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Those Extraordinary Twins by Mark Twain

Those Extraordinary Twins by Mark Twain

Those Extraordinary Twins by Mark Twain

A man who is born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of

it when he tries to build a novel. I know this from experience. He has

no clear idea of his story; in fact he has no story. He merely has some

people in his mind, and an incident or two, also a locality. He knows

these people, he knows the selected locality, and he trusts that he can

plunge those people into those incidents with interesting results. So he

goes to work. To write a novel? No–that is a thought which comes

later; in the beginning he is only proposing to tell a little tale; a

very little tale; a six-page tale. But as it is a tale which he is not

acquainted with, and can only find out what it is by listening as it goes

along telling itself, it is more than apt to go on and on and on till it

spreads itself into a book. I know about this, because it has happened

to me so many times.

And I have noticed another thing: that as the short tale grows into the

long tale, the original intention (or motif) is apt to get abolished and

find itself superseded by a quite different one. It was so in the case

of a magazine sketch which I once started to write–a funny and fantastic

sketch about a prince and a pauper; it presently assumed a grave cast of

its own accord, and in that new shape spread itself out into a book.

Much the same thing happened with “Pudd’nhead Wilson.” I had a

sufficiently hard time with that tale, because it changed itself from a

farce to a tragedy while I was going along with it–a most embarrassing

circumstance. But what was a great deal worse was, that it was not one

story, but two stories tangled together; and they obstructed and

interrupted each other at every turn and created no end of confusion and

annoyance. I could not offer the book for publication, for I was afraid

it would unseat the reader’s reason. I did not know what was the matter

with it, for I had not noticed, as yet, that it was two stories in one.

It took me months to make that discovery. I carried the manuscript back

and forth across the Atlantic two or three times, and read it and studied

over it on shipboard; and at last I saw where the difficulty lay. I had

no further trouble. I pulled one of the stories out by the roots, and

left the other one–a kind of literary Caesarean operation.

Would the reader care to know something about the story which I pulled

out? He has been told many a time how the born-and-trained novelist

works. Won’t he let me round and complete his knowledge by telling him

how the jack-leg does it?

Originally the story was called “Those Extraordinary Twins.” I meant to

make it very short. I had seen a picture of a youthful Italian “freak”

or “freaks” which was–or which were–on exhibition in our cities–a

combination consisting of two heads and four arms joined to a single body

and a single pair of legs–and I thought I would write an extravagantly

fantastic little story with this freak of nature for hero–or heroes–

a silly young miss for heroine, and two old ladies and two boys for the

minor parts. I lavishly elaborated these people and their doings, of

course. But the tale kept spreading along, and spreading along, and

other people got to intruding themselves and taking up more and more room

with their talk and their affairs. Among them came a stranger named

Pudd’nhead Wilson, and a woman named Roxana; and presently the doings of

these two pushed up into prominence a young fellow named Tom Driscoll,

whose proper place was away in the obscure background. Before the book

was half finished those three were taking things almost entirely into

their own hands and working the whole tale as a private venture of their

own–a tale which they had nothing at all to do with, by rights.

When the book was finished and I came to look around to see what had

become of the team I had originally started out with–Aunt Patsy Cooper,

Aunt Betsy Hale, the two boys, and Rowena the light-weight heroine–they

were nowhere to be seen; they had disappeared from the story some time or

other. I hunted about and found them found them stranded, idle,

forgotten, and permanently useless. It was very awkward. It was awkward

all around; but more particularly in the case of Rowena, because there

was a love-match on, between her and one of the twins that constituted

the freak, and I had worked it up to a blistering heat and thrown in a

quite dramatic love-quarrel, wherein Rowena scathingly denounced her

betrothed for getting drunk, and scoffed at his explanation of how it had

happened, and wouldn’t listen to it, and had driven him from her in the

usual “forever” way; and now here she sat crying and broken-hearted; for

she had found that he had spoken only the truth; that it was not he, but

the other half of the freak, that had drunk the liquor that made him

drunk; that her half was a prohibitionist and had never drunk a drop in

his life, and, although tight as a brick three days in the week, was

wholly innocent of blame; and indeed, when sober, was constantly doing

all he could to reform his brother, the other half, who never got any

satisfaction out of drinking, anyway, because liquor never affected him.

Yes, here she was, stranded with that deep injustice of hers torturing

her poor torn heart.

I didn’t know what to do with her. I was as sorry for her as anybody

could be, but the campaign was over, the book was finished, she was

sidetracked, and there was no possible way of crowding her in, anywhere.

I could not leave her there, of course; it would not do. After spreading

her out so, and making such a to-do over her affairs, it would be

absolutely necessary to account to the reader for her. I thought and

thought and studied and studied; but I arrived at nothing. I finally saw

plainly that there was really no way but one–I must simply give her the

grand bounce. It grieved me to do it, for after associating with her so

much I had come to kind of like her after a fashion, notwithstanding she

was such an ass and said such stupid irritating things and was so

nauseatingly sentimental. Still it had to be done. So, at the top of

Chapter XVII, I put in a “Calendar” remark concerning July Fourth, and

began the chapter with this statistic:

“Rowena went out in the back yard after supper to see the fireworks and

fell down the well and got drowned.”

It seemed abrupt, but I thought maybe the reader wouldn’t notice it,

because I changed the subject right away to something else. Anyway it

loosened up Rowena from where she was stuck and got her out of the way,

and that was the main thing. It seemed a prompt good way of weeding out

people that had got stalled, and a plenty good enough way for those

others; so I hunted up the two boys and said “they went out back one

night to stone the cat and fell down the well and got drowned.” Next I

searched around and found old Aunt Patsy Cooper and Aunt Betsy Hale where

they were aground, and said “they went out back one night to visit the

sick and fell down the well and got drowned.” I was going to drown some

of the others, but I gave up the idea, partly because I believed that if

I kept that up it would arouse attention, and perhaps sympathy with those

people, and partly because it was not a large well and would not hold any

more anyway.

Still the story was unsatisfactory. Here was a set of new characters who

were become inordinately prominent and who persisted in remaining so to

the end; and back yonder was an older set who made a large noise and a

great to-do for a little while and then suddenly played out utterly and

fell down the well. There was a radical defect somewhere, and I must

search it out and cure it.

The defect turned out to be the one already spoken of–two stories in

one, a farce and a tragedy. So I pulled out the farce and left the

tragedy. This left the original team in, but only as mere names, not as

characters. Their prominence was wholly gone; they were not even worth

drowning; so I removed that detail. Also I took those twins apart and

made two separate men of them. They had no occasion to have foreign

names now, but it was too much trouble to remove them all through, so I

left them christened as they were and made no explanation.

CHAPTER I

THE TWINS AS THEY REALLY WERE

The conglomerate twins were brought on the the stage in Chapter I of the

original extravaganza. Aunt Patsy Cooper has received their letter

applying for board and lodging, and Rowena, her daughter, insane with

joy, is begging for a hearing of it:

“Well, set down then, and be quiet a minute and don’t fly around so; it

fairly makes me tired to see you. It starts off so: ‘HONORED MADAM’–”

“I like that, ma, don’t you? It shows they’re high-bred.”

“Yes, I noticed that when I first read it. ‘My brother and I have seen

your advertisement, by chance, in a copy of your local journal–‘

“It’s so beautiful and smooth, ma-don’t you think so?”

“Yes, seems so to me–‘and beg leave to take the room you offer. We are

twenty-four years of age, and twins–‘”

“Twins ! How sweet! I do hope they are handsome, and I just know they

are! Don’t you hope they are, ma?”

“Land, I ain’t particular. ‘We are Italians by birth–‘”

“It’s so romantic! Just think there’s never been one in this town, and

everybody will want to see them, and they’re all ours! Think of that!”

“–‘but have lived long in the various countries of Europe, and several

years in the United States.'”

“Oh, just think what wonders they’ve seen, ma! Won’t it be good to hear

them talk?”

“I reckon so; yes, I reckon so. ‘Our names are Luigi and Angelo Capello-

-‘”

“Beautiful, perfectly beautiful! Not like Jones and Robinson and those

horrible names.”

“‘You desire but one guest, but dear madam, if you will allow us to pay

for two we will not discommode you. We will sleep together in the same

bed. We have always been used to this, and prefer it. And then he goes

on to say they will be down Thursday.”

“And this is Tuesday–I don’t know how I’m ever going to wait, ma! The

time does drag along so, and I’m so dying to see them! Which of them do

you reckon is the tallest, ma?”

“How do you s’pose I can tell, child? Mostly they are the same

size-twins are.”

“‘Well then, which do you reckon is the best looking?”

“Goodness knows–I don’t.”

“I think Angelo is; it’s the prettiest name, anyway. Don’t you think

it’s a sweet name, ma?”

“Yes, it’s well enough. I’d like both of them better if I knew the way

to pronounce them–the Eyetalian way, I mean. The Missouri way and the

Eyetalian way is different, I judge.”

“Maybe–yes. It’s Luigi that writes the letter. What do you reckon is

the reason Angelo didn’t write it?”

“Why, how can I tell? What’s the difference who writes it, so long as

it’s done?”

“Oh, I hope it wasn’t because he is sick! You don’t think he is sick, do

you, ma?”

“Sick your granny; what’s to make him sick?”

“Oh, there’s never any telling. These foreigners with that kind of names

are so delicate, and of course that kind of names are not suited to our

climate–you wouldn’t expect it.”

[And so-on and so-on, no end. The time drags along; Thursday comes: the

boat arrives in a pouring storm toward midnight.]

At last there was a knock at the door and the anxious family jumped to

open it. Two negro men entered, each carrying a trunk, and proceeded

upstairs toward the guest-room. Then followed a stupefying apparition–

a double-headed human creature with four arms, one body, and a single

pair of legs! It–or they, as you please–bowed with elaborate foreign

formality, but the Coopers could not respond immediately; they were

paralyzed. At this moment there came from the rear of the group a

fervent ejaculation–“My lan’!”–followed by a crash of crockery, and the

slave-wench Nancy stood petrified and staring, with a tray of wrecked

tea-things at her feet. The incident broke the spell, and brought the

family to consciousness. The beautiful heads of the new-comer bowed

again, and one of them said with easy grace and dignity:

“I crave the honor, madam and miss, to introduce to you my brother, Count

Luigi Capello,” (the other head bowed) “and myself–Count Angelo; and at

the same time offer sincere apologies for the lateness of our coming,

which was unavoidable,” and both heads bowed again.

The poor old lady was in a whirl of amazement and confusion, but she

managed to stammer out:

“I’m sure I’m glad to make your acquaintance, sir–I mean, gentlemen.

As for the delay, it is nothing, don’t mention it. This is my daughter

Rowena, sir–gentlemen. Please step into the parlor and sit down and

have a bite and sup; you are dreadful wet and must be uncomfortable–

both of you, I mean.”

But to the old lady’s relief they courteously excused themselves, saying

it would be wrong to keep the family out of their beds longer; then each

head bowed in turn and uttered a friendly good night, and the singular

figure moved away in the wake of Rowena’s small brothers, who bore

candles, and disappeared up the stairs.

The widow tottered into the parlor and sank into a chair with a gasp,

and Rowena followed, tongue-tied and dazed. The two sat silent in the

throbbing summer heat unconscious of the million-voiced music of the

mosquitoes, unconscious of the roaring gale, the lashing and thrashing of

the rain along the windows and the roof, the white glare of the

lightning, the tumultuous booming and bellowing of the thunder; conscious

of nothing but that prodigy, that uncanny apparition that had come and

gone so suddenly–that weird strange thing that was so soft-spoken and so

gentle of manner and yet had shaken them up like an earthquake with the

shock of its gruesome aspect. At last a cold little shudder quivered

along down the widow’s meager frame and she said in a weak voice:

“Ugh, it was awful just the mere look of that phillipene!”

Rowena did not answer. Her faculties were still caked; she had not yet

found her voice. Presently the widow said, a little resentfully:

“Always been used to sleeping together–in-fact, prefer it. And I was

thinking it was to accommodate me. I thought it was very good of them,

whereas a person situated as that young man is–”

“Ma, you oughtn’t to begin by getting up a prejudice against him.

I’m sure he is good-hearted and means well. Both of his faces show it.”

“I’m not so certain about that. The one on the left–I mean the one on

it’s left–hasn’t near as good a face, in my opinion, as its brother.”

“That’s Luigi.”

“Yes, Luigi; anyway it’s the dark-skinned one; the one that was west of

his brother when they stood in the door. Up to all kinds of mischief and

disobedience when he was a boy, I’ll be bound. I lay his mother had

trouble to lay her hand on him when she wanted him. But the one on the

right is as good as gold, I can see that.”

“That’s Angelo.”

