"It seems to be a puzzle."

"Yes, that's what it is. I call it Pigs in the Clover. Put them in--see if you can put them in the pen."

After many failures Washington succeeded, and was as pleased as a child.

"It's wonderfully ingenious, Colonel, it's ever so clever and interesting--why, I could play with it all day. What are you going to do with it?"

"Oh, nothing. Patent it and throw it aside."

"Don't you do anything of the kind. There's money in that thing."

A compassionate look traveled over the Colonel's countenance, and he said:

"Money--yes; pin money: a couple of hundred thousand, perhaps. Not more."

Washington's eyes blazed.

"A couple of hundred thousand dollars! do you call that pin money?"

The colonel rose and tip-toed his way across the room, closed a door that was slightly ajar, tip-toed his way to his seat again, and said, under his breath:

"You can keep a secret?"

Washington nodded his affirmative, he was too awed to speak.

"You have heard of materialization-materialization of departed spirits?"

Washington had heard of it.

"And probably didn't believe in it; and quite right, too. The thing as practised by ignorant charlatans is unworthy of attention or respect- where there's a dim light and a dark cabinet, and a parcel of sentimental gulls gathered together, with their faith and their shudders and their tears all ready, and one and the same fatty degeneration of protoplasm and humbug comes out and materializes himself into anybody you want, grandmother, grandchild, brother-in-law, Witch of Endor, John Milton, Siamese twins, Peter the Great, and all such frantic nonsense--no, that is all foolish and pitiful. But when a man that is competent brings the vast powers of science to bear, it's a different matter, a totally different matter, you see. The spectre that answers that call has come to stay. Do you note the commercial value of that detail?"

"Well, I--the--the truth is, that I don't quite know that I do. Do you mean that such, being permanent, not transitory, would give more general satisfaction, and so enhance the price--of tickets to the show--"

"Show? Folly--listen to me; and get a good grip on your breath, for you are going to need it. Within three days I shall have completed my method, and then--let the world stand aghast, for it shall see marvels. Washington, within three days--ten at the outside--you shall see me call the dead of any century, and they will arise and walk. Walk?--they shall walk forever, and never die again. Walk with all the muscle and spring of their pristine vigor."

"Colonel! Indeed it does take one's breath away."

"Now do you see the money that's in it?"

"I'm--well, I'm--not really sure that I do."

Great Scott, look here. I shall have a monopoly; they'll all belong to me, won't they? Two thousand policemen in the city of New York. Wages, four dollars a day. I'll replace them with dead ones at half the money.

"Oh, prodigious! I never thought of that. F-o-u-r thousand dollars a day. Now I do begin to see! But will dead policemen answer?"

"Haven't they--up to this time?"

"Well, if you put it that way--"

"Put it any way you want to. Modify it to suit yourself, and my lads shall still be superior. They won't eat, they won't drink--don't need those things; they won't wink for cash at gambling dens and unlicensed rum-holes, they won't spark the scullery maids; and moreover the bands of toughs that ambuscade them on lonely beats, and cowardly shoot and knife them will only damage the uniforms and not live long enough to get more than a momentary satisfaction out of that."

"Why, Colonel, if you can furnish policemen, then of course--"

"Certainly--I can furnish any line of goods that's wanted. Take the army, for instance--now twenty-five thousand men; expense, twenty-two millions a year. I will dig up the Romans, I will resurrect the Greeks, I will furnish the government, for ten millions a year, ten thousand veterans drawn from the victorious legions of all the ages--soldiers that will chase Indians year in and year out on materialized horses, and cost never a cent for rations or repairs.

The American Claimant Page 11

Mark Twain

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