Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
Retracing Clemens's Steps

Steve Gillis, Clemens’s old friend from the Virginia City and San Francisco days, in 1907

Photograph by Albert Bigelow Paine.

Gillis wrote Joe Goodman after Clemens’s death in 1910:

Dear Joe:

I am not sorry Mark is gone, on the contrary I exult. As you intimate, his work was done and he died in time to save his reputation. What Shakespeare hero was that who said when he died on the field of battle, “I have saved the bird in my bosom?” That exactly fits the case. His fame is now secure. Poor old Sam! . . . And think of the doctors cutting off Mark’s only comfort, his life-long comfort and inspiration—smoking. I am glad to know he died waving an imaginary cigar and puffing imaginary smoke.

Well, he has joined the old Enterprise Gang—Jerry Driscoll, Dennis McCarthy, Dan De Quille and Daggett. Perhaps he was already on the other side when he died smoking that phantom cigar. . . .

About mining. Well, mining is in the doldrums. Everybody is borasco—and bacon 30 cents a pound.

(24 April 1910)

“Borasco” comes from the Mexican Spanish mining term “borrasca,” meaning “oreless” or “unproductive.”

University of California, Berkeley Mark Twain Papers and Project Albert Bigelow Paine seeks Clemens's friends in 1907 Joe Goodman, 1907 Steve Gillis, 1907 Maps Roughing It and Comments on Bret Harte Retracing Clemens's Steps A 'Call' to Literature California Gold Country San Francisco Correspondent Writing for the Enterprise Mining in Nevada Territory Exhibit Home Introduction and Chronology