Alonzo fitz, and other s.., p.1
Alonzo Fitz, and Other Stories, p.1Mark Twain
Produced by David Widger
AND OTHER STORIES
by Mark Twain
THE LOVES OF ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE AND ROSANNAH ETHELTON
ON THE DECAY OF THE ART OF LYING
ABOUT MAGNANIMOUS-INCIDENT LITERATURE
PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH
THE GREAT REVOLUTION IN PITCAIRN
THE CANVASSER'S TALE
AN ENCOUNTER WITH AN INTERVIEWER
LEGEND OF SAGENFELD, IN GERMANY
SPEECH ON THE BABIES
SPEECH ON THE WEATHER
CONCERNING THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE
THE LOVES OF ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE AND ROSANNAH ETHELTON
It was well along in the forenoon of a bitter winter's day. The town ofEastport, in the state of Maine, lay buried under a deep snow that wasnewly fallen. The customary bustle in the streets was wanting. Onecould look long distances down them and see nothing but a dead-whiteemptiness, with silence to match. Of course I do not mean that you couldsee the silence--no, you could only hear it. The sidewalks were merelylong, deep ditches, with steep snow walls on either side. Here and thereyou might hear the faint, far scrape of a wooden shovel, and if youwere quick enough you might catch a glimpse of a distant black figurestooping and disappearing in one of those ditches, and reappearing thenext moment with a motion which you would know meant the heaving out ofa shovelful of snow. But you needed to be quick, for that black figurewould not linger, but would soon drop that shovel and scud for thehouse, thrashing itself with its arms to warm them. Yes, it was toovenomously cold for snow-shovelers or anybody else to stay out long.
Presently the sky darkened; then the wind rose and began to blow infitful, vigorous gusts, which sent clouds of powdery snow aloft, andstraight ahead, and everywhere. Under the impulse of one of these gusts,great white drifts banked themselves like graves across the streets; amoment later another gust shifted them around the other way, driving afine spray of snow from their sharp crests, as the gale drives the spumeflakes from wave-crests at sea; a third gust swept that place as cleanas your hand, if it saw fit. This was fooling, this was play; but eachand all of the gusts dumped some snow into the sidewalk ditches, forthat was business.
Alonzo Fitz Clarence was sitting in his snug and elegant little parlor,in a lovely blue silk dressing-gown, with cuffs and facings of crimsonsatin, elaborately quilted. The remains of his breakfast were beforehim, and the dainty and costly little table service added a harmoniouscharm to the grace, beauty, and richness of the fixed appointments ofthe room. A cheery fire was blazing on the hearth.
A furious gust of wind shook the windows, and a great wave of snowwashed against them with a drenching sound, so to speak. The handsomeyoung bachelor murmured:
"That means, no going out to-day. Well, I am content. But what to do forcompany? Mother is well enough, Aunt Susan is well enough; but these,like the poor, I have with me always. On so grim a day as this,one needs a new interest, a fresh element, to whet the dull edge ofcaptivity. That was very neatly said, but it doesn't mean anything. Onedoesn't want the edge of captivity sharpened up, you know, but just thereverse."
He glanced at his pretty French mantel-clock.
"That clock's wrong again. That clock hardly ever knows what time itis; and when it does know, it lies about it--which amounts to the samething. Alfred!"
There was no answer.
"Alfred!... Good servant, but as uncertain as the clock."
Alonzo touched an electric bell button in the wall. He waited a moment,then touched it again; waited a few moments more, and said:
"Battery out of order, no doubt. But now that I have started, I willfind out what time it is." He stepped to a speaking-tube in the wall,blew its whistle, and called, "Mother!" and repeated it twice.
"Well, that's no use. Mother's battery is out of order, too. Can't raiseanybody down-stairs--that is plain."
He sat down at a rosewood desk, leaned his chin on the left-hand edge ofit and spoke, as if to the floor: "Aunt Susan!"
A low, pleasant voice answered, "Is that you, Alonzo?'
"Yes. I'm too lazy and comfortable to go downstairs; I am in extremity,and I can't seem to scare up any help."
"Dear me, what is the matter?"
"Matter enough, I can tell you!"
"Oh, don't keep me in suspense, dear! What is it?"
"I want to know what time it is."
"You abominable boy, what a turn you did give me! Is that all?"
"All--on my honor. Calm yourself. Tell me the time, and receive myblessing."
