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we supposed, in the Blue Bell. Can it be that he escaped, after all, and, impelled by some unaccountable influence, had come to -visit this spot and cut his name on that tree." Though I rejected this idea as absurd, yet, as I walked away from the cliff, a queer, mysterious feeling seemed to come over me, which it took hours to shake off.
Should any of my fair readers, when roaming in that beautiful and romantic neighborhood, be incited to visit " Pirates' Point," they will recognize it by the mysterious name cut in the little oak. But let their visit be in the bright, warm sunshine of springtime, when, as they cross the rippling, crystal little brook at the foot of the hill, from which the point makes out over the bay, they will be charmed to kneel and drink of its invigorating and inspiring waters. Yes; when every bush they pass is all music, so filled is it with the sweet notes of the California linnet .and meadow lark. Yes; let their visit be when the ground beneath their feet is covered with a carpet woven of wild flowers and luxuriant grass, and more beautiful than ever came from Eastern loom. Then will their imagination bring before them Minnie, in all her beauty of person, covered with the priceless jewels of truth, fidelity and unwavering trust in God, that so lit up the gloom in the darkest hour of trial, and guided her own and her brother's steps in safety through every difficulty that beset their pioneer life. No, they must not visit that spot in the somber months of the year, or when, at the approach of night, it is mantled in a gloomy fog, rushing in from the lonesome sea; for then their imagination could only picture a frightful scene of strife and murder, made inexpressibty hideous by the low muttered curses and imprecations they would fancy they heard uttered by the murderers and the murdered, above which would seem in sight the dark eyes of Lizzie Lawson, fixed with unrelenting gaze on her false lover, as her father dragged him step by step to the fearful cliff. Yes; and as they turned away frightened by the vision, the gloom on that spot is sure to bring to the imagination, they would fancy they heard the cry of anguish from poor Agnes Ward's spirit, as her child was forced by an unpitying hand to the dark doom he so well deserved.
I did not draw on my imagination for Minnie's escape from the gamblers on the Sacramento river steamer. It was related to me by Jim Becket, at one time prince of sports in San Francisco. J ust before he left the State he sauntered one morning into my place of business. He looked sad and gloomy. I said, as I looked up from the box of goods I was packing:
"Why, Jim, you look as if you had just come from a funeral."
"Worse than that," said he.
"Why, what is up, Jim? You generally look happy. What can have happened you?"
He then went on to tell me that he had just come back from a -visit to a lady to ,whom he had once been of great service. I became interested, and asked him to come into my private office and tell me all about it. I always liked this man. I never was in his gambling room, or turned a card with him in my life, but somehow he fancied me and did nearly all his private business through me, and then he always advised me 'never to touch a card.' So it was natural I should like him, particularly as I always found him strictly honorable and truthful in all business transactions. After we were seated and had lit our cigars he gave the story of Minnie's escape, as I have given it in the story, concluding with:
"Well, I have just been to Oregon, and, finding where she was living with her husband, I wrote a line from Portland to know if a visit from a man like me would be agreeable. In reply I got a letter from her husband with as cordial an invitation as if he was my brother. So the next day I took the steamer for his locality, and they met me at the landing with a carriage and the warmest welcome. For a whole week they treated me, at their beautiful home, as if I was a prince and a brother, too. I tell you, Grey," he continued, "that week gave me a taste of Heaven, and I grew more disgusted at my way of life than I ever was before. Yet Minnie; yes, I call her Minnie, for she refused to let me call her anything else, never directly asked me to change to a better mode of living, but somehow everything she did for me and said to mo seemed to ask me to do so. She taught her beautiful little child to call me "Uncle James." On leaving, they brought me back to the landing in their carriage, and we parted, I suppose, never to meet again, as I am about to return to Baltimore, and I feel miserable ever since I left them; yes, miserable to think how unworthy I was to be so treated by the most beautiful, the most intelligent, and the best woman in America, and by her husband, who is as good a man as she is a woman."
Very soon after this conversation Becket left the State. I recollect seeing his name in the Eastern newspapers as connected with large bets on President Buchanan's election, and later still we heard of his death. Poor Jim! If he had his grave faults, he had many redeeming points as well.
