The Boys' Life of Mark Twain eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Boys' Life of Mark Twain.

   “It never occurred to us, for one thing; and, besides, it was built
   to hold the ground, and that was enough.  We did not wish to strain
   it.”

They made their camp-fires on the borders of the lake, and one evening it got away from them, fired the forest, and destroyed their fences and habitation.  In a letter home he describes this fire in a fine, vivid way.  At one place he says: 

“The level ranks of flame were relieved at intervals by the standard- bearers, as we called the tall dead trees, wrapped in fire, and waving their blazing banners a hundred feet in the air.  Then we could turn from the scene to the lake, and see every branch and leaf and cataract of flame upon its banks perfectly reflected, as in a gleaming, fiery mirror.”

He was acquiring the literary vision and touch.  The description of this same fire in “Roughing It,” written ten years later, is scarcely more vivid.

Most of his letters home at this time tell of glowing prospects—­the certainty of fortune ahead.  The fever of the frontier is in them.  Once, to Pamela Moffett, he wrote: 

   “Orion and I have enough confidence in this country to think that, if
   the war lets us alone, we can make Mr. Moffett rich without its ever
   costing him a cent or a particle of trouble.”

From the same letter we gather that the brothers are now somewhat interested in mining claims: 

   “We have about 1,650 feet of mining-ground, and, if it proves good,
   Mr. Moffett’s name will go in; and if not, I can get ‘feet’ for him
   in the spring.”

This was written about the end of October.  Two months later, in midwinter, the mining fever came upon him with full force.

XX.

THE MINER

The wonder is that Samuel Clemens, always speculative and visionary, had not fallen an earlier victim.  Everywhere one heard stories of sudden fortune—­of men who had gone to bed paupers and awakened millionaires.  New and fabulous finds were reported daily.  Cart-loads of bricks—­silver and gold bricks—­drove through the Carson streets.

Then suddenly from the newly opened Humboldt region came the wildest reports.  The mountains there were said to be stuffed with gold.  A correspondent of the “Territorial Enterprise” was unable to find words to picture the riches of the Humboldt mines.

The air for Samuel Clemens began to shimmer.  Fortune was waiting to be gathered in a basket.  He joined the first expedition for Humboldt—­in fact, helped to organize it.  In “Roughing It” he says: 

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The Boys' Life of Mark Twain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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