Said they were in the hole, armed and meant to die for it, if necessary.

I got in with them, and again demanded possession. They said I might stay in it as long as I pleased, and work but they would do the same. I asked one of our company to take my place in the hole, while I went to consult a lawyer. He did so. The lawyer said it was no go. They must offer some "force."

Our boys will try to be there first in the morning--in which case they may get possession and keep it. Now you understand the shooting scrape in which Gebhart was killed the other day. The Clemens Company--all of us--hate to resort to arms in this matter, and it will not be done until it becomes a forced hand--but I think that will be the end of it, never- the-less.

The mine relocated in this letter was not the "Wide West," but it furnished the proper incident. The only mention of the "Wide West" is found in a letter written in July.

Extract from a letter to Orion Clemens, in Carson City: 1862 If I do not forget it, I will send you, per next mail, a pinch of decom. (decomposed rock) which I pinched with thumb and finger from "Wide West" ledge awhile ago. Raish and I have secured 200 out of a 400 ft. in it, which perhaps (the ledge, I mean) is a spur from the W. W.--our shaft is about 100 ft. from the W. W. shaft. In order to get in, we agreed to sink 30 ft. We have sub-let to another man for 50 ft., and we pay for powder and sharpening tools.

The "Wide West" claim was forfeited, but there is no evidence to show that Clemens and his partners were ever, except in fiction, "millionaires for ten days." The background, the local color, and the possibilities are all real enough, but Mark Twain's aim in this, as in most of his other reminiscent writing, was to arrange and adapt his facts to the needs of a good story.

The letters of this summer (1862) most of them bear evidence of waning confidence in mining as a source of fortune--the miner has now little faith in his own judgment, and none at all in that of his brother, who was without practical experience.

Letter to Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

ESMERALDA, Thursday. MY DEAR BRO.,--Yours of the 17th, per express, just received. Part of it pleased me exceedingly, and part of it didn't. Concerning the letter, for instance: You have PROMISED me that you would leave all mining matters, and everything involving an outlay of money, in my hands.

Sending a man fooling around the country after ledges, for God's sake! when there are hundreds of feet of them under my nose here, begging for owners, free of charge. I don't want any more feet, and I won't touch another foot--so you see, Orion, as far as any ledges of Perry's are concerned, (or any other except what I examine first with my own eyes,) I freely yield my right to share ownership with you.

The balance of your letter, I say, pleases me exceedingly. Especially that about the H. and D. being worth from $30 to $50 in Cal. It pleases me because, if the ledges prove to be worthless, it will be a pleasant reflection to know that others were beaten worse than ourselves. Raish sold a man 30 feet, yesterday, at $20 a foot, although I was present at the sale, and told the man the ground wasn't worth a d---n. He said he had been hankering after a few feet in the H. and D. for a long time, and he had got them at last, and he couldn't help thinking he had secured a good thing. We went and looked at the ledges, and both of them acknowledged that there was nothing in them but good "indications." Yet the owners in the H. and D. will part with anything else sooner than with feet in these ledges. Well, the work goes slowly--very slowly on, in the tunnel, and we'll strike it some day. But--if we "strike it rich,"--I've lost my guess, that's all. I expect that the way it got so high in Cal.

Mark Twain
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