“Yes, Angelo, I reckon, though I can’t tell t’other from which by their

names, yet awhile. But it’s the right-hand one–the blond one. He has

such kind blue eyes, and curly copper hair and fresh complexion–”

“And such a noble face!–oh, it is a noble face, ma, just royal, you may

say! And beautiful deary me, how beautiful! But both are that; the dark

one’s as beautiful as–a picture. There’s no such wonderful faces and

handsome heads in this town none that even begin. And such hands,

especially Angelo’s–so shapely and–”

“Stuff, how could you tell which they belonged to?–they had gloves on.”

“Why, didn’t I see them take off their hats?”

“That don’t signify. They might have taken off each other’s hats.

Nobody could tell. There was just a wormy squirming of arms in the air

–seemed to be a couple of dozen of them, all writhing at once, and it

just made me dizzy to see them go.”

“Why, ma, I hadn’t any difficulty. There’s two arms on each shoulder–”

“There, now. One arm on each shoulder belongs to each of the creatures,

don’t it? For a person to have two arms on one shoulder wouldn’t do him

any good, would it? Of course not. Each has an arm on each shoulder.

Now then, you tell me which of them belongs to which, if you can. They

don’t know, themselves–they just work whichever arm comes handy. Of

course they do; especially if they are in a hurry and can’t stop to think

which belongs to which.”

The mother seemed to have the rights of the argument, so the daughter

abandoned the struggle. Presently the widow rose with a yawn and said:

“Poor thing, I hope it won’t catch cold; it was powerful wet, just

drenched, you may say. I hope it has left its boots outside, so they can

be dried.”

Then she gave a little start, and looked perplexed.

“Now I remember I heard one of them ask Joe to call him at half after

seven–I think it was the one on the left–no, it was the one to the east

of the other one–but I didn’t hear the other one say any thing. I

wonder if he wants to be called too. Do you reckon it’s too late to

ask?”

“Why, ma, it’s not necessary. Calling one is calling both. If one gets

up, the other’s got to.”

“Sho, of course; I never thought of that. Well, come along, maybe we can

get some sleep, but I don’t know, I’m so shook up with what we’ve been

through.”

The stranger had made an impression on the boys, too. They had a word of

talk as they were getting to bed. Henry, the gentle, the humane, said:

“I feel ever so sorry for it, don’t you, Joe?”

But Joe was a boy of this world, active, enterprising, and had a

theatrical side to him:

“Sorry? Why, how you talk! It can’t stir a step without attracting

attention. It’s just grand!”

Henry said,, reproachfully:

“Instead of pitying it, Joe, you talk as if–”

“Talk as if what? I know one thing mighty certain: if you can fix me so

I can eat for two and only have to stub toes for one, I ain’t going to

fool away no such chance just for sentiment.”

The twins were wet and tired, and they proceeded to undress without-any

preliminary remarks. The abundance of sleeve made the partnership coat

hard to get off, for it was like skinning a tarantula; but it came at

last, after much tugging and perspiring. The mutual vest followed. Then

the brothers stood up before the glass, and each took off his own cravat

and collar. The collars were of the standing kind, and came high up

under the ears, like the sides of a wheelbarrow, as required by the

fashion of the day. The cravats were as broad as a bank-bill, with

fringed ends which stood far out to right and left like the wings of a

dragon-fly, and this also was strictly in accordance with the fashion of

the time. Each cravat, as to color, was in perfect taste, so far as its

owner’s complexion was concerned–a delicate pink, in the case of the

blond brother, a violent scarlet in the case of the brunette–but as a

combination they broke all the laws of taste known to civilization.

Nothing more fiendish and irreconcilable than those shrieking and

blaspheming colors could have been contrived, The wet boots gave no end

of trouble–to Luigi. When they were off at last, Angelo said, with

bitterness:

“I wish you wouldn’t wear such tight boots, they hurt my feet.”

Luigi answered with indifference:

“My friend, when I am in command of our body, I choose my apparel

according to my own convenience, as I have remarked more than several

times already. When you are in command, I beg you will do as you

please.”

Angelo was hurt, and the tears came into his eyes. There was gentle

reproach in his voice, but, not anger, when he replied:

“Luigi, I often consult your wishes, but you never consult mine. When I

am in command I treat you as a guest; I try to make you feel at home;

when you are in command you treat me as an intruder, you make me feel

unwelcome. It embarrasses me cruelly in company, for I can, see that

people notice it and comment on it.”

“Oh, damn the people,” responded the brother languidly, and with the air

of one who is tired of the subject.

A slight shudder shook the frame of Angelo, but he said nothing and the

conversation ceased. Each buttoned his own share of the nightshirt in

silence; then Luigi, with Paine’s Age of Reason in his hand, sat down in

one chair and put his feet in another and lit his pipe, while Angelo took

his Whole Duty of Man, and both began to read. Angelo presently began to

cough; his coughing increased and became mixed with gaspings for breath,

and he was finally obliged to make an appeal to his brother’s humanity:

“Luigi, if you would only smoke a little milder tobacco, I am sure I

could learn not to mind it in time, but this is so strong, and the pipe

is so rank that–”

“Angelo, I wouldn’t be such a baby! I have learned to smoke in a week,

and the trouble is already over with me; if you would try, you could

learn too, and then you would stop spoiling my comfort with your

everlasting complaints.”

“Ah, brother, that is a strong word–everlasting –and isn’t quite fair.

I only complain when I suffocate; you know I don’t complain when we are

in the open air.”

“Well, anyway, you could learn to smoke yourself.”

“But my principles, Luigi, you forget my principles. You would not have

me do a thing which I regard as a sin?”

“Oh, bosh!”

The conversation ceased again, for Angelo was sick and discouraged and

strangling; but after some time he closed his book and asked Luigi to

sing “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” with him, but he would not, and

when he tried to sing by himself Luigi did his best to drown his

plaintive tenor with a rude and rollicking song delivered in a thundering

bass.

After the singing there was silence, and neither brother was happy.

Before blowing the light out Luigi swallowed half a tumbler of whisky,

and Angelo, whose sensitive organization could not endure intoxicants of

any kind, took a pill to keep it from giving him the headache.

CHAPTER II

MA COOPER GETS ALL MIXED UP

The family sat in the breakfast-room waiting for the twins to come down.

The widow was quiet, the daughter was alive with happy excitement. She

said:

“Ah, they’re a boon, ma, just a boon! don’t you think so?”

“Laws, I hope so, I don’t know.”

“Why, ma, yes you do. They’re so fine and handsome, and high-bred and

polite, so every way superior to our gawks here in this village; why,

they’ll make life different from what it was–so humdrum and commonplace,

you know–oh, you may be sure they’re full of accomplishments, and

knowledge of the world, and all that, that will be an immense advantage

to society here. Don’t you think so, ma?”

“Mercy on me, how should I know, and I’ve hardly set eyes on them yet.”

After a pause she added, “They made considerable noise after they went

up.”

“Noise? Why, ma, they were singing! And it was beautiful, too.”

“Oh, it was well enough, but too mixed-up, seemed to me.”

“Now, ma, honor bright, did you ever hear ‘Greenland’s Icy Mountains’

sung sweeter–now did you?”

“If it had been sung by itself, it would have been uncommon sweet, I

don’t deny it; but what they wanted to mix it up with ‘Old Bob Ridley’

for, I can’t make out. Why, they don’t go together, at all. They are

not of the same nature. ‘Bob Ridley’ is a common rackety slam-bang

secular song, one of the rippingest and rantingest and noisiest there is.

I am no judge of music, and I don’t claim it, but in my opinion nobody

can make those two songs go together right.”

“Why, ma, I thought–”

“It don’t make any difference what you thought, it can’t be done. They

tried it, and to my mind it was a failure. I never heard such a crazy

uproar; seemed to me, sometimes, the roof would come off; and as for the

cats–well, I’ve lived a many a year, and seen cats aggravated in more

ways than one, but I’ve never seen cats take on the way they took on last

night.”

“Well, I don’t think that that goes for anything, ma, because it is the

nature of cats that any sound that is unusual–”

“Unusual! You may well call it so. Now if they are going to sing duets

every night, I do hope they will both sing the same tune at the same

time, for in my opinion a duet that is made up of two different tunes is

a mistake; especially when the tunes ain’t any kin to one another, that

way.”

“But, ma, I think it must be a foreign custom; and it must be right too;

and the best way, because they have had every opportunity to know what is

right, and it don’t stand to reason that with their education they would

do anything but what the highest musical authorities have sanctioned.

You can’t help but admit that, ma.”

The argument was formidably strong; the old lady could not find any way

around it; so, after thinking it over awhile she gave in with a sigh of

discontent, and admitted that the daughter’s position was probably

correct. Being vanquished, she had no mind to continue the topic at that

disadvantage, and was about to seek a change when a change came of

itself. A footstep was heard on the stairs, and she said:

“There-he’s coming!”

“They, ma–you ought to say they–it’s nearer right.”

The new lodger, rather shoutingly dressed but looking superbly handsome,

stepped with courtly carnage into the trim little breakfast-room and put

out all his cordial arms at once, like one of those pocket-knives with a

multiplicity of blades, and shook hands with the whole family

simultaneously. He was so easy and pleasant and hearty that all

embarrassment presently thawed away and disappeared, and a cheery feeling

of friendliness and comradeship took its place. He–or preferably they

–were asked to occupy the seat of honor at the foot of the table. They

consented with thanks, and carved the beefsteak with one set of their

hands while they distributed it at the same time with the other set.

“Will you have coffee, gentlemen, or tea?”

“Coffee for Luigi, if you please, madam, tea for me.”

“Cream and sugar?”

“For me, yes, madam; Luigi takes his coffee, black. Our natures differ a

good deal from each other, and our tastes also.”

The first time the negro girl Nancy appeared in the door and saw the two

heads turned in opposite directions and both talking at once, then saw

the commingling arms feed potatoes into one mouth and coffee into the

other at the same time, she had to pause and pull herself out of a

faintness that came over her; but after that she held her grip and was

able to wait on the table with fair courage.

Conversation fell naturally into the customary grooves. It was a little

jerky, at first, because none of the family could get smoothly through a

sentence without a wabble in it here and a break there, caused by some

new surprise in the way of attitude or gesture on the part of the twins.

The weather suffered the most. The weather was all finished up and

disposed of, as a subject, before the simple Missourians had gotten

sufficiently wonted to the spectacle of one body feeding two heads to

feel composed and reconciled in the presence of so bizarre a miracle.

And even after everybody’s mind became tranquilized there was still one

slight distraction left: the hand that picked up a biscuit carried it to

the wrong head, as often as any other way, and the wrong mouth devoured

it. This was a puzzling thing, and marred the talk a little. It

bothered the widow to such a degree that she presently dropped out of the

conversation without knowing it, and fell to watching and guessing and

talking to herself:

“Now that hand is going to take that coffee to no, it’s gone to the other

mouth; I can’t understand it; and how, here is the dark-complected hand

with a potato in its fork, I’ll see what goes with it–there, the

light-complected head’s got it, as sure as I live!”

Finally Rowena said:

“Ma, what is the matter with you? Are you dreaming about something?”

The old lady came to herself and blushed; then she explained with the

first random thing that came into her mind: “I saw Mr. Angelo take up Mr.

Luigi’s coffee, and I thought maybe he–sha’n’t I give you a cup, Mr.

Angelo?”

“Oh no, madam, I am very much obliged, but I never drink coffee, much as

I would like to. You did see me take up Luigi’s cup, it is true, but if

you noticed, I didn’t carry it to my mouth, but to his.”

“Y-es, I thought you did: Did you mean to?”

“How?”

The widow was a little embarrassed again. She said:

“I don’t know but what I’m foolish, and you mustn’t mind; but you see,

he got the coffee I was expecting to see you drink, and you got a potato

that I thought he was going to get. So I thought it might be a mistake

all around, and everybody getting what wasn’t intended for him.”

Both twins laughed and Luigi said:

“Dear madam, there wasn’t any mistake. We are always helping each other

that way. It is a great economy for us both; it saves time and labor.

We have a system of signs which nobody can notice or understand but

ourselves. If I am using both my hands and want some coffee, I make the

sign and Angelo furnishes it to me; and you saw that when he needed a

potato I delivered it.”

“How convenient!”

“Yes, and often of the extremest value. Take the Mississippi boats, for

instance. They are always overcrowded. There is table-room for only

half of the passengers, therefore they have to set a second table for the

second half. The stewards rush both parties, they give them no time to

eat a satisfying meal, both divisions leave the table hungry. It isn’t

so with us. Angelo books himself for the one table, I book myself for

the other. Neither of us eats anything at the other’s table, but just

simply works–works. Thus, you see there are four hands to feed Angelo,

and the same four to feed me. Each of us eats two meals.”

The old lady was dazed with admiration, and kept saying, “It is perfectly

wonderful, perfectly wonderful” and the boy Joe licked his chops

enviously, but said nothing–at least aloud.

“Yes,” continued Luigi, “our construction may have its disadvantages–in

fact, has but it also has its compensations of one sort and another. Take

travel, for instance. Travel is enormously expensive, in all countries;

we have been obliged to do a vast deal of it–come, Angelo, don’t put any

more sugar in your tea, I’m just over one indigestion and don’t want

another right away–been obliged to do a deal of it, as I was saying.

