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... in Meadow Lake (Nevada County) on 26 October and remained overnight, traveling south early the next morning to Cisco (formerly Heaton Station, Placer County). From there they took the Pioneer stage to Virginia City, arriving that same evening.   Mark Twain Project

October 31 - Maguire's Opera House, Virginia City, Nevada
November 3 - Carson City, Nevada
November 7 - Washoe City, Nevada
November 8 - Dayton, Nevada
November 9 - Silver City, Nevada
November 10 - Gold Hill, Theatre, Gold Hill, Nevada (SLC was the victim of a robbery prank after this lecture)

November 12 Monday – At noon, Sam and Denis McCarthy left Virginia City by the Pioneer Stage via Donner Lake route for San Francisco. Just as the stage was leaving from in front of the Wells Fargo office, the chief of police George Birdsall handed Sam a package containing his watch, money, two jackknives, corkscrew, toothpick, three lead pencils, and the masks worn by the “robbers.” According to this account, Sam refused to shake hands with Birdsall and ordered the stage driver to go.  (DBD)


Page 357-61: The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871

They left Meadow Lake the next morning in an overcrowded stagecoach— "we had 14 passengers” and “there was comfortable room for 9”—for Sam's triumphant return to Virginia City, from which he had fled in disgrace two years earlier. “We know there will be jollification when ‘Mark Twain’ reaches Virginia City,” his friends at the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle tittered, although “we hope he won't get so fond of his old home as to be unwilling to return’ to the City by the Bay.”

They arrived in the afternoon of October 27 and spent the next two weeks in the vicinity, with Sam delivering his Sandwich Islands lecture six times within a twenty-mile radius. “I did not observe any very great changes in Nevada,” he reported in the Bulletin. “There were many teams on the roads, and the towns looked about as they formerly did. Virginia bore quite a business-like aspect, and it was said that she was enjoying a very fair degree of prosperity. Business there now is on a good, firm, healthy basis, and is steadily recovering from the lapse brought upon her by speculation.”


He spent a couple of days after the Carson lecture with McCarthy “rusticating’ at Lake Tahoe rather than compete with the excitement of state and federal elections on November 6, when Blasdel was reelected governor. They arrived in Washoe City in time for Sam’s lecture on the evening of November 7, and he was impressed by the ‘lively business” there. Tom Fitch had booked the Washoe County Courthouse for Sam’s talk and Fitch both collected admission at the door and introduced the speaker, Though an audience of about two hundred enjoyed the lecture, Fitch remembered, Sam was “not quite satisfied with the result.” He asked Fitch whether “as a lecturer I am a fraud,” and Fitch replied in the affirmative, “I suspected as much,” Sam confessed, before adding, on a more hopeful note, that “there are over 500 towns in the United States of more than 5000 inhabitants, and I can play them all once.” As if to prove the point, Sam lectured the next two nights in Dayton and Silver City. He planned to close his tour in Gold Hill the night of November 10, then return to San Francisco and depart for New York on November 19. Sam's “fame travels before him,” the Territorial Enterprise reported, praising “his humorous yet interesting, instructive and beautiful description of his sojourn” to Hawaii. McCarthy collected about a hundred dollars in admission fees at the door in Gold Hill, but Sam was upstaged after the lecture by several friends, including George Birdsall, Steve Gillis, Jack Perry, and one or two other members of the Virginia police force, who played a practical joke on him. At about midnight, as they were crossing the Divide between Gold Hill and Virginia City—the site of many a theft in the past—Sam and McCarthy, who was in on the joke, were ambushed by highwaymen in masks and robbed of the box office receipts that McCarthy was carrying, plus twenty or twenty-five dollars in Sam's pocket, two jackknives, three pencils, and the gold watch presented to him by Sandy Baldwin and Theodore Winters in January 1864, Sam reacted impulsively because, as the Gold Hill News observed the next day, “when a fellow has a pistol stuck in his ear it is rather hard for him to make sage calculations whether it is a practical joke or not."


Sam did not discover that the theft had been perpetrated by his friends until noon the next day, when he boarded the Pioneer stage and was handed a package containing everything that was stolen from him and the masks worn by the bandits. He was not appeased; he “failed to see where the point of the joke came in,” as Doten put it, and he cursed them until the stage left. Sam left the mining district on a sour note a second time, and the Transcript speculated that he “will have a duel on his hands if he comes into this region again.” McCarthy accompanied him back to San Francisco, but when Sam learned that his agent was complicit in the “joke” he fired him.