"Just five minutes after nine. No charge--keep your blessing."
"Thanks. It wouldn't have impoverished me, aunty, nor so enriched youthat you could live without other means."
He got up, murmuring, "Just five minutes after nine," and faced hisclock. "Ah," said he, "you are doing better than usual. You are onlythirty-four minutes wrong. Let me see... let me see.... Thirty-threeand twenty-one are fifty-four; four times fifty-four are two hundred andthirty-six. One off, leaves two hundred and thirty-five. That's right."
He turned the hands of his clock forward till they marked twenty-fiveminutes to one, and said, "Now see if you can't keep right for awhile--else I'll raffle you!"
He sat down at the desk again, and said, "Aunt Susan!"
"Yes, indeed, an hour ago."
"No--except sewing. Why?"
"Got any company?"
"No, but I expect some at half past nine."
"I wish I did. I'm lonesome. I want to talk to somebody."
"Very well, talk to me."
"But this is very private."
"Don't be afraid--talk right along, there's nobody here but me."
"I hardly know whether to venture or not, but--"
"But what? Oh, don't stop there! You know you can trust me, Alonzo--youknow, you can."
"I feel it, aunt, but this is very serious. It affects me deeply--me,and all the family---even the whole community."
"Oh, Alonzo, tell me! I will never breathe a word of it. What is it?"
"Aunt, if I might dare--"
"Oh, please go on! I love you, and feel for you. Tell me all. Confide inme. What is it?"
"Plague take the weather! I don't see how you can have the heart toserve me so, Lon."
"There, there, aunty dear, I'm sorry; I am, on my honor. I won't do itagain. Do you forgive me?"
"Yes, since you seem so sincere about it, though I know I oughtn't to.You will fool me again as soon as I have forgotten this time."
"No, I won't, honor bright. But such weather, oh, such weather! You'vegot to keep your spirits up artificially. It is snowy, and blowy, andgusty, and bitter cold! How is the weather with you?"
"Warm and rainy and melancholy. The mourners go about the streets withtheir umbrellas running streams from the end of every whalebone. There'san elevated double pavement of umbrellas, stretching down the sides ofthe streets as far as I can see. I've got a fire for cheerfulness, andthe windows open to keep cool. But it is vain, it is useless: nothingcomes in but the balmy breath of December, with its burden of mockingodors from the flowers that possess the realm outside, and rejoice intheir lawless profusion whilst the spirit of man is low, and flaunttheir gaudy splendors in his face while his soul is clothed in sackclothand ashes and his heart breaketh."
Alonzo opened his lips to say, "You ought to print that, and get itframed," but checked himself, for he heard his aunt speaking to someone else. He went and stood at the window and looked out upon the wintryprospect.
He turned from the window, moved a step, and stopped in a listeningattitude. The faint, sweet notes of a familiar song caught his ear. Heremained there, with his head unconsciously bent forward, drinking inthe melody, stirring neither hand nor foot, hardly breathing. There wasa blemish in the execution of the song, but to Alonzo it seemed an addedcharm instead of a defect. This blemish consisted of a marked flattingof the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh notes of the refrain orchorus of the piece. When the music ended, Alonzo drew a deep breath,and said, "Ah, I never have heard 'In the Sweet By-and-by' sung likethat before!"
He stepped quickly to the desk, listened a moment, and said in aguarded, confidential voice, "Aunty, who is this divine singer?"
"She is the company I was expecting. Stays with me a month or two. Iwill introduce you. Miss--"
"For goodness' sake, wait a moment, Aunt Susan! You never stop to thinkwhat you are about!"
He flew to his bedchamber, and returned in a moment perceptibly changedin his outward appearance, and remarking, snappishly:
"Hang it, she would have introduced me to this angel in that sky-bluedressing-gown with red-hot lapels! Women never think, when they geta-going."
He hastened and stood by the desk, and said eagerly, "Now, Aunty, I amready," and fell to smiling and bowing with all the persuasiveness andelegance that were in him.
"Very well. Miss Rosannah Ethelton, let me introduce to you my favoritenephew, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence. There! You are both good people, andI like you; so I am going to trust you together while I attend to afew household affairs. Sit down, Rosannah; sit down, Alonzo. Good-by; Isha'n't be gone long."
Alonzo had been bowing and smiling all the while, and motioningimaginary young ladies to sit down in imaginary chairs, but now he tooka seat himself, mentally saying, "Oh, this is luck! Let the winds blownow, and the snow drive, and the heavens frown! Little I care!"