Well, we always travel as one person, since we occupy but one seat; so we

save half the fare.”

“How romantic!” interjected Rowena, with effusion.

“Yes, my dear young lady, and how practical too, and economical. In

Europe, beds in the hotels are not charged with the board, but

separately–another saving, for we stood to our rights and paid for the

one bed only. The landlords often insisted that as both of us occupied

the bed we ought–”

“No, they didn’t,” said Angelo. “They did it only twice, and in both

cases it was a double bed–a rare thing in Europe–and the double bed

gave them some excuse. Be fair to the landlords; twice doesn’t

constitute ‘often.'”

“Well, that depends–that depends. I knew a man who fell down a well

twice. He said he didn’t mind the first time, but he thought the second

time was once too often. Have I misused that word, Mrs. Cooper?”

“To tell the truth, I was afraid you had, but it seems to look, now, like

you hadn’t.” She stopped, and was evidently struggling with the

difficult problem a moment, then she added in the tone of one who is

convinced without being converted, “It seems so, but I can’t somehow tell

why.”

Rowena thought Luigi’s retort was wonderfully quick and bright, and she

remarked to herself with satisfaction that there wasn’t any young native

of Dawson’s Landing that could have risen to the occasion like that.

Luigi detected the applause in her face, and expressed his pleasure and

his thanks with his eyes; and so eloquently withal, that the girl was

proud and pleased, and hung out the delicate sign of it on her cheeks.

Luigi went on, with animation:

“Both of us get a bath for one ticket, theater seat for one ticket,

pew-rent is on the same basis, but at peep-shows we pay double.”

“We have much to’ be thankful for,” said Angelo, impressively, with a

reverent light in his eye and a reminiscent tone in his voice, “we have

been greatly blessed. As a rule, what one of us has lacked, the other,

by the bounty of Providence, has been able to supply. My brother is

hardy, I am not; he is very masculine, assertive, aggressive; I am much

less so. I am subject to illness, he is never ill. I cannot abide

medicines, and cannot take them, but he has no prejudice against them,

and–”

“Why, goodness gracious,” interrupted the widow, “when you are sick, does

he take the medicine for you?”

“Always, madam.”

“Why, I never heard such a thing in my life! I think it’s beautiful of

you.”

“Oh, madam, it’s nothing, don’t mention it, it’s really nothing at all.”

“But I say it’s beautiful, and I stick to it!” cried the widow, with a

speaking moisture in her eye.

“A well brother to take the medicine for his poor sick brother–I wish I

had such a son,” and she glanced reproachfully at her boys. “I declare

I’ll never rest till I’ve shook you by the hand,” and she scrambled out

of her chair in a fever of generous enthusiasm, and made for the twins,

blind with her tears, and began to shake. The boy Joe corrected her:

“You’re shaking the wrong one, ma.”

This flurried her, but she made a swift change and went on shaking.

“Got the wrong one again, ma,” said the boy.

“Oh, shut up, can’t you!” said the widow, embarrassed and irritated.

“Give me all your hands, I want to shake them all; for I know you are

both just as good as you can be.”

It was a victorious thought, a master-stroke of diplomacy, though that

never occurred to her and she cared nothing for diplomacy. She shook the

four hands in turn cordially, and went back to her place in a state of

high and fine exultation that made her look young and handsome.

“Indeed I owe everything to Luigi,” said Angelo, affectionately.

“But for him I could not have survived our boyhood days, when we were

friendless and poor–ah, so poor! We lived from hand to mouth-lived on

the coarse fare of unwilling charity, and for weeks and weeks together

not a morsel of food passed my lips, for its character revolted me and I

could not eat it. But for Luigi I should have died. He ate for us

both.”

“How noble!” sighed Rowena.

“Do you hear that?” said the widow, severely, to her boys. “Let it be an

example to you–I mean you, Joe.”

Joe gave his head a barely perceptible disparaging toss and said: “Et for

both. It ain’t anything I’d ‘a’ done it.”

“Hush, if you haven’t got any better manners than that. You don’t see

the point at all. It wasn’t good food.”

“I don’t care–it was food, and I’d ‘a’ et it if it was rotten.”

“Shame! Such language ! Can’t you understand? They were starving-

actually starving–and he ate for both, and–”

“Shucks! you gimme a chance and I’ll–”

“There, now–close your head! and don’t you open it again till you’re

asked.”

[Angelo goes on and tells how his parents the Count and Countess had

to fly from Florence for political reasons, and died poor in Berlin

bereft of their great property by confiscation; and how he and Luigi

had to travel with a freak-show during two years and suffer

semi-starvation.]

“That hateful black-bread; but I seldom ate anything during that time;

that was poor Luigi’s affair–”

“I’ll never Mister him again!” cried the widow, with strong emotion,

“he’s Luigi to me, from this out!”

“Thank you a thousand times, madam, a thousand times! though in truth I

don’t deserve it.”

“Ah, Luigi is always the fortunate one when honors are showering,” said

Angelo, plaintively; “now what have I done, Mrs. Cooper, that you leave

me out? Come, you must strain a point in my favor.”

“Call you Angelo? Why, certainly I will; what are you thinking of! In

the case of twins, why–”

“But, ma, you’re breaking up the story–do let him go on.”

“You keep still, Rowena Cooper, and he can go on all the better, I

reckon. One interruption don’t hurt, it’s two that makes the trouble.”

“But you’ve added one, now, and that is three.”

“Rowena! I will not allow you to talk back at me when you have got

nothing rational to say.”

CHAPTER III

ANGELO IS BLUE

[After breakfast the whole village crowded in, and there was a grand

reception in honor of the twins; and at the close of it the gifted

“freak” captured everybody’s admiration by sitting down at the piano and

knocking out a classic four-handed piece in great style. Then the judge

took it–or them–driving in his buggy and showed off his village.]

All along the streets the people crowded the windows and stared at the

amazing twins. Troops of small boys flocked after the buggy, excited and

yelling. At first the dogs showed no interest. They thought they merely

saw three men in a buggy–a matter of no consequence; but when they found

out the facts of the case, they altered their opinion pretty radically,

and joined the boys, expressing their minds as they came. Other dogs got

interested; indeed, all the dogs. It was a spirited sight to see them

come leaping fences, tearing around corners, swarming out of every

bystreet and alley. The noise they made was something beyond belief–

or praise. They did not seem to be moved by malice but only by

prejudice, the common human prejudice against lack of conformity. If the

twins turned their heads, they broke and fled in every direction, but

stopped at a safe distance and faced about; and then formed and came on

again as soon as the strangers showed them their back. Negroes and

farmers’ wives took to the woods when the buggy came upon them suddenly,

and altogether the drive was pleasant and animated, and a refreshment all

around.

[It was a long and lively drive. Angelo was a Methodist, Luigi was

a Free-thinker. The judge was very proud of his Freethinkers’

Society, which was flourishing along in a most prosperous way and

already had two members–himself and the obscure and neglected

Pudd’nhead Wilson. It was to meet that evening, and he invited

Luigi to join; a thing which Luigi was glad to do, partly because it

would please himself, and partly because it would gravel Angelo.]

They had now arrived at the widow’s gate, and the excursion was ended.

The twins politely expressed their obligations for the pleasant outing

which had been afforded them; to which the judge bowed his thanks,

and then said he would now go and arrange for the Free-thinkers’ meeting,

and would call for Count Luigi in the evening.

“For you also, dear sir,” he added hastily, turning to Angelo and bowing.

“In addressing myself particularly to your brother, I was not meaning to

leave you out. It was an unintentional rudeness, I assure you, and due

wholly to accident–accident and preoccupation. I beg you to forgive

me.”

His quick eye had seen the sensitive blood mount into Angelo’s face,

betraying the wound that had been inflicted. The sting of the slight had

gone deep, but the apology was so prompt, and so evidently sincere, that

the hurt was almost immediately healed, and a forgiving smile testified

to the kindly judge that all was well again.

Concealed behind Angelo’s modest and unassuming exterior, and unsuspected

by any but his intimates, was a lofty pride, a pride of almost abnormal

proportions, indeed, and this rendered him ever the prey of slights; and

although they were almost always imaginary ones, they hurt none the less

on that account. By ill fortune judge Driscoll had happened to touch his

sorest point, i.e., his conviction that his brother’s presence was

welcomer everywhere than his own; that he was often invited, out of mere

courtesy, where only his brother was wanted, and that in a majority of

cases he would not be included in an invitation if he could be left out

without offense. A sensitive nature like this is necessarily subject to

moods; moods which traverse the whole gamut of feeling; moods which know

all the climes of emotion, from the sunny heights of joy to the black

abysses of despair. At times, in his seasons of deepest depressions,

Angelo almost wished that he and his brother might become segregated from

each other and be separate individuals, like other men. But of course as

soon as his mind cleared and these diseased imaginings passed away, he

shuddered at the repulsive thought, and earnestly prayed that it might

visit him no more. To be separate, and as other men are! How awkward it

would seem; how unendurable. What would he do with his hands, his arms?

How would his legs feel? How odd, and strange, and grotesque every

action, attitude, movement, gesture would be. To sleep by himself, eat

by himself, walk by himself–how lonely, how unspeakably lonely! No, no,

any fate but that. In every way and from every point, the idea was

revolting.

This was of course natural; to have felt otherwise would have been

unnatural. He had known no life but a combined one; he had been familiar

with it from his birth; he was not able to conceive of any other as being

agreeable, or even bearable. To him, in the privacy of his secret

thoughts, all other men were monsters, deformities: and during

three-fourths of his life their aspect had filled him with what promised

to be an unconquerable aversion. But at eighteen his eye began to take

note of female beauty; and little by little, undefined longings grew up

in his heart, under whose softening influences the old stubborn aversion

gradually diminished, and finally disappeared. Men were still

monstrosities to him, still deformities, and in his sober moments he had

no desire to be like them, but their strange and unsocial and uncanny

construction was no longer offensive to him.

This had been a hard day for him, physically and mentally. He had been

called in the morning before he had quite slept off the effects of the

liquor which Luigi had drunk; and so, for the first half-hour had had the

seedy feeling, and languor, the brooding depression, the cobwebby mouth

and druggy taste that come of dissipation and are so ill a preparation

for bodily or intellectual activities; the long violent strain of the

reception had followed; and this had been followed, in turn, by the

dreary sight-seeing, the judge’s wearying explanations and laudations of

the sights, and the stupefying clamor of the dogs. As a congruous

conclusion, a fitting end, his feelings had been hurt, a slight had been

put upon him. He would have been glad to forego dinner and betake

himself to rest and sleep, but he held his peace and said no word, for he

knew his brother, Luigi, was fresh, unweary, full of life, spirit,

energy; he would have scoffed at the idea of wasting valuable time on a

bed or a sofa, and would have refused permission.

CHAPTER IV

SUPERNATURAL CHRONOMETRY

Rowena was dining out, Joe and Harry were belated at play, there were but

three chairs and four persons that noon at the home dinner-table–

the twins, the widow, and her chum, Aunt Betsy Hale. The widow soon

perceived that Angelo’s spirits were as low as Luigi’s were high, and

also that he had a jaded look. Her motherly solicitude was aroused, and

she tried to get him interested in the talk and win him to a happier

frame of mind, but the cloud of sadness remained on his countenance.

Luigi lent his help, too. He used a form and a phrase which he was

always accustomed to employ in these circumstances. He gave his brother

an affectionate slap on the shoulder and said, encouragingly:

“Cheer up, the worst is yet to come!”

But this did no good. It never did. If anything, it made the matter

worse, as a rule, because it irritated Angelo. This made it a favorite

with Luigi. By and by the widow said:

“Angelo, you are tired, you’ve overdone yourself; you go right to bed

after dinner, and get a good nap and a rest, then you’ll be all right.”

“Indeed, I would give anything if I could do that, madam.”

“And what’s to hender, I’d like to know? Land, the room’s yours to do

what you please with! The idea that you can’t do what you like with your

own!”

“But, you see, there’s one prime essential–an essential of the very

first importance– which isn’t my own.”

“What is that?”

“My body.”

The old ladies looked puzzled, and Aunt Betsy Hale said:

“Why bless your heart, how is that?”

“It’s my brother’s.”

“Your brother’s! I don’t quite understand. I supposed it belonged to

both of you.”

“So it does. But not to both at the same time.”

“That is mighty curious; I don’t see how it can be. I shouldn’t think it

could be managed that way.”

“Oh, it’s a good enough arrangement, and goes very well; in fact, it

wouldn’t do to have it otherwise. I find that the teetotalers and the

anti-teetotalers hire the use of the same hall for their meetings. Both

parties don’t use it at the same time, do they?”

“You bet they don’t!” said both old ladies in a breath.

“And, moreover,” said Aunt Betsy, “the Freethinkers and the Baptist Bible

class use the same room over the Market house, but you can take my word

for it they don’t mush up together and use it at the same time.’

