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Territorial Enterprise, November 11, 1866

[written after Twain was a victim of a practical joke robbery]


Last night I lectured in Gold Hill, on the Sandwich Islands. At ten o'clock I started on foot to Virginia, to meet a lot of personal friends who were going to set up all night with me and start me off in good shape for San Francisco in the morning. This social programme proved my downfall. But for it, I would have remained in Gold Hill. As we "raised the hill" and straightened up on the "Divide," a man just ahead of us (Mac, my agent, and myself), blew an ordinary policemen's whistle, and Mac said, "Thunder! this is an improvement -- they didn't use to keep policemen on the Divide." I coincided. The infernal whistle was only a signal to you road agents. About half a minute afterwards, a small man emerged from some ambuscade or other and crowded close up to me. I was smoking and supposed he wanted a light. But this humorist instead of asking for a light, thrust a horrible six-shooter in my face and simply said, "Stand and deliver!" I said, "My son, your arguments are powerful -- take what I have, but uncock that infamous pistol." The young man uncocked the pistol (but he requested three other gentlemen to present theirs at my head) and then he took all the money I had ($20 or $25), and my watch. Then he said to one of his party, "Beauregard, go through that man!" -- meaning Mac -- and the distinguished rebel did go through Mac. Then the little Captain said, "Stonewall Jackson, seat these men by the roadside, and hide yourself; if they move within five minutes, blow their brains out!" Stonewall said, "All right, sire." Then the party (six in number) started toward Virginia and disappeared.

Now, I want to say to you road agents as follows:

My watch was given to me by Judge Sandy Baldwin and Theodore Winters, and I value it above anything else I own. If you will send that to me (to the Enterprise office, or to any prominent man in San Francisco) you may keep the money and welcome. You know you got all the money Mac had -- and Mac is an orphan --and besides, the money he had belonged to me.

Adieu, my romantic young friends.


[reprinted in Mark Twain's Western Years, Ivan Benson, (Stanford University Press, 1938), pp. 200-01.]

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