In concluding this recital of the facts upon which my stories are woven, I will state that the character of Lusk cannot be classed as fictitious, for an Englishman of fine personal appearance and good education, claiming a parentage exactly such as that of Lusk, figured among the Sydney men, in 1851, in San Francisco, and disappeared, no one knows where or how. CHAPTER XVI.
A CALIFORNIA MISER—A SPECULATION IN HOGS A MARRIAGE OP A BASHFUL WOMAN A LIFE SAVED BY NEW YORK LAW A LAWYER'8 FIRST
APPEARANCE IN COURT A GOOD SPEECH RESERVED—SQUATTERS DIS
PEBSKP BY REFUSING TO TALK—A CASE WON BY USING AN IRISH
AUTHORITY A "DIVIDE" WITH ROBBERS AND LAWYERS DAN MURPHY
LOSES HIS CA8H.
The people of California are admitted by all to be remarkable for their liberality in their expenditure of wealth. They are liberal to all sorts of charities, to churches and schools. They are liberal in small matters as well as in large. The collections taken up at a church on Sundays in San Francisco would astonish the vestry people of any church in New England, or even in New York. In San Francisco, in old times a "quarter" or a "half" was the least dropped into the contribution-box on Sundays. No man in California ever used a nickel, much less a copper cent; and many of you, my young readers, I presume have never seen either; ten cents being generally the lowest coin in use among us.
In all my experience I only knew one miser in California, and that was John P. Davidson. It was strange, too, that Davidson was a miser, for he was born in Ireland, and from early boyhood was brought up in Kentucky—two countries proverbial for lavish hospitality and open-handed liberality. He was so well known in early times to many in San Francisco, that a little of his history, I think, is worth giving, particularly as it will help out my picture of pioneer days in some essential points.
Davidson was tall, and rather a good looking man; tolerably well educated, and was, at one time, captain of a fine steamer on the Mississippi river. He was of a decidedly religious turn of mind, and this put some of his acts of questionable honesty in a ludicrous point of view to lookers on. The truth was that his miserly, grasping disposition so controlled him that he found it hard to keep himself honest, and sometimes he failed in doing so outright. While in San Francisco he was a member of Rev. Mr. Williams' Presbyterian church, and always very regular in his attendance on Sundays; but somehow he never recollected to have a coin in his pocket for the contribution box, though somewhat a rich man.
One Sunday afternoon Mr. Williams gave out that the following Sunday a brother clergyman would preach in his pulpit for a charitable object, and requested that every member of his church should come prepared to respond to the call on their liberality, provided they liked the object. The following Sunday I was in my store, with the doors closed, of course, preparing myself for church and my Sunday's walk over the sandhills, when a loud knocking came at the door. I opened it in a hurry. There stood my friend Davidson. He explained to me the request Mr. Williams had made the Sunday before, and said that he was on his way to church, but found he had no money within reach, and requested me to lend him some. I explained that my partner was out with the key of the safe, bnt added that what I drew from my pocket, some four or five dollars in small change, was at his service, but was, I feared, too small to be of any use to him. In the change, it so happened that there was, to us, the useless little coin of five cents. "Oh, my dear sir," said Davidson, " this is quite sufficient," reaching out his hand as he spoke, and as I supposed for all the change I offered; but no, he placed his forefinger on the little stranger, the five cent piece, and walked off with it with a most satisfied expression of countenance. He evidently admired the size of the coin exceedingly for such an occasion. Late in the afternoon I lay stretched on the counter, my head on some open blankets, for a rest, when again I was aroused by a loud knocking on the store door. I unlocked it, and there stood my friend Davidson with his hand stretched out, and the identical little five cent piece between his forefinger and thumb. "I did not like the object, sir," said he; "no, I did not like the object; so I brought the money back."
It was always said, in San Francisco, that that was the nearest Davidson ever, in his life, came to doing an act of charity that required the outlay of money.
At this time Davidson lived in a room in the second story of a house on Clay street, owned by a Frenchman. His rent was paid one month in advance, in accordance with the universal cus