While these young people chat themselves into an acquaintanceship, letus take the liberty of inspecting the sweeter and fairer of the two. Shesat alone, at her graceful ease, in a richly furnished apartment whichwas manifestly the private parlor of a refined and sensible lady,if signs and symbols may go for anything. For instance, by a low,comfortable chair stood a dainty, top-heavy workstand, whose summit wasa fancifully embroidered shallow basket, with varicolored crewels, andother strings and odds and ends protruding from under the gaping lid andhanging down in negligent profusion. On the floor lay bright shreds ofTurkey red, Prussian blue, and kindred fabrics, bits of ribbon, a spoolor two, a pair of scissors, and a roll or so of tinted silken stuffs.On a luxurious sofa, upholstered with some sort of soft Indian goodswrought in black and gold threads interwebbed with other threads notso pronounced in color, lay a great square of coarse white stuff, uponwhose surface a rich bouquet of flowers was growing, under the deftcultivation of the crochet-needle. The household cat was asleep on thiswork of art. In a bay-window stood an easel with an unfinished pictureon it, and a palette and brushes on a chair beside it. There were bookseverywhere: Robertson's Sermons, Tennyson, Moody and Sankey, Hawthorne,Rab and His Friends, cook-books, prayer-books, pattern-books--and booksabout all kinds of odious and exasperating pottery, of course. There wasa piano, with a deck-load of music, and more in a tender. There wasa great plenty of pictures on the walls, on the shelves of themantelpiece, and around generally; where coigns of vantage offeredwere statuettes, and quaint and pretty gimcracks, and rare and costlyspecimens of peculiarly devilish china. The bay-window gave upon agarden that was ablaze with foreign and domestic flowers and floweringshrubs.
But the sweet young girl was the daintiest thing these premises, withinor without, could offer for contemplation: delicately chiseled features,of Grecian cast; her complexion the pure snow of a japonica that isreceiving a faint reflected enrichment from some scarlet neighbor ofthe garden; great, soft blue eyes fringed with long, curving lashes; anexpression made up of the trustfulness of a child and the gentleness ofa fawn; a beautiful head crowned with its own prodigal gold; a litheand rounded figure, whose every attitude and movement was instinct withnative grace.
Her dress and adornment were marked by that exquisite harmony that cancome only of a fine natural taste perfected by culture. Her gown was ofa simple magenta tulle, cut bias, traversed by three rows of light-blueflounces, with the selvage edges turned up with ashes-of-roseschenille; overdress of dark bay tarlatan with scarlet satin lambrequins;corn-colored polonaise, en panier, looped with mother-of-pearl buttonsand silver cord, and hauled aft and made fast by buff velvet lashings;basque of lavender reps, picked out with valenciennes; low neck, shortsleeves; maroon velvet necktie edged with delicate pink silk; insidehandkerchief of some simple three-ply ingrain fabric of a soft saffrontint; coral bracelets and locket-chain; coiffure of forget-me-nots andlilies-of-the-valley massed around a noble calla.
This was all; yet even in this subdued attire she was divinelybeautiful. Then what must she have been when adorned for the festival orthe ball?
All this time she had been busily chatting with Alonzo, unconscious ofour inspection. The minutes still sped, and still she talked. But by andby she happened to look up, and saw the clock. A crimson blush sent itsrich flood through her cheeks, and she exclaimed:
"There, good-by, Mr. Fitz Clarence; I must go now!"
She sprang from her chair with such haste that she hardly heard theyoung man's answering good-by. She stood radiant, graceful, beautiful,and gazed, wondering, upon the accusing clock. Presently her poutinglips parted, and she said:
"Five minutes after eleven! Nearly two hours, and it did not seem twentyminutes! Oh, dear, what will he think of me!"
At the self-same moment Alonzo was staring at his clock. And presentlyhe said:
"Twenty-five minutes to three! Nearly two hours, and I didn't believeit was two minutes! Is it possible that this clock is humbugging again?Miss Ethelton! Just one moment, please. Are you there yet?"
"Yes, but be quick; I'm going right away."
"Would you be so kind as to tell me what time it is?"
The girl blushed again, murmured to herself, "It's right down cruelof him to ask me!" and then spoke up and answered with admirablycounterfeited unconcern, "Five minutes after eleven."
