THE $30,000 BEQUEST and Other Stories by Mark Twain

half-way up the gulch, and there were six log cabins in the camp–

strung pretty well separated up the gulch from its mouth at the

desert to where the last claim was, at the divide. The lean-to

you lived in was the one with a canvas roof that the cow fell down

through one night, as told about by you in ROUGHING IT–my uncle

Simmons remembers it very well. He lived in the principal cabin,

half-way up the divide, along with Dixon and Parker and Smith.

It had two rooms, one for kitchen and the other for bunks,

and was the only one that had. You and your party were there on

the great night, the time they had dried-apple-pie, Uncle Simmons

often speaks of it. It seems curious that dried-apple-pie should

have seemed such a great thing, but it was, and it shows how far

Humboldt was out of the world and difficult to get to, and how slim

the regular bill of fare was. Sixteen years ago–it is a long time.

I was a little girl then, only fourteen. I never saw you, I lived

in Washoe. But Uncle Simmons ran across you every now and then,

all during those weeks that you and party were there working

your claim which was like the rest. The camp played out long

and long ago, there wasn’t silver enough in it to make a button.

You never saw my husband, but he was there after you left, AND LIVED

IN THAT VERY LEAN-TO, a bachelor then but married to me now.

He often wishes there had been a photographer there in those days,

he would have taken the lean-to. He got hurt in the old Hal Clayton

claim that was abandoned like the others, putting in a blast

and not climbing out quick enough, though he scrambled the best

he could. It landed him clear down on the train and hit a Piute.

For weeks they thought he would not get over it but he did,

and is all right, now. Has been ever since. This is a long

introduction but it is the only way I can make myself known.

The favor I ask I feel assured your generous heart will grant:

Give me some advice about a book I have written. I do not claim

anything for it only it is mostly true and as interesting as most

of the books of the times. I am unknown in the literary world

and you know what that means unless one has some one of influence

(like yourself) to help you by speaking a good word for you.

I would like to place the book on royalty basis plan with any one you

would suggest.

This is a secret from my husband and family. I intend

it as a surprise in case I get it published.

Feeling you will take an interest in this and if possible write

me a letter to some publisher, or, better still, if you could see

them for me and then let me hear.

I appeal to you to grant me this favor. With deepest gratitude I

think you for your attention.

One knows, without inquiring, that the twin of that embarrassing

letter is forever and ever flying in this and that and the other

direction across the continent in the mails, daily, nightly, hourly,

unceasingly, unrestingly. It goes to every well-known merchant,

and railway official, and manufacturer, and capitalist, and Mayor,

and Congressman, and Governor, and editor, and publisher, and author,

and broker, and banker–in a word, to every person who is supposed

to have “influence.” It always follows the one pattern: “You do

not know me, BUT YOU ONCE KNEW A RELATIVE OF MINE,” etc., etc.

We should all like to help the applicants, we should all be glad

to do it, we should all like to return the sort of answer that

is desired, but–Well, there is not a thing we can do that would

be a help, for not in any instance does that latter ever come from

anyone who CAN be helped. The struggler whom you COULD help does

his own helping; it would not occur to him to apply to you, stranger.

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Categories: Twain, Mark