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Chapter 25


CHAPTER XXV.

THE news was all over town in two minutes, and
you could see the people tearing down on the
run from every which way, some of them putting on
their coats as they come. Pretty soon we was in the
middle of a crowd, and the noise of the tramping was
like a soldier march. The windows and dooryards was
full; and every minute somebody would say, over a
fence:

"Is it THEM?"

And somebody trotting along with the gang would
answer back and say:

"You bet it is."

When we got to the house the street in front of it
was packed, and the three girls was standing in the
door. Mary Jane WAS red-headed, but that don't make
no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her
face and her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so
glad her uncles was come. The king he spread his
arms, and Marsy Jane she jumped for them, and the
hare-lip jumped for the duke, and there they HAD it!
Everybody most, leastways women, cried for joy to
see them meet again at last and have such good times.

Then the king he hunched the duke private -- I see
him do it -- and then he looked around and see the
coffin, over in the corner on two chairs; so then him
and the duke, with a hand across each other's shoul-
der, and t'other hand to their eyes, walked slow and
solemn over there, everybody dropping back to give
them room, and all the talk and noise stopping, people
saying "Sh!" and all the men taking their hats off and
drooping their heads, so you could a heard a pin fall.
And when they got there they bent over and looked in
the coffin, and took one sight, and then they bust out
a-crying so you could a heard them to Orleans, most;
and then they put their arms around each other's
necks, and hung their chins over each other's shoul-
ders; and then for three minutes, or maybe four, I
never see two men leak the way they done. And,
mind you, everybody was doing the same; and the
place was that damp I never see anything like it.
Then one of them got on one side of the coffin, and
t'other on t'other side, and they kneeled down and
rested their foreheads on the coffin, and let on to pray
all to themselves. Well, when it come to that it
worked the crowd like you never see anything like it,
and everybody broke down and went to sobbing right
out loud -- the poor girls, too; and every woman,
nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a word,
and kissed them, solemn, on the forehead, and then
put their hand on their head, and looked up towards
the sky, with the tears running down, and then busted
out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the
next woman a show. I never see anything so dis-
gusting.

Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes for-
ward a little, and works himself up and slobbers out a
speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its being
a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the
diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the
long journey of four thousand mile, but it's a trial
that's sweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sym-
pathy and these holy tears, and so he thanks them out
of his heart and out of his brother's heart, because out
of their mouths they can't, words being too weak and
cold, and all that kind of rot and slush, till it was just
sickening; and then he blubbers out a pious goody-
goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to cry-
ing fit to bust.

And the minute the words were out of his mouth
somebody over in the crowd struck up the doxolojer,
and everybody joined in with all their might, and it
just warmed you up and made you feel as good as
church letting out. Music is a good thing; and after
all that soul-butter and hogwash I never see it freshen
up things so, and sound so honest and bully.

Then the king begins to work his jaw again, and
says how him and his nieces would be glad if a few of
the main principal friends of the family would take
supper here with them this evening, and help set up
with the ashes of the diseased; and says if his poor
brother laying yonder could speak he knows who he
would name, for they was names that was very dear to
him, and mentioned often in his letters; and so he will
name the same, to wit, as follows, vizz.: -- Rev. Mr.
Hobson, and Deacon Lot Hovey, and Mr. Ben Rucker,
and Abner Shackleford, and Levi Bell, and Dr. Robin-
son, and their wives, and the widow Bartley.

Rev. Hobson and Dr. Robinson was down to the
end of the town a-hunting together -- that is, I mean
the doctor was shipping a sick man to t'other world,
and the preacher was pinting him right. Lawyer Bell
was away up to Louisville on business. But the rest
was on hand, and so they all come and shook hands
with the king and thanked him and talked to him; and
then they shook hands with the duke and didn't say
nothing, but just kept a-smiling and bobbing their
heads like a passel of sapheads whilst he made all sorts
of signs with his hands and said "Goo-goo -- goo-goo-
goo" all the time, like a baby that can't talk.

So the king he blattered along, and managed to
inquire about pretty much everybody and dog in town,
by his name, and mentioned all sorts of little things
that happened one time or another in the town, or to
George's family, or to Peter. And he always let on
that Peter wrote him the things; but that was a lie:
he got every blessed one of them out of that young
flathead that we canoed up to the steamboat.