“Very well,” said Angelo, “you understand it now. And it stands to

reason that the arrangement couldn’t be improved. I’ll prove it to you.

If our legs tried to obey two wills, how could we ever get anywhere?

I would start one way, Luigi would start another, at the same moment–

the result would be a standstill, wouldn’t it?”

“As sure as you are born! Now ain’t that wonderful! A body would never

have thought of it.”

“We should always be arguing and fussing and disputing over the merest

trifles. We should lose worlds of time, for we couldn’t go down-stairs

or up, couldn’t go to bed, couldn’t rise, couldn’t wash, couldn’t dress,

couldn’t stand up, couldn’t sit down, couldn’t even cross our legs,

without calling a meeting first and explaining the case and passing

resolutions, and getting consent. It wouldn’t ever do–now would it?”

“Do? Why, it would wear a person out in a week! Did you ever hear

anything like it, Patsy Cooper?”

“Oh, you’ll find there’s more than one thing about them that ain’t

commonplace,” said the widow, with the complacent air of a person with a

property right in a novelty that is under admiring scrutiny.

“Well, now, how ever do you manage it? I don’t mind saying I’m suffering

to know.”

“He who made us,” said Angelo reverently, “and with us this difficulty,

also provided a way out of it. By a mysterious law of our being, each of

us has utter and indisputable command of our body a week at a time, turn

and turn about.”

“Well, I never! Now ain’t that beautiful!”

“Yes, it is beautiful and infinitely wise and just. The week ends every

Saturday at midnight to the minute, to the second, to the last shade of

a fraction of a second, infallibly, unerringly, and in that instant the

one brother’s power over the body vanishes and the other brother takes

possession, asleep or awake.”

“How marvelous are His ways, and past finding out!”

Luigi said: “So exactly to the instant does the change come, that during

our stay in many of the great cities of the world, the public clocks were

regulated by it; and as hundreds of thousands of private clocks and

watches were set and corrected in accordance with the public clocks, we

really furnished the standard time for the entire city.”

“Don’t tell me that He don’t do miracles any more! Blowing down the

walls of Jericho with rams’ horns wa’n’t as difficult, in my opinion.”

“And that is not all,” said Angelo. “A thing that is even more

marvelous, perhaps, is the fact that the change takes note of longitude

and fits itself to the meridian we are on. Luigi is in command this

week. Now, if on Saturday night at a moment before midnight we could fly

in an instant to a point fifteen degrees west of here, he would hold

possession of the power another hour, for the change observes local time

and no other.”

Betsy Hale was deeply impressed, and said with solemnity:

“Patsy Cooper, for detail it lays over the Passage of the Red Sea.”

“Now, I shouldn’t go as far as that,” said Aunt Patsy, “but if you’ve a

mind to say Sodom and Gomorrah, I am with you, Betsy Hale.”

“I am agreeable, then, though I do think I was right, and I believe

Parson Maltby would say the same. Well, now, there’s another thing.

Suppose one of you wants to borrow the legs a minute from the one that’s

got them, could he let him?”

“Yes, but we hardly ever do that. There were disagreeable results,

several times, and so we very seldom ask or grant the privilege,

nowadays, and we never even think of such a thing unless the case is

extremely urgent. Besides, a week’s possession at a time seems so little

that we can’t bear to spare a minute of it. People who have the use of

their legs all the time never think of what a blessing it is, of course.

It never occurs to them; it’s just their natural ordinary condition,

and so it does not excite them at all. But when I wake up, on Sunday

morning, and it’s my week and I feel the power all through me, oh, such a

wave of exultation and thanksgiving goes surging over me, and I want to

shout ‘I can walk! I can walk!’ Madam, do you ever, at your uprising,

want to shout ‘I can walk! I can walk!’?”

“No, you poor unfortunate cretur’, but I’ll never get out of my bed again

without doing it! Laws, to think I’ve had this unspeakable blessing all

my long life and never had the grace to thank the good Lord that gave it

to me!”

Tears stood in the eyes of both the old ladies and the widow said,

softly:

“Betsy Hale, we have learned something, you and me.”

The conversation now drifted wide, but by and by floated back once more

to that admired detail, the rigid and beautiful impartiality with which

the possession of power had been distributed, between the twins. Aunt

Betsy saw in it a far finer justice than human law exhibits in related

cases. She said:

“In my opinion it ain’t right no, and never has been right, the way a

twin born a quarter of a minute sooner than the other one gets all the

land and grandeurs and nobilities in the old countries and his brother

has to go bare and be a nobody. Which of you was born first?”

Angelo’s head was resting against Luigi’s; weariness had overcome him,

and for the past five minutes he had been peacefully sleeping. The old

ladies had dropped their voices to a lulling drone, to help him to steal

the rest his brother wouldn’t take him up-stairs to get. Luigi listened

a moment to Angelo’s regular breathing, then said in a voice barely

audible:

“We were both born at the same time, but I am six months older than he

is.”

“For the land’s sake!”

“‘Sh! don’t wake him up; he wouldn’t like my telling this. It has

always been kept secret till now.”

“But how in the world can it be? If you were both born at the same time,

how can one of you be older than the other?”

“It is very simple, and I assure you it is true. I was born with a full

crop of hair, he was as bald as an egg for six months. I could walk six

months before he could make a step. I finished teething six months ahead

of him. I began to take solids six months before he left the breast.

I began to talk six months before he could say a word. Last, and

absolutely unassailable proof, the sutures in my skull closed six months

ahead of his. Always just that six months’ difference to a day. Was

that accident? Nobody is going to claim that, I’m sure. It was ordained

it was law it had its meaning, and we know what that meaning was. Now

what does this overwhelming body of evidence establish? It establishes

just one thing, and that thing it establishes beyond any peradventure

whatever. Friends, we would not have it known for the world, and I must

beg you to keep it strictly to yourselves, but the truth is, we are no

more twins than you are.”

The two old ladies were stunned, paralyzed-petrified, one may almost say

–and could only sit and gaze vacantly at each other for some moments;

then Aunt Betsy Hale said impressively:

“There’s no getting around proof like that. I do believe it’s the most

amazing thing I ever heard of.” She sat silent a moment or two and

breathing hard with excitement, then she looked up and surveyed the

strangers steadfastly a little while, and added: “Well, it does beat me,

but I would have took you for twins anywhere.”

“So would I, so would I,” said Aunt Patsy with the emphasis of a

certainty that is not impaired by any shade of doubt.

“Anybody would-anybody in the world, I don’t care who he is,” said Aunt

Betsy with decision.

“You won’t tell,” said Luigi, appealingly.

“Oh, dear, no!” answered both ladies promptly, “you can trust us, don’t

you be afraid.”

“That is good of you, and kind. Never let on; treat us always as if we

were twins.”

“You can depend on us,” said Aunt Betsy, “but it won’t be easy, because

now that I know you ain’t you don’t seem so.”

Luigi muttered to himself with satisfaction: “That swindle has gone

through without change of cars.”

It was not very kind of him to load the poor things up with a secret like

that, which would be always flying to their tongues’ ends every time they

heard any one speak of the strangers as twins, and would become harder

and harder to hang on to with every recurrence of the temptation to tell

it, while the torture of retaining it would increase with every new

strain that was applied; but he never thought of that, and probably would

not have worried much about it if he had.

A visitor was announced–some one to see the twins. They withdrew to the

parlor, and the two old ladies began to discuss with interest the strange

things which they had been listening to. When they had finished the

matter to their satisfaction, and Aunt Betsy rose to go, she stopped to

ask a question:

“How does things come on between Roweny and Tom Driscoll?”

“Well, about the same. He writes tolerable often, and she answers

tolerable seldom.”

“Where is he?”

“In St. Louis, I believe, though he’s such a gadabout that a body can’t

be very certain of him, I reckon.”

“Don’t Roweny know?”

“Oh, yes, like enough. I haven’t asked her lately.”

“Do you know how him and the judge are getting along now?”

“First rate, I believe. Mrs. Pratt says so; and being right in the

house, and sister to the one and aunt to t’other, of course she ought to

know. She says the judge is real fond of him when he’s away; but frets

when he’s around and is vexed with his ways, and not sorry to have him go

again. He has been gone three weeks this time–a pleasant thing for both

of them, I reckon.”

“Tom’s rather harum-scarum, but there ain’t anything bad in him, I

guess.”

“Oh, no, he’s just young, that’s all. Still, twenty-three is old, in one

way. A young man ought to be earning his living by that time. If Tom

were doing that, or was even trying to do it, the judge would be a heap

better satisfied with him. Tom’s always going to begin, but somehow he

can’t seem to find just the opening he likes.”

“Well, now, it’s partly the judge’s own fault. Promising the boy his

property wasn’t the way to set him to earning a fortune of his own. But

what do you think is Roweny beginning to lean any toward him, or ain’t

she?”

Aunt Patsy had a secret in her bosom; she wanted to keep it there, but

nature was too strong for her. She drew Aunt Betsy aside, and said in

her most confidential and mysterious manner:

“Don’t you breathe a syllable to a soul–I’m going to tell you something.

In my opinion Tom Driscoll’s chances were considerable better yesterday

than they are to-day.”

“Patsy Cooper, what do you mean?”

“It’s so, as sure as you’re born. I wish you could ‘a’ been at breakfast

and seen for yourself.”

“You don’t mean it!”

“Well, if I’m any judge, there’s a leaning–there’s a leaning, sure.”

“My land! Which one of ’em is it?”

“I can’t say for certain, but I think it’s the youngest one–Anjy.”

Then there were hand-shakings, and congratulations, and hopes, and so on,

and the old ladies parted, perfectly happy–the one in knowing something

which the rest of the town didn’t, and the other in having been the sole

person able to furnish that knowledge.

The visitor who had called to see the twins was the Rev. Mr. Hotchkiss,

pastor of the Baptist church. At the reception Angelo had told him he

had lately experienced a change in his religious views, and was now

desirous of becoming a Baptist, and would immediately join Mr.

Hotchkiss’s church. There was no time to say more, and the brief talk

ended at that point. The minister was much gratified, and had dropped in

for a moment now, to invite the twins to attend his Bible class at eight

that evening. Angelo accepted, and was expecting Luigi to decline, but

he did not, because he knew that the Bible class and the Freethinkers met

in the same room, and he wanted to treat his brother to the embarrassment

of being caught in free-thinking company.

CHAPTER V

GUILT AND INNOCENCE FINELY BLENT

[A long and vigorous quarrel follows, between the twins. And there is

plenty to quarrel about, for Angelo was always seeking truth, and this

obliged him to change and improve his religion with frequency, which

wearied Luigi, and annoyed him too; for he had to be present at each new

enlistment–which placed him in the false position of seeming to indorse

and approve his brother’s fickleness; moreover, he had to go to Angelo’s

prohibition meetings, and he hated them. On the other hand, when it was

his week to command the legs he gave Angelo just cause of complaint, for

he took him to circuses and horse-races and fandangoes, exposing him to

all sorts of censure and criticism; and he drank, too; and whatever he

drank went to Angelo’s head instead of his own and made him act

disgracefully. When the evening was come, the two attended the Free-

thinkers’ meeting, where Angelo was sad and silent; then came the Bible

class and looked upon him coldly, finding him in such company. Then they

went to Wilson’s house and Chapter XI of Pudd’nhead Wilson follows, which

tells of the girl seen in Tom Driscoll’s room; and closes with the

kicking of Tom by Luigi at the anti-temperance mass-meeting of the Sons

of Liberty; with the addition of some account of Roxy’s adventures as a

chamber-maid on a Mississippi boat. Her exchange of the children had

been flippantly and farcically described in an earlier chapter.

Next morning all the town was a-buzz with great news; Pudd’nhead Wilson

had a law case! The, public astonishment was so great and the public

curiosity so intense, that when the justice of the peace opened his

court, the place was packed with people and even the windows were full.

Everybody was, flushed and perspiring; the summer heat was almost

unendurable.

Tom Driscoll had brought a charge of assault and battery against the

twins. Robert Allen was retained by Driscoll, David Wilson by the

defense. Tom, his native cheerfulness unannihilated by his back-breaking

and bone-bruising passage across the massed heads of the Sons of Liberty

the previous night, laughed his little customary laugh, and said to

Wilson:

“I’ve kept my promise, you see; I’m throwing my business your way.

Sooner than I was expecting, too.”

“It’s very good of you–particularly if you mean to keep it up.”

“Well, I can’t tell about that yet. But we’ll see. If I find you

deserve it I’ll take you under my protection and make your fame and

fortune for you.”

“I’ll try to deserve it, Tom.”

A jury was sworn in; then Mr. Allen said:

“We will detain your honor but a moment with this case. It is not one

where any doubt of the fact of the assault can enter in. These

gentlemen–the accused–kicked my client at the Market Hall last night;

they kicked him with violence; with extraordinary violence; with even

unprecedented violence, I may say; insomuch that he was lifted entirely

off his feet and discharged into the midst of the audience. We can prove

this by four hundred witnesses–we shall call but three. Mr. Harkness

will take the stand.”