"Oh, thank you! You have to go, now, have you?"
"You--you're there yet, ain't you?"
"Yes; but please hurry. What did you want to say?"
"Well, I--well, nothing in particular. It's very lonesome here. It'sasking a great deal, I know, but would you mind talking with me again byand by--that is, if it will not trouble you too much?"
"I don't know but I'll think about it. I'll try."
"Oh, thanks! Miss Ethelton!... Ah, me, she's gone, and here are theblack clouds and the whirling snow and the raging winds come again! Butshe said good-by. She didn't say good morning, she said good-by! ... Theclock was right, after all. What a lightning-winged two hours it was!"
He sat down, and gazed dreamily into his fire for a while, then heaved asigh and said:
"How wonderful it is! Two little hours ago I was a free man, and now myheart's in San Francisco!"
About that time Rosannah Ethelton, propped in the window-seat of herbedchamber, book in hand, was gazing vacantly out over the rainy seasthat washed the Golden Gate, and whispering to herself, "How differenthe is from poor Burley, with his empty head and his single little antictalent of mimicry!"
Four weeks later Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley was entertaining a gayluncheon company, in a sumptuous drawing-room on Telegraph Hill, withsome capital imitations of the voices and gestures of certain popularactors and San Franciscan literary people and Bonanza grandees. He waselegantly upholstered, and was a handsome fellow, barring a triflingcast in his eye. He seemed very jovial, but nevertheless he kept his eyeon the door with an expectant and uneasy watchfulness. By and by a nobbylackey appeared, and delivered a message to the mistress, who nodded herhead understandingly. That seemed to settle the thing for Mr. Burley;his vivacity decreased little by little, and a dejected look began tocreep into one of his eyes and a sinister one into the other.
The rest of the company departed in due time, leaving him with themistress, to whom he said:
"There is no longer any question about it. She avoids me. Shecontinually excuses herself. If I could see her, if I could speak to heronly a moment--but this suspense--"
"Perhaps her seeming avoidance is mere accident, Mr. Burley. Go tothe small drawing-room up-stairs and amuse yourself a moment. I willdespatch a household order that is on my mind, and then I will go to herroom. Without doubt she will be persuaded to see you."
Mr. Burley went up-stairs, intending to go to the small drawing-room,but as he was passing "Aunt Susan's" private parlor, the door of whichstood slightly ajar, he heard a joyous laugh which he recognized; sowithout knock or announcement he stepped confidently in. But before hecould make his presence known he heard words that harrowed up his souland chilled his young blood, he heard a voice say:
"Darling, it has come!"
Then he heard Rosannah Ethelton, whose back was toward him, say:
"So has yours, dearest!"
He saw her bowed form bend lower; he heard her kiss something--notmerely once, but again and again! His soul raged within him. Theheartbreaking conversation went on:
"Rosannah, I knew you must be beautiful, but this is dazzling, this isblinding, this is intoxicating!"
"Alonzo, it is such happiness to hear you say it. I know it is not true,but I am so grateful to have you think it is, nevertheless! I knew youmust have a noble face, but the grace and majesty of the reality beggarthe poor creation of my fancy."
Burley heard that rattling shower of kisses again.
"Thank you, my Rosannah! The photograph flatters me, but you must notallow yourself to think of that. Sweetheart?"
"I am so happy, Rosannah."
"Oh, Alonzo, none that have gone before me knew what love was, none thatcome after me will ever know what happiness is. I float in a gorgeouscloud land, a boundless firmament of enchanted and bewildering ecstasy!"
"Oh, my Rosannah!--for you are mine, are you not?"
"Wholly, oh, wholly yours, Alonzo, now and forever! All the day long,and all through my nightly dreams, one song sings itself, and its sweetburden is, 'Alonzo Fitz Clarence, Alonzo Fitz Clarence, Eastport, stateof Maine!'"
"Curse him, I've got his address, anyway!" roared Burley, inwardly, andrushed from the place.
Just behind the unconscious Alonzo stood his mother, a picture ofastonishment. She was so muffled from head to heel in furs that nothingof herself was visible but her eyes and nose. She was a good allegory ofwinter, for she was powdered all over with snow.
Behind the unconscious Rosannah stood "Aunt Susan," another picture ofastonishment. She was a good allegory of summer, for she was lightlyclad, and was vigorously cooling the perspiration on her face with afan.
