The girl was outraged by this iron indifference and callousness, and cried out--

"What are you made of?"

"I? Why?"

"Haven't you any sensitiveness? Don't these things touch any poor remnant of delicate feeling in you?"

"N--no," he said wonderingly, "they don't seem to. Why should they?"

"O, dear me, how can you look so innocent, and foolish, and good, and empty, and gentle, and all that, right in the hearing of such things as those! Look me in the eye-straight in the eye. There, now then, answer me without a flinch. Isn't Doctor Snodgrass your father, and isn't Zylobalsamum your brother," [here Hawkins was about to enter the room, but changed his mind upon hearing these words, and elected for a walk down town, and so glided swiftly away], "and isn't your name Spinal Meningitis, and isn't your father a doctor and an idiot, like all the family for generations, and doesn't he name all his children after poisons and pestilences and, abnormal anatomical eccentricities of the human body? Answer me, some way or somehow--and quick. Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it and see me going mad before your face with suspense!"

"Oh, I wish I could do--do--I wish I could do something, anything that would give you peace again and make you happy; but I know of nothing-- I know of no way. I have never heard of these awful people before."

"What? Say it again!"

"I have never-never in my life till now."

"Oh, you do look so honest when you say that! It must be true--surely you couldn't look that way, you wouldn't look that way if it were not true--would you?"

"I couldn't and wouldn't. It is true. Oh, let us end this suffering-- take me back into your heart and confidence--"

"Wait--one more thing. Tell me you told that falsehood out of mere vanity and are sorry for it; that you're not expecting to ever wear the coronet of an earl--"

"Truly I am cured--cured this very day--I am not expecting it!"

"O, now you are mine! I've got you back in the beauty and glory of your unsmirched poverty and your honorable obscurity, and nobody shall ever take you from me again but the grave! And if--"

"De earl of Rossmore, fum Englan'!"

"My father!" The, young man released the girl and hung his head.

The old gentleman stood surveying the couple--the one with a strongly complimentary right eye, the other with a mixed expression done with the left. This is difficult, and not often resorted to. Presently his face relaxed into a kind of constructive gentleness, and he said to his son:

"Don't you think you could embrace me, too?"

The young man did it with alacrity. "Then you are the son of an earl, after all," said Sally, reproachfully.

"Yes, I--"

"Then I won't have you!"

"O, but you know--"

"No, I will not. You've told me another fib."

"She's right. Go away and leave us. I want to talk with her."

Berkeley was obliged to go. But he did not go far. He remained on the premises. At midnight the conference between the old gentleman and the young girl was still going blithely on, but it presently drew to a close, and the former said:

"I came all the way over here to inspect you, my dear, with the general idea of breaking off this match if there were two fools of you, but as there's only one, you can have him if you'll take him."

"Indeed I will, then! May I kiss you?"

"You may. Thank you. Now you shall have that privilege whenever you are good."

Meantime Hawkins had long ago returned and slipped up into the laboratory. He was rather disconcerted to find his late invention, Snodgrass, there. The news was told him: that the English Rossmore was come,

--"and I'm his son, Viscount Berkeley, not Howard Tracy any more."

Hawkins was aghast. He said:

"Good gracious, then you're dead!"


"Yes you are--we've got your ashes."

"Hang those ashes, I'm tired of them; I'll give them to my father."

Slowly and painfully the statesman worked the truth into his head that this was really a flesh and blood young man, and not the insubstantial resurrection he and Sellers had so long supposed him to be.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book