Mark Twain’s Wish.


When Clemens first arrived in the California gold region, he mentioned in his notebook that he was in Vallecito, which is near Murphy’s in Calaveras Country on the road to the Big Trees.  As it was winter the two travelers probably encountered snow and returned to Angles Camp and back to Jackass Hill in Tuolumne County, if the following account had occurred.

Sam Clemens while a resident of Jackass Hill in this county, became imbibed with the idea that his future existence depended upon a sight of the Big Trees; so one day he started, accompanied by his, mining partner. After passing Murphy’s the “lay of the country” became unfamiliar to the travelers, and as night closed upon them they came to the conclusion that they were not only lost but that the prospects of food and shelter for the night were as slim as they well could be. They had followed a wood road to the summit of a chaparral crowned hill and did not know which way to turn to reach the road again. After floundering around in the chemical and tar weed for an hour or more they reached a road near an apparently deserted house. Their halloos soon brought around them as vicious a pack of dogs as ever haunted the canine infested streets of Constantinople. They numbered toward, fifty and not one of them was dumb. They dashed at Sam and his companion with murderous fury compelling them both to seek a trembling resting place on the fence. The howls of the dogs finally brought about twenty of their masters from the house, and these men must have smiled in the twilight when their eyes fell upon Clemens and his friend clinging with heel and hand to the top rail of the fence surrounded by the hungry snapping dogs. They proved to be Italians who did not understand a word of English. Then and not till then did Clemens lose his temper. He swore at himself for getting into the scrape. He cursed his companion for not knowing the road. He anathematized the Italians for coming to the country before they had mastered the .English language. He profanely alluded to the gap in his early education that had not been filled in with the soft, melodious tongue of Italy, winding up his remarks with a glance of concentrated hate atthe pack of yelping dogs beneath him, as he turned to his companion and in that inimitably lazy drawl so peculiar to him said: “Do you know, Jim, it I might at this moment ask a favor of Providence, after my familiarity with his name, if it was to be the last yearning desire of my heart, I would ask that I might be converted into a ton of prime beef, loaded with strychnine, and dumped among that gang of curs. I’d die contented after that.”

Daily Alta California, , 15 September 1875, From the Sonora Democrat, nd.


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