Both of these women had tears of joy in their eyes.
"Soho!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitz Clarence, "this explains why nobody has beenable to drag you out of your room for six weeks, Alonzo!"
"So ho!" exclaimed Aunt Susan, "this explains why you have been a hermitfor the past six weeks, Rosannah!"
The young couple were on their feet in an instant, abashed, and standinglike detected dealers in stolen goods awaiting judge Lynch's doom.
"Bless you, my son! I am happy in your happiness. Come to your mother'sarms, Alonzo!"
"Bless you, Rosannah, for my dear nephew's sake! Come to my arms!"
Then was there a mingling of hearts and of tears of rejoicing onTelegraph Hill and in Eastport Square.
Servants were called by the elders, in both places. Unto one was giventhe order, "Pile this fire high, with hickory wood, and bring me aroasting-hot lemonade."
Unto the other was given the order, "Put out this fire, and bring me twopalm-leaf fans and a pitcher of ice-water."
Then the young people were dismissed, and the elders sat down to talkthe sweet surprise over and make the wedding plans.
Some minutes before this Mr. Burley rushed from the mansion on TelegraphHill without meeting or taking formal leave of anybody. He hissedthrough his teeth, in unconscious imitation of a popular favorite inmelodrama, "Him shall she never wed! I have sworn it! Ere great Natureshall have doffed her winter's ermine to don the emerald gauds ofspring, she shall be mine!"
Two weeks later. Every few hours, during same three or four days, a veryprim and devout-looking Episcopal clergyman, with a cast in his eye, hadvisited Alonzo. According to his card, he was the Rev. Melton Hargrave,of Cincinnati. He said he had retired from the ministry on account ofhis health. If he had said on account of ill-health, he would probablyhave erred, to judge by his wholesome looks and firm build. He was theinventor of an improvement in telephones, and hoped to make his breadby selling the privilege of using it. "At present," he continued, "a manmay go and tap a telegraph wire which is conveying a song or a concertfrom one state to another, and he can attach his private telephone andsteal a hearing of that music as it passes along. My invention will stopall that."
"Well," answered Alonzo, "if the owner of the music could not miss whatwas stolen, why should he care?"
"He shouldn't care," said the Reverend.
"Well?" said Alonzo, inquiringly.
"Suppose," replied the Reverend, "suppose that, instead of music thatwas passing along and being stolen, the burden of the wire was lovingendearments of the most private and sacred nature?"
Alonzo shuddered from head to heel. "Sir, it is a priceless invention,"said he; "I must have it at any cost."
But the invention was delayed somewhere on the road from Cincinnati,most unaccountably. The impatient Alonzo could hardly wait. The thoughtof Rosannah's sweet words being shared with him by some ribald thief wasgalling to him. The Reverend came frequently and lamented the delay, andtold of measures he had taken to hurry things up. This was some littlecomfort to Alonzo.
One forenoon the Reverend ascended the stairs and knocked at Alonzo'sdoor. There was no response. He entered, glanced eagerly around, closedthe door softly, then ran to the telephone. The exquisitely soft andremote strains of the "Sweet By-and-by" came floating through theinstrument. The singer was flatting, as usual, the five notes thatfollow the first two in the chorus, when the Reverend interrupted herwith this word, in a voice which was an exact imitation of Alonzo's,with just the faintest flavor of impatience added:
"Please don't sing that any more this week--try something modern."
The agile step that goes with a happy heart was heard on the stairs,and the Reverend, smiling diabolically, sought sudden refuge behind theheavy folds of the velvet window-curtains. Alonzo entered and flew tothe telephone. Said he:
"Rosannah, dear, shall we sing something together?"
"Something modern?" asked she, with sarcastic bitterness.
"Yes, if you prefer."
"Sing it yourself, if you like!"
This snappishness amazed and wounded the young man. He said:
"Rosannah, that was not like you."
"I suppose it becomes me as much as your very polite speech became you,Mr. Fitz Clarence."
"Mister Fitz Clarence! Rosannah, there was nothing impolite about myspeech."
"Oh, indeed! Of course,
"Sing what any more to-day?"
"The song you mentioned, of course, How very obtuse we are, all of asudden!"
"I never mentioned any song."
"Oh, you didn't?"
"No, I didn't!"
"I am compelled to remark that you did."
"And I am obliged to reiterate that I didn't."
"A second rudeness! That is sufficient, sir. I will never forgive you.All is over between us."