Mr. Harkness, being sworn, testified that he was chairman upon the

occasion mentioned; that he was close at hand and saw the defendants in

this action kick the plaintiff into the air and saw him descend among the

audience.

“Take the witness,” said Allen.

“Mr. Harkness,” said Wilson, “you say you saw these gentlemen, my

clients, kick the plaintiff. Are you sure–and please remember that you

are on oath–are you perfectly sure that you saw both of them kick him,

or only one? Now be careful.”

A bewildered look began to spread itself over the witness’s face. He

hesitated, stammered, but got out nothing. His eyes wandered to the

twins and fixed themselves there with a vacant gaze.

“Please answer, Mr. Harkness, you are keeping the court waiting. It is

a very simple question.”

Counsel for the prosecution broke in with impatience:

“Your honor, the question is an irrelevant triviality. Necessarily, they

both kicked him, for they have but the one pair of legs, and both are

responsible for them.”

Wilson said, sarcastically:

“Will your honor permit this new witness to be sworn? He seems to

possess knowledge which can be of the utmost value just at this moment–

knowledge which would at once dispose of what every one must see is a

very difficult question in this case. Brother Allen, will you take the

stand?”

“Go on with your case!” said Allen, petulantly. The audience laughed,

and got a warning from the court.

“Now, Mr. Harkness,” said Wilson, insinuatingly, “we shall have to insist

upon an answer to that question.”

“I–er–well, of course, I do not absolutely know, but in my opinion–”

“Never mind your opinion, sir–answer the question.”

“I–why, I can’t answer it.”

“That will do, Mr. Harkness. Stand down.”

The audience tittered, and the discomfited witness retired in a state of

great embarrassment.

Mr. Wakeman took the stand and swore that he saw the twins kick the

plaintiff off the platform.

The defense took the witness.

“Mr. Wakeman, you have sworn that you saw these gentlemen kick the

plaintiff. Do I understand you to swear that you saw them both do it?”

“Yes, sir,”–with derision.

“How do you know that both did it?”

“Because I saw them do it.”

The audience laughed, and got another warning from the court.

“But by what means do you know that both, and not one, did it?”

“Well, in the first place, the insult was given to both of them equally,

for they were called a pair of scissors. Of course they would both want

to resent it, and so–”

“Wait! You are theorizing now. Stick to facts –counsel will attend to

the arguments. Go on.”

“Well, they both went over there–that I saw.”

“Very good. Go on.”

“And they both kicked him–I swear to it.”

“Mr. Wakeman, was Count Luigi, here, willing to join the Sons of Liberty

last night?”

“Yes, sir, he was. He did join, too, and drank a glass or two of whisky,

like a man.”

“Was his brother willing to join?”

“No, sir, he wasn’t. He is a teetotaler, and was elected through a

mistake.”

“Was he given a glass of whisky?”

“Yes, sir, but of course that was another mistake, and not intentional.

He wouldn’t drink it. He set it down.” A slight pause, then he added,

casually and quite simply: “The plaintiff reached for it and hogged it.”

There was a fine outburst of laughter, but as the justice was caught out

himself, his reprimand was not very vigorous.

Mr. Allen jumped up and exclaimed: “I protest against these foolish

irrelevancies. What have they to do with the case?”

Wilson said: “Calm yourself, brother, it was only an experiment. Now,

Mr. Wakeman, if one of these gentlemen chooses to join an association and

the other doesn’t; and if one of them enjoys whisky and the other

doesn’t, but sets it aside and leaves it unprotected” (titter from the

audience), “it seems to show that they have independent minds, and

tastes, and preferences, and that one of them is able to approve of a

thing at the very moment that the other is heartily disapproving of it.

Doesn’t it seem so to you?”

“Certainly it does. It’s perfectly plain.”

“Now, then, it might be–I only say it might be–that one of these

brothers wanted to kick the plaintiff last night, and that the other

didn’t want that humiliating punishment inflicted upon him in that public

way and before all those people. Isn’t that possible?”

“Of course it is. It’s more than possible. I don’t believe the blond

one would kick anybody. It was the other one that–”

“Silence!” shouted the plaintiff’s counsel, and went on with an angry

sentence which was lost in the wave of laughter that swept the house.

“That will do, Mr. Wakeman,” said Wilson, “you may stand down.”

The third witness was called. He had seen the twins kick the plaintiff.

Mr. Wilson took the witness.

“Mr. Rogers, you say you saw these accused gentlemen kick the plaintiff?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Which of them kicked him first?”

“Why–they–they both kicked him at the same time.

“Are you perfectly sure of that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What makes you sure of it?”

“Why, I stood right behind them, and saw them do it.”

“How many kicks were delivered?”

“Only one.”

“If two men kick, the result should be two kicks, shouldn’t it?”

“Why–why yes, as a rule.”

“Then what do you think went with the other kick?”

“I–well–the fact is, I wasn’t thinking of two being necessary, this

time.”

“What do you think now?”

“Well, I–I’m sure I don’t quite know what to think, but I reckon that

one of them did half of the kick and the other one did the other half.”

Somebody in the crowd sung out: “It’s the first sane thing that any of

them has said.”

The audience applauded. The judge said: “Silence! or I will clear the

court.”

Mr. Allen looked pleased, but Wilson did not seem disturbed. He said:

“Mr. Rogers, you have favored us with what you think and what you reckon,

but as thinking and reckoning are not evidence, I will now give you a

chance to come out with something positive, one way or the other, and

shall require you to produce it. I will ask the accused to stand up and

repeat the phenomenal kick of last night.” The twins stood up. “Now,

Mr. Rogers, please stand behind them.”

A Voice: “No, stand in front!” (Laughter. Silenced by the court.)

Another Voice: “No, give Tommy another highst!” (Laughter. Sharply

rebuked by the court.)

“Now, then, Mr. Rogers, two kicks shall be delivered, one after the

other, and I give you my word that at least one of the two shall be

delivered by one of the twins alone, without the slightest assistance

from his brother. Watch sharply, for you have of to render a decision

without any if’s and ands it.” Rogers bent himself behind the twins with

palms just above his knees, in the modern attitude of the catcher at a

baseball match, and riveted eyes on the pair of legs in front of him.

“Are you ready, Mr. Rogers?”

“Ready sir.”

The kick, launched.

“Have you got that one classified, Mr. Rogers?”

“Let me study a minute, sir.”

“Take as much time as you please. Let me know when you are ready.”

For as much as a minute Rogers pondered, with all eyes and a breathless

interest fastened upon him. Then he gave the word: “Ready, sir.”

“Kick!”

The kick that followed was an exact duplicate of the first one.

“Now, then, Mr. Rogers, one of those kicks was an individual kick, not a

mutual one. You will now state positively which was the mutual one.”

The witness said, with a crestfallen look:

“I’ve got to give it up. There ain’t any man in the world that could

tell t’other from which, sir.”

“Do you still assert that last night’s kick was a mutual kick?”

“Indeed, I don’t, sir.”

“That will do, Mr. Rogers. If my brother Allen desires to address the

court, your honor, very well; but as far as I am concerned I am ready to

let the case be at once delivered into the hands of this intelligent jury

without comment.”

Mr. Justice Robinson had been in office only two months, and in that

short time had not had many cases to try, of course. He had no knowledge

of laws and courts except what he had picked up since he came into

office. He was a sore trouble to the lawyers, for his rulings were

pretty eccentric sometimes, and he stood by them with Roman simplicity

and fortitude; but the people were well satisfied with him, for they saw

that his intentions were always right, that he was entirely impartial,

and that he usually made up in good sense what he lacked in technique,

so to speak. He now perceived that there was likely to be a miscarriage

of justice here, and he rose to the occasion.

“Wait a moment, gentlemen,” he said, “it is plain that an assault has

been committed it is plain to anybody; but the way things are going, the

guilty will certainly escape conviction. I can not allow this. Now—”

“But, your honor!” said Wilson, interrupting him, earnestly but

respectfully, “you are deciding the case yourself, whereas the jury–”

“Never mind the jury, Mr. Wilson; the jury will have a chance when there

is a reasonable doubt for them to take hold of–which there isn’t,

so far. There is no doubt whatever that an assault has been committed.

The attempt to show that both of the accused committed it has failed.

Are they both to escape justice on that account? Not in this court,

if I can prevent it. It appears to have been a mistake to bring the

charge against them as a corporation; each should have been charged in

his capacity as an individual, and–”

“But, your honor!” said Wilson, “in fairness to my clients I must insist

that inasmuch as the prosecution ‘d not separate the–”

“No wrong will be done your clients, sir–they will be protected;

also the public and the offended laws. Mr. Allen, you will amend your

pleadings, and put one of the accused on trial at a time.”

Wilson broke in: “But, your honor! this is wholly unprecedented!

To imperil an accused person by arbitrarily altering and widening the

charge against him in order to compass his conviction when the charge as

originally brought promises to fail to convict, is a thing unheard of

before.”

“Unheard of where?”

“In the courts of this or any other state.”

The judge said with dignity: “I am not acquainted with the customs of

other courts, and am not concerned to know what they are. I am

responsible for this court, and I cannot conscientiously allow my

judgment to be warped and my judicial liberty hampered by trying to

conform to the caprices of other courts, be they–”

“But, your honor, the oldest and highest courts in Europe–”

“This court is not run on the European plan, Mr. Wilson; it is not run on

any plan but its own. It has a plan of its own; and that plan is,

to find justice for both State and accused, no matter what happens to be

practice and custom in Europe or anywhere else.” (Great applause.)

“Silence! It has not been the custom of this court to imitate other

courts; it has not been the custom of this court to take shelter behind

the decisions of other courts, and we will not begin now. We will do the

best we can by the light that God has given us, and while this ‘court

continues to have His approval, it will remain indifferent to what other

organizations may think of it.” (Applause.) “Gentlemen, I must have

order!–quiet yourselves! Mr. Allen, you will now proceed against the

prisoners one at a time. Go on with the case.”

Allen was not at his ease. However, after whispering a moment with his

client and with one or two other people, he rose and said:

“Your honor, I find it to be reported and believed that the accused are

able to act independently in many ways, but that this independence does

not extend to their legs, authority over their legs being vested

exclusively in the one brother during a specific term of days, and then

passing to the other brother for a like term, and so on, by regular

alternation. I could call witnesses who would prove that the accused had

revealed to them the existence of this extraordinary fact, and had also

made known which of them was in possession of the legs yesterday–and

this would, of course, indicate where the guilt of the assault belongs–

but as this would be mere hearsay evidence, these revelations not having

been made under oath”

“Never mind about that, Mr. Allen. It may not all be hearsay. We shall

see. It may at least help to put us on the right track. Call the

witnesses.”

“Then I will call Mr. John Buckstone, who is now present, and I beg that

Mrs. Patsy Cooper may be sent for. Take the stand, Mr. Buckstone.”

Buckstone took the oath, and then testified that on the previous evening

the Count Angelo Capello had protested against going to the hall, and had

called all present to witness that he was going by compulsion and would

not go if he could help himself. Also, that the Count Luigi had replied

sharply that he would go, just the same, and that he, Count Luigi, would

see to that himself. Also, that upon Count Angelo’s complaining about

being kept on his legs so long, Count Luigi retorted with apparent

surprise, “Your legs!–I like your impudence!”

“Now we are getting at the kernel of the thing,” observed the judge, with

grave and earnest satisfaction. “It looks as if the Count Luigi was in

possession of the battery at the time of the assault.”

Nothing further was elicited from Mr. Buckstone on direct examination.

Mr. Wilson took the witness.

“Mr. Buckstone, about what time was it that that conversation took

place?”

“Toward nine yesterday evening, sir.”

“Did you then proceed directly to the hall?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How long did it take you to go there?”

“Well, we walked; and as it was from the extreme edge of the town, and

there was no hurry, I judge it took us about twenty minutes, maybe a

trifle more.”

“About what hour was the kick delivered?”

“About thirteen minutes and a half to ten.”

“Admirable! You are a pattern witness, Mr. Buckstone. How did you

happen to look at your watch at that particular moment?”

“I always do it when I see an assault. It’s likely I shall be called as

a witness, and it’s a good point to have.”

“It would be well if others were as thoughtful. Was anything said,

between the conversation at my house and the assault, upon the detail

which we are now examining into?”

“No, sir.”

“If power over the mutual legs was in the possession of one brother at

nine, and passed into the possession of the other one during the next

thirty or forty minutes, do you think you could have detected the

change?”

“By no means!”

“That is all, Mr. Buckstone.”

Mrs. Patsy Cooper was called. The crowd made way for her, and she came

smiling and bowing through the narrow human lane, with Betsy Hale, as

escort and support, smiling and bowing in her wake, the audience breaking

into welcoming cheers as the old favorites filed along. The judge did

not check this kindly demonstration of homage and affection, but let it

run its course unrebuked.

