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

With very great esteem,

your humble servant,

J. I. Elfonzo.

The moon and stars had grown pale when Ambulinia had retired

to rest. A crowd of unpleasant thoughts passed through her bosom.

Solitude dwelt in her chamber–no sound from the neighboring

world penetrated its stillness; it appeared a temple of silence,

of repose, and of mystery. At that moment she heard a still voice

calling her father. In an instant, like the flash of lightning,

a thought ran through her mind that it must be the bearer

of Elfonzo’s communication. “It is not a dream!” she said,

“no, I cannot read dreams. Oh! I would to Heaven I was near

that glowing eloquence–that poetical language–it charms the

mind in an inexpressible manner, and warms the coldest heart.”

While consoling herself with this strain, her father rushed into

her room almost frantic with rage, exclaiming: “Oh, Ambulinia!

Ambulinia!! undutiful, ungrateful daughter! What does this mean?

Why does this letter bear such heart-rending intelligence?

Will you quit a father’s house with this debased wretch, without a

place to lay his distracted head; going up and down the country,

with every novel object that many chance to wander through this region.

He is a pretty man to make love known to his superiors, and you,

Ambulinia, have done but little credit to yourself by honoring

his visits. Oh, wretchedness! can it be that my hopes of happiness

are forever blasted! Will you not listen to a father’s entreaties,

and pay some regard to a mother’s tears. I know, and I do pray that God

will give me fortitude to bear with this sea of troubles, and rescue

my daughter, my Ambulinia, as a brand from the eternal burning.”

“Forgive me, father, oh! forgive thy child,” replied Ambulinia.

“My heart is ready to break, when I see you in this grieved state

of agitation. Oh! think not so meanly of me, as that I mourn

for my own danger. Father, I am only woman. Mother, I am only

the templement of thy youthful years, but will suffer courageously

whatever punishment you think proper to inflict upon me, if you will

but allow me to comply with my most sacred promises–if you will but

give me my personal right and my personal liberty. Oh, father! if

your generosity will but give me these, I ask nothing more.

When Elfonzo offered me his heart, I gave him my hand, never to

forsake him, and now may the mighty God banish me before I leave him

in adversity. What a heart must I have to rejoice in prosperity

with him whose offers I have accepted, and then, when poverty comes,

haggard as it may be, for me to trifle with the oracles of Heaven,

and change with every fluctuation that may interrupt our happiness–

like the politician who runs the political gantlet for office one day,

and the next day, because the horizon is darkened a little, he is

seen running for his life, for fear he might perish in its ruins.

Where is the philosophy, where is the consistency, where is the charity,

in conduct like this? Be happy then, my beloved father, and forget me;

let the sorrow of parting break down the wall of separation and make

us equal in our feeling; let me now say how ardently I love you;

let me kiss that age-worn cheek, and should my tears bedew thy face,

I will wipe them away. Oh, I never can forget you; no, never, never!”

“Weep not,” said the father, “Ambulinia. I will forbid Elfonzo

my house, and desire that you may keep retired a few days. I will

let him know that my friendship for my family is not linked together

by cankered chains; and if he ever enters upon my premises again,

I will send him to his long home.” “Oh, father! let me entreat you

to be calm upon this occasion, and though Elfonzo may be the sport

of the clouds and winds, yet I feel assured that no fate will send

him to the silent tomb until the God of the Universe calls him

hence with a triumphant voice.”

Here the father turned away, exclaiming: “I will answer his letter

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Categories: Twain, Mark