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

in a very few words, and you, madam, will have the goodness to stay

at home with your mother; and remember, I am determined to protect

you from the consuming fire that looks so fair to your view.”

Cumming, January 22, 1844.

Sir–In regard to your request, I am as I ever have been, utterly opposed

to your marrying into my family; and if you have any regard for yourself,

or any gentlemanly feeling, I hope you will mention it to me no more;

but seek some other one who is not so far superior to you in standing.

W. W. Valeer.

When Elfonzo read the above letter, he became so much depressed

in spirits that many of his friends thought it advisable to use

other means to bring about the happy union. “Strange,” said he,

“that the contents of this diminutive letter should cause me to have

such depressed feelings; but there is a nobler theme than this. I know

not why my MILITARY TITLE is not as great as that of SQUIRE VALEER.

For my life I cannot see that my ancestors are inferior to those

who are so bitterly opposed to my marriage with Ambulinia. I know

I have seen huge mountains before me, yet, when I think that I know

gentlemen will insult me upon this delicate matter, should I become

angry at fools and babblers, who pride themselves in their impudence

and ignorance? No. My equals! I know not where to find them.

My inferiors! I think it beneath me; and my superiors! I think

it presumption; therefore, if this youthful heart is protected

by any of the divine rights, I never will betray my trust.”

He was aware that Ambulinia had a confidence that was, indeed,

as firm and as resolute as she was beautiful and interesting.

He hastened to the cottage of Louisa, who received him in her usual

mode of pleasantness, and informed him that Ambulinia had just that

moment left. “Is it possible?” said Elfonzo. “Oh, murdered hours!

Why did she not remain and be the guardian of my secrets?

But hasten and tell me how she has stood this trying scene,

and what are her future determinations.” “You know,” said Louisa,

“Major Elfonzo, that you have Ambulinia’s first love, which is

of no small consequence. She came here about twilight, and shed

many precious tears in consequence of her own fate with yours.

We walked silently in yon little valley you see, where we spent

a momentary repose. She seemed to be quite as determined as ever,

and before we left that beautiful spot she offered up a prayer

to Heaven for thee.” “I will see her then,” replied Elfonzo,

“though legions of enemies may oppose. She is mine by foreordination–

she is mine by prophesy–she is mine by her own free will, and I

will rescue her from the hands of her oppressors. Will you not,

Miss Louisa, assist me in my capture?”

“I will certainly, by the aid of Divine Providence,” answered Louisa,

“endeavor to break those slavish chains that bind the richest of prizes;

though allow me, Major, to entreat you to use no harsh means on this

important occasion; take a decided stand, and write freely to Ambulinia

upon this subject, and I will see that no intervening cause hinders

its passage to her. God alone will save a mourning people. Now is

the day and now is the hour to obey a command of such valuable worth.”

The Major felt himself grow stronger after this short interview

with Louisa. He felt as if he could whip his weight in wildcats–

he knew he was master of his own feelings, and could now write

a letter that would bring this litigation to AN ISSUE.

Cumming, January 24, 1844.

Dear Ambulinia–

We have now reached the most trying moment of our lives; we are

pledged not to forsake our trust; we have waited for a favorable hour

to come, thinking your friends would settle the matter agreeably

among themselves, and finally be reconciled to our marriage;

but as I have waited in vain, and looked in vain, I have determined

in my own mind to make a proposition to you, though you may think

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Categories: Twain, Mark