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A monologue from the book by Mark Twain
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson And The Comedy Of Those Extraordinary Twins. Mark Twain. Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1894.
The judge and his late wife never had any children. The judge and his wife were past middle age when this treasure fell into their lap. One must make allowances for a parental instinct that has been starving for twenty-five or thirty years.
It is famished, it is crazed with hunger by that time, and will be entirely satisfied with anything that comes handy; its taste is atrophied, it can’t tell mud cat from shad.
A devil born to a young couple is measurably recognizable by them as a devil before long, but a devil adopted by an old couple is an angel to them, and remains so, through thick and thin.
Tom is this old man’s angel; he is infatuated with him. Tom can persuade him into things which other people can’t–not all things; I don’t mean that, but a good many–
particularly one class of things: the things that create or abolish personal partialities or prejudices in the old man’s mind. The old man liked both of you.
Tom conceived a hatred for you. That was enough; it turned the old man around at once. The oldest and strongest friendship must go to the ground when one of these late-adopted darlings throws a brick at it.
It ain’t philosophy–it’s a fact. And there is something pathetic and beautiful about it, too. I think there is nothing more pathetic than to see one of these poor old childless couples taking a menagerie of yelping little worthless dogs to their hearts;
and then adding some cursing and squawking parrots and a jackass-voiced macaw; and next a couple of hundred screeching songbirds, and presently some fetid guinea pigs and rabbits, and a howling colony of cats.
It is all a groping and ignorant effort to construct out of base metal and brass filings, so to speak, something to take the place of that golden treasure denied them by Nature … a child.