Then Mary Jane she fetched the letter her father
left behind, and the king he read it out loud and cried
over it. It give the dwelling-house and three thousand
dollars, gold, to the girls; and it give the tanyard
(which was doing a good business), along with some
other houses and land (worth about seven thousand),
and three thousand dollars in gold to Harvey and
William, and told where the six thousand cash was hid
down cellar. So these two frauds said they'd go and
fetch it up, and have everything square and above-
board; and told me to come with a candle. We shut
the cellar door behind us, and when they found the
bag they spilt it out on the floor, and it was a lovely
sight, all them yaller-boys. My, the way the king's
eyes did shine! He slaps the duke on the shoulder
and says:

"Oh, THIS ain't bully nor noth'n! Oh, no, I reckon
not! Why, Biljy, it beats the Nonesuch, DON'T it?"

The duke allowed it did. They pawed the yaller-
boys, and sifted them through their fingers and let
them jingle down on the floor; and the king says:

"It ain't no use talkin'; bein' brothers to a rich
dead man and representatives of furrin heirs that's got
left is the line for you and me, Bilge. Thish yer
comes of trust'n to Providence. It's the best way, in
the long run. I've tried 'em all, and ther' ain't no
better way."

Most everybody would a been satisfied with the pile,
and took it on trust; but no, they must count it. So
they counts it, and it comes out four hundred and
fifteen dollars short. Says the king:

"Dern him, I wonder what he done with that four
hundred and fifteen dollars?"

They worried over that awhile, and ransacked all
around for it. Then the duke says:

"Well, he was a pretty sick man, and likely he
made a mistake -- I reckon that's the way of it. The
best way's to let it go, and keep still about it. We
can spare it."

"Oh, shucks, yes, we can SPARE it. I don't k'yer
noth'n 'bout that -- it's the COUNT I'm thinkin' about.
We want to be awful square and open and above-board
here, you know. We want to lug this h-yer money
up stairs and count it before everybody -- then ther'
ain't noth'n suspicious. But when the dead man says
ther's six thous'n dollars, you know, we don't want
to --"

"Hold on," says the duke. "Le's make up the
deffisit," and he begun to haul out yaller-boys out of
his pocket.

"It's a most amaz'n' good idea, duke -- you HAVE
got a rattlin' clever head on you," says the king.
"Blest if the old Nonesuch ain't a heppin' us out
agin," and HE begun to haul out yaller-jackets and
stack them up.

It most busted them, but they made up the six
thousand clean and clear.

"Say," says the duke, "I got another idea. Le's
go up stairs and count this money, and then take and
GIVE IT TO THE GIRLS."

"Good land, duke, lemme hug you! It's the most
dazzling idea 'at ever a man struck. You have cert'nly
got the most astonishin' head I ever see. Oh, this is
the boss dodge, ther' ain't no mistake 'bout it. Let
'em fetch along their suspicions now if they want to --
this 'll lay 'em out."

When we got up-stairs everybody gethered around
the table, and the king he counted it and stacked it up,
three hundred dollars in a pile -- twenty elegant little
piles. Everybody looked hungry at it, and licked their
chops. Then they raked it into the bag again, and I
see the king begin to swell himself up for another
speech. He says:

"Friends all, my poor brother that lays yonder has
done generous by them that's left behind in the vale of
sorrers. He has done generous by these yer poor
little lambs that he loved and sheltered, and that's left
fatherless and motherless. Yes, and we that knowed
him knows that he would a done MORE generous by 'em
if he hadn't ben afeard o' woundin' his dear William
and me. Now, WOULDN'T he? Ther' ain't no question
'bout it in MY mind. Well, then, what kind o' brothers
would it be that 'd stand in his way at sech a time?
And what kind o' uncles would it be that 'd rob -- yes,
ROB -- sech poor sweet lambs as these 'at he loved so at
sech a time? If I know William -- and I THINK I do --
he -- well, I'll jest ask him." He turns around and
begins to make a lot of signs to the duke with his
hands, and the duke he looks at him stupid and leather-
headed a while; then all of a sudden he seems to catch
his meaning, and jumps for the king, goo-gooing with
all his might for joy, and hugs him about fifteen times
before he lets up. Then the king says, "I knowed
it; I reckon THAT 'll convince anybody the way HE feels
about it. Here, Mary Jane, Susan, Joanner, take the
money -- take it ALL. It's the gift of him that lays
yonder, cold but joyful."

Mary Jane she went for him, Susan and the hare-lip
went for the duke, and then such another hugging and
kissing I never see yet. And everybody crowded up
with the tears in their eyes, and most shook the hands
off of them frauds, saying all the time:

"You DEAR good souls! -- how LOVELY! -- how COULD
you!"