Then came a muffled sound of crying. Alonzo hastened to say:
"Oh, Rosannah, unsay those words! There is some dreadful mystery here,some hideous mistake. I am utterly earnest and sincere when I say Inever said anything about any song. I would not hurt you for the wholeworld.... Rosannah, dear speak to me, won't you?"
There was a pause; then Alonzo heard the girl's sobbings retreating,and knew she had gone from the telephone. He rose with a heavy sigh, andhastened from the room, saying to himself, "I will ransack the charitymissions and the haunts of the poor for my mother. She will persuade herthat I never meant to wound her."
A minute later the Reverend was crouching over the telephone like a catthat knoweth the ways of the prey. He had not very many minutes to wait.A soft, repentant voice, tremulous with tears, said:
"Alonzo, dear, I have been wrong. You could not have said so cruel athing. It must have been some one who imitated your voice in malice orin jest."
The Reverend coldly answered, in Alonzo's tones:
"You have said all was over between us. So let it be. I spurn yourproffered repentance, and despise it!"
Then he departed, radiant with fiendish triumph, to return no more withhis imaginary telephonic invention forever.
Four hours afterward Alonzo arrived with his mother from her favoritehaunts of poverty and vice. They summoned the San Francisco household;but there was no reply. They waited, and continued to wait, upon thevoiceless telephone.
At length, when it was sunset in San Francisco, and three hours anda half after dark in Eastport, an answer to the oft-repeated cry of"Rosannah!"
But, alas, it was Aunt Susan's voice that spake. She said:
"I have been out all day; just got in. I will go and find her."
The watchers waited two minutes--five minutes--ten minutes. Then camethese fatal words, in a frightened tone:
"She is gone, and her baggage with her. To visit another friend, shetold the servants. But I found this note on the table in her room.Listen: 'I am gone; seek not to trace me out; my heart is broken; youwill never see me more. Tell him I shall always think of him when I singmy poor "Sweet By-and-by," but never of the unkind words he said aboutit.' That is her note. Alonzo, Alonzo, what does it mean? What hashappened?"
But Alonzo sat white and cold as the dead. His mother threw backthe velvet curtains and opened a window. The cold air refreshed thesufferer, and he told his aunt his dismal story. Meantime his motherwas inspecting a card which had disclosed itself upon the floor whenshe cast the curtains back. It read, "Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley, SanFrancisco."
"The miscreant!" shouted Alonzo, and rushed forth to seek the falseReverend and destroy him; for the card explained everything, since inthe course of the lovers' mutual confessions they had told each otherall about all the sweethearts they had ever had, and thrown no end ofmud at their failings and foibles for lovers always do that. It has afascination that ranks next after billing and cooing.
During the next two months many things happened. It had early transpiredthat Rosannah, poor suffering orphan, had neither returned to hergrandmother in Portland, Oregon, nor sent any word to her save aduplicate of the woeful note she had left in the mansion on TelegraphHill. Whosoever was sheltering her--if she was still alive--had beenpersuaded not to betray her whereabouts, without doubt; for all effortsto find trace of her had failed.
Did Alonzo give her up? Not he. He said to himself, "She will singthat sweet song when she is sad; I shall find her." So he took hiscarpet-sack and a portable telephone, and shook the snow of his nativecity from his arctics, and went forth into the world. He wandered farand wide and in many states. Time and again, strangers were astounded tosee a wasted, pale, and woe-worn man laboriously climb a telegraph-polein wintry and lonely places, perch sadly there an hour, with his ear ata little box, then come sighing down, and wander wearily away. Sometimesthey shot at him, as peasants do at aeronauts, thinking him mad anddangerous. Thus his clothes were much shredded by bullets and his persongrievously lacerated. But he bore it all patiently.
In the beginning of his pilgrimage he used often to say, "Ah, if I couldbut hear the 'Sweet By-and-by'!" But toward the end of it he used toshed tears of anguish and say, "Ah, if I could but hear something else!"
Thus a month and three weeks drifted by, and at last some humane peopleseized him and confined him in a private mad-house in New York. He madeno moan, for his strength was all gone, and with it all heart and allhope. The superintendent, in pity, gave up his own comfortable parlorand bedchamber to him and nursed him with affectionate devotion.
