When I left England I thought I knew myself; I thought I was a very Frederick the Great for resolution and staying capacity; whereas in truth I am just a Wobbler, simply a Wobbler. Well--after all, it is at least creditable to have high ideals and give birth to lofty resolutions; I will allow myself that comfort." Then he said, aloud, "Could this sheep, as you call him, breed a great and self-sacrificing idea in his head, do you think? Could he meditate such a thing, for instance, as the renunciation of the earldom and its wealth and its glories, and voluntary retirement to the ranks of the commonalty, there to rise by his own merit or remain forever poor and obscure?"

"Could he? Why, look at him--look at this simpering self-righteous mug! There is your answer. It's the very thing he would think of. And he would start in to do it, too."

"And then?"

"He'd wobble."

"And back down?"

"Every time."

"Is that to happen with all my--I mean would that happen to all his high resolutions?"

"Oh certainly--certainly. It's the Rossmore of it."

"Then this creature was fortunate to die! Suppose, for argument's sake, that I was a Rossmore, and--"

"It can't be done."


"Because it's not a supposable case. To be a Rossmore at your age, you'd have to be a fool, and you're not a fool. And you'd have to be a Wobbler, whereas anybody that is an expert in reading character can see at a glance that when you set your foot down once, it's there to stay; and earthquake can't wobble it." He added to himself, "That's enough to say to him, but it isn't half strong enough for the facts. The more I observe him, now, the more remarkable I find him. It is the strongest face I have ever examined. There is almost superhuman firmness here, immovable purpose, iron steadfastness of will. A most extraordinary young man."

He presently said, aloud:

"Some time I want to ask your advice about a little matter, Mr. Tracy. You see, I've got that young lord's remaims--my goodness, how you jump!"

"Oh, it's nothing, pray go on. You've got his remains?"


"Are you sure they are his, and not somebody else's?"

"Oh, perfectly sure. Samples, I mean. Not all of him."


"Yes-in baskets. Some time you will be going home; and if you wouldn't mind taking them along--"

"Who? I?"

"Yes--certainly. I don't mean now; but after a while; after--but look here, would you like to see them?"

"No! Most certainly not. I don't want to see them."

"O, very well. I only thought--hey, where are you going, dear?"

"Out to dinner, papa."

Tracy was aghast. The colonel said, in a disappointed voice:

"Well, I'm sorry. Sho, I didn't know she was going out, Mr. Tracy."

Gwendolen's face began to take on a sort of apprehensive 'What-have-I- done expression.'

"Three old people to one young one--well, it isn't a good team, that's a fact."

Gwendolen's face betrayed a dawning hopefulness and she said--with a tone of reluctance which hadn't the hall-mark on it:

"If you prefer, I will send word to the Thompsons that I--"

"Oh, is it the Thompsons? That simplifies it--sets everything right. We can fix it without spoiling your arrangements, my child. You've got your heart set on--"

"But papa, I'd just as soon go there some other--"

"No--I won't have it. You are a good hard-working darling child, and your father is not the man to disappoint you when you--"

"But papa, I--"

"Go along, I won't hear a word. We'll get along, dear."

Gwendolen was ready to cry with venation. But there was nothing to do but start; which she was about to do when her father hit upon an idea which filled him with delight because it so deftly covered all the difficulties of the situation and made things smooth and satisfactory:

"I've got it, my love, so that you won't be robbed of your holiday and at the same time we'll be pretty satisfactorily fixed for a good time here. You send Belle Thompson here--perfectly beautiful creature, Tracy, perfectly beautiful; I want you to see that girl; why, you'll just go mad; you'll go mad inside of a minute; yes, you send her right along, Gwendolen, and tell her--why, she's gone!" He turned-she was already passing out' at the gate.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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