The old ladies stopped and shook hands with the twins with effusion, then

gave the judge a friendly nod, and bustled into the seats provided for

them. They immediately began to deliver a volley of eager questions at

the friends around them: “What is this thing for?” “What is that thing

for?” “Who is that young man that’s writing at the desk? Why, I

declare, it’s Jack Bunce! I thought he was sick.” “Which is the jury?

Why, is that the jury? Billy Price and Job Turner, and Jack Lounsbury,

and–well, I never!” “Now who would ever ‘a’ thought–”

But they were gently called to order at this point, and asked not to talk

in court. Their tongues fell silent, but the radiant interest in their

faces remained, and their gratitude for the blessing of a new sensation

and a novel experience still beamed undimmed from their eyes. Aunt Patsy

stood up and took the oath, and Mr. Allen explained the point in issue,

and asked her to go on now, in her own way, and throw as much light upon

it as she could. She toyed with her reticule a moment or two, as if

considering where to begin, then she said:

“Well, the way of it is this. They are Luigi’s legs a week at a time,

and then they are Angelo’s, and he can do whatever he wants to with

them.”

“You are making a mistake, Aunt Patsy Cooper,” said the judge. “You

shouldn’t state that as a fact, because you don’t know it to be a fact.”

“What’s the reason I don’t?” said Aunt Patsy, bridling a little.

“What is the reason that you do know it?”

“The best in the world because they told me.”

“That isn’t a reason.”

“Well, for the land’s sake! Betsy Hale, do you hear that?”

“Hear it? I should think so,” said Aunt Betsy, rising and facing the

court. “Why, Judge, I was there and heard it myself. Luigi says to

Angelo–no, it was Angelo said it to–”

“Come, come, Mrs. Hale, pray sit down, and–”

“Certainly, it’s all right, I’m going to sit down presently, but not

until I’ve–”

“But you must sit down!”

“Must! Well, upon my word if things ain’t getting to a pretty pass

when–”

The house broke into laughter, but was promptly brought to order, and

meantime Mr. Allen persuaded the old lady to take her seat. Aunt Patsy

continued:

“Yes, they told me that, and I know it’s true. They’re Luigi’s legs this

week, but–”

“Ah, they told you that, did they?” said the Justice, with interest.

“Well, no, I don’t know that they told me, but that’s neither here nor

there. I know, without that, that at dinner yesterday, Angelo was as

tired as a dog, and yet Luigi wouldn’t lend him the legs to go up-stairs

and take a nap with.”

“Did he ask for them?”

“Let me see–it seems to me, somehow, that–that–Aunt Betsy, do you

remember whether he–”

“Never mind about what Aunt Betsy remembers –she is not a witness; we

only want to know what you remember yourself,” said the judge.

“Well, it does seem to, me that you are most cantankerously particular

about a little thing, Sim Robinson. Why, when I can’t remember a thing

myself, I always–”

“Ah, please go on!”

“Now how can she when you keep fussing at her all the time?” said Aunt

Betsy. “Why, with a person pecking at me that way, I should get that

fuzzled and fuddled that–”

She was on her feet again, but Allen coaxed her into her seat once more,

while the court squelched the mirth of the house. Then the judge said:

“Madam, do you know–do you absolutely know, independently of anything

these gentlemen have told you–that the power over their legs passes from

the one to the other regularly every week?”

“Regularly? Bless your heart, regularly ain’t any name for the exactness

of it! All the big cities in Europe used to set the clocks by it.”

(Laughter, suppressed by the court.)

“How do you know? That is the question. Please answer it plainly and

squarely.”

“Don’t you talk to me like that, Sim Robinson–I won’t have it. How do

I know, indeed! How do you know what you know? Because somebody told

you. You didn’t invent it out of your own head, did you? Why, these

twins are the truthfulest people in the world; and I don’t think it

becomes you to sit up there and throw slurs at them when they haven’t

been doing anything to you. And they are orphans besides–both of them.

All–”

But Aunt Betsy was up again now, and both old ladies were talking at once

and with all their might; but as the house was weltering in a storm of

laughter, and the judge was hammering his desk with an iron paper-weight,

one could only see them talk, not hear them. At last, when quiet was

restored, the court said:

“Let the ladies retire.”

“But, your honor, I have the right, in the interest of my clients,–to

cross-exam–”

“You’ll not need to exercise it, Mr. Wilson–the evidence is thrown out.”

“Thrown out!” said Aunt Patsy, ruffled; “and what’s it thrown out for,

I’d like to know.”

“And so would I, Patsy Cooper. It seems to me that if we can save these

poor persecuted strangers, it is our bounden duty to stand up here and

talk for them till–”

“There, there, there, do sit down!”

It cost some trouble and a good deal of coaxing, but they were got into

their seats at last. The trial was soon ended now. The twins themselves

became witnesses in their own defense. They established the fact, upon

oath, that the leg-power passed from one to the other every Saturday

night at twelve o’clock sharp. But or cross-examination their counsel

would not allow them to tell whose week of power the current week was.

The judge insisted upon their answering, and proposed to compel them, but

even the prosecution took fright and came to the rescue then, and helped

stay the sturdy jurist’s revolutionary hand. So the case had to go to

the jury with that important point hanging in the air. They were out an

hour and brought in this verdict:

“We the jury do find: 1, that an assault was committed, as charged;

2, that it was committed by one of the persons accused, he having been

seen to do it by several credible witnesses; 3, but that his identity is

so merged in his brother’s that we have not been able to tell which was

him. We cannot convict both, for only one is guilty. We cannot acquit

both, for only one is innocent. Our verdict is that justice has been

defeated by the dispensation of God, and ask to be discharged from

further duty.”

This was read aloud in court and brought out a burst of hearty applause.

The old ladies made a spring at the twins, to shake and congratulate, but

were gently disengaged by Mr. Wilson and softly crowded back into their

places.

The judge rose in his little tribune, laid aside his silver-bowed

spectacles, roached his gray hair up with his fingers, and said, with

dignity and solemnity, and even with a certain pathos:

“In all my experience on the bench, I have not seen justice bow her head

in shame in this court until this day. You little realize what far-

reaching harm has just been wrought here under the fickle forms of law.

Imitation is the bane of courts–I thank God that this one is free from

the contamination of that vice–and in no long time you will see the

fatal work of this hour seized upon by profligate so-called guardians of

justice in all the wide circumstance of this planet and perpetuated in

their pernicious decisions. I wash my hands of this iniquity. I would

have compelled these culprits to expose their guilt, but support failed

me where I had most right to expect aid and encouragement. And I was

confronted by a law made in the interest of crime, which protects the

criminal from testifying against himself. Yet I had precedents of my own

whereby I had set aside that law on two different occasions and thus

succeeded in convicting criminals to whose crimes there were no witnesses

but themselves. What have you accomplished this day? Do you realize it?

You have set adrift, unadmonished, in this community, two men endowed

with an awful and mysterious gift, a hidden and grisly power for evil–

a power by which each in his turn may commit crime after crime of the

most heinous character, and no man be able to tell which is the guilty or

which the innocent party in any case of them all. Look to your homes

look to your property look to your lives for you have need!

“Prisoners at the bar, stand up. Through suppression of evidence, a jury

of your–our–countrymen have been obliged to deliver a verdict

concerning your case which stinks to heaven with the rankness of its

injustice. By its terms you, the guilty one, go free with the innocent.

Depart in peace, and come no more! The costs devolve upon the outraged

plaintiff–another iniquity. The court stands dissolved.”

Almost everybody crowded forward to overwhelm the twins and their counsel

with congratulations; but presently the two old aunties dug the

duplicates out and bore them away in triumph through the hurrahing crowd,

while lots of new friends carried Pudd’nhead Wilson off tavernward to

feast him and “wet down” his great and victorious entry into the legal

arena. To Wilson, so long familiar with neglect and depreciation, this

strange new incense of popularity and admiration was as a fragrance blown

from the fields of paradise. A happy man was Wilson.

CHAPTER VI

THE AMAZING DUEL

A deputation came in the evening and conferred upon Wilson the

welcome honor of a nomination for mayor; for the village has just

been converted into a city by charter. Tom skulks out of

challenging the twins. Judge Driscoll thereupon challenges Angelo

(accused by Tom of doing the kicking); he declines, but Luigi

accepts in his place against Angelo’s timid protest.

It was late Saturday night nearing eleven.

The judge and his second found the rest of the war party at the further

end of the vacant ground, near the haunted house. Pudd’nhead Wilson

advanced to meet them, and said anxiously:

“I must say a word in behalf of my principal’s proxy, Count Luigi, to

whom you have kindly granted the privilege of fighting my principal’s

battle for him. It is growing late, and Count Luigi is in great trouble

lest midnight shall strike before the finish.”

“It is another testimony,” said Howard, approvingly. “That young man is

fine all through. He wishes to save his brother the sorrow of fighting

on the Sabbath, and he is right; it is the right and manly feeling and

does him credit. We will make all possible haste.”

Wilson said: “There is also another reason–a consideration, in fact,

which deeply concerns Count Luigi himself. These twins have command of

their mutual legs turn about. Count Luigi is in command now; but at

midnight, possession will pass to my principal, Count Angelo, and–well,

you can foresee what will happen. He will march straight off the field,

and carry Luigi with him.”

“Why! sure enough!” cried the judge, “we have heard something about that

extraordinary law of their being, already–nothing very definite, it is

true, as regards dates and durations of power, but I see it is definite

enough as regards to-night. Of course we must give Luigi every chance.

Omit all the ceremonial possible, gentlemen, and place us in position.”

The seconds at once tossed up a coin; Howard won the choice. He placed

the judge sixty feet from the haunted house and facing it; Wilson placed

the twins within fifteen feet of the house and facing the judge–

necessarily. The pistol-case was opened and the long slim tubes taken

out; when the moonlight glinted from them a shiver went through Angelo.

The doctor was a fool, but a thoroughly well-meaning one, with a kind

heart and a sincere disposition to oblige, but along with it an absence

of tact which often hurt its effectiveness. He brought his box of lint

and bandages, and asked Angelo to feel and see how soft and comfortable

they were. Angelo’s head fell over against Luigi’s in a faint, and

precious time was lost in bringing him to; which provoked Luigi into

expressing his mind to the doctor with a good deal of vigor and

frankness. After Angelo came to he was still so weak that Luigi was

obliged to drink a stiff horn of brandy to brace him up.

The seconds now stepped at once to their posts, halfway between the

combatants, one of them on each side of the line of fire. Wilson was to

count, very deliberately, ” One-two-three-fire!–stop !” and the duelists

could bang away at any time they chose during that recitation, but not

after the last word. Angelo grew very nervous when he saw Wilson’s hand

rising slowly into the air as a sign to make ready, and he leaned his

head against Luigi’s and said:

“Oh, please take me away from here, I can’t stay, I know I can’t!”

“What in the world are you doing? Straighten up! What’s the matter with

you?–you’re in no danger–nobody’s going to shoot at you. Straighten

up, I tell you!”

Angelo obeyed, just in time to hear:

“One–!”

“Bang!” Just one report, and a little tuft of white hair floated slowly

to the judge’s feet in the moonlight. The judge did not swerve; he still

stood erect and motionless, like a statue, with his pistol-arm hanging

straight down at his side. He was reserving his fire.

“Two–!”

“Three–“!

“Fire–!”

Up came the pistol-arm instantly-Angelo dodged with the report. He said

“Ouch!” and fainted again.

The doctor examined and bandaged the wound.

It was of no consequence, he said–bullet through fleshy part of arm–no

bones broken the gentleman was still able to fight let the duel proceed.

Next time Angelo jumped just as Luigi fired, which disordered his aim and

caused him to cut a chip off of Howard’s ear. The judge took his time

again, and when he fired Angelo jumped and got a knuckle skinned. The

doctor inspected and dressed the wounds. Angelo now spoke out and said

he was content with the satisfaction he had got, and if the judge–but

Luigi shut him roughly up, and asked him not to make an ass of himself;

adding:

“And I want you to stop dodging. You take a great deal too prominent a

part in this thing for a person who has got nothing to do with it. You

should remember that you are here only by courtesy, and are without

official recognition; officially you are not here at all; officially you

do not even exist. To all intents and purposes you are absent from this

place, and you ought for your own modesty’s sake to reflect that it

cannot become a person who is not present here to be taking this sort of

public and indecent prominence in a matter in which he is not in the

slightest degree concerned. Now, don’t dodge again; the bullets are not

for you, they are for me; if I want them dodged I will attend to it

myself. I never saw a person act so.”

Angelo saw the reasonableness of what his brother had said, and he did

try to reform, but it was of no use; both pistols went off at the same

instant, and he jumped once more; he got a sharp scrape along his cheek

from the judge’s bullet, and so deflected Luigi’s aim that his ball went

wide and chipped flake of skin from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s chin. The doctor

attended to the wounded.

