In case, like me, you are back to work today and not quite feeling it, here’s Mark Twain putting it remarkably well. If you think of Mark Twain as being that “huckleberry finn guy” then I have a good New Year’s Resolution for you – like Raymond Chandler, he puts a diamond on every page.
In this passage, Twain having travelled across America to take part in the Gold Rush as a prospector, investor or mine-owner, unsuccessfully, has been working down someone else’s mine, doing the task of taking all of the rock and breaking it down, and then getting all of the metal out of it and then heating the metal up to make nuggets.
“I will remark,in passing, that I only remained in the milling business one week. I told my employer that I could not stay longer without an advance in my wages; that I liked quartz milling, indeed was infatuated with it; that I had never before grown so tenderly attached to an occupation in so short a time; that nothing, it seemed to me, gave such scope to intellectual activity as feeding a battery and screening tailings, and nothing so stimulated the moral attributes as retorting bullion and washing blankets – still, I felt constrained to ask for an increase of salary.
He told me that he was paying me ten dollars a month, and board, and thought it a good round sum. How much did I want?
I said about four hundred thousand dollars a month, and board, was about all I could reasonably ask, considering the hard times.
I was ordered off the premises. And yet, when I look back to those days and called to mind the exceeding hardness of the labour I performed in that mill, I only regret that I did not ask him seven hundred thousand”