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Mark Twain
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson



A WHISPER TO THE READER

There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

A person who is ignorant of legal matters is always liable to make mistakes when he tries to photograph a court scene with his pen; and so I was not willing to let the law chapters in this book go to press without first subjecting them to rigid and exhausting revision and correction by a trained barrister--if that is what they are called. These chapters are right, now, in every detail, for they were rewritten under the immediate eye of William Hicks, who studied law part of a while in southwest Missouri thirty-five years ago and then came over here to Florence for his health and is still helping for exercise and board in Macaroni Vermicelli's horse-feed shed, which is up the back alley as you turn around the corner out of the Piazza del Duomo just beyond the house where that stone that Dante used to sit on six hundred years ago is let into the wall when he let on to be watching them build Giotto's campanile and yet always got tired looking as Beatrice passed along on her way to get a chunk of chestnut cake to defend herself with in case of a Ghibelline outbreak before she got to school, at the same old stand where they sell the same old cake to this day and it is just as light and good as it was then, too, and this is not flattery, far from it. He was a little rusty on his law, but he rubbed up for this book, and those two or three legal chapters are right and straight, now. He told me so himself.

Given under my hand this second day of January, 1893, at the Villa Viviani, village of Settignano, three miles back of Florence, on the hills-- the same certainly affording the most charming view to be found on this planet, and with it the most dreamlike and enchanting sunsets to be found in any planet or even in any solar system--and given, too, in the swell room of the house, with the busts of Cerretani senators and other grandees of this line looking approvingly down upon me, as they used to look down upon Dante, and mutely asking me to adopt them into my family, which I do with pleasure, for my remotest ancestors are but spring chickens compared with these robed and stately antiques, and it will be a great and satisfying lift for me, that six hundred years will.

Mark Twain.

Chapter 1: Pudd'nhead Wins His Name
Chapter 2: Driscoll Spares His Slaves
Chapter 3: Roxy Plays a Shrewd Trick
Chapter 4: The Ways of the Changelings
Chapter 5: The Twins Thrill Dawson's Landing
Chapter 6: Swimming in Glory
Chapter 7: The Unknown Nymph
Chapter 8: Marse Tom Tramples His Chance
Chapter 9: Tom Practices Sycophancy
Chapter 10: The Nymph Revealed
Chapter 11: Pudd'nhead's Thrilling Discovery
Chapter 12: The Shame of Judge Driscoll
Chapter 13: Tom Stares at Ruin
Chapter 14: Roxana Insists Upon Reform
Chapter 15: The Robber Robbed
Chapter 16: Sold Down the River
Chapter 17: The Judge Utters Dire Prophesy
Chapter 18: Roxana Commands
Chapter 19: The Prophesy Realized
Chapter 20: The Murderer Chuckles
Chapter 21: Doom
Conclusion
Author's Note
Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works