|[Although MT had never been to Montana before, the paper there identified him as a returning native of the west. The first notice below sounds like one of Pond's publicity puffs, but the second, an article from the Sunday Standard just after MT's performances in Butte and Anaconda, is clearly based on interviews with local citizens. It's too bad that the reporter does not identify his sources for these two anecdotes more explicitly. The second (though it confuses resident newspaper man Sam Clemens with visiting lecturer Mark Twain, and 1863 with 1868) is clearly an account of the practical joke MT's friends in Virginia City played on him the last time MT ever visited Nevada, and it is markedly different than MT's own version of the event, at the end of Roughing It, where he does not describe himself running away.]|
The Anaconda Standard|
2 August 1895
Famous Twain To-Night.
Mark Twain to-night at Evans opera house is a rare treat. The West is seldom visited by authors of such prominence and merit. No writer has portrayed the West with so much power and interest as he, for the reason perhaps, that Mark lived in it and knew it before he wrote and became famous. A large audience should greet the lecturer to-night.
The Anaconda Standard
4 August 1895
When Mark Twain Was an Ordinary Newspaper Reporter.
STORIES HE DOESN'T TELL.
His Western Friends Used to Play an Occasional Prank
and the Humorist Was Sometimes the Victim -- He and a Grouse.
Mark Twain is back again among many old-time acquaintances when he visits Montana. Nearly all the old-timers of Virginia City, Nev., who now live in Montana knew him there long before he was Mark Twain. In those days he was only a local reporter and all he wrote was to chronicle the daily news of the camp as it appeared in the columns of the Virginia City Enterprise. William McKay, Terry McGinnis and Joe Laird all knew the dark, curly-haired young man who always seemed to be watching people in the camp, during those early days of the sixties. Mark Twain has told a great many stories about his life there, about the people he met there and the times, a few, it is true, about himself, but these "old-timers" tell one or two which he has left out of his books, though it is not likely he has forgotten them.
He used to sit about in the loafing places, so they say, with his eyes and ears wide open. He was even then studying character no doubt, for he never played in the gambling games, though he often acted as case keeper, he did not drink to any extent and yet somehow or other was usually down on his luck.
Perhaps the pay days were not regular, at any rate he was seldom seen flush.
One of those times when down to hard pan, he stopped with a prospector named Ballou. The duties which fell to him were in the main the cooking of meals and the care of the cabin. The work was not very heavy, but the fare was light also. The menu for day after day was bacon and beans, beans and bacon. Game was scarce, but once in a while a grouse relieved the monotony of the bill. One day after a particularly long siege of bacon, Balou went forth with his rifle and was lucky enough to kill a grouse. The bird was not a large one, but was a meal for one man, and so he took it to Mark, Clemens it was then, and told him to dress and cook it while he got another one if he could.
The cook did as he was told and soon had the little room filled with the aroma from the chicken which he had put into the pot to boil. The savory odor was more than a hungry man's appetite could resist and Sam sat down and deliberately ate the grouse and then went off to sleep.
After some hours of fruitless hunting Balou returned cold and hungry. He woke up his partner and told him he hadn't seen a feather but they would eat the one he had brought. Clemens got up and rubbed his eyes.
"Well, why don't you get out that chicken?" asked Balou.
Clemens slowly got up and walked over to the stove, lifted the lid from the kettle, and then in that drawl now famous, said:
"I'll be darned if it ain't all boiled away; there's nothing left but the bones."
Those pioneers laugh yet at a prank which they played on the newspaper man Sam Clemens. It was at a time when holdups were a frequent occurrence on the divide between Gold Hill and Virginia City. The reporter's duty often took him from one town to the other in search of news. He was disposed to poke fun in his dry way at the idea of robbers, and bought a gun with which to defend himself.
Three or four of the nerviest put up the job, and one night when he was on his way to Virginia he was held up in the regulation style. The robbers got $9.60, a pinchbeck silver watch and his weapon of defense of which he had boasted. Then they fired a shot or two into the ground and set Sam'l down the hill on the dead run.
A thrilling tale appeared in the paper the next morning. It told of a hair-breadth escape, a conflict, and his being overpowered by half a dozen masked highwaymen.
A day or two later they invited the reporter to a little banquet where, after a general good time had been had, the master of ceremonies in an eloquent speech, presented Twain with the watch, which had been stolen from him, and told the true story of the alleged robbery.