By the terms, the duel was over. But Luigi was entirely out of patience,

and begged for one exchange of shots, insisting that he had had no fair

chance, on account of his brother’s indelicate behavior. Howard was

opposed to granting so unusual a privilege, but the judge took Luigi’s

part, and added that indeed he himself might fairly be considered

entitled to another trial, because although the proxy on the other side

was in no way to blame for his (the judge’s) humiliatingly resultless

work, the gentleman with whom he was fighting this duel was to blame for

it, since if he had played no advantages and had held his head still, his

proxy would have been disposed of early. He added:

“Count Luigi’s request for another exchange is another proof that he is a

brave and chivalrous gentleman, and I beg that the courtesy he asks may

be accorded him.”

“I thank you most sincerely for this generosity, Judge Driscoll,” said

Luigi, with a polite bow, and moving to his place. Then he added to

Angelo, “Now hold your grip, hold your grip, I tell you, and I’ll land

him sure!”

The men stood erect, their pistol-arms at their sides, the two seconds

stood at their official posts, the doctor stood five paces in Wilson’s

rear with his instruments and bandages in his hands. The deep stillness,

the peaceful moonlight, the motionless figures, made an impressive

picture and the impending fatal possibilities augmented this

impressiveness solemnity. Wilson’s hand began to rise–slowly–still

higher–still higher–in another moment:

“Boom!” the first stroke of midnight swung up out of the distance;

Angelo was off like a deer!

“Oh, you unspeakable traitor!” wailed his brother, as they went soaring

over the fence.

The others stood astonished and gazing; and so stood, watching that

strange spectacle until distance dissolved it and swept it from their

view. Then they rubbed their eyes like people waking out of a dream,

“Well, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” said the judge.

“Wilson, I am going to confess now, that I wasn’t quite able to believe

in that leg business, and had a suspicion that it was a put-up

convenience between those twins; and when Count Angelo fainted I thought

I saw the whole scheme–thought it was pretext No. 2, and would be

followed by others till twelve o’clock should arrive, and Luigi would get

off with all the credit of seeming to want to fight and yet not have to

fight, after all. But I was mistaken. His pluck proved it. He’s a

brave fellow and did want to fight.”

“There isn’t any doubt about that,” said Howard, and added, in a grieved

tone, “but what an unworthy sort of Christian that Angelo is–I hope and

believe there are not many like him. It is not right to engage in a duel

on the Sabbath–I could not approve of that myself; but to finish one

that has been begun–that is a duty, let the day be what it may.”

They strolled along, still wondering, still talking.

“It is a curious ,circumstance,”remarked the surgeon, halting Wilson a

moment to paste so more court-plaster on his chin, which had gone to

leaking blood again, “that in this duel neither of the parties who

handled the pistols lost blood while nearly all the persons present in

the mere capacity of guests got hit. I have not heard of such a thing

before. Don’t you think it unusual?”

“Yes,” said the Judge, “it has struck me as peculiar. Peculiar and

unfortunate. I was annoyed at it, all the time. In the case of Angelo

it made no great difference, because he was in a measure concerned,

though not officially; but it troubled me to see the seconds compromised,

and yet I knew no way to mend the matter.

“There was no way to mend it,” said Howard, whose ear was being

readjusted now by the doctor; “the code fixes our place, and it would not

have been lawful to change it. If we could have stood at your side, or

behind you, or in front of you, it–but it would not have been legitimate

and the other parties would have had a just right to complain of our

trying to protect ourselves from danger; infractions of the code are

certainly not permissible in any case whatever.”

Wilson offered no remarks. It seemed to him that there was very little

place here for so much solemnity, but he judged that if a duel where

nobody was in danger or got crippled but the seconds and the outsiders

had nothing ridiculous about it for these gentlemen, his pointing out

that feature would probably not help them to see it.

He invited them in to take a nightcap, and Howard and the judge accepted,

but the doctor said he would have to go and see how Angelo’s principal

wound was getting on.

[It was now Sunday, and in the afternoon Angelo was to be received

into the Baptist communion by immersion–a doubtful prospect, the

doctor feared.]

CHAPTER VII

LUIGI DEFIES GALEN

When the doctor arrived at Aunt Patsy Cooper’s house, he found the lights

going and everybody up and dressed and in a great state of solicitude and

excitement. The twins were stretched on a sofa in the sitting-room, Aunt

Patsy was fussing at Angelo’s arm, Nancy was flying around under her

commands, the two young boys were trying to keep out of the way and

always getting in it, in order to see and wonder, Rowena stood apart,

helpless with apprehension and emotion, and Luigi was growling in

unappeasable fury over Angelo’s shameful flight.

As has been reported before, the doctor was a fool–a kind-hearted and

well-meaning one, but with no tact; and as he was by long odds the most

learned physician in the town, and was quite well aware of it, and could

talk his learning with ease and precision, and liked to show off when he

had an audience, he was sometimes tempted into revealing more of a case

than was good for the patient.

He examined Angelo’s wound, and was really minded to say nothing for

once; but Aunt Patsy was so anxious and so pressing that he allowed his

caution to be overcome, and proceeded to empty himself as follows, with

scientific relish:

“Without going too much into detail, madam–for you would probably not

understand it, anyway–I concede that great care is going to be necessary

here; otherwise exudation of the esophagus is nearly sure to ensue, and

this will be followed by ossification and extradition of the maxillaris

superioris, which must decompose the granular surfaces of the great

infusorial ganglionic system, thus obstructing the action of the

posterior varioloid arteries, and precipitating compound strangulated

sorosis of the valvular tissues, and ending unavoidably in the dispersion

and combustion of the marsupial fluxes and the consequent embrocation of

the bicuspid populo redax referendum rotulorum.”

A miserable silence followed. Aunt Patsy’s heart sank, the pallor of

despair invaded her face, she was not able to speak; poor Rowena wrung

her hands in privacy and silence, and said to herself in the bitterness

of her young grief, “There is no hope–it is plain there is no hope”; the

good-hearted negro wench, Nancy, paled to chocolate, then to orange, then

to amber, and thought to herself with yearning sympathy and sorrow, “Po’

thing, he ain’ gwyne to las’ throo de half o’ dat”; small Henry choked

up, and turned his head away to hide his rising tears, and his brother

Joe said to himself, with a sense of loss, “The baptizing’s busted,

that’s sure.” Luigi was the only person who had any heart to speak. He

said, a little bit sharply, to the doctor:

“Well, well, there’s nothing to be gained by wasting precious time; give

him a barrel of pills–I’ll take them for him.”

“You?” asked the doctor.

“Yes. Did you suppose he was going to take them himself?”

“Why, of course.”

“Well, it’s a mistake. He never took a dose of medicine in his life. He

can’t.”

“Well, upon my word, it’s the most extraordinary thing I ever heard of!”

“Oh,” said Aunt Patsy, as pleased as a mother whose child is being

admired and wondered at; “you’ll find that there’s more about them that’s

wonderful than their just being made in the image of God like the rest of

His creatures, now you can depend on that, I tell you,” and she wagged

her complacent head like one who could reveal marvelous things if she

chose.

The boy Joe began:

“Why, ma, they ain’t made in the im–”

“You shut up, and wait till you’re asked, Joe. I’ll let you know when I

want help. Are you looking for something, doctor?”

The doctor asked for a few sheets of paper and a pen, and said he would

write a prescription; which he did. It was one of Galen’s; in fact, it

was Galen’s favorite, and had been slaying people for sixteen thousand

years. Galen used it for everything, applied it to everything, said it

would remove everything, from warts all the way through to lungs and it

generally did. Galen was still the only medical authority recognized in

Missouri; his practice was the only practice known to the Missouri

doctors, and his prescriptions were the only ammunition they carried when

they went out for game.

By and by Dr. Claypool laid down his pen and read the result of his

labors aloud, carefully and deliberately, for this battery must be

constructed on the premises by the family, and mistakes could occur;

for he wrote a doctor’s hand the hand which from the beginning of time

has been so disastrous to the apothecary and so profitable to the

undertaker:

“Take of afarabocca, henbane, corpobalsamum, each two drams and a half:

of cloves, opium, myrrh, cyperus, each two drams; of opobalsamum, Indian

leaf, cinnamon, zedoary, ginger, coftus, coral, cassia, euphorbium, gum

tragacanth, frankincense, styrax calamita, Celtic, nard, spignel,

hartwort, mustard, saxifrage, dill, anise, each one dram; of xylaloes,

rheum ponticum, alipta, moschata, castor, spikenard, galangals, opoponax,

anacardium, mastich, brimstone, peony, eringo, pulp of dates, red and

white hermodactyls, roses, thyme, acorns, pennyroyal, gentian, the bark

of the root of mandrake, germander, valerian, bishop’s-weed, bayberries,

long and white pepper, xylobalsamum, carnabadium, macedonian, parsley

seeds, lovage, the seeds of rue, and sinon, of each a dram and a half; of

pure gold, pure silver, pearls not perforated, the blatta byzantina, the

bone of the stag’s heart, of each the quantity of fourteen grains of

wheat; of sapphire, emerald and jasper stones, each one dram; of hazel-

nuts, two drams; of pellitory of Spain, shavings of ivory, calamus

odoratus, each the quantity of twenty-nine grains of wheat; of honey or

sugar a sufficient quantity. Boil down and skim off.”

“There,” he said, “that will fix the patient; give his brother a

dipperful every three-quarters of an hour–”

“–while he survives,” muttered Luigi–

“–and see that the room is kept wholesomely hot, and the doors and

windows closed tight. Keep Count Angelo nicely covered up with six or

seven blankets, and when he is thirsty–which will be frequently–moisten

a ‘rag in the vapor of the tea kettle and let his brother suck it. When

he is hungry–which will also be frequently he must not be humored

oftener than every seven or eight hours; then toast part of a cracker

until it begins to brown, and give it to his brother.”

“That is all very well, as far as Angelo is concerned,” said Luigi, “but

what am I to eat?”

“I do not see that there is anything the matter with you,” the doctor

answered, “you may, of course, eat what you please.”

“And also drink what I please, I suppose?”

“Oh, certainly–at present. When the violent and continuous perspiring

has reduced your strength, I shall have to reduce your diet, of course,

and also bleed you, but there is no occasion for that yet awhile.” He

turned to Aunt Patsy and said: “He must be put to bed, and sat up with,

and tended with the greatest care, and not allowed to stir for several

days and nights.”

“For one, I’m sacredly thankful for that,” said Luigi, “it postpones the

funeral–I’m not to be drowned to-day, anyhow.”

Angelo said quietly to the doctor:

“I will cheerfully submit to all your requirements, sir, up to two

o’clock this afternoon, and will resume them after three, but cannot be

confined to the house during that intermediate hour.”

“Why, may I ask?”

“Because I have entered the Baptist communion, and by appointment am to

be baptised in the river at that hour.”

“Oh, insanity!–it cannot be allowed!”

Angelo answered with placid firmness:

“Nothing shall prevent it, if I am alive.”

“Why, consider, my dear sir, in your condition it might prove fatal.”

A tender and ecstatic smile beamed from Angelo’s eyes, and he broke forth

in a tone of joyous fervency:

“Ah, how blessed it would be to die for such a cause–it would be

martyrdom!”

“But your brother–consider your brother; you would be risking his life,

too.”

“He risked mine an hour ago,” responded Angelo, gloomily; “did he

consider me?” A thought swept through his mind that made him shudder.

“If I had not run, I might have been killed in a duel on the Sabbath day,

and my soul would have been lost–lost.”

“Oh, don’t fret, it wasn’t in any danger,” said Luigi, irritably; “they

wouldn’t waste it for a little thing like that; there’s a glass case all

ready for it in the heavenly museum, and a pin to stick it up with.”

Aunt Patsy was shocked, and said:

“Looy, Looy!–don’t talk so, dear!”

Rowena’s soft heart was pierced by Luigi’s unfeeling words, and she

murmured to herself, “Oh, if I but had the dear privilege of protecting

and defending him with my weak voice!–but alas! this sweet boon is

denied me by the cruel conventions of social intercourse.”

“Get their bed ready,” said Aunt Patsy to Nancy, “and shut up the windows

and doors, and light their candles, and see that you drive all the

mosquitoes out of their bar, and make up a good fire in their stove, and

carry up some bags of hot ashes to lay to his feet–”

“–and a shovel of fire for his head, and a mustard plaster for his neck,

and some gum shoes for his ears,” Luigi interrupted, with temper; and

added, to himself, “Damnation, I’m going to be roasted alive, I just know

it!”

“Why, Looy! Do be quiet; I never saw such a fractious thing. A body

would think you didn’t care for your brother.”

“I don’t–to that extent, Aunt Patsy. I was glad the drowning was

postponed a minute ago, but I’m not now. No, that is all gone by; I want

to be drowned.”

“You’ll bring a judgment on yourself just as sure as you live, if you go

on like that. Why, I never heard the beat of it. Now, there–there!

you’ve said enough. Not another word out of you–I won’t have it!”

