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Roughing It

Roughing It

Harriet Elinor Smith
Edgar Marquess Branch
Lin Salamo
Robert Pack Browning
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: 3
Pages: 888
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  • Book Info
    Roughing It
    Book Description:

    Mark Twain's humorous account of his six years in Nevada, San Francisco, and the Sandwich Islands is a patchwork of personal anecdotes and tall tales, many of them told in the "vigorous new vernacular" of the West. Selling seventy five thousand copies within a year of its publication in 1872,Roughing Itwas greeted as a work of "wild, preposterous invention and sublime exaggeration" whose satiric humor made "pretension and false dignity ridiculous." Meticulously restored from a variety of original sources, the text is the first to adhere to the author's wishes in thousands of details of wording, spelling, and punctuation, and includes all of the 304 first-edition illustrations. With its comprehensive and illuminating notes and supplementary materials, which include detailed maps tracing Mark Twain's western travels, this Mark Twain LibraryRoughing Itmust be considered the standard edition for readers and students of Mark Twain.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94806-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xx)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
    (pp. xxv-xxx)
    Harriet Elinor Smith

    Like most of Mark Twain’s best work,Roughing Itis largely autobiographical, as its preface explains: “This book is merely a personal narrative, and not a pretentious history or a philosophical dissertation. It is a record of several years of variegated vagabondizing. … Still, there is information in the volume; information concerning an interesting episode in the history of the Far West, about which no books have been written by persons who were on the ground in person.”Roughing Itrecreates a six-year period from Clemens’s early life, beginning in the summer of 1861, when the Civil War had interrupted...

    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  6. CHAPTER 1
    (pp. 1-3)

    My brother had just been appointed Secretary of Nevada Territory—an office of such majesty that it concentrated in itself the duties and dignities of Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State, and Acting Governor in the Governor′s absence. A salary of eighteen hundred dollars a year and the title of ″Mr. Secretary,″ gave to the great position an air of wild and imposing grandeur. I was young and ignorant, and I envied my brother. I coveted his distinction and his financial splendor, but particularly and especially the long, strange journey he was going to make, and the curious new world he...

  7. CHAPTER 2
    (pp. 4-9)

    The first thing we did on that glad evening that landed us at St. Joseph was to hunt up the stage-office, and pay a hundred and fifty dollars apiece for tickets per overland coach to Carson City; Nevada.

    The next morning, bright and early, we took a hasty breakfast, and hurried to the starting-place. Then an inconvenience presented itself which we had not properly appreciated before, namely; that one cannot make a heavy traveling trunk stand for twenty-five pounds of baggage—because it weighs a good deal more. But that was all we could take—twenty-five pounds each. So we...

  8. CHAPTER 3
    (pp. 10-17)

    About an hour and a half before daylight we were bowling along smoothly over the road—so smoothly that our cradle only rocked in a gentle, lulling way, that was gradually soothing us to sleep, and dulling our consciousness—when something gave away under us! We were dimly aware of it, but indifferent to it. The coach stopped. We heard the driver and conductor talking together outside, and rummaging for a lantern, and swearing because they could not find it—but we had no interest in whatever had happened, and it only added to our comfort to think of those...

  9. CHAPTER 4
    (pp. 18-28)

    As the sun went down and the evening chill came on, we made preparation for bed. We stirred up the hard leather letter-sacks, and the knotty canvas bags of printed matter (knotty and uneven because of projecting ends and corners of magazines, boxes and books). We stirred them up and redisposed them in such a way as to make our bed as level as possible. And wedidimprove it, too, though after all our work it had an upheaved and billowy look about it, like a little piece of a stormy sea. Next we hunted up our boots from...

  10. CHAPTER 5
    (pp. 29-34)

    Another night of alternate tranquillity and turmoil. But morning came, by and by. It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expanses of level greensward, bright sunlight, an impressive solitude utterly without visible human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere of such amazing magnifying properties that trees that seemed close at hand were more than three miles away. We resumed undress uniform, climbed a-top of the flying coach, dangled our legs over the side, shouted occasionally at our frantic mules, merely to see them lay their ears back and scamper faster, tied our hats on to keep our...

  11. CHAPTER 6
    (pp. 35-40)

    Our new conductor (just shipped) had been without sleep for twenty hours. Such a thing was very frequent. From St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, by stage-coach, was nearly nineteen hundred miles, and the trip was often made in fifteen days (the cars do it in four and a half, now), but the time specified in the mail contracts, and required by the schedule, was eighteen or nineteen days, if I remember rightly. This was to make fair allowance for winter storms and snows, and other unavoidable causes of detention. The stage company had everything under strict discipline and good...

  12. CHAPTER 7
    (pp. 41-49)

    It did seem strange enough to see a town again after what appeared to us such a long acquaintance with deep, still, almost lifeless and houseless solitude! We tumbled out into the busy street feeling like meteoric people crumbled off the corner of some other world, and wakened up suddenly in this. For an hour we took as much interest in Overland City as if we had never seen a town before. The reason we had an hour to spare was because we had to change our stage (for a less sumptuous affair, called a ″mud-wagon″) and transfer our freight...

  13. CHAPTER 8
    (pp. 50-54)

    In a little while all interest was taken up in stretching our necks and watching for the ″pony-rider″—the fleet messenger who sped across the continent from St. Joe to Sacramento, carrying letters nineteen hundred miles in eight days! Think of that for perishable horse and human flesh and blood to do! The pony-rider was usually a little bit of a man, brim full of spirit and endurance. No matter what time of the day or night his watch came on, and no matter whether it was winter or summer, raining, snowing, hailing, or sleeting, or whether his ″beat″ was...

  14. CHAPTER 9
    (pp. 55-59)

    We passed Fort Laramie in the night, and on the seventh morning out we found ourselves in the Black Hills, with Laramie Peak at our elbow (apparently) looming vast and solitary—a deep, dark, rich indigo blue in hue, so portentously did the old colossus frown under his beetling brows of storm-cloud. He was thirty or forty miles away, in reality, but he only seemed removed a little beyond the low ridge at our right. We breakfasted at Horseshoe station, six hundred and seventy-six miles out from St. Joseph. We had now reached a hostile Indian country, and during the...

  15. CHAPTER 10
    (pp. 60-68)

    Really and truly, two-thirds of the talk of drivers and conductors had been about this man Slade, ever since the day before we reached Julesburg. In order that the eastern reader may have a clear conception of what a Rocky Mountain desperado is, in his highest state of development, I will reduce all this mass of overland gossip to one straightforward narrative, and present it in the following shape:

    Slade was born in Illinois, of good parentage. At about twenty-six years of age he killed a man in a quarrel and fled the country. At St. Joseph, Missouri, he joined...

  16. CHAPTER 11
    (pp. 69-75)

    And sure enough, two or three years afterward, we did hear of him again. News came to the Pacific coast that the Vigilance Committee in Montana (whither Slade had removed from Rocky Ridge) had hanged him. I find an account of the affair in the thrilling little book I quoted a paragraph from in the last chapter—″The Vigilantes of Montana; being a Reliable Account of the Capture, Trial and Execution of Henry Plummer′s Notorious Road Agent Band: By Prof. Thos. J. Dimsdale, Virginia City, M. T.″ Mr. Dimsdale′s chapter is well worth reading, as a specimen of how the...

  17. CHAPTER 12
    (pp. 76-87)

    Just beyond the breakfast-station we overtook a Mormon emigrant train of thirty-three wagons; and tramping wearily along and driving their herd of loose cows, were dozens of coarse-clad and sad-looking men, women and children, who had walked as they were walking now, day after day for eight lingering weeks, and in that time had compassed the distance our stage had come ineight days and three hours—seven hundred and ninety-eight miles! They were dusty and uncombed, hatless, bonnetless and ragged, and they did look so tired!

    After breakfast, we bathed in Horse Creek, a (previously) limpid, sparkling stream—an...

  18. CHAPTER 13
    (pp. 88-93)

    We had a fine supper, of the freshest meats and fowls and vegetables—a great variety and as great abundance. We walked about the streets some, afterward, and glanced in at shops and stores; and there was fascination in surreptitiously staring at every creature we took to be a Mormon. This was fairy-land to us, to all intents and purposes—a land of enchantment, and goblins, and awful mystery. We felt a curiosity to ask every child how many mothers it had, and if it could tell them apart; and we experienced a thrill every time a dwelling-house door opened...

  19. CHAPTER 14
    (pp. 94-98)

    Mr. Street was very busy with his telegraphic matters—and considering that he had eight or nine hundred miles of rugged, snowy, uninhabited mountains, and waterless, treeless, melancholy deserts to traverse with his wire, it was natural and needful that he should be as busy as possible. He could not go comfortably along and cut his poles by the roadside, either, but they had to be hauled by ox teams across those exhausting deserts—and it was two days′ journey from water to water, in one or two of them. Mr. Street′s contract was a vast work, every way one...

  20. CHAPTER 15
    (pp. 99-106)

    It is a luscious country for thrilling evening stories about assassinations of intractable Gentiles. I cannot easily conceive of anything more cosy than the night in Salt Lake which we spent in a Gentile den, smoking pipes and listening to tales of how Burton galloped in among the pleading and defenceless ″Morrisites″ and shot them down, men and women, like so many dogs. And how Bill Hickman, a Destroying Angel, shot Drown and Arnold dead for bringing suit against him for a debt. And how Porter Rockwell did this and that dreadful thing. And how heedless people often come to...

  21. CHAPTER 16
    (pp. 107-115)

    All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the ″elect″ have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so ″slow,″ so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper,...

  22. CHAPTER 17
    (pp. 116-121)

    At the end of our two days′ sojourn, we left Great Salt Lake City hearty and well fed and happy—physically superb but not so very much wiser, as regards the ″Mormon question,″ than we were when we arrived, perhaps. We had a deal more ″information″ than we had before, of course, but we did not know what portion of it was reliable and what was not—for it all came from acquaintances of a day—strangers, strictly speaking. We were told, for instance, that the dreadful ″Mountain Meadows massacre″ was the work of the Indians entirely, and that the...

  23. CHAPTER 18
    (pp. 122-125)

    At eight in the morning we reached the remnant and ruin of what had been the important military station of ″Camp Floyd,″ some forty-five or fifty miles from Salt Lake City. At 4 p.m. we had doubled our distance and were ninety or a hundred miles from Salt Lake. And now we entered upon one of that species of deserts whose concentrated hideousness shames the diffused and diluted horrors of Sahara—an ″alkali″ desert. For sixty-eight miles there was but one break in it. I do not remember that this was really a break; indeed it seems to me that...

  24. CHAPTER 19
    (pp. 126-129)

    On the morning of the sixteenth day out from St. Joseph we arrived at the entrance of Rocky Cañon, two hundred and fifty miles from Salt Lake. It was along in this wild country somewhere, and far from any habitation of white men, except the stage stations, that we came across the wretchedest type of mankind I have ever seen, up to this writing. I refer to the Goshoot Indians. From what we could see and all we could learn, they are very considerably inferior to even the despised Digger Indians of California; inferior to all races of savages on...

  25. CHAPTER 20
    (pp. 130-136)

    On the seventeenth day we passed the highest mountain peaks we had yet seen, and although the day was very warm the night that followed upon its heels was wintry cold and blankets were next to useless.

    On the eighteenth day we encountered the eastward-bound telegraph-constructors at Reese river station and sent a message to his Excellency Gov. Nye at Carson City (distant one hundred and fifty-six miles).

    On the nineteenth day we crossed the Great American Desert—forty memorable miles of bottomless sand, into which the coach wheels sunk from six inches to a foot. We worked our passage...

  26. CHAPTER 21
    (pp. 137-146)

    We were approaching the end of our long journey. It was the morning of the twentieth day. At noon we would reach Carson City, the capital of Nevada Territory. We were not glad, but sorry. It had been a fine pleasure trip; we had fed fat on wonders every day; we were now well accustomed to stage life, and very fond of it; so the idea of coming to a stand-still and settling down to a humdrum existence in a village was not agreeable, but on the contrary depressing.

    Visibly our new home was a desert, walled in by barren,...

  27. CHAPTER 22
    (pp. 147-151)

    It was the end of August, and the skies were cloudless and the weather superb. In two or three weeks I had grown wonderfully fascinated with the curious new country, and concluded to put off my return to ″the States″ awhile. I had grown well accustomed to wearing a damaged slouch hat, blue woolen shirt, and pants crammed into boot-tops, and gloried in the absence of coat, vest and braces. I felt rowdyish and ″bully,″ (as the historian Josephus phrases it, in his fine chapter upon the destruction of the Temple). It seemed to me that nothing could be so...

  28. CHAPTER 23
    (pp. 152-157)

    If there is any life that is happier than the life we led on our timber ranch for the next two or three weeks, it must be a sort of life which I have not read of in books or experienced in person. We did not see a human being but ourselves during the time, or hear any sounds but those that were made by the wind and the waves, the sighing of the pines, and now and then the far-off thunder of an avalanche. The forest about us was dense and cool, the sky above us was cloudless and...

  29. CHAPTER 24
    (pp. 158-165)

    I resolved to have a horse to ride. I had never seen such wild, free, magnificent horsemanship outside of a circus as these picturesquely-clad Mexicans, Californians and Mexicanized Americans displayed in Carson streets every day. How they rode! Leaning just gently forward out of the perpendicular, easy and nonchalant, with broad slouch-hat brim blown square up in front, and longriataswinging above the head, they swept through the town like the wind! The next minute they were only a sailing puff of dust on the far desert. If they trotted, they sat up gallantly and gracefully, and seemed part...

  30. CHAPTER 25
    (pp. 166-173)

    Originally, Nevada was a part of Utah and was called Carson County; and a pretty large county it was, too. Certain of its valleys produced no end of hay, and this attracted small colonies of Mormon stock-raisers and farmers to them. A few orthodox Americans straggled in from California, but no love was lost between the two classes of colonists. There was little or no friendly intercourse; each party staid to itself. The Mormons were largely in the majority, and had the additional advantage of being peculiarly under the protection of the Mormon government of the Territory. Therefore they could...

  31. CHAPTER 26
    (pp. 174-178)

    By and by I was smitten with the silver fever. ″Prospecting parties″ were leaving for the mountains every day, and discovering and taking possession of rich silver-bearing lodes and ledges of quartz. Plainly this was the road to fortune. The great ″Gould & Curry″ mine was held at three or four hundred dollars a foot when we arrived; but in two months it had sprung up to eight hundred. The ″Ophir″ had been worth only a mere trifle, a year gone by, and now it was selling at nearlyfour thousand dollars a foot!Not a mine could be named that...

  32. CHAPTER 27
    (pp. 179-183)

    Hurry, was the word! We wasted no time. Our party consisted of four persons—a blacksmith sixty years of age, two young lawyers, and myself. We bought a wagon and two miserable old horses. We put eighteen hundred pounds of provisions and mining tools in the wagon and drove out of Carson on a chilly December afternoon. The horses were so weak and old that we soon found that it would be better if one or two of us got out and walked. It was an improvement. Next, we found that it would be better if a third man got...

  33. CHAPTER 28
    (pp. 184-188)

    After leaving the Sink, we traveled along the Humboldt river a little way. People accustomed to the monster mile-wide Mississippi, grow accustomed to associating the term ″river″ with a high degree of watery grandeur. Consequently, such people feel rather disappointed when they stand on the shores of the Humboldt or the Carson and find that a ″river″ in Nevada is a sickly rivulet which is just the counterpart of the Erie Canal in all respects save that the canal is twice as long and four times as deep. One of the pleasantest and most invigorating exercises one can contrive is...

