Read Books Online, for Free
|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson||Mark Twain|
|Page 7 of 11||
"BY NO MEANS!"
"Do you know how to account for those strange discrepancies? I will tell you. For a purpose unknown to us, but probably a selfish one, somebody changed those children in the cradle."
This produced a vast sensation, naturally; Roxana was astonished at this admirable guess, but not disturbed by it. To guess the exchange was one thing, to guess who did it quite another. Pudd'nhead Wilson could do wonderful things, no doubt, but he couldn't do impossible ones. Safe? She was perfectly safe. She smiled privately.
"Between the ages of seven months and eight months those children were changed in the cradle"--he made one of this effect-collecting pauses, and added--"and the person who did it is in this house!"
Roxy's pulses stood still! The house was thrilled as with an electric shock, and the people half rose as if to seek a glimpse of the person who had made that exchange. Tom was growing limp; the life seemed oozing out of him. Wilson resumed:
"A was put into B's cradle in the nursery; B was transferred to the kitchen and became a Negro and a slave [Sensation-- confusion of angry ejaculations]--but within a quarter of an hour he will stand before you white and free! [Burst of applause, checked by the officers.] From seven months onward until now, A has still been a usurper, and in my finger record he bears B's name. Here is his pantograph at the age of twelve. Compare it with the assassin's signature upon the knife handle. Do they tally?"
The foreman answered:
"TO THE MINUTEST DETAIL!"
Wilson said, solemnly:
"The murderer of your friend and mine--York Driscoll of the generous hand and the kindly spirit--sits in among you. Valet de Chambre, Negro and slave--falsely called Thomas a Becket Driscoll --make upon the window the fingerprints that will hang you!"
Tom turned his ashen face imploring toward the speaker, made some impotent movements with his white lips, then slid limp and lifeless to the floor.
Wilson broke the awed silence with the words:
"There is no need. He has confessed."
Roxy flung herself upon her knees, covered her face with her hands, and out through her sobs the words struggled:
"De Lord have mercy on me, po' misasble sinner dat I is!"
The clock struck twelve.
The court rose; the new prisoner, handcuffed, was removed.
It is often the case that the man who can't tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of one.
--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
OCTOBER 12, THE DISCOVERY. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.
--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
The town sat up all night to discuss the amazing events of the day and swap guesses as to when Tom's trial would begin. Troop after troop of citizens came to serenade Wilson, and require a speech, and shout themselves hoarse over every sentence that fell from his lips--for all his sentences were golden, now, all were marvelous. His long fight against hard luck and prejudice was ended; he was a made man for good. And as each of these roaring gangs of enthusiasts marched away, some remorseful member of it was quite sure to raise his voice and say:
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004