“But, Aunt Patsy–”

“Luigi! Didn’t you hear what I told you?”

“But, Aunt Patsy, I–why, I’m not going to set my heart and lungs afloat

in that pail of sewage which this criminal here has been prescri–”

“Yes, you are, too. You are going to be good, and do everything I tell

you, like a dear,” and she tapped his cheek affectionately with her

finger. “Rowena, take the prescription and go in the kitchen and hunt up

the things and lay them out for me. I’ll sit up with my patient the rest

of the night, doctor; I can’t trust Nancy, she couldn’t make Luigi take

the medicine. Of course, you’ll drop in again during the day. Have you

got any more directions?”

“No, I believe not, Aunt Patsy. If I don’t get in earlier, I’ll be along

by early candle-light, anyway. Meantime, don’t allow him to get out of

his bed.”

Angelo said, with calm determination:

“I shall be baptized at two o’clock. Nothing but death shall prevent

me.”

The doctor said nothing aloud, but to himself he said:

“Why, this chap’s got a manly side, after all! Physically he’s a coward,

but morally he’s a lion. I’ll go and tell the others about this; it will

raise him a good deal in their estimation–and the public will follow

their lead, of course.”

Privately, Aunt Patsy applauded too, and was proud of Angelo’s courage in

the moral field as she was of Luigi’s in the field of honor.

The boy Henry was troubled, but the boy Joe said, inaudibly, and

gratefully, “We’re all honky, after all; and no postponement on account

of the weather.”

CHAPTER VIII

BAPTISM OF THE BETTER HALF

By nine o’clock the town was humming with the news of the midnight duel,

and there were but two opinions about it: one, that Luigi’s pluck in the

field was most praiseworthy and Angela’s flight most scandalous; the

other, that Angelo’s courage in flying the field for conscience’ sake was

as fine and creditable as was Luigi’s in holding the field in the face of

the bullets. The one opinion was held by half of the town, the other one

was maintained by the other half. The division was clean and exact, and

it made two parties, an Angela party and a Luigi party. The twins had

suddenly become popular idols along with Pudd’nhead Wilson, and haloed

with a glory as intense as his. The children talked the duel all the way

to Sunday-school, their elders talked it all the way to church, the choir

discussed it behind their red curtain, it usurped the place of pious

thought in the “nigger gallery.”

By noon the doctor had added the news, and spread it, that Count Angelo,

in spite of his wound and all warnings and supplications, was resolute in

his determination to be baptized at the hour appointed. This swept the

town like wildfire, and mightily reinforced the enthusiasm of the Angelo

faction, who said, “If any doubted that it was moral courage that took

him from the field, what have they to say now!”

Still the excitement grew. All the morning it was traveling countryward,

toward all points of the compass; so, whereas before only the farmers and

their wives were intending to come and witness the remarkable baptism,

a general holiday was now proclaimed and the children and negroes

admitted to the privileges of the occasion. All the farms for ten miles

around were vacated, all the converging roads emptied long processions of

wagons, horses, and yeomanry into the town. The pack and cram of people

vastly exceeded any that had ever been seen in that sleepy region before.

The only thing that had ever even approached it, was the time long gone

by, but never forgotten, nor even referred to without wonder and pride,

when two circuses and a Fourth of July fell together. But the glory of

that occasion was extinguished now for good. It was but a freshet to

this deluge.

The great invasion massed itself on the river-bank and waited hungrily

for the immense event. Waited, and wondered if it would really happen,

or if the twin who was not a “professor” would stand out and prevent it.

But they were not to be disappointed. Angela was as good as his word.

He came attended by an escort of honor composed of several hundred of the

best citizens, all of the Angelo party; and when the immersion was

finished they escorted him back home and would even have carried him on

their shoulders, but that people might think they were carrying Luigi.

Far into the night the citizens continued to discuss and wonder over the

strangely mated pair of incidents that had distinguished and exalted the

past twenty-four hours above any other twenty-four in the history of

their town for picturesqueness and splendid interest; and long before the

lights were out and burghers asleep it had been decided on all hands that

in capturing these twins Dawson’s Landing had drawn a prize in the great

lottery of municipal fortune.

At midnight Angelo was sleeping peacefully. His immersion had not harmed

him, it had merely made him wholesomely drowsy, and he had been dead

asleep many hours now. It had made Luigi drowsy, too, but he had got

only brief naps, on account of his having to take the medicine every

three-quarters of an hour-and Aunt Betsy Hale was there to see that he

did it. When he complained and resisted, she was quietly firm with him,

and said in a low voice:

“No-no, that won’t do; you mustn’t talk, and you mustn’t retch and gag

that way, either–you’ll wake up your poor brother.”

“Well, what of it, Aunt Betsy, he–”

“‘Sh-h! Don’t make a noise, dear. You mustn’t: forget that your poor

brother is sick and–”

“Sick, is he? Well, I wish I–”

“‘Sh-h-h! Will you be quiet, Luigi! Here, now, take the rest of it–

don’t keep me holding the dipper all night. I declare if you haven’t

left a good fourth of it in the bottom! Come-that’s a good–

“Aunt Betsy, don’t make me! I feel like I’ve swallowed a cemetery; I do,

indeed. Do let me rest a little–just a little; I can’t take any more of

the devilish stuff now.”

“Luigi! Using such language here, and him just baptized! Do you want

the roof to fall on you?”

“I wish to goodness it would!”

“Why, you dreadful thing! I’ve a good notion to–let that blanket alone;

do you want your, brother to catch his death?”

“Aunt Betsy, I’ve got to have it off, I’m being roasted alive; nobody

could stand it–you couldn’t yourself.”

“Now, then, you’re sneezing again–I just expected it.”

“Because I’ve caught a cold in my head. I always do, when I go in the

water with my clothes on. And it takes me weeks to get over it, too.

I think it was a shame to serve me so.”

“Luigi, you are unreasonable; you know very well they couldn’t baptize

him dry. I should think you would be willing to undergo a little

inconvenience for your brother’s sake.”

“Inconvenience! Now how you talk, Aunt Betsy. I came as near as

anything to getting drowned you saw that yourself; and do you call this

inconvenience?–the room shut up as tight as a drum, and so hot the

mosquitoes are trying to get out; and a cold in the head, and dying for

sleep and no chance to get any–on account of this infamous medicine that

that assassin prescri–”

“There, you’re sneezing again. I’m going down and mix some more of this

truck for you, dear.”

CHAPTER IX

THE DRINKLESS DRUNK

During Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the twins grew steadily worse; but

then the doctor was summoned South to attend his mother’s funeral, and

they got well in forty-eight hours. They appeared on the street on

Friday, and were welcomed with enthusiasm by the new-born parties, the

Luigi and Angelo factions. The Luigi faction carried its strength into

the Democratic party, the Angelo faction entered into a combination with

the Whigs. The Democrats nominated Luigi for alderman under the new city

government, and the Whigs put up Angelo against him. The Democrats

nominated Pudd’nhead Wilson for mayor, and he was left alone in this

glory, for the Whigs had no man who was willing to enter the lists

against such a formidable opponent. No politician had scored such a

compliment as this before in the history of the Mississippi Valley.

The political campaign in Dawson’s Landing opened in a pretty warm

fashion, and waned hotter every week. Luigi’s whole heart was in it,

and even Angelo developed a surprising amount of interest-which was

natural, because he was not merely representing Whigism, a matter of no

consequence to him; but he was representing something immensely finer and

greater–to wit, Reform. In him was centered the hopes of the whole

reform element of the town; he was the chosen and admired champion of

every clique that had a pet reform of any sort or kind at heart. He was

president of the great Teetotalers’ Union, its chiefest prophet and

mouthpiece.

But as the canvass went on, troubles began to spring up all around–

troubles for the twins, and through them for all the parties and segments

and factions of parties. Whenever Luigi had possession of the legs, he

carried Angelo to balls, rum shops, Sons of Liberty parades, horse-

races, campaign riots, and everywhere else that could damage him with his

party and the church; and when it was Angelo’s week he carried Luigi

diligently to all manner of moral and religious gatherings, doing his

best to regain the ground he had lost before. As a result of these

double performances, there was a storm blowing all the time, an ever-

rising storm, too–a storm of frantic criticism of the twins, and rage

over their extravagant, incomprehensible conduct.

Luigi had the final chance. The legs were his for the closing week of

the canvass. He led his brother a fearful dance.

But he saved his best card for the very eve of the election. There was

to be a grand turnout of the Teetotalers’ Union that day, and Angelo was

to march at the head of the procession and deliver a great oration

afterward. Luigi drank a couple of glasses of whisky–which steadied his

nerves and clarified his mind, but made Angelo drunk. Everybody who saw

the march, saw that the Champion of the Teetotalers was half seas over,

and noted also that his brother, who made no hypocritical pretensions to

extra temperance virtues, was dignified and sober. This eloquent fact

could not be unfruitful at the end of a hot political canvass. At the

mass-meeting Angelo tried to make his great temperance oration, but was

so discommoded–by hiccoughs and thickness of tongue that he had to give

it up; then drowsiness overtook him and his head drooped against Luigi’s

and he went to sleep. Luigi apologized for him, and was going on to

improve his opportunity with an appeal for a moderation of what he called

“the prevailing teetotal madness,” but persons in the audience began to

howl and throw things at him, and then the meeting rose in wrath and

chased him home.

This episode was a crusher for Angelo in another way. It destroyed his

chances with Rowena. Those chances had been growing, right along, for

two months. Rowena had partly confessed that she loved him, but wanted

time to consider. Now the tender dream was ended, and she told him so

the moment he was sober enough to understand. She said she would never

marry a man who drank.

“But I don’t drink,” he pleaded.

“That is nothing to the point,” she said, coldly, “you get drunk, and

that is worse.”

[There was a long and sufficiently idiotic discussion here, which ended

as reported in a previous note.]

CHAPTER X

SO THEY HANGED LUIGI

Dawson’s Landing had a week of repose, after the election, and it needed

it, for the frantic and variegated nightmare which had tormented it all

through the preceding week had left it limp, haggard, and exhausted at

the end. It got the week of repose because Angelo had the legs, and was

in too subdued a condition to want to go out and mingle with an irritated

community that had come to disgust and detest him because there was such

a lack of harmony between his morals, which were confessedly excellent,

and his methods of illustrating them, which were distinctly damnable.

The new city officers were sworn in on the following Monday–at least all

but Luigi. There was a complication in his case. His election was

conceded, but he could not sit in the board of aldermen without his

brother, and his brother could not sit there because he was not a member.

There seemed to be no way out of the difficulty but to carry the matter

into the courts, so this was resolved upon.

The case was set for the Monday fortnight. In due course the time

arrived. In the mean time the city government had been at a standstill,

because with out Luigi there was a tie in the board of aldermen, whereas

with him the liquor interest–the richest in the political field–would

have one majority. But the court decided that Angelo could not sit in

the board with him, either in public or executive sessions, and at the

same time forbade the board to deny admission to Luigi, a fairly and

legally chosen alderman. The case was carried up and up from court to

court, yet still the same old original decision was confirmed every time.

As a result, the city government not only stood still, with its hands

tied, but everything it was created to protect and care for went a steady

gait toward rack and ruin. There was no way to levy a tax, so the minor

officials had to resign or starve; therefore they resigned. There being

no city money, the enormous legal expenses on both sides had to be

defrayed by private subscription. But at last the people came to their

senses, and said:

“Pudd’nhead was right at the start–we ought to have hired the official

half of that human phillipene to resign; but it’s too late now; some of

us haven’t got anything left to hire him with.”

“Yes, we have,” said another citizen, “we’ve got this”–and he produced a

halter.

Many shouted: “That’s the ticket.” But others said: “No–Count Angelo is

innocent; we mustn’t hang him.”

“Who said anything about hanging him? We are only going to hang the

other one.”

“Then that is all right–there is no objection to that.”

So they hanged Luigi. And so ends the history of “Those Extraordinary

Twins.”

FINAL REMARKS

As you see, it was an extravagant sort of a tale, and had no purpose but

to exhibit that monstrous “freak” in all sorts of grotesque lights. But

when Roxy wandered into the tale she had to be furnished with something

to do; so she changed the children in the cradle; this necessitated the

invention of a reason for it; this, in turn, resulted in making the

children prominent personages–nothing could prevent it of course. Their

career began to take a tragic aspect, and some one had to be brought in

to help work the machinery; so Pudd’nhead Wilson was introduced and taken

on trial. By this time the whole show was being run by the new people

and in their interest, and the original show was become side-tracked and

forgotten; the twin-monster, and the heroine, and the lads, and the old

ladies had dwindled to inconsequentialities and were merely in the way.

Their story was one story, the new people’s story was another story, and

there was no connection between them, no interdependence, no kinship.

It is not practicable or rational to try to tell two stories at the same

time; so I dug out the farce and left the tragedy.

The reader already knew how the expert works; he knows now how the other

kind do it.

MARK TWAIN.

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