Select Story

Edward Mills and George Benton

a Tale

by Mark Twain

These were distantly related to each other—seventh cousins, or something of that sort. While still babies they became orphans, and were adopted by the Brants, a childless couple, who quickly grew very fond of them. The Brants were always saying, “Be pure, honest, sober, industrious, and considerate of these, and success in life is assured.” The children heard this repeated some thousands of times before they understood it; they could repeat it themselves long before they could the Lord’s Prayer; it was painted over the nursery door, and was the first thing they learned to read. It was destined to become the unswerving rule of Edward Mills’ life. Sometimes the Brants changed the wording a little, and said, “Be pure, honest, sober, industrious, considerate, and you will never lack friends.”

Baby Mills was a comfort to everybody about him. When he wanted candy and could not have it, he listened to reason, and contented himself without it. When baby Benton wanted candy, he cried for it until he got it. Baby Mills took care of his toys; baby Benton always destroyed his in a very brief time, and then made himself so persistently disagreeable that, in order to have peace in the house, little Edward was persuaded to yield up his play things to him.

When the children were a little older, Georgie became a heavy expense in one respect; he took no care of his clothes; consequently, he shone frequently in new ones, which was not the case with Eddie. The boys grew apace. Eddie was an increasing comfort, Georgie an increasing solicitude. It was always sufficient to say, in answer to Eddie’s petitions, “I would rather you would not do it”— meaning swimming, skating, picnicking, berrying, circusing, and all sorts of things which boys delight in. But no answer was sufficient for Georgie; he had to be… Read More