One of the most riveting episodes in Mark Twain biography details his role in publicizing the survival of the captain, two passengers, and twelve crewmen of the Hornet in the spring of 1866. On May 3, en route from New York to San Francisco, the famed clipper ship burned and sank in the mid-Pacific. After a voyage of forty-three days and four thousand miles, one of its three lifeboats finally touched land on June 15 at Laupahoehoe, a fishing village on the north shore of the big island of Hawaii. The first reports of survivors arrived in Honolulu, two hundred miles distant, on June 21; and Mark Twain, in the Sandwich Islands as a special correspondent of the Sacramento Daily Union, appended the news to his June 22 letter to the paper, which was subsequently printed, in the absence of a telegraph cable between the Islands and the mainland, in its July 16 issue. Twain interviewed several of the men on June 24, the day they arrived in a Honolulu hospital, and worked all that night on a dispatch about their ordeal.

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