  34. CHAPTER 29
    (pp. 189-194)

    True knowledge of the nature of silver mining came fast enough. We went out ″prospecting″ with Mr. Ballou. We climbed the mountain sides, and clambered among sage-brush, rocks and snow till we were ready to drop with exhaustion, but found no silver—nor yet any gold. Day after day we did this. Now and then we came upon holes burrowed a few feet into the declivities and apparently abandoned; and now and then we found one or two listless men still burrowing. But there was no appearance of silver. These holes were the beginnings of tunnels, and the purpose was...

  35. CHAPTER 30
    (pp. 195-200)

    I met men at every turn who owned from one thousand to thirty thousand ″feet″ in undeveloped silver mines, every single foot of which they believed would shortly be worth from fifty to a thousand dollars—and as often as any other way they were men who had not twenty-five dollars in the world. Every man you met had his new mine to boast of, and his ″specimens″ ready; and if the opportunity offered, he would infallibly back you into a corner and offer as a favor toyou, not tohim, to part with just a few feet in...

  36. CHAPTER 31
    (pp. 201-210)

    There were two men in the company who caused me particular discomfort. One was a little Swede, about twenty-five years old, who knew only one song, and he was forever singing it. By day we were all crowded into one small, stifling bar-room, and so there was no escaping this person′s music. Through all the profanity, whisky-guzzling, ″old sledge″ and quarreling, his monotonous song meandered with never a variation in its tiresome sameness, and it seemed to me, at last, that I would be content to die, in order to be rid of the torture. The other man was a...

  37. CHAPTER 32
    (pp. 211-216)

    We seemed to be in a road, but that was no proof. We tested this by walking off in various directions—the regular snow-mounds and the regular avenues between them convinced each man thathehad found the true road, and that the others had found only false ones. Plainly the situation was desperate. We were cold and stiff and the horses were tired. We decided to build a sage-brush fire and camp out till morning. This was wise, because if we were wandering from the right road and the snow-storm continued another day our case would be the next...

  38. CHAPTER 33
    (pp. 217-220)

    I do not know how long I was in a state of forgetfulness, but it seemed an age. A vague consciousness grew upon me by degrees, and then came a gathering anguish of pain in my limbs and through all my body. I shuddered. The thought flitted through my brain, ″this is death—this is the hereafter.″

    Then came a white upheaval at my side, and a voice said, with bitterness:

    ″Will some gentleman be so good as to kick me behind?″

    It was Ballou—at least it was a towzled snow image in a sitting posture, with Ballou′s voice....

  39. CHAPTER 34
    (pp. 221-227)

    The mountains are very high and steep about Carson, Eagle and Washoe Valleys—very high and very steep, and so when the snow gets to melting off fast in the spring and the warm surface-earth begins to moisten and soften, the disastrous land-slides commence. The reader cannot know what a land-slide is, unless he has lived in that country and seen the whole side of a mountain taken off some fine morning and deposited down in the valley, leaving a vast, treeless, unsightly scar upon the mountain′s front to keep the circumstance fresh in his memory all the years that...

  40. CHAPTER 35
    (pp. 228-231)

    When we finally left for Esmeralda, horseback, we had an addition to the company in the person of Capt. John Nye, the Governor′s brother. He had a good memory, and a tongue hung in the middle. This is a combination which gives immortality to conversation. Capt. John never suffered the talk to flag or falter once during the hundred and twenty miles of the journey. In addition to his conversational powers, he had one or two other endowments of a marked character. One was a singular ″handiness″ about doing anything and everything, from laying out a railroad or organizing a...

  41. CHAPTER 36
    (pp. 232-237)

    I had already learned how hard and long and dismal a task it is to burrow down into the bowels of the earth and get out the coveted ore; and now I learned that the burrowing was only half the work; and that to get the silver out of the ore was the dreary and laborious other half of it. We had to turn out at six in the morning and keep at it till dark. This mill was a six-stamp affair, driven by steam. Six tall, upright rods of iron, as large as a man′s ankle, and heavily shod...

  42. CHAPTER 37
    (pp. 238-243)

    IT was somewhere in the neighborhood of Mono Lake that the marvelous Whiteman cement mine was supposed to lie. Every now and then it would be reported that Mr. W. had passed stealthily through Esmeralda at dead of night, in disguise, and then we would have a wild excitement—because he must be steering for his secret mine, and now was the time to follow him. In less than three hours after daylight all the horses and mules and donkeys in the vicinity would be bought, hired or stolen, and half the community would be off for the mountains, following...

  43. CHAPTER 38
    (pp. 245-249)

    Mono lake lies in a lifeless, treeless, hideous desert, eight thousand feet above the level of the sea, and is guarded by mountains two thousand feet higher, whose summits are always clothed in clouds. This solemn, silent, sailless sea—this lonely tenant of the loneliest spot on earth—is little graced with the picturesque. It is an unpretending expanse of grayish water, about a hundred miles in circumference, with two islands in its centre, mere upheavals of rent and scorched and blistered lava, snowed over with gray banks and drifts of pumice stone and ashes, the winding sheet of the...

