You tell 'em he ain't gwine to live long--en dat's de fac', too--en tell 'em you'll pay 'em intrust, en big intrust, too--ten per--what you call it?"

"Ten percent a month?"

"Dat's it. Den you take and sell yo' truck aroun', a little at a time, en pay de intrust. How long will it las'?"

"I think there's enough to pay the interest five or six months." "Den you's all right. If he don't die in six months, dat don't make no diff'rence--Providence'll provide. You's gwine to be safe-- if you behaves." She bent an austere eye on him and added, "En you IS gwine to behave--does you know dat?"

He laughed and said he was going to try, anyway. She did not unbend. She said gravely:

"Tryin' ain't de thing. You's gwine to _do_ it. You ain't gwine to steal a pin--'ca'se it ain't safe no mo'; en you ain't gwine into no bad comp'ny--not even once, you understand; en you ain't gwine to drink a drop--nary a single drop; en you ain't gwine to gamble one single gamble--not one! Dis ain't what you's gwine to try to do, it's what you's gwine to DO. En I'll tell you how I knows it. Dis is how. I's gwine to foller along to Sent Louis my own self; en you's gwine to come to me every day o' your life, en I'll look you over; en if you fails in one single one o' dem things--jist _one_-- I take my oath I'll come straight down to dis town en tell de Jedge you's a nigger en a slave--en _prove_ it!" She paused to let her words sink home. Then she added, "Chambers, does you b'lieve me when I says dat?"

Tom was sober enough now. There was no levity in his voice when he answered:

"Yes, Mother, I know, now, that I am reformed--and permanently. Permanently--and beyond the reach of any human temptation."

"Den g'long home en begin!"

CHAPTER 15

The Robber Robbed

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Behold, the fool saith, "Put not all thine eggs in the one basket"-- which is but a manner of saying, "Scatter your money and your attention"; but the wise man saith, "Put all your eggs in the one basket and--_watch that basket!_"

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

What a time of it Dawson's Landing was having! All its life it had been asleep, but now it hardly got a chance for a nod, so swiftly did big events and crashing surprises come along in one another's wake: Friday morning, first glimpse of Real Nobility, also grand reception at Aunt Patsy Cooper's, also great robber raid; Friday evening, dramatic kicking of the heir of the chief citizen in presence of four hundred people; Saturday morning, emergence as practicing lawyer of the long-submerged Pudd'nhead Wilson; Saturday night, duel between chief citizen and titled stranger.

The people took more pride in the duel than in all the other events put together, perhaps. It was a glory to their town to have such a thing happen there. In their eyes the principals had reached the summit of human honor. Everybody paid homage to their names; their praises were in all mouths. Even the duelists' subordinates came in for a handsome share of the public approbation: wherefore Pudd'nhead Wilson was suddenly become a man of consequence. When asked to run for the mayoralty Saturday night, he was risking defeat, but Sunday morning found him a made man and his success assured.

The twins were prodigiously great now; the town took them to its bosom with enthusiasm. Day after day, and night after night, they went dining and visiting from house to house, making friends, enlarging and solidifying their popularity, and charming and surprising all with their musical prodigies, and now and then heightening the effects with samples of what they could do in other directions, out of their stock of rare and curious accomplishments. They were so pleased that they gave the regulation thirty days' notice, the required preparation for citizenship, and resolved to finish their days in this pleasant place. That was the climax. The delighted community rose as one man and applauded; and when the twins were asked to stand for seats in the forthcoming aldermanic board, and consented, the public contentment was rounded and complete.

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson Page 44

Mark Twain

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book