Following the Equator: A Journey around the World - Vol. 1

By Mark Twain | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXVI

There are people who can do all fine and heroic things but one: keep from telling their happinesses to the unhappy.--Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

A FTER visits to Maryborough and some other Australian towns, we presently took passage for New Zealand. If it would not look too much like showing off, I would tell the reader where New Zealand is; for he is as I was: he thinks he knows. And he thinks he knows where Herzegovina is; and how to pronounce pariah; and how to use the word unique without exposing himself to the derision of the dictionary. But in truth, he knows none of these things. There are but four or five people in the world who possess this knowledge, and these make their living out of it. They travel from place to place, visiting literary assemblages, geographical societies, and seats of learning, and springing sudden bets that these people do not know these things. Since all people think they know them, they are an easy prey to these adventurers. Or rather they were an easy prey until the law interfered three months ago, and a New York court decided that this kind of gambling is illegal, "because it traverses Article IV, Section 9, of the Constitution of the United States, which forbids betting on a sure thing." This decision was rendered by the full

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