(Pronounced K'koobry Thlanover Marshbanks Sellers Vycount Barkly, of Chumly Castle, Warrikshr.) He is standing by a great window, in an attitude suggestive of respectful attention to what his father is saying and equally respectful dissent from the positions and arguments offered. The father walks the floor as he talks, and his talk shows that his temper is away up toward summer heat.

"Soft-spirited as you are, Berkeley, I am quite aware that when you have once made up your mind to do a thing which your ideas of honor and justice require you to do, argument and reason are (for the time being,) wasted upon you--yes, and ridicule; persuasion, supplication, and command as well. To my mind--"

"Father, if you will look at it without prejudice, without passion, you must concede that I am not doing a rash thing, a thoughtless, wilful thing, with nothing substantial behind it to justify it. I did not create the American claimant to the earldom of Rossmore; I did not hunt for him, did not find him, did not obtrude him upon your notice. He found himself, he injected himself into our lives--"

"And has made mine a purgatory for ten years with his tiresome letters, his wordy reasonings, his acres of tedious evidence,--"

"Which you would never read, would never consent to read. Yet in common fairness he was entitled to a hearing. That hearing would either prove he was the rightful earl--in which case our course would be plain--or it would prove that he wasn't--in which case our course would be equally plain. I have read his evidences, my lord. I have conned them well, studied them patiently and thoroughly. The chain seems to be complete, no important link wanting. I believe he is the rightful earl."

"And I a usurper--a--nameless pauper, a tramp! Consider what you are saying, sir."

"Father, if he is the rightful earl, would you, could you--that fact being established--consent to keep his titles and his properties from him a day, an hour, a minute?"

"You are talking nonsense--nonsense--lurid idiotcy! Now, listen to me. I will make a confession--if you wish to call it by that name. I did not read those evidences because I had no occasion to--I was made familiar with them in, the time of this claimant's father and of my own father forty years ago. This fellow's predecessors have kept mine more or less familiar with them for close upon a hundred and fifty years. The truth is, the rightful heir did go to America, with the Fairfax heir or about the same time--but disappeared--somewhere in the, wilds of Virginia, got married, end began to breed savages for the Claimant market; wrote no letters home; was supposed to be dead; his younger brother softly took possession; presently the American did die, and straightway his eldest product put in his claim--by letter--letter still in existence--and died before the uncle in-possession found time--or maybe inclination--to-- answer. The infant son of that eldest product grew up--long interval, you see--and he took to writing letters and furnishing evidences. Well, successor after successor has done the same, down to the present idiot. It was a succession of paupers; not one of them was ever able to pay his passage to England or institute suit. The Fairfaxes kept their lordship alive, and so they have never lost it to this day, although they live in Maryland; their friend lost his by his own neglect. You perceive now, that the facts in this case bring us to precisely this result: morally the American tramp is rightful earl of Rossmore; legally he has no more right than his dog. There now--are you satisfied?"

There was a pause, then the son glanced at the crest carved in the great oaken mantel and said, with a regretful note in his voice:

"Since the introduction of heraldic symbols,--the motto of this house has been 'Suum cuique'--to every man his own. By your own intrepidly frank confession, my lord, it is become a sarcasm: If Simon Lathers--"

Keep that exasperating name to yourself! For ten years it has pestered my eye--and tortured my ear; till at last my very footfalls time themselves to the brain-racking rhythm of Simon Lathers!--Simon Lathers! --Simon Lathers! And now, to make its presence in my soul eternal, immortal, imperishable, you have resolved to--to--what is it you have resolved to do?"

"To go to Simon Lathers, in America, and change places with him."

"What? Deliver the reversion of the earldom into his hands?"

"That is my purpose."

"Make this tremendous surrender without even trying the fantastic case in the Lords?"

"Ye--s--" with hesitation and some embarrassment.

The American Claimant Page 03

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