San Francisco Letter

Mark Twain

Virginia City Territorial Enterprise/November 9, 1865

Pleasure Excursion

We lunched, then, and shortly began to drink champagne – by the basket. I saw the tremendous guns frowning from the fort; I saw San Francisco spread out over the sand-hills like a picture; I saw the huge fortress at Black Point looming hazily in the distance; I saw tall ships sweeping in from the sea through the Golden Gate; I saw that it was time to take another drink, and after that I saw no more. All hands fell to singing “When we were Marching Through Georgia,” and the remainder of the trip was fought out on that line. We landed at the steamboat wharf at 5 o’clock, safe and sound. Some of those reporters I spoke of said we had been to Benicia, and the others said we had been to the Cliff House, but, poor devils, they had been drinking, and they did not really know where we had been. I know, but I do not choose to tell. I enjoyed that trip first-rate. I am rather fond of a trip on a fast boat with a jolly crowd. That was a jolly crowd. Sometimes they were all out forward standing on their heads, and then the boat wouldn’t steer because her rudder was sticking up in the air like a sail of a wind-mill; and sometimes they were all aft turning hand springs and playing “mumble peg,” and then the boat wouldn’t steer because she stood so straight up in the water that her head caught all the wind that was blowing; and sometimes they were all on the starboard side eating and drinking and singing, and then she wouldn’t steer because she was listed worse than any soldier that ever listed since the war began. Still, even under these trying circumstances, the boat made fifteen miles an hour, and so I suppose that on an even keel she can make a hundred, or thereabouts. I enjoyed that excursion.


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