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

Aleck give him a very severe rebuke, and added with icy solemnity:

“How would you feel if you were suddenly cut out just after such

an awful remark had escaped out of you?”

Without sufficient reflection Sally responded:

“I’d feel I was lucky I hadn’t got caught with it IN me.”

Pride had forced him to say something, and as he could not think

of any rational thing to say he flung that out. Then he stole a base–

as he called it–that is, slipped from the presence, to keep from

being brayed in his wife’s discussion-mortar.

Six months came and went. The SAGAMORE was still silent about Tilbury.

Meantime, Sally had several times thrown out a feeler–that is,

a hint that he would like to know. Aleck had ignored the hints.

Sally now resolved to brace up and risk a frontal attack.

So he squarely proposed to disguise himself and go to Tilbury’s

village and surreptitiously find out as to the prospects.

Aleck put her foot on the dangerous project with energy and decision.

She said:

“What can you be thinking of? You do keep my hands full!

You have to be watched all the time, like a little child, to keep

you from walking into the fire. You’ll stay right where you are!”

“Why, Aleck, I could do it and not be found out–I’m certain of it.”

“Sally Foster, don’t you know you would have to inquire around?”

“Of course, but what of it? Nobody would suspect who I was.”

“Oh, listen to the man! Some day you’ve got to prove to the

executors that you never inquired. What then?”

He had forgotten that detail. He didn’t reply; there wasn’t

anything to say. Aleck added:

“Now then, drop that notion out of your mind, and don’t ever meddle

with it again. Tilbury set that trap for you. Don’t you know it’s

a trap? He is on the watch, and fully expecting you to blunder

into it. Well, he is going to be disappointed–at least while I

am on deck. Sally!”


“As long as you live, if it’s a hundred years, don’t you ever make

an inquiry. Promise!”

“All right,” with a sigh and reluctantly.

Then Aleck softened and said:

“Don’t be impatient. We are prospering; we can wait; there is

no hurry. Our small dead-certain income increases all the time;

and as to futures, I have not made a mistake yet–they are piling

up by the thousands and tens of thousands. There is not another

family in the state with such prospects as ours. Already we are

beginning to roll in eventual wealth. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Aleck, it’s certainly so.”

“Then be grateful for what God is doing for us and stop worrying.

You do not believe we could have achieved these prodigious results

without His special help and guidance, do you?”

Hesitatingly, “N-no, I suppose not.” Then, with feeling

and admiration, “And yet, when it comes to judiciousness

in watering a stock or putting up a hand to skin Wall Street

I don’t give in that YOU need any outside amateur help, if I do wish I–”

“Oh, DO shut up! I know you do not mean any harm or any irreverence,

poor boy, but you can’t seem to open your mouth without letting out

things to make a person shudder. You keep me in constant dread.

For you and for all of us. Once I had no fear of the thunder,

but now when I hear it I–”

Her voice broke, and she began to cry, and could not finish.

The sight of this smote Sally to the heart and he took her in his

arms and petted her and comforted her and promised better conduct,

and upbraided himself and remorsefully pleaded for forgiveness.

And he was in earnest, and sorry for what he had done and ready for any

sacrifice that could make up for it.

And so, in privacy, he thought long and deeply over the matter,

resolving to do what should seem best. It was easy to PROMISE reform;

indeed he had already promised it. But would that do any real good,

any permanent good? No, it would be but temporary–he knew

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Categories: Twain, Mark