  44. CHAPTER 39
    (pp. 250-255)

    About seven o′clock one blistering hot morning—for it was now dead summer time—Higbie and I took the boat and started on a voyage of discovery to the two islands. We had often longed to do this, but had been deterred by the fear of storms; for they were frequent, and severe enough to capsize an ordinary row-boat like ours without great difficulty—and once capsized, death would ensue in spite of the bravest swimming, for that venomous water would eat a man′s eyes out like fire, and burn him out inside, too, if he shipped a sea. It...

  45. CHAPTER 40
    (pp. 256-263)

    I now come to a curious episode—the most curious, I think, that had yet accented my slothful, valueless, heedless career. Out of a hillside toward the upper end of the town, projected a wall of reddish looking quartz-croppings, the exposed comb of a silver-bearing ledge that extended deep down into the earth, of course. It was owned by a company entitled the ″Wide West.″ There was a shaft sixty or seventy feet deep on the under side of the croppings, and everybody was acquainted with the rock that came from it—and tolerably rich rock it was, too, but...

  46. CHAPTER 41
    (pp. 264-270)

    Capt. Nye was very ill indeed, with spasmodic rheumatism. But the old gentleman was himself—which is to say, he was kindhearted and agreeable when comfortable, but a singularly violent wild-cat when things did not go well. He would be smiling along pleasantly enough, when a sudden spasm of his disease would take him and he would go out of his smile into a perfect fury. He would groan and wail and howl with the anguish, and fill up the odd chinks with the most elaborate profanity that strong convictions and a fine fancy could contrive. With fair opportunity he...

  47. CHAPTER 42
    (pp. 271-277)

    What to do next?

    It was a momentous question. I had gone out into the world to shift for myself, at the age of thirteen (for my father had endorsed for friends; and although he left us a sumptuous legacy of pride in his fine Virginian stock and its national distinction, I presently found that I could not live on that alone without occasional bread to wash it down with). I had gained a livelihood in various vocations, but had not dazzled anybody with my successes; still the list was before me, and the amplest liberty in the matter of...

  48. CHAPTER 43
    (pp. 278-284)

    However, as I grew better acquainted with the business and learned the run of the sources of information I ceased to require the aid of fancy to any large extent, and became able to fill my columns without diverging noticeably from the domain of fact.

    I struck up friendships with the reporters of the other journals, and we swapped ″regulars″ with each other and thus economized work. ″Regulars″ are permanent sources of news, like courts, bullion returns, ″clean-ups″ at the quartz mills, and inquests. Inasmuch as everybody went armed, we had an inquest about every day, and so this department...

  49. CHAPTER 44
    (pp. 285-291)

    My salary was increased to forty dollars a week. But I seldom drew it. I had plenty of other resources, and what were two broad twenty-dollar gold pieces to a man who had his pockets full of such and a cumbersome abundance of bright half dollars besides? [Paper money has never come into use on the Pacific coast.] Reporting was lucrative, and every man in the town was lavish with his money and his ″feet.″ The city and all the great mountain side were riddled with mining shafts. There were more mines than miners. True, not ten of these mines...

  50. CHAPTER 45
    (pp. 292-298)

    The ″flush times″ held bravely on. Something over two years before, Mr. Goodman and another journeyman printer, had borrowed forty dollars and set out from San Francisco to try their fortunes in the new city of Virginia. They found theTerritorial Enterprise, a poverty-stricken weekly journal, gasping for breath and likely to die. They bought it, type, fixtures, good-will and all, for a thousand dollars, on long time. The editorial sanctum, news-room, press-room, publication office, bed-chamber, parlor, and kitchen were all compressed into one apartment and it was a small one, too. The editors and printers slept on the floor,...

  51. CHAPTER 46
    (pp. 299-307)

    There were nabobs in those days—in the ″flush times,″ I mean. Every rich strike in the mines created one or two. I call to mind several of these. They were careless, easy-going fellows, as a general thing, and the community at large was as much benefited by their riches as they were themselves—possibly more, in some cases.

    Two cousins, teamsters, did some hauling for a man, and had to take a small segregated portion of a silver mine in lieu of three hundred dollars cash. They gave an outsider a third to open the mine, and they went...

  52. CHAPTER 47
    (pp. 308-317)

    Somebody has said that in order to know a community, one must observe the style of its funerals and know what manner of men they bury with most ceremony. I cannot say which class we buried with most eclat in our ″flush times,″ the distinguished public benefactor or the distinguished rough—possibly the two chief grades or grand divisions of society honored their illustrious dead about equally; and hence, no doubt the philosopher I have quoted from would have needed to see two representative funerals in Virginia before forming his estimate of the people.

    There was a grand time over...

  53. CHAPTER 48
    (pp. 318-325)

    The first twenty-six graves in the Virginia cemetery were occupied bymurderedmen. So everybody said, so everybody believed, and so they will always say and believe. The reason why there was so much slaughtering done, was, that in a new mining district the rough element predominates, and a person is not respected until he has ″killed his man.″ That was the very expression used.

    If an unknown individual arrived, they did not inquire if he was capable, honest, industrious, but—had he killed his man? If he had not, he gravitated to his natural and proper position, that of...

  54. CHAPTER 49
    (pp. 326-330)

    An extract or two from the newspapers of the day will furnish a photograph that can need no embellishment:

    Fatal Shooting Affray.—An affray occurred, last evening, in a billiard saloon on C street, betweenDeputy Marshal Jack Williamsand Wm. Brown, which resulted in the immediate death of the latter. There had been some difficulty between the parties for several months.

