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

Ambulinia’s countenance brightens–Elfonzo leads up his winged steed.

“Mount,” said he, “ye true-hearted, ye fearless soul–the day

is ours.” She sprang upon the back of the young thunder bolt,

a brilliant star sparkles upon her head, with one hand she

grasps the reins, and with the other she holds an olive branch.

“Lend thy aid, ye strong winds,” they exclaimed, “ye moon, ye sun,

and all ye fair host of heaven, witness the enemy conquered.”

“Hold,” said Elfonzo, “thy dashing steed.” “Ride on,” said Ambulinia,

“the voice of thunder is behind us.” And onward they went,

with such rapidity that they very soon arrived at Rural Retreat,

where they dismounted, and were united with all the solemnities

that usually attend such divine operations. They passed the day

in thanksgiving and great rejoicing, and on that evening they

visited their uncle, where many of their friends and acquaintances

had gathered to congratulate them in the field of untainted bliss.

The kind old gentleman met them in the yard: “Well,” said he, “I wish

I may die, Elfonzo, if you and Ambulinia haven’t tied a knot with your

tongue that you can’t untie with your teeth. But come in, come in,

never mind, all is right–the world still moves on, and no one has

fallen in this great battle.”

Happy now is there lot! Unmoved by misfortune, they live among the

fair beauties of the South. Heaven spreads their peace and fame upon

the arch of the rainbow, and smiles propitiously at their triumph,




Thirty-five years ago I was out prospecting on the Stanislaus,

tramping all day long with pick and pan and horn, and washing a hatful

of dirt here and there, always expecting to make a rich strike,

and never doing it. It was a lovely reason, woodsy, balmy, delicious,

and had once been populous, long years before, but now the

people had vanished and the charming paradise was a solitude.

They went away when the surface diggings gave out. In one place,

where a busy little city with banks and newspapers and fire companies

and a mayor and aldermen had been, was nothing but a wide expanse

of emerald turf, with not even the faintest sign that human life

had ever been present there. This was down toward Tuttletown.

In the country neighborhood thereabouts, along the dusty roads,

one found at intervals the prettiest little cottage homes, snug and cozy,

and so cobwebbed with vines snowed thick with roses that the doors

and windows were wholly hidden from sight–sign that these were

deserted homes, forsaken years ago by defeated and disappointed

families who could neither sell them nor give them away. Now and then,

half an hour apart, one came across solitary log cabins of the earliest

mining days, built by the first gold-miners, the predecessors of the

cottage-builders. In some few cases these cabins were still occupied;

and when this was so, you could depend upon it that the occupant

was the very pioneer who had built the cabin; and you could depend

on another thing, too–that he was there because he had once had

his opportunity to go home to the States rich, and had not done it;

had rather lost his wealth, and had then in his humiliation resolved

to sever all communication with his home relatives and friends,

and be to them thenceforth as one dead. Round about California

in that day were scattered a host of these living dead men–

pride-smitten poor fellows, grizzled and old at forty, whose secret

thoughts were made all of regrets and longings–regrets for their

wasted lives, and longings to be out of the struggle and done with it all.

It was a lonesome land! Not a sound in all those peaceful expanses

of grass and woods but the drowsy hum of insects; no glimpse

of man or beast; nothing to keep up your spirits and make you glad

to be alive. And so, at last, in the early part of the afternoon,

when I caught sight of a human creature, I felt a most grateful uplift.

This person was a man about forty-five years old, and he was

standing at the gate of one of those cozy little rose-clad cottages

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Categories: Twain, Mark