. . . The fact is, I must have something to do, and that shortly, too . . . . Now write to the "Sacramento Union" folks, or to Marsh, and tell them that I will write as many letters a week as they want, for $10 a week. My board must be paid.
"Tell them I have corresponded with the "New Orleans Crescent" and other papers--and the "Enterprise."
"If they want letters from here--who'll run from morning till night collecting material cheaper? I'll write a short letter twice a week, for the present, for the "Age," for $5 per week. Now it has been a long time since I couldn't make my own living, and it shall be a long time before I loaf another year."
This all led to nothing, but about the same time the "Enterprise" assistant already mentioned spoke to Joseph T. Goodman, owner and editor of the paper, about adding "Josh" to their regular staff. "Joe" Goodman, a man of keen humor and literary perception, agreed that the author of the "Josh" letters might be useful to them. One of the sketches particularly appealed to him--a burlesque report of a Fourth of July oration.
"That is the kind of thing we want," he said. "Write to him, Barstow, and ask him if he wants to come up here."
Barstow wrote, offering twenty-five dollars a week--a tempting sum. This was at the end of July, 1862.
Yet the hard-pressed miner made no haste to accept the offer. To leave Aurora meant the surrender of all hope in the mines, the confession of another failure. He wrote Barstow, asking when he thought he might be needed. And at the same time, in a letter to Orion, he said:
"I shall leave at midnight to-night, alone and on foot, for a walk of sixty or seventy miles through a totally uninhabited country. But do you write Barstow that I have left here for a week or so, and, in case he should want me, he must write me here, or let me know through you."
He had gone into the wilderness to fight out his battle alone, postponing the final moment of surrender--surrender that, had he known, only meant the beginning of victory. He was still undecided when he returned eight days later and wrote to his sister Pamela a letter in which there is no- mention of newspaper prospects.
Just how and when the end came at last cannot be known; but one hot, dusty August afternoon, in Virginia City, a worn, travel-stained pilgrim dragged himself into the office of the "Territorial Enterprise," then in its new building on C Street, and, loosening a heavy roll of blankets from his shoulder, dropped wearily into a chair. He wore a rusty slouch hat, no coat, a faded blue-flannel shirt, a navy revolver; his trousers were tucked into his boot-tops; a tangle of reddish-brown hair fell on his shoulders; a mass of tawny beard, dingy with alkali dust, dropped half-way to his waist.
Aurora lay one hundred and thirty miles from Virginia City. He had walked that distance, carrying his heavy load. Editor Goodman was absent at the moment, but the other proprietor, Dennis E. McCarthy, asked the caller to state his errand. The wanderer regarded him with a far-away look and said, absently, and with deliberation:
"My starboard leg seems to be unshipped. I'd like about one hundred yards of line; I think I'm falling to pieces." Then he added: "I want to see Mr. Barstow or Mr. Goodman. My name is Clemens, and I've come to write for the paper."
It was the master of the world's widest estate come to claim his kingdom!
THE TERRITORIAL ENTERPRISE
In 1852 Virginia City, Nevada, was the most flourishing of mining towns. A half-crazy miner, named Comstock, had discovered there a vein of such richness that the "Comstock Lode" was presently glutting the mineral markets of the world. Comstock himself got very little out of it, but those who followed him made millions. Miners, speculators, adventurers swarmed in. Every one seemed to have money. The streets seethed with an eager, affluent, boisterous throng whose chief business seemed to be to spend the wealth that the earth was yielding in such a mighty stream.