Draft the cartel, and lose no time."

"The Count shall have it in his hands in fifteen minutes," said Howard.

Tom was very heavyhearted. His appetite was gone with his property and his self-respect. He went out the back way and wandered down the obscure lane grieving, and wondering if any course of future conduct, however discreet and carefully perfected and watched over, could win back his uncle's favor and persuade him to reconstruct once more that generous will which had just gone to ruin before his eyes. He finally concluded that it could. He said to himself that he had accomplished this sort of triumph once already, and that what had been done once could be done again. He would set about it. He would bend every energy to the task, and he would score that triumph once more, cost what it might to his convenience, limit as it might his frivolous and liberty-loving life.

"To begin," he says to himself, "I'll square up with the proceeds of my raid, and then gambling has got to be stopped--and stopped short off. It's the worst vice I've got--from my standpoint, anyway, because it's the one he can most easily find out, through the impatience of my creditors. He thought it expensive to have to pay two hundred dollars to them for me once. Expensive--_that!_ Why, it cost me the whole of his fortune--but, of course, he never thought of that; some people can't think of any but their own side of a case. If he had known how deep I am in now, the will would have gone to pot without waiting for a duel to help. Three hundred dollars! It's a pile! But he'll never hear of it, I'm thankful to say. The minute I've cleared it off, I'm safe; and I'll never touch a card again. Anyway, I won't while he lives, I make oath to that. I'm entering on my last reform--I know it--yes, and I'll win; but after that, if I ever slip again I'm gone."

CHAPTER 13

Tom Stares at Ruin

When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Thus mournfully communing with himself, Tom moped along the lane past Pudd'nhead Wilson's house, and still on and on between fences enclosing vacant country on each hand till he neared the haunted house, then he came moping back again, with many sighs and heavy with trouble. He sorely wanted cheerful company. Rowena! His heart gave a bound at the thought, but the next thought quieted it--the detested twins would be there.

He was on the inhabited side of Wilson's house, and now as he approached it, he noticed that the sitting room was lighted. This would do; others made him feel unwelcome sometimes, but Wilson never failed in courtesy toward him, and a kindly courtesy does at least save one's feelings, even if it is not professing to stand for a welcome. Wilson heard footsteps at his threshold, then the clearing of a throat.

"It's that fickle-tempered, dissipated young goose--poor devil, he find friends pretty scarce today, likely, after the disgrace of carrying a personal assault case into a law-court."

A dejected knock. "Come in!"

Tom entered, and dropped into a chair, without saying anything. Wilson said kindly:

"Why, my boy, you look desolate. Don't take it so hard. Try and forget you have been kicked."

"Oh, dear," said Tom, wretchedly, "it's not that, Pudd'nhead-- it's not that.. It's a thousand times worse than that--oh, yes, a million times worse."

"Why, Tom, what do you mean? Has Rowena--"

"Flung me? _No_, but the old man has."

Wilson said to himself, "Aha!" and thought of the mysterious girl in the bedroom. "The Driscolls have been making discoveries!" Then he said aloud, gravely:

"Tom, there are some kinds of dissipation which--"

"Oh, shucks, this hasn't got anything to do with dissipation. He wanted me to challenge that derned Italian savage, and I wouldn't do it."

"Yes, of course he would do that," said Wilson in a meditative matter-of-course way, "but the thing that puzzled me was, why he didn't look to that last night, for one thing, and why he let you carry such a matter into a court of law at all, either before the duel or after it.

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson Page 37

Mark Twain

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