At the end of a week the patient was able to leave his bed for the firsttime. He was lying, comfortably pillowed, on a sofa, listening to theplaintive Miserere of the bleak March winds and the muffled sound oftramping feet in the street below for it was about six in the evening,and New York was going home from work. He had a bright fire and theadded cheer of a couple of student-lamps. So it was warm and snugwithin, though bleak and raw without; it was light and bright within,though outside it was as dark and dreary as if the world had been litwith Hartford gas. Alonzo smiled feebly to think how his loving vagarieshad made him a maniac in the eyes of the world, and was proceeding topursue his line of thought further, when a faint, sweet strain, the veryghost of sound, so remote and attenuated it seemed, struck upon his ear.His pulses stood still; he listened with parted lips and batedbreath. The song flowed on--he waiting, listening, rising slowly andunconsciously from his recumbent position. At last he exclaimed:
"It is! it is she! Oh, the divine hated notes!"
He dragged himself eagerly to the corner whence the sounds proceeded,tore aside a curtain, and discovered a telephone. He bent over, and asthe last note died away he burst forthwith the exclamation:
"Oh, thank Heaven, found at last! Speak to me, Rosannah, dearest! Thecruel mystery has been unraveled; it was the villain Burley who mimickedmy voice and wounded you with insolent speech!"
There was a breathless pause, a waiting age to Alonzo; then a faintsound came, framing itself into language:
"Oh, say those precious words again, Alonzo!"
"They are the truth, the veritable truth, my Rosannah, and you shallhave the proof, ample and abundant proof!"
"Oh; Alonzo, stay by me! Leave me not for a moment! Let me feel that youare near me! Tell me we shall never be parted more! Oh, this happy hour,this blessed hour, this memorable hour!"
"We will make record of it, my Rosannah; every year, as this dear hourchimes from the clock, we will celebrate it with thanksgivings, all theyears of our life."
"We will, we will, Alonzo!"
"Four minutes after six, in the evening, my Rosannah, shallhenceforth--"
"Twenty-three minutes after twelve, afternoon shall--"
"Why; Rosannah, darling, where are you?"
"In Honolulu, Sandwich Islands. And where are you? Stay by me; do notleave me for a moment. I cannot bear it. Are you at home?"
"No, dear, I am in New York--a patient in the doctor's hands."
An agonizing shriek came buzzing to Alonzo's ear, like the sharp buzzingof a hurt gnat; it lost power in traveling five thousand miles. Alonzohastened to say:
"Calm yourself, my child. It is nothing. Already I am getting well underthe sweet healing of your presence. Rosannah?"
"Yes, Alonzo? Oh, how you terrified me! Say on."
"Name the happy day, Rosannah!"
"This very night, Rosannah! Oh, let us risk no more delays. Let it benow!--this very night, this very moment!"
"Oh, you impatient creature! I have nobody here but my good old uncle,a missionary for a generation, and now retired from service--nobody buthim and his wife. I would so dearly like it if your mother and your AuntSusan--"
"Our mother and our Aunt Susan, my Rosannah."
"Yes, our mother and our Aunt Susan--I am content to word it so if itpleases you; I would so like to have them present."
"So would I. Suppose you telegraph Aunt Susan. How long would it takeher to come?"
"The steamer leaves San Francisco day after tomorrow. The passage iseight days. She would be here the 31st of March."
"Then name the 1st of April; do, Rosannah, dear."
"Mercy, it would make us April fools, Alonzo!"
"So we be the happiest ones that that day's suit looks down upon in thewhole broad expanse of the globe, why need we care? Call it the 1st ofApril, dear."
"Then the 1st of April at shall be, with all my heart!"
"Oh, happiness! Name the hour, too, Rosannah."
"I like the morning, it is so blithe. Will eight in the morning do,Alonzo?"
"The loveliest hour in the day--since it will make you mine."
There was a feeble but frantic sound for some little time, as ifwool-lipped, disembodied spirits were exchanging kisses; then Rosannahsaid, "Excuse me just a moment, dear; I have an appointment, and amcalled to meet it."
The young girl sought a large parlor and took her place at a windowwhich looked out upon a beautiful scene. To the left one could view thecharming Nuuana Valley, fringed with its ruddy flush of tropical flowersand its plumed and graceful cocoa palms; its rising foothills clothedin the shining green of lemon, citron, and orange groves; its storiedprecipice beyond, where the first Kamehameha drove his defeated foesover to their destruction, a spot that had forgotten its grim history,no doubt, for now it was smiling, as almost always at noonday, under theglowing arches of a succession of rainbows. In front of the window onecould see the quaint town, and here and there a picturesque group ofdusky natives, enjoying the blistering weather; and far to the right laythe restless ocean, tossing its white mane in the sunshine.
