A Tramp Abroad

Author: Mark Twain


Next day the people assembled in the great hall of the Ritter tavern, to witness the auction—for the proprietor had said the treasure of Germany’s most honored son should be bartered away in no meaner place. Hildegarde and her father sat close to the books, silent and sorrowful, and holding each other’s hands. There was a great crowd of people present. The bidding began—

"How much for this precious library, just as it stands, all complete?" called the auctioneer.

"Fifty pieces of gold!"

"A hundred!"

"Two hundred."



"Five hundred!"

"Five twenty-five."

A brief pause.

"Five forty!"

A longer pause, while the auctioneer redoubled his persuasions.


A heavy drag—the auctioneer persuaded, pleaded, implored—it was useless, everybody remained silent—

"Well, then—going, going—one—two—"

"Five hundred and fifty!"

This in a shrill voice, from a bent old man, all hung with rags, and with a green patch over his left eye. Everybody in his vicinity turned and gazed at him. It was Givenaught in disguise. He was using a disguised voice, too.

"Good!" cried the auctioneer. "Going, going—one—two—"

"Five hundred and sixty!"

This, in a deep, harsh voice, from the midst of the crowd at the other end of the room. The people near by turned, and saw an old man, in a strange costume, supporting himself on crutches. He wore a long white beard, and blue spectacles. It was Herr Heartless, in disguise, and using a disguised voice.

"Good again! Going, going—one—"

"Six hundred!"

Sensation. The crowd raised a cheer, and some one cried out, "Go it, Green-patch!" This tickled the audience and a score of voices shouted, "Go it, Green-patch!"

"Going—going—going—third and last call—one—two—"

"Seven hundred!"

"Huzzah!—well done, Crutches!" cried a voice. The crowd took it up, and shouted altogether, "Well done, Crutches!"

"Splendid, gentlemen! you are doing magnificently. Going, going—"

"A thousand!"

"Three cheers for Green-patch! Up and at him, Crutches!"


"Two thousand!"

And while the people cheered and shouted, "Crutches" muttered, "Who can this devil be that is fighting so to get these useless books?—But no matter, he sha’n’t have them. The pride of Germany shall have his books if it beggars me to buy them for him."

"Going, going, going—"

"Three thousand!"

"Come, everybody—give a rouser for Green-patch!"

And while they did it, "Green-patch" muttered, "This cripple is plainly a lunatic; but the old scholar shall have his books, nevertheless, though my pocket sweat for it."


"Four thousand!"


"Five thousand!"


"Six thousand!"


"Seven thousand!"


"EIGHT thousand!"

"We are saved, father! I told you the Holy Virgin would keep her word!" "Blessed be her sacred name!" said the old scholar, with emotion. The crowd roared, "Huzza, huzza, huzza—at him again, Green-patch!"


"TEN thousand!" As Givenaught shouted this, his excitement was so great that he forgot himself and used his natural voice. He brother recognized it, and muttered, under cover of the storm of cheers—

"Aha, you are there, are you, besotted old fool? Take the books, I know what you’ll do with them!"

So saying, he slipped out of the place and the auction was at an end. Givenaught shouldered his way to Hildegarde, whispered a word in her ear, and then he also vanished. The old scholar and his daughter embraced, and the former said, "Truly the Holy Mother has done more than she promised, child, for she has give you a splendid marriage portion— think of it, two thousand pieces of gold!"

"And more still," cried Hildegarde, "for she has give you back your books; the stranger whispered me that he would none of them—’the honored son of Germany must keep them,’ so he said. I would I might have asked his name and kissed his hand and begged his blessing; but he was Our Lady’s angel, and it is not meet that we of earth should venture speech with them that dwell above."


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Chicago: Mark Twain, "II," A Tramp Abroad, ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in A Tramp Abroad (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed February 24, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9GYC7Q6HC6KB8ZY.

MLA: Twain, Mark. "II." A Tramp Abroad, edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in A Tramp Abroad, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 24 Feb. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9GYC7Q6HC6KB8ZY.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'II' in A Tramp Abroad, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, A Tramp Abroad, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 February 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9GYC7Q6HC6KB8ZY.