It's just, the material for it."

"Well, I should say so! There's Siberia with just the very finest and choicest material on the globe for a republic, and more coming--more coming all the time, don't you see! It is being daily, weekly, monthly recruited by the most perfectly devised system that has ever been invented, perhaps. By this system the whole of the hundred millions of Russia are being constantly and patiently sifted, sifted, sifted, by myriads of trained experts, spies appointed by the Emperor personally; and whenever they catch a man, woman or child that has got any brains or education or character, they ship that person straight to Siberia. It is admirable, it is wonderful. It is so searching and so effective that it keeps the general level of Russian intellect and education down to that of the Czar."

"Come, that sounds like exaggeration."

"Well, it's what they say anyway. But I think, myself, it's a lie. And it doesn't seem right to slander a whole nation that way, anyhow. Now, then, you see what the material is, there in Siberia, for a republic." He paused, and his breast began to heave and his eye to burn, under the impulse of strong emotion. Then his words began to stream forth, with constantly increasing energy and fire, and he rose to his feet as if to give himself larger freedom. "The minute I organize that republic, the light of liberty, intelligence, justice, humanity, bursting from it, flooding from it, flaming from it, will concentrate the gaze of the whole astonished world as upon the miracle of a new sun; Russia's countless multitudes of slaves will rise up and march, march!--eastward, with that great light transfiguring their faces as they come, and far back of them you will see-what will you see?--a vacant throne in an empty land! It can be done, and by God I will do it!"

He stood a moment bereft of earthy consciousness by his exaltation; then consciousness returned, bringing him a slight shock, and he said with grave earnestness:

"I must ask you to pardon me, Major Hawkins. I have never used that expression before, and I beg you will forgive it this time."

Hawkins was quite willing.

"You see, Washington, it is an error which I am by nature not liable to. Only excitable people, impulsive people, are exposed to it. But the circumstances of the present case--I being a democrat by birth and preference, and an aristocrat by inheritance and relish--"

The earl stopped suddenly, his frame stiffened, and he began to stare speechless through the curtainless window. Then he pointed, and gasped out a single rapturous word:

"Look!"

"What is it, Colonel?"

"IT!"

"No!"

"Sure as you're born. Keep perfectly still. I'll apply the influence-- I'll turn on all my force. I've brought It thus far--I'll fetch It right into the house. You'll see."

He was making all sorts of passes in the air with his hands.

"There! Look at that. I've made It smile! See?"

Quite true. Tracy, out for an afternoon stroll, had come unexpectantly upon his family arms displayed upon this shabby house-front. The hatchments made him smile; which was nothing, they had made the neighborhood cats do that.

"Look, Hawkins, look! I'm drawing It over!"

"You're drawing it sure, Rossmore. If I ever had any doubts about materialization, they're gone, now, and gone for good. Oh, this is a joyful day!"

Tracy was sauntering over to read the door-plate. Before he was half way over he was saying to himself, "Why, manifestly these are the American Claimant's quarters."

"It's coming-coming right along. I'll slide, down and pull It in. You follow after me."

Sellers, pale and a good deal agitated, opened the door and confronted Tracy. The old man could not at once get his voice: then he pumped out a scattering and hardly coherent salutation, and followed it with--

"Walk in, walk right in, Mr.--er--"

"Tracy--Howard Tracy."

"Tracy--thanks-walk right in, you're expected."

Tracy entered, considerably puzzled, and said:

"Expected? I think there must be some mistake."

"Oh, I judge not," said Sellers, who--noticing that Hawkins had arrived, gave him a sidewise glance intended to call his close attention to a dramatic effect which he was proposing to produce by his next remark. Then he said, slowly and impressively--"I am--YOU KNOW WHO."

To the astonishment of both conspirators the remark produced no dramatic effect at all; for the new comer responded with a quite innocent and unembarrassed air--

"No, pardon me.

The American Claimant Page 58

Mark Twain

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