ROUGHING IT by Mark Twain 1880



Of California,

an Honest Man, a Genial Comrade, and a Steadfast Friend.


By the Author,

In Memory of the Curious Time

When We Two







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, and its object is rather to help the resting reader while away an idle hour than afflict him with metaphysics, or goad him with science. 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, and saw the happenings of the time with their own eyes. I allude to the rise, growth and culmination of the silver-mining fever in Nevada -a curious episode, in some respects; the only one, of its peculiar kind, that has occurred in the land; and the only one, indeed, that is likely to occur in it. Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped: information appears to stew out of me naturally, like the precious ottar of roses out of the otter. Sometimes it has seemed to me that I would give worlds if I could retain my facts; but it cannot be. The more I calk up the sources, and the tighter I get, the more I leak wisdom. Therefore, I can only claim indulgence at the hands of the reader, not justification.



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 was going to explore.

He was going to travel!

I never had been away from home, and that word "travel" had a seductive charm for me.

Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, and antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero.

And he would see the gold mines and the silver mines, and maybe go about of an afternoon when his work was done, and pick up two or three pailfuls of shining slugs, and nuggets of gold and silver on the hillside.

And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and the ocean, and "the isthmus" as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.

What I suffered in contemplating his happiness, pen cannot describe.

And so, when he offered me, in cold blood, the sublime position of private secretary under him, it appeared to me that the heavens and the earth passed away, and the firmament was rolled together as a scroll!

I had nothing more to desire.

My contentment was complete. At the end of an hour or two I was ready for the journey.

Not much packing up was necessary, because we were going in the overland stage from the Missouri frontier to Nevada, and passengers were only allowed a small quantity of baggage apiece.

There was no Pacific railroad in those fine times of ten or twelve years ago--not a single rail of it. I only proposed to stay in Nevada three months--I had no thought of staying longer than that.

I meant to see all I could that was new and strange, and then hurry home to business.

I little thought that I would not see the end of that three-month pleasure excursion for six or seven uncommonly long years! I dreamed all night about Indians, deserts, and silver bars, and in due time, next day, we took shipping at the St. Louis wharf on board a steamboat bound up the Missouri River. We were six days going from St. Louis to "St. Jo."--a trip that was so dull, and sleepy, and eventless that it has left no more impression on my memory than if its duration had been six minutes instead of that many days.

No record is left in my mind, now, concerning it, but a confused jumble of savage-looking snags, which we deliberately walked over with one wheel or the other; and of reefs which we butted and butted, and then retired from and climbed over in some softer place; and of sand-bars which we roosted on occasionally, and rested, and then got out our crutches and sparred over. In fact, the boat might almost as well have gone to St. Jo. by land, for she was walking most of the time, anyhow--climbing over reefs and clambering over snags patiently and laboriously all day long.

The captain said she was a "bully" boat, and all she wanted was more "shear" and a bigger wheel.

I thought she wanted a pair of stilts, but I had the deep sagacity not to say so.

我哥哥被任命为内华达州的州务秘书——我羡慕他未来的历险——我被指定为他 的私人秘书——我如愿以偿——一小时内整顿好了行装——梦幻与向往——密苏里河上 ——出色的船

我哥哥刚被任命为内华达准州的州务秘书。这个职位集许多权力和尊严于一身:财 政部长、审计员、州秘书,在州长缺席时,还是代理州长。一千八百美元年薪和“秘书 先生”头衔给这个职位蒙上一种至高无上的尊荣。我既年轻又少阅历,非常羡慕他。我 垂涎他的显赫和豪富,更向往他即将进行的漫长而神秘的旅行,以及他要去探索的奇妙 的新天地。他就要去旅行了!可我还从来没有出过门,“旅行”这个词儿对我有一种迷 人的魅力。不久,他就会千里迢迢,在那广案的沙漠和平原上跋涉——游历于远西地区 的山中,看到野牛、印第安人、草原犬鼠和羚羊,经历种种冒险,过一种前所未有的愉 快生活,还有可能被吊死或剥掉头皮。他在家书里会给我们讲述这一切,成为我们的英 雄。他还会看到金矿和银矿,公务之余,下午出去各处溜达,或许会捡到两三桶亮晃晃 的金币和银币,在山里还会捡到金块和银块。用不了多久,他就会腰缠万贯,由海路还 家,平心静气地讲起旧金山、海洋和“地峡”,似乎亲眼见过的那些天下奇观不过是区 区小事。我眼红他的幸福,心中受尽折磨,用笔墨都难以描述。因此,当他郑重地提议 让我作他手下的令人尊敬的私人秘书时,我觉得世界骤然间消失了,苍穹象画轴一样被 收去!这就是我最大的妄想,我完全心满意足了。两小时以后,我已整装待发。没有多 少行李需要收拾的,因为我们将要乘坐由密苏里边区至内华达的大陆驿马车,每个旅客 只能携带少量行李。在十到二十年前那美好的年代里,太平洋铁路还没有修筑。连一根 枕木也没有。

我打算在内华达只住三个月——一点也没有想在那里多呆。只想去尽量看看那里的 新奇东西,然后便马上回家来干正经事。万万没想到,那三个月愉快的旅行,竟在六、 七年漫长的岁月之后才看到它的尽头。

整夜,我梦见印第安人、沙漠和银块。在第二天预定的时间,我们在圣路易港登上 一条开往密苏里河的气船。

从圣路易到圣约走了六天——多么沉闷,乏味,使人昏昏欲睡的航程,在我的记忆 中,它留给我的印象好象不到六分钟,而不是那么许多日子。关于那次旅行,我现在已 经没有什么印象了,所记得的就只是水中那些形状丑恶、盘根错节的树根。船开到这里, 得小心翼翼地时而开动这个轮子,时而开动那个轮子,一次又一次地碰到礁石,退回来, 在平缓的地方又开过去;经常陷进沙滩,于是停下来,取出撑杆,撑了过去。实际上, 这条船简直可以说是从陆地上开到圣约去的。因为大部分时间都在“走”——成天耐心 而吃力地越过礁石,爬过树根。船长说,它是一条“出色”的船,它需要的只不过是更 大的冲力和一个大些的轮子。