    An inquest was immediately held, and the following testimony adduced:

    Officer Geo. Birdsall, sworn, says:—I was told Wm. Brown was drunk and was looking for Jack Williams; so soon as I heard that I started for the...

  55. CHAPTER 50
    (pp. 331-338)

    These murder and jury statistics remind me of a certain very extraordinary trial and execution of twenty years ago; it is a scrap of history familiar to all old Californians, and worthy to be known by other peoples of the earth that love simple, straightforward justice unencumbered with nonsense. I would apologize for this digression but for the fact that the information I am about to offer is apology enough in itself. And since I digress constantly anyhow, perhaps it is as well to eschew apologies altogether and thus prevent their growing irksome.

    Capt. Ned Blakely—that name will answer...

  56. CHAPTER 51
    (pp. 339-353)

    Vice flourished luxuriantly during the hey-day of our ″flush times.″ The saloons were overburdened with custom; so were the police courts, the gambling dens, the brothels and the jails—unfailing signs of high prosperity in a mining region—in any region for that matter. Is it not so? A crowded police court docket is the surest of all signs that trade is brisk and money plenty. Still, there is one other sign; it comes last, but when it does come it establishes beyond cavil that the ″flush times″ are at the flood. This is the birth of the ″literary″ paper....

  57. CHAPTER 52
    (pp. 354-360)

    Since I desire, in this chapter, to say an instructive word or two about the silver mines, the reader may take this fair warning and skip, if he chooses. The year 1863 was perhaps the very top blossom and culmination of the ″flush times.″ Virginia swarmed with men and vehicles to that degree that the place looked like a very hive—that is when one′s vision could pierce through the thick fog of alkali dust that was generally blowing in summer. I will say, concerning this dust, that if you drove ten miles through it, you and your horses would...

  58. CHAPTER 53
    (pp. 361-368)

    Every now and then, in these days, the boys used to tell me I ought to get one Jim Blaine to tell me the stirring story of his grandfather′s old ram—but they always added that I must not mention the matter unless Jim was drunk at the time—just comfortably and sociably drunk. They kept this up until my curiosity was on the rack to hear the story. I got to haunting Blaine; but it was of no use, the boys always found fault with his condition; he was often moderately but never satisfactorily drunk. I never watched a...

  59. CHAPTER 54
    (pp. 369-375)

    Of course there was a large Chinese population in Virginia—it is the case with every town and city on the Pacific coast. They are a harmless race when white men either let them alone or treat them no worse than dogs; in fact they are almost entirely harmless anyhow, for they seldom think of resenting the vilest insults or the cruelest injuries. They are quiet, peaceable, tractable, free from drunkenness, and they are as industrious as the day is long. A disorderly Chinaman is rare, and a lazy one does not exist. So long as a Chinaman has strength...

  60. CHAPTER 55
    (pp. 376-384)

    I began to get tired of staying in one place so long. There was no longer satisfying variety in going down to Carson to report the proceedings of the legislature once a year, and horse-races and pumpkin-shows once in three months; (they had got to raising pumpkins and potatoes in Washoe Valley; and of course one of the first achievements of the legislature was to institute a ten-thousand-dollar Agricultural Fair to show off forty dollars′ worth of those pumpkins in—however, the Territorial legislature was usually spoken of as the ″asylum″). I wanted to see San Francisco. I wanted to...

  61. CHAPTER 56
    (pp. 385-390)

    We rumbled over the plains and valleys, climbed the Sierras to the clouds, and looked down upon summer-clad California. And I will remark here, in passing, that all scenery in California requiresdistanceto give it its highest charm. The mountains are imposing in their sublimity and their majesty of form and altitude, from any point of view—but one must have distance to soften their ruggedness and enrich their tintings; a Californian forest is best at a little distance, for there is a sad poverty of variety in species, the trees being chiefly of one monotonous family—redwood, pine,...

  62. CHAPTER 57
    (pp. 391-395)

    It was in this Sacramento Valley, just referred to, that a deal of the most lucrative of the early gold mining was done, and you may still see, in places, its grassy slopes and levels torn and guttered and disfigured by the avaricious spoilers of fifteen and twenty years ago. You may see such disfigurements far and wide over California—and in some such places, where only meadows and forests are visible—not a living creature, not a house, no stick or stone or remnant of a ruin, and not a sound, not even a whisper to disturb the Sabbath...

  63. CHAPTER 58
    (pp. 396-404)

    For a few months I enjoyed what to me was an entirely new phase of existence—a butterfly idleness; nothing to do, nobody to be responsible to, and untroubled with financial uneasiness. I fell in love with the most cordial and sociable city in the Union. After the sage-brush and alkali deserts of Washoe, San Francisco was Paradise to me. I lived at the best hotel, exhibited my clothes in the most conspicuous places, infested the opera, and learned to seem enraptured with music which oftener afflicted my ignorant ear than enchanted it, if I had had the vulgar honesty...

  64. CHAPTER 59
    (pp. 405-411)

    For a time I wrote literary screeds for theGolden Era. C. H. Webb had established a very excellent literary weekly called theCalifornian, but high merit was no guaranty of success; it languished, and he sold out to three printers, and Bret Harte became editor at twenty dollars a week, and I was employed to contribute an article a week at twelve dollars. But the journal still languished, and the printers sold out to Capt. Ogden, a rich man and a pleasant gentleman who chose to amuse himself with such an expensive luxury without much caring about the cost...

