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

of his names.”

I said:

“Abraham suits the subscriber.”

My father frowned, my mother looked pleased; my aunt said:

“What a little darling it is!”

My father said:

“Isaac is a good name, and Jacob is a good name.”

My mother assented, and said:

“No names are better. Let us add Isaac and Jacob to his names.”

I said:

“All right. Isaac and Jacob are good enough for yours truly.

Pass me that rattle, if you please. I can’t chew India-rubber rings

all day.”

Not a soul made a memorandum of these sayings of mine, for publication.

I saw that, and did it myself, else they would have been utterly lost.

So far from meeting with a generous encouragement like other children

when developing intellectually, I was now furiously scowled upon

by my father; my mother looked grieved and anxious, and even my aunt

had about her an expression of seeming to think that maybe I had

gone too far. I took a vicious bite out of an India-rubber ring,

and covertly broke the rattle over the kitten’s head, but said nothing.

Presently my father said:

“Samuel is a very excellent name.”

I saw that trouble was coming. Nothing could prevent it. I laid

down my rattle; over the side of the cradle I dropped my uncle’s

silver watch, the clothes-brush, the toy dog, my tin soldier,

the nutmeg-grater, and other matters which I was accustomed to examine,

and meditate upon and make pleasant noises with, and bang and batter

and break when I needed wholesome entertainment. Then I put on my

little frock and my little bonnet, and took my pygmy shoes in one

hand and my licorice in the other, and climbed out on the floor.

I said to myself, Now, if the worse comes to worst, I am ready.

Then I said aloud, in a firm voice:

“Father, I cannot, cannot wear the name of Samuel.”

“My son!”

“Father, I mean it. I cannot.”


“Father, I have an invincible antipathy to that name.”

“My son, this is unreasonable. Many great and good men have been

named Samuel.”

“Sir, I have yet to hear of the first instance.”

“What! There was Samuel the prophet. Was not he great and good?”

“Not so very.”

“My son! With His own voice the Lord called him.”

“Yes, sir, and had to call him a couple times before he could come!”

And then I sallied forth, and that stern old man sallied forth after me.

He overtook me at noon the following day, and when the interview was

over I had acquired the name of Samuel, and a thrashing, and other

useful information; and by means of this compromise my father’s

wrath was appeased and a misunderstanding bridged over which might

have become a permanent rupture if I had chosen to be unreasonable.

But just judging by this episode, what would my father have done

to me if I had ever uttered in his hearing one of the flat,

sickly things these “two-years-olds” say in print nowadays?

In my opinion there would have been a case of infanticide in our family.



I take the following paragraph from an article in the Boston ADVERTISER:


Perhaps the most successful flights of humor of Mark Twain have been

descriptions of the persons who did not appreciate his humor at all.

We have become familiar with the Californians who were thrilled with

terror by his burlesque of a newspaper reporter’s way of telling a story,

and we have heard of the Pennsylvania clergyman who sadly returned

his INNOCENTS ABROAD to the book-agent with the remark that “the

man who could shed tears over the tomb of Adam must be an idiot.”

But Mark Twain may now add a much more glorious instance to his string

of trophies. The SATURDAY REVIEW, in its number of October 8th,

reviews his book of travels, which has been republished in England,

and reviews it seriously. We can imagine the delight of the humorist

in reading this tribute to his power; and indeed it is so amusing

in itself that he can hardly do better than reproduce the article

in full in his next monthly Memoranda.

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Categories: Twain, Mark