Well, then, pretty soon all hands got to talking
about the diseased again, and how good he was, and
what a loss he was, and all that; and before long a big
iron-jawed man worked himself in there from outside,
and stood a-listening and looking, and not saying any-
thing; and nobody saying anything to him either,
because the king was talking and they was all busy
listening. The king was saying -- in the middle of
something he'd started in on --

"-- they bein' partickler friends o' the diseased.
That's why they're invited here this evenin'; but to-
morrow we want ALL to come -- everybody; for he
respected everybody, he liked everybody, and so it's
fitten that his funeral orgies sh'd be public."

And so he went a-mooning on and on, liking to hear
himself talk, and every little while he fetched in his
funeral orgies again, till the duke he couldn't stand it
no more; so he writes on a little scrap of paper,
"OBSEQUIES, you old fool," and folds it up, and goes
to goo-gooing and reaching it over people's heads to
him. The king he reads it and puts it in his pocket,
and says:

"Poor William, afflicted as he is, his HEART'S aluz
right. Asks me to invite everybody to come to the
funeral -- wants me to make 'em all welcome. But he
needn't a worried -- it was jest what I was at."

Then he weaves along again, perfectly ca'm, and
goes to dropping in his funeral orgies again every now
and then, just like he done before. And when he
done it the third time he says:

"I say orgies, not because it's the common term,
because it ain't -- obsequies bein' the common term --
but because orgies is the right term. Obsequies ain't
used in England no more now -- it's gone out. We
say orgies now in England. Orgies is better, because
it means the thing you're after more exact. It's a
word that's made up out'n the Greek ORGO, outside,
open, abroad; and the Hebrew JEESUM, to plant, cover
up; hence inTER. So, you see, funeral orgies is an
open er public funeral."

He was the WORST I ever struck. Well, the iron-
jawed man he laughed right in his face. Everybody
was shocked. Everybody says, "Why, DOCTOR!" and
Abner Shackleford says:

"Why, Robinson, hain't you heard the news? This
is Harvey Wilks."

The king he smiled eager, and shoved out his
flapper, and says:

"Is it my poor brother's dear good friend and phy-
sician? I --"

"Keep your hands off of me!" says the doctor.
"YOU talk like an Englishman, DON'T you? It's the
worst imitation I ever heard. YOU Peter Wilks's
brother! You're a fraud, that's what you are!"

Well, how they all took on! They crowded around
the doctor and tried to quiet him down, and tried to
explain to him and tell him how Harvey 'd showed in
forty ways that he WAS Harvey, and knowed every-
body by name, and the names of the very dogs, and
begged and BEGGED him not to hurt Harvey's feelings
and the poor girl's feelings, and all that. But it warn't
no use; he stormed right along, and said any man that
pretended to be an Englishman and couldn't imitate
the lingo no better than what he did was a fraud and a
liar. The poor girls was hanging to the king and cry-
ing; and all of a sudden the doctor ups and turns on
THEM. He says:

"I was your father's friend, and I'm your friend;
and I warn you as a friend, and an honest one that
wants to protect you and keep you out of harm and
trouble, to turn your backs on that scoundrel and have
nothing to do with him, the ignorant tramp, with his
idiotic Greek and Hebrew, as he calls it. He is the
thinnest kind of an impostor -- has come here with a
lot of empty names and facts which he picked up
somewheres, and you take them for PROOFS, and are
helped to fool yourselves by these foolish friends here,
who ought to know better. Mary Jane Wilks, you
know me for your friend, and for your unselfish friend,
too. Now listen to me; turn this pitiful rascal out --
I BEG you to do it. Will you?"

Mary Jane straightened herself up, and my, but she
was handsome! She says:

"HERE is my answer." She hove up the bag of
money and put it in the king's hands, and says,
"Take this six thousand dollars, and invest for me
and my sisters any way you want to, and don't give
us no receipt for it."

Then she put her arm around the king on one side,
and Susan and the hare-lip done the same on the
other. Everybody clapped their hands and stomped
on the floor like a perfect storm, whilst the king held
up his head and smiled proud. The doctor says:

"All right; I wash MY hands of the matter. But I
warn you all that a time 's coming when you're going
to feel sick whenever you think of this day." And
away he went.

"All right, doctor," says the king, kinder mocking
him; "we'll try and get 'em to send for you;" which
made them all laugh, and they said it was a prime
good hit.

Mark Twain