Rosannah stood there, in her filmy white raiment, fanning her flushedand heated face, waiting. A Kanaka boy, clothed in a damaged bluenecktie and part of a silk hat, thrust his head in at the door, andannounced, "'Frisco haole!"
"Show him in," said the girl, straightening herself up and assuming ameaning dignity. Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley entered, clad from head toheel in dazzling snow--that is to say, in the lightest and whitest ofIrish linen. He moved eagerly forward, but the girl made a gesture andgave him a look which checked him suddenly. She said, coldly, "I amhere, as I promised. I believed your assertions, I yielded to yourimportune lies, and said I would name the day. I name the 1st ofApril--eight in the morning. NOW GO!"
"Oh, my dearest, if the gratitude of a lifetime--"
"Not a word. Spare me all sight of you, all communication with you,until that hour. No--no supplications; I will have it so."
When he was gone, she sank exhausted in a chair, for the long siege oftroubles she had undergone had wasted her strength. Presently shesaid, "What a narrow escape! If the hour appointed had been an hourearlier--Oh, horror, what an escape I have made! And to think I had cometo imagine I was loving this beguiling, this truthless, this treacherousmonster! Oh, he shall repent his villainy!"
Let us now draw this history to a close, for little more needs to betold. On the 2d of the ensuing April, the Honolulu Advertiser containedthis notice:
MARRIED.--In this city, by telephone, yesterday morning,--at eight o'clock, by Rev. Nathan Hays, assisted by Rev. Nathaniel Davis, of New York, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence, of Eastport, Maine, U. S., and Miss Rosannah Ethelton, of Portland, Oregon, U. S. Mrs. Susan Howland, of San Francisco, a friend of the bride, was present, she being the guest of the Rev. Mr. Hays and wife, uncle and aunt of the bride. Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley, of San Francisco, was also present but did not remain till the conclusion of the marriage service. Captain Hawthorne's beautiful yacht, tastefully decorated, was in waiting, and the happy bride and her friends immediately departed on a bridal trip to Lahaina and Haleakala.
The New York papers of the same date contained this notice:
MARRIED.--In this city, yesterday, by telephone, at half-past two in the morning, by Rev. Nathaniel Davis, assisted by Rev. Nathan Hays, of Honolulu, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence, of Eastport, Maine, and Miss Rosannah Ethelton, of Portland, Oregon. The parents and several friends of the bridegroom were present, and enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast and much festivity until nearly sunrise, and then departed on a bridal trip to the Aquarium, the bridegroom's state of health not admitting of a more extended journey.
Toward the close of that memorable day Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo Fitz Clarencewere buried in sweet converse concerning the pleasures of their severalbridal tours, when suddenly the young wife exclaimed: "Oh, Lonny, Iforgot! I did what I said I would."
"Did you, dear?"
"Indeed, I did. I made him the April fool! And I told him so, too!Ah, it was a charming surprise! There he stood, sweltering in a blackdress-suit, with the mercury leaking out of the top of the thermometer,waiting to be married. You should have seen the look he gave when Iwhispered it in his ear. Ah, his wickedness cost me many a heartacheand many a tear, but the score was all squared up, then. So the vengefulfeeling went right out of my heart, and I begged him to stay, and saidI forgave him everything. But he wouldn't. He said he would live to beavenged; said he would make our lives a curse to us. But he can't, canhe, dear?"
"Never in this world, my Rosannah!"
Aunt Susan, the Oregonian grandmother, and the young couple and theirEastport parents, are all happy at this writing, and likely to remainso. Aunt Susan brought the bride from the islands, accompanied heracross our continent, and had the happiness of witnessing the rapturousmeeting between an adoring husband and wife who had never seen eachother until that moment.
A word about the wretched Burley, whose wicked machinations came sonear wrecking the hearts and lives of our poor young friends, will besufficient. In a murderous attempt to seize a crippled and helplessartisan who he fancied had done him some small offense, he fell into acaldron of boiling oil and expired before he could be extinguished.
Alonzo Fitz, and Other Stories by Mark Twain / Humor have rating 3.3 out of 5 / Based on20 votes