More depressing news out of the Middle East today. Israel cut the Gaza Strip in half while a suicide bomber killed himself and another person. Perhaps more than any other feud in history, the trouble there is a perfect illustration of what Mark Twain had in mind when he wrote that famous chapter of Huckleberry Finn. I looked around for the passage and found it:

“Did you want to kill him, Buck?”
“Well, I bet I did.”
“What did he do to you?”
“Him? He never done nothing to me.”
“Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?”
“Why, nothing — only it’s on account of the feud.”
“What’s a feud?”
“Why, where was you raised? Don’t you know what a feud is?”
“Never heard of it before — tell me about it.”
“Well,” says Buck, “a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills HIM; then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the COUSINS chip in — and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud. But it’s kind of slow, and takes a long time.”
“Has this one been going on long, Buck?”
“Well, I should RECKON! It started thirty year ago, or som’ers along there. There was trouble ’bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle it; and the suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the man that won the suit — which he would naturally do, of course. Anybody would.”
“What was the trouble about, Buck? — land?”
“I reckon maybe — I don’t know.”
“Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?”
“Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago.”
“Don’t anybody know?”
“Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they don’t know now what the row was about in the first place.”

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