that the parsons made themselves a great deal too proud,


that the parsons made themselves a great deal too proud,

Life on the Comstock came to an end for Mark Twain in May, 1864. It was the time of The Flour Sack Sanitary Fund, the story of which he has told in Roughing It. He does not, however, refer to the troubles which this special fund brought upon himself. Coming into the Enterprise office one night, after a gay day of "Fund" celebration, Clemens wrote, for next day's paper, a paragraph intended to be merely playful, but which proved highly offending to certain ladies concerned with the flour-sack enterprise. No files of the paper exist today, so we cannot judge of the quality of humor that stirred up trouble.

that the parsons made themselves a great deal too proud,

The trouble, however, was genuine enough, Virginia's rival paper seized upon the chance to humiliate its enemy, and presently words were passed back and forth until nothing was left to write but a challenge. The story of this duel, which did not come off, has been quite fully told elsewhere, both by Mark Twain and the present writer; but the following letter--a revelation of his inner feelings in the matter of his offense--has never before been published.

that the parsons made themselves a great deal too proud,

To Mrs. Cutler, in Carson City:

VIRGINIA, May 23rd, 1864. MRS. W. K. CUTLER:

MADAM,--I address a lady in every sense of the term. Mrs. Clemens has informed me of everything that has occurred in Carson in connection with that unfortunate item of mine about the Sanitary Funds accruing from the ball, and from what I can understand, you are almost the only lady in your city who has understood the circumstances under which my fault was committed, or who has shown any disposition to be lenient with me. Had the note of the ladies been properly worded, I would have published an ample apology instantly--and possibly I might even have done so anyhow, had that note arrived at any other time--but it came at a moment when I was in the midst of what ought to have been a deadly quarrel with the publishers of the Union, and I could not come out and make public apologies to any one at such a time. It is bad policy to do it even now (as challenges have already passed between myself and a proprietor of the Union, and the matter is still in abeyance,) but I suppose I had better say a word or two to show the ladies that I did not wilfully and maliciously do them a wrong.

But my chief object, Mrs. Cutler, in writing you this note (and you will pardon the liberty I have taken,) was to thank you very kindly and sincerely for the consideration you have shown me in this matter, and for your continued friendship for Mollie while others are disposed to withdraw theirs on account of a fault for which I alone am responsible. Very truly yours, SAM. L. CLEMENS.

The matter did not end with the failure of the duel. A very strict law had just been passed, making it a felony even to send or accept a challenge. Clemens, on the whole, rather tired of Virginia City and Carson, thought it a good time to go across the mountains to San Francisco. With Steve Gillis, a printer, of whom he was very fond-- an inveterate joker, who had been more than half responsible for the proposed duel, and was to have served as his second--he took the stage one morning, and in due time was in the California metropolis, at work on the Morning Call.

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