  65. CHAPTER 60
    (pp. 412-415)

    By and by, an old friend of mine, a miner, came down from one of the decayed mining camps of Tuolumne, California, and I went back with him. We lived in a small cabin on a verdant hillside, and there were not five other cabins in view over the wide expanse of hill and forest. Yet a flourishing city of two or three thousand population had occupied this grassy dead solitude during the flush times of twelve or fifteen years before, and where our cabin stood had once been the heart of the teeming hive, the centre of the city....

  66. CHAPTER 61
    (pp. 416-420)

    One of my comrades there—another of those victims of eighteen years of unrequited toil and blighted hopes—was one of the gentlest spirits that ever bore its patient cross in a weary exile: grave and simple Dick Baker, pocket-miner of Dead-Horse Gulch. He was forty-six, gray as a rat, earnest, thoughtful, slenderly educated, slouchily dressed and clay-soiled, but his heart was finer metal than any gold his shovel ever brought to light—than any, indeed, that ever was mined or minted.

    Whenever he was out of luck and a little down-hearted, he would fall to mourning over the loss...

  67. CHAPTER 62
    (pp. 421-430)

    After a three months′ absence, I found myself in San Francisco again, without a cent. When my credit was about exhausted, (for I had become too mean and lazy, now, to work on a morning paper, and there were no vacancies on the evening journals,) I was created San Francisco correspondent of theEnterprise, and at the end of five months I was out of debt, but my interest in my work was gone; for my correspondence being a daily one, without rest or respite, I got unspeakably tired of it. I wanted another change. The vagabond instinct was strong...

  68. CHAPTER 63
    (pp. 431-435)

    On a certain bright morning the Islands hove in sight, lying low on the lonely sea, and everybody climbed to the upper deck to look. After two thousand miles of watery solitude the vision was a welcome one. As we approached, the imposing promontory of Diamond Head rose up out of the ocean, its rugged front softened by the hazy distance, and presently the details of the land began to make themselves manifest: first the line of beach; then the plumed cocoanut trees of the tropics; then cabins of the natives; then the white town of Honolulu, said to contain...

  69. CHAPTER 64
    (pp. 436-441)

    In my diary of our third day in Honolulu, I find this:

    I am probably the most sensitive man in Hawaii to-night—especially about sitting down in the presence of my betters. I have ridden fifteen or twenty miles on horseback since 5 p.m., and to tell the honest truth, I have a delicacy about sitting down at all.

    An excursion to Diamond Head and the King′s Cocoanut Grove was planned to-day—time, 4:30 p.m.—the party to consist of half a dozen gentlemen and three ladies. They all started at the appointed hour except myself. I was at the...

  70. CHAPTER 65
    (pp. 442-449)

    By and by, after a rugged climb, we halted on the summit of a hill which commanded a far-reaching view. The moon rose and flooded mountain and valley and ocean with a mellow radiance, and out of the shadows of the foliage the distant lights of Honolulu glinted like an encampment of fire-flies. The air was heavy with the fragrance of flowers. The halt was brief. Gayly laughing and talking, the party galloped on, and I clung to the pommel and cantered after. Presently we came to a place where no grass grew—a wide expanse of deep sand. They...

  71. CHAPTER 66
    (pp. 450-456)

    Passing through the market place we saw that feature of Honolulu under its most favorable auspices—that is, in the full glory of Saturday afternoon, which is a festive day with the natives. The native girls by twos and threes and parties of a dozen, and sometimes in whole platoons and companies, went cantering up and down the neighboring streets astride of fleet but homely horses, and with their gaudy riding habits streaming like banners behind them. Such a troop of free and easy riders, in their natural home, the saddle, makes a gay and graceful spectacle. The riding habit...

  72. CHAPTER 67
    (pp. 457-465)

    I still quote from my journal:

    I found the national Legislature to consist of half a dozen white men and some thirty or forty natives. It was a dark assemblage. The nobles and Ministers (about a dozen of them altogether) occupied the extreme left of the hall, with David Kalakaua (the King′s Chamberlain) and Prince William at the head. The President of the Assembly, his Royal Highness M. Kekuanaoa,*and the Vice President (the latter a white man,) sat in the pulpit, if I may so term it.

    The President is the King′s father. He is an erect, strongly built,...

  73. CHAPTER 68
    (pp. 466-474)

    While I was in Honolulu I witnessed the ceremonious funeral of the King′s sister, her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria. According to the royal custom, the remains had lain in state at the palacethirty days, watched day and night by a guard of honor. And during all that time a great multitude of natives from the several islands had kept the palace grounds well crowded and had made the place a pandemonium every night with their howlings and wailings, beating of tom-toms and dancing of the (at other times) forbiddenhula-hulaby half-clad maidens to the music of songs...

  74. CHAPTER 69
    (pp. 475-480)

    Bound for Hawaii, (a hundred and fifty miles distant,) to visit the great volcano and behold the other notable things which distinguish that island above the remainder of the group, we sailed from Honolulu on a certain Saturday afternoon, in the good schooner Boomerang.

