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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




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


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 020. In-line image of a man standing in plaid pants and talking to a man sitting at a desk reading a news paper.]
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.


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 021. In-line image of a man sleeping and dreaming of the wild west. His vision is of mountains and railroads.]

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.