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Mark Twain > Those Extraordinary Twins > Chapter IX

Those Extraordinary Twins

Chapter IX



THE DRINKLESS DRUNK

During Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the twins grew steadily worse; but
then the doctor was summoned South to attend his mother's funeral, and
they got well in forty-eight hours. They appeared on the street on
Friday, and were welcomed with enthusiasm by the new-born parties, the
Luigi and Angelo factions. The Luigi faction carried its strength into
the Democratic party, the Angelo faction entered into a combination with
the Whigs. The Democrats nominated Luigi for alderman under the new city
government, and the Whigs put up Angelo against him. The Democrats
nominated Pudd'nhead Wilson for mayor, and he was left alone in this
glory, for the Whigs had no man who was willing to enter the lists
against such a formidable opponent. No politician had scored such a
compliment as this before in the history of the Mississippi Valley.

The political campaign in Dawson's Landing opened in a pretty warm
fashion, and waned hotter every week. Luigi's whole heart was in it,
and even Angelo developed a surprising amount of interest-which was
natural, because he was not merely representing Whigism, a matter of no
consequence to him; but he was representing something immensely finer and
greater--to wit, Reform. In him was centered the hopes of the whole
reform element of the town; he was the chosen and admired champion of
every clique that had a pet reform of any sort or kind at heart. He was
president of the great Teetotalers' Union, its chiefest prophet and
mouthpiece.

But as the canvass went on, troubles began to spring up all around--
troubles for the twins, and through them for all the parties and segments
and factions of parties. Whenever Luigi had possession of the legs, he
carried Angelo to balls, rum shops, Sons of Liberty parades, horse-
races, campaign riots, and everywhere else that could damage him with his
party and the church; and when it was Angelo's week he carried Luigi
diligently to all manner of moral and religious gatherings, doing his
best to regain the ground he had lost before. As a result of these
double performances, there was a storm blowing all the time, an ever-
rising storm, too--a storm of frantic criticism of the twins, and rage
over their extravagant, incomprehensible conduct.

Luigi had the final chance. The legs were his for the closing week of
the canvass. He led his brother a fearful dance.

But he saved his best card for the very eve of the election. There was
to be a grand turnout of the Teetotalers' Union that day, and Angelo was
to march at the head of the procession and deliver a great oration
afterward. Luigi drank a couple of glasses of whisky--which steadied his
nerves and clarified his mind, but made Angelo drunk. Everybody who saw
the march, saw that the Champion of the Teetotalers was half seas over,
and noted also that his brother, who made no hypocritical pretensions to
extra temperance virtues, was dignified and sober. This eloquent fact
could not be unfruitful at the end of a hot political canvass. At the
mass-meeting Angelo tried to make his great temperance oration, but was
so discommoded--by hiccoughs and thickness of tongue that he had to give
it up; then drowsiness overtook him and his head drooped against Luigi's
and he went to sleep. Luigi apologized for him, and was going on to
improve his opportunity with an appeal for a moderation of what he called
"the prevailing teetotal madness," but persons in the audience began to
howl and throw things at him, and then the meeting rose in wrath and
chased him home.

This episode was a crusher for Angelo in another way. It destroyed his
chances with Rowena. Those chances had been growing, right along, for
two months. Rowena had partly confessed that she loved him, but wanted
time to consider. Now the tender dream was ended, and she told him so
the moment he was sober enough to understand. She said she would never
marry a man who drank.

"But I don't drink," he pleaded.

"That is nothing to the point," she said, coldly, "you get drunk, and
that is worse."

[There was a long and sufficiently idiotic discussion here, which ended
as reported in a previous note.]

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