Mark Twain Glimpses a Pony Express Rider on a Delivery


It can’t be said the Mark Twain met a Pony Express Rider on his stagecoach trip from Missouri to Carson City, Nevada.

He and his brother deeply desired to see a “pony-rider.” A few streaked past during the night, hailing the passengers who didn’t get their heads out the windows quickly enough to catch a glimpse of the man racing by.

But Twain hoped for better luck during daylight hours. The driver alerted his passengers to look behind them.

All Twain saw at first was a moving speck on the prairie. In two seconds, the speck became a horse and rider sweeping closer.

Twain kept his gaze trained on the pony-rider. Hoofs fluttered against the ground as he neared.

The driver whooped and hollered. The rider’s only answer was a wave as he burst past the coach.

Then the man disappeared on the road ahead in a cloud of dust.

It ended so quickly that Twain almost wondered if he actually witnessed the rider racing past.

Twain was about twenty-five at that time and full of adventure. Did that adventurous spirit long to join the ranks of those chosen few?

The author who gave us such characters as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn probably would have ridden one of the relays if asked.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Twain, Mark. Roughing It, Penguin Books, 1985.