Poor old Bill!
Q. Why? Is he dead, then?
A. Ah! well, I suppose so. We never could tell. There was a great mystery about it.
Q. That is sad, very sad. He disappeared, then?
A. Well, yes, in a sort of general way. We buried him.
Q. Buried him! Buried him, without knowing whether he was dead or not?
A. Oh, no! Not that. He was dead enough.
Q. Well, I confess that I can't understand this. If you buried him, and you knew he was dead
A. No! no! We only thought he was.
Q. Oh, I see! He came to life again?
A. I bet he didn't.
Q. Well, I never heard anything like this. Somebody was dead. Somebody was buried. Now, where was the mystery?
A. Ah! that's just it! That's it exactly. You see, we were twins-- defunct--and I--and we got mixed in the bathtub when we were only two weeks old, and one of us was drowned. But we didn't know which. Some think it was Bill. Some think it was me.
Q. Well, that is remarkable. What do you think?
A. Goodness knows! I would give whole worlds to know. This solemn, this awful mystery has cast a gloom over my whole life. But I will tell you a secret now, which I never have revealed to any creature before. One of us had a peculiar mark--a large mole on the back of his left hand; that was me. That child was the one that was drowned!
Q. Very well, then, I don't see that there is any mystery about it, after all.
A. You don't? Well, I do. Anyway, I don't see how they could ever have been such a blundering lot as to go and bury the wrong child. But, 'sh! --don't mention it where the family can hear of it. Heaven knows they have heartbreaking troubles enough without adding this.
Q. Well, I believe I have got material enough for the present, and I am very much obliged to you for the pains you have taken. But I was a good deal interested in that account of Aaron Burr's funeral. Would you mind telling me what particular circumstance it was that made you think Burr was such a remarkable man?
A. Oh! it was a mere trifle! Not one man in fifty would have noticed it at all. When the sermon was over, and the procession all ready to start for the cemetery, and the body all arranged nice in the hearse, he said he wanted to take a last look at the scenery, and so he got up and rode with the driver.
Then the young man reverently withdrew. He was very pleasant company, and I was sorry to see him go.
--[Crowded out of "A Tramp Abroad" to make room for more vital statistics.--M. T.]
The Parisian travels but little, he knows no language but his own, reads no literature but his own, and consequently he is pretty narrow and pretty self-sufficient. However, let us not be too sweeping; there are Frenchmen who know languages not their own: these are the waiters. Among the rest, they know English; that is, they know it on the European plan-- which is to say, they can speak it, but can't understand it. They easily make themselves understood, but it is next to impossible to word an English sentence in such away as to enable them to comprehend it. They think they comprehend it; they pretend they do; but they don't. Here is a conversation which I had with one of these beings; I wrote it down at the time, in order to have it exactly correct.
I. These are fine oranges. Where are they grown?
He. More? Yes, I will bring them.
I. No, do not bring any more; I only want to know where they are from where they are raised.
He. Yes? (with imperturbable mien and rising inflection.)
I. Yes. Can you tell me what country they are from?
He. Yes? (blandly, with rising inflection.)
I. (disheartened). They are very nice.
He. Good night. (Bows, and retires, quite satisfied with himself.)
That young man could have become a good English scholar by taking the right sort of pains, but he was French, and wouldn't do that. How different is the case with our people; they utilize every means that offers. There are some alleged French Protestants in Paris, and they built a nice little church on one of the great avenues that lead away from the Arch of Triumph, and proposed to listen to the correct thing, preached in the correct way, there, in their precious French tongue, and be happy.