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

and civilizing our Indians. He built a commodious jail and put

up a gallows, and to his dying day he claimed with satisfaction

that he had had a more restraining and elevating influence on

the Indians than any other reformer that ever labored among them.

At this point the chronicle becomes less frank and chatty,

and closes abruptly by saying that the old voyager went to see

his gallows perform on the first white man ever hanged in America,

and while there received injuries which terminated in his death.

The great-grandson of the “Reformer” flourished in sixteen hundred

and something, and was known in our annals as “the old Admiral,”

though in history he had other titles. He was long in command of

fleets of swift vessels, well armed and manned, and did great service

in hurrying up merchantmen. Vessels which he followed and kept

his eagle eye on, always made good fair time across the ocean.

But if a ship still loitered in spite of all he could do,

his indignation would grow till he could contain himself no longer–

and then he would take that ship home where he lived and keep it

there carefully, expecting the owners to come for it, but they never did.

And he would try to get the idleness and sloth out of the sailors

of that ship by compelling them to take invigorating exercise and

a bath. He called it “walking a plank.” All the pupils liked it.

At any rate, they never found any fault with it after trying it.

When the owners were late coming for their ships, the Admiral always

burned them, so that the insurance money should not be lost.

At last this fine old tar was cut down in the fullness of his years

and honors. And to her dying day, his poor heart-broken widow believed

that if he had been cut down fifteen minutes sooner he might have

been resuscitated.

Charles Henry Twain lived during the latter part of the seventeenth

century, and was a zealous and distinguished missionary.

He converted sixteen thousand South Sea islanders, and taught them

that a dog-tooth necklace and a pair of spectacles was not enough

clothing to come to divine service in. His poor flock loved

him very, very dearly; and when his funeral was over, they got up

in a body (and came out of the restaurant) with tears in their eyes,

and saying, one to another, that he was a good tender missionary,

and they wished they had some more of him.

Pah-go-to-wah-wah-pukketekeewis (Mighty-Hunter-with-a-Hog-Eye-Twain)

adorned the middle of the eighteenth century, and aided General

Braddock with all his heart to resist the oppressor Washington.

It was this ancestor who fired seventeen times at our Washington

from behind a tree. So far the beautiful romantic narrative

in the moral story-books is correct; but when that narrative goes

on to say that at the seventeenth round the awe-stricken savage

said solemnly that that man was being reserved by the Great Spirit

for some mighty mission, and he dared not lift his sacrilegious rifle

against him again, the narrative seriously impairs the integrity

of history. What he did say was:

“It ain’t no (hic) no use. ‘At man’s so drunk he can’t stan’

still long enough for a man to hit him. I (hic) I can’t ‘ford

to fool away any more am’nition on him.”

That was why he stopped at the seventeenth round, and it was a good,

plain, matter-of-fact reason, too, and one that easily commends itself

to us by the eloquent, persuasive flavor of probability there is about it.

I also enjoyed the story-book narrative, but I felt a marring misgiving

that every Indian at Braddock’s Defeat who fired at a soldier

a couple of times (two easily grows to seventeen in a century),

and missed him, jumped to the conclusion that the Great Spirit

was reserving that soldier for some grand mission; and so I somehow

feared that the only reason why Washington’s case is remembered

and the others forgotten is, that in his the prophecy came true,

and in that of the others it didn’t. There are not books enough

on earth to contain the record of the prophecies Indians and other

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Categories: Twain, Mark