me with their graceful

bows and their choicest compliments. It is true that young men too

often mistake civil politeness for the finer emotions of the heart,

which is tantamount to courtship; but, ah! how often are they deceived,

when they come to test the weight of sunbeams with those on whose

strength hangs the future happiness of an untried life.”

The people were now rushing to the Academy with impatient anxiety;

the band of music was closely followed by the students; then the parents

and guardians; nothing interrupted the glow of spirits which ran

through every bosom, tinged with the songs of a Virgil and the tide

of a Homer. Elfonzo and Ambulinia soon repaired to the scene,

and fortunately for them both the house was so crowded that they took

their seats together in the music department, which was not in view

of the auditory. This fortuitous circumstances added more the bliss

of the Major than a thousand such exhibitions would have done.

He forgot that he was man; music had lost its charms for him;

whenever he attempted to carry his part, the string of the instrument

would break, the bow became stubborn, and refused to obey the loud

calls of the audience. Here, he said, was the paradise of his home,

the long-sought-for opportunity; he felt as though he could

send a million supplications to the throne of Heaven for such

an exalted privilege. Poor Leos, who was somewhere in the crowd,

looking as attentively as if he was searching for a needle in a haystack;

here is stood, wondering to himself why Ambulinia was not there.

“Where can she be? Oh! if she was only here, how I could relish

the scene! Elfonzo is certainly not in town; but what if he is?

I have got the wealth, if I have not the dignity, and I am sure that

the squire and his lady have always been particular friends of mine,

and I think with this assurance I shall be able to get upon the blind

side of the rest of the family and make the heaven-born Ambulinia

the mistress of all I possess.” Then, again, he would drop his head,

as if attempting to solve the most difficult problem in Euclid.

While he was thus conjecturing in his own mind, a very interesting

part of the exhibition was going on, which called the attention

of all present. The curtains of the stage waved continually

by the repelled forces that were given to them, which caused

Leos to behold Ambulinia leaning upon the chair of Elfonzo.

Her lofty beauty, seen by the glimmering of the chandelier,

filled his heart with rapture, he knew not how to contain himself;

to go where they were would expose him to ridicule; to continue

where he was, with such an object before him, without being allowed

an explanation in that trying hour, would be to the great injury

of his mental as well as of his physical powers; and, in the name

of high heaven, what must he do? Finally, he resolved to contain

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Categories: Twain, Mark