Life on the Mississippi

by Mark Twain

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Chapter XXXVII - The End of the "Gold Dust"

A Terrible Disaster.—The “Gold Dust” explodes her Boilers. —The End of a Good Man.

FOR, three months later, August 8, while I was writing one of these foregoing chapters, the New York papers brought this telegram—



‘NASHVILLE, Aug. 7.—A despatch from Hickman, Ky., says—

‘The steamer “Gold Dust” exploded her boilers at three o’clock to-day, just after leaving Hickman. Forty-seven persons were scalded and seventeen are missing. The boat was landed in the eddy just above the town, and through the exertions of the citizens the cabin passengers, officers, and part of the crew and deck passengers were taken ashore and removed to the hotels and residences. Twenty-four of the injured were lying in Holcomb’s dry-goods store at one time, where they received every attention before being removed to more comfortable places.’ A list of the names followed, whereby it appeared that of the seventeen dead, one was the barkeeper; and among the forty-seven wounded, were the captain, chief mate, second mate, and second and third clerks; also Mr. Lem S. Gray, pilot, and several members of the crew.

In answer to a private telegram, we learned that none of these was severely hurt, except Mr. Gray. Letters received afterward confirmed this news, and said that Mr. Gray was improving and would get well. Later letters spoke less hopefully of his case; and finally came one announcing his death. A good man, a most companionable and manly man, and worthy of a kindlier fate.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
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Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson