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

and commonplace but for that benefaction. Would you be wise to draw

a dictionary on that gracious word? would you be properly grateful?

After a couple of days’ rest I now come back to my subject and seek

a case in point. I find it without trouble, in the morning paper;

a cablegram from Chicago and Indiana by way of Paris. All the words

save one are guessable by a person ignorant of Italian:

Revolverate in teatro

PARIGI, 27.–La PATRIE ha da Chicago:

Il guardiano del teatro dell’opera di Walace (Indiana), avendo voluto

espellare uno spettatore che continuava a fumare malgrado il diviety,

questo spalleggiato dai suoi amici tir`o diversi colpi di rivoltella.

Il guardiano ripose. Nacque una scarica generale. Grande panico

tra gli spettatori. Nessun ferito.

TRANSLATION.–“Revolveration in Theater. PARIS, 27TH. LA PATRIE

has from Chicago: The cop of the theater of the opera of Wallace,

Indiana, had willed to expel a spectator which continued to smoke

in spite of the prohibition, who, spalleggiato by his friends,

tir’o (Fr. TIR’E, Anglice PULLED) manifold revolver-shots;

great panic among the spectators. Nobody hurt.”

It is bettable that that harmless cataclysm in the theater of the opera

of Wallace, Indiana, excited not a person in Europe but me, and so

came near to not being worth cabling to Florence by way of France.

But it does excite me. It excites me because I cannot make out,

for sure, what it was that moved the spectator to resist the officer.

I was gliding along smoothly and without obstruction or accident,

until I came to that word “spalleggiato,” then the bottom fell out.

You notice what a rich gloom, what a somber and pervading mystery,

that word sheds all over the whole Wallachian tragedy. That is the charm

of the thing, that is the delight of it. This is where you begin,

this is where you revel. You can guess and guess, and have all

the fun you like; you need not be afraid there will be an end to it;

none is possible, for no amount of guessing will ever furnish you

a meaning for that word that you can be sure is the right one.

All the other words give you hints, by their form, their sound,

or their spelling–this one doesn’t, this one throws out no hints,

this one keeps its secret. If there is even the slightest slight

shadow of a hint anywhere, it lies in the very meagerly suggestive

fact that “spalleggiato” carries our word “egg” in its stomach.

Well, make the most out of it, and then where are you at?

You conjecture that the spectator which was smoking in spite

of the prohibition and become reprohibited by the guardians,

was “egged on” by his friends, and that was owing to that evil

influence that he initiated the revolveration in theater that has

galloped under the sea and come crashing through the European

press without exciting anybody but me. But are you sure,

are you dead sure, that that was the way of it? No. Then the

uncertainty remains, the mystery abides, and with it the charm.

Guess again.

If I had a phrase-book of a really satisfactory sort I would

study it, and not give all my free time to undictionarial readings,

but there is no such work on the market. The existing phrase-books

are inadequate. They are well enough as far as they go, but when

you fall down and skin your leg they don’t tell you what to say.



I found that a person of large intelligence could read this beautiful

language with considerable facility without a dictionary, but I presently

found that to such a parson a grammar could be of use at times.

It is because, if he does not know the WERE’S and the WAS’S and the

MAYBE’S and the HAS-BEENS’S apart, confusions and uncertainties

can arise. He can get the idea that a thing is going to happen next

week when the truth is that it has already happened week before last.

Even more previously, sometimes. Examination and inquiry showed

me that the adjectives and such things were frank and fair-minded

and straightforward, and did not shuffle; it was the Verb that mixed

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135

Categories: Twain, Mark