CHAPTER 21 — Doom
He is useless on
top of the ground; he ought to be under
it, inspiring the cabbages. —Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar
APRIL 1. This
is the day upon which we are reminded of what
we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. —
Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar
Wilson put on enough clothes for business purposes and went to work under a high pressure of steam. He was awake all over. All sense of weariness had been swept away by the invigorating refreshment of the great and hopeful discovery which he had made. He made fine and accurate reproductions of a number of his “records,” and then enlarged them on a scale of ten to one with his pantograph. He did these pantograph enlargements on sheets of white cardboard, and made each individual line of the bewildering maze of whorls or curves or loops which consisted of the “pattern” of a “record” stand out bold and black by reinforcing it with ink. To the untrained eye the collection of delicate originals made by the human finger on the glass plates looked about alike; but when enlarged ten times they resembled the markings of a block of wood that has been sawed across the grain, and the dullest eye could detect at a glance, and at a distance of many feet, that no two of the patterns were alike. When Wilson had at last finished his tedious and difficult work, he arranged his results according to a plan in which a progressive order and sequence was a principal feature; then he added to the batch several pantograph enlargements which he had made from time to time in bygone years.
The night was spent and the day well advanced now. By the time he had snatched a trifle of breakfast, it was nine o’clock, and the court was ready to begin its sitting. He was in his place twelve minutes later with his “records.”
Tom Driscoll caught a slight glimpse of the records, and nudged his nearest friend and said, with a wink, “Pudd’nhead’s got a rare eye to business—thinks that as long as he can’t win his case it’s at least a noble good chance to advertise his window palace decorations without any expense.” Wilson was informed that his witnesses had been delayed, but would arrive presently; but he rose and said he should probably not have occasion to make use of their testimony. [An amused murmur ran through the room: “It’s a clean backdown! he gives up without hitting a lick!”] Wilson continued: “I have other testimony—and better. [This compelled interest, and evoked murmurs of surprise that had a detectable ingredient of disappointment in them.] If I seem to be springing this evidence upon the court, I offer as my justification for this, that I did not discover its existence until late last night, and have been engaged in examining and classifying it ever since, until half an hour ago. I shall offer it presently; but first I wish to say a few preliminary words.