    The Boomerang was about as long as two street cars, and about as wide as one. She was so small (though she was larger than the majority of the inter-island coasters) that when I stood on her deck I felt but little smaller than the Colossus of Rhodes must have felt when he had a man-of-war...

  75. CHAPTER 70
    (pp. 481-488)

    We stopped some time at one of the plantations, to rest ourselves and refresh the horses. We had a chatty conversation with several gentlemen present; but there was one person, a middle aged man, with an absent look in his face, who simply glanced up, gave us good-day and lapsed again into the meditations which our coming had interrupted. The planters whispered us not to mind him—crazy. They said he was in the Islands for his health; was a preacher; his home, Michigan. They said that if he woke up presently and fell to talking about a correspondence which...

  76. CHAPTER 71
    (pp. 489-492)

    At four o′clock in the afternoon we were winding down a mountain of dreary and desolate lava to the sea, and closing our pleasant land journey. This lava is the accumulation of ages; one torrent of fire after another has rolled down here in old times, and built up the island structure higher and higher. Underneath, it is honey-combed with caves; it would be of no use to dig wells in such a place; they would not hold water—you would not find any for them to hold, for that matter. Consequently, the planters depend upon cisterns.

    The last lava...

  77. CHAPTER 72
    (pp. 493-498)

    In the breezy morning we went ashore and visited the ruined temple of the lost god Lono. The high chief cook of this temple—the priest who presided over it and roasted the human sacrifices—was uncle to Obookiah, and at one time that youth was an apprentice-priest under him. Obookiah was a young native of fine mind, who, together with three other native boys, was taken to New England by the captain of a whaleship during the reign of Kamehameha I, and they were the means of attracting the attention of the religious world to their country. This resulted...

  78. CHAPTER 73
    (pp. 499-506)

    At noon, we hired a Kanaka to take us down to the ancient ruins at Honaunau in his canoe—price two dollars—reasonable enough, for a sea voyage of eight miles, counting both ways.

    The native canoe is an irresponsible looking contrivance. I cannot think of anything to liken it to but a boy′s sled runner hollowed out, and that does not quite convey the correct idea. It is about fifteen feet long, high and pointed at both ends, is a foot and a half or two feet deep, and so narrow that if you wedged a fat man into...

  79. CHAPTER 74
    (pp. 507-512)

    We got back to the schooner in good time, and then sailed down to Kau, where we disembarked and took final leave of the vessel. Next day we bought horses and bent our way over the summer-clad mountain-terraces, toward the great volcano of Kilauea (Ke-low-way-ah). We made nearly a two days′ journey of it, but that was on account of laziness. Toward sunset on the second day, we reached an elevation of some four thousand feet above sea level, and as we picked our careful way through billowy wastes of lava long generations ago stricken dead and cold in the...

  80. CHAPTER 75
    (pp. 513-517)

    The next night was appointed for a visit to the bottom of the crater, for we desired to traverse its floor and see the ″North Lake″ (of fire) which lay two miles away, toward the further wall. After dark half a dozen of us set out, with lanterns and native guides, and climbed down a crazy, thousand-foot pathway in a crevice fractured in the crater wall, and reached the bottom in safety.

    The eruption of the previous evening had spent its force and the floor looked black and cold; but when we ran out upon it we found it hot...

  81. CHAPTER 76
    (pp. 518-525)

    We rode horseback all around the island of Hawaii (the crooked road making the distance two hundred miles), and enjoyed the journey very much. We were more than a week making the trip, because our Kanaka horses would not go by a house or a hut without stopping—whip and spur could not alter their minds about it, and so we finally found that it economized time to let them have their way. Upon inquiry the mystery was explained: the natives are such thorough-going gossips that they never pass a house without stopping to swap news, and consequently their horses...

  82. CHAPTER 77
    (pp. 526-531)

    I stumbled upon one curious character in the island of Maui. He became a sore annoyance to me in the course of time. My first glimpse of him was in a sort of public room in the town of Lahaina. He occupied a chair at the opposite side of the apartment, and sat eyeing our party with interest for some minutes, and listening as critically to what we were saying as if he fancied we were talking to him and expecting him to reply. I thought it very sociable in a stranger. Presently, in the course of conversation, I made...

  83. CHAPTER 78
    (pp. 532-536)

    After half a year′s luxurious vagrancy in the Islands, I took shipping in a sailing vessel, and regretfully returned to San Francisco—a voyage in every way delightful, but without an incident: unless lying two long weeks in a dead calm, eighteen hundred miles from the nearest land, may rank as an incident. Schools of whales grew so tame that day after day they played about the ship among the porpoises and the sharks without the least apparent fear of us, and we pelted them with empty bottles for lack of better sport. Twenty-four hours afterward these bottles would be...

  84. CHAPTER 79
    (pp. 537-544)

    I launched out as a lecturer, now, with great boldness. I had the field all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in the Pacific market. They are not so rare, now, I suppose. I took an old personal friend along to play agent for me, and for two or three weeks we roamed through Nevada and California and had a very cheerful time of it. Two days before I lectured in Virginia City, two stage-coaches were robbed within two miles of the town. The daring act was committed just at dawn, by six masked men, who...

    (pp. 545-549)
    (pp. 550-553)
    (pp. 554-570)
    (pp. 573-768)
    (pp. 769-800)
    (pp. 801-850)
    (pp. 851-853)
  92. Back Matter
    (pp. 854-856)