This is the story of the famous Mark Twain robbery direct from headquarters. It has been garbled in so many ways that it seems worth setting down in full. Denis McCarthy, who joined him presently in San Francisco, received a little more punishment there.
“What kind of a trip did you boys have?” a friend asked of them.
Clemens, just recovering from a cold which the exposure on the Divide had given him, smiled grimly:
“Oh, pretty good, only Denis here mistook it for a spree.”
He lectured again in San Francisco, this time telling the story of his Overland trip in 1861, and he did the daring thing of repeating three times the worn-out story of Horace Greeley’s ride with Hank Monk, as given later in ‘Roughing It’. People were deadly tired of that story out there, and when he told it the first time, with great seriousness, they thought he must be failing mentally. They did not laugh—they only felt sorry. He waited a little, as if expecting a laugh, and presently led around to it and told it again. The audience was astonished still more, and pitied him thoroughly. He seemed to be waiting pathetically in the dead silence for their applause, then went on with his lecture; but presently, with labored effort, struggled around to the old story again, and told it for the third time. The audience suddenly saw the joke then, and became vociferous and hysterical in their applause; but it was a narrow escape. He would have been hysterical himself if the relief had not came when it did.
—[A side-light on the Horace Greeley story and on Mr. Greeley’s eccentricities is furnished by Mr. Goodman:
When I was going East in 1869 I happened to see Hank Monk just before I started. “Mr. Goodman,” he said, “you tell Horace Greeley that I want to come East, and ask him to send me a pass.” “All right, Hank,” I said, “I will.” It happened that when I got to New York City one of the first men I met was Greeley. “Mr. Greeley,” said, “I have a message for you from Hank Monk.” Greeley bristled and glared at me. “That—rascal?” he said, “He has done me more injury than any other man in America.”]
BACK TO THE STATES
In the mean time Clemens had completed his plan for sailing, and had arranged with General McComb, of the Alta California, for letters during his proposed trip around the world. However, he meant to visit his people first, and his old home. He could go back with means now, and with the prestige of success.
“I sail to-morrow per Opposition—telegraphed you to-day,” he wrote on December 14th, and a day later his note-book entry says:
Sailed from San Francisco
in Opposition (line) steamer America,
Capt. Wakeman, at noon, 15th Dec., 1866. Pleasant sunny day, hills
brightly clad with green grass and shrubbery.