Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 325 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1.
as the conductor phrased it in his picturesque way.  It was certainly as dark as any place could be—­nothing was even dimly visible in it.  And finally we rolled ourselves up like silkworms, each person in his own blanket, and sank peacefully to sleep.

Youth loves that sort of thing, despite its inconvenience.  And sometimes the clatter of the pony-rider swept by in the night, carrying letters at five dollars apiece and making the Overland trip in eight days; just a quick beat of hoofs in the distance, a dash, and a hail from the darkness, the beat of hoofs again, then only the rumble of the stage and the even, swinging gallop of the mules.  Sometimes they got a glimpse of the ponyrider by day—­a flash, as it were, as he sped by.  And every morning brought new scenery, new phases of frontier life, including, at last, what was to them the strangest phase of all, Mormonism.

They spent two wonderful days at Salt Lake City, that mysterious and remote capital of the great American monarchy, who still flaunts her lawless, orthodox creed the religion of David and Solomon—­and thrives.  An obliging official made it his business to show them the city and the life there, the result of which would be those amusing chapters in ‘Roughing It’ by and by.  The Overland travelers set out refreshed from Salt Lake City, and with a new supply of delicacies—­ham, eggs, and tobacco—­things that make such a trip worth while.  The author of ‘Roughing It’ assures us of this: 

Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.  Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe—­an old, rank, delicious pipe—­ham and eggs and scenery, a “down-grade,” a flying coach, a fragrant pipe, and a contented heart—­these make happiness.  It is what all the ages have struggled for.

But one must read all the story of that long-ago trip.  It was a trip so well worth taking, so well worth recording, so well worth reading and rereading to-day.  We can only read of it now.  The Overland stage long ago made its last trip, and will not start any more.  Even if it did, the life and conditions, the very scenery itself, would not be the same.



It was a hot, dusty August 14th that the stage reached Carson City and drew up before the Ormsby Hotel.  It was known that the Territorial secretary was due to arrive; and something in the nature of a reception, with refreshments and frontier hospitality, had been planned.  Governor Nye, formerly police commissioner in New York City, had arrived a short time before, and with his party of retainers ("heelers” we would call them now), had made an imposing entrance.  Perhaps something of the sort was expected with the advent of the secretary of state.  Instead, the committee saw two way-worn individuals climb down from the stage, unkempt, unshorn—­clothed in the roughest of frontier costume, the same they had put on at St. Jo—­dusty, grimy, slouchy,

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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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