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The World As I Have Found It / Sequel to Incidents in the Life of a Blind Girl By Mary L. Day Characters: 11447

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

"All that's bright must fade,

The brightest, still the fleetest;

All that's sweet was made,

But to be lost, when sweetest."

We returned to Sacramento with minds refreshed and spirits brightened by the delightful scenes through which we had passed during our coast trip. My life seemed to have received new radiance, and all things wore the bright "couleur de rose," when one day there seemed something in Hattie's touching tone which, like the "shadow of coming" events, sent through my heart a strange, premonitory thrill of sadness. She paused as if for prayerful preparation, ere she said: "Mary, I have something sad, something terrible to tell you, and I wish to prepare you to bear it with patience, even as I for five months have borne the burden with silent submission." She then carefully, calmly, quietly revealed to me the fact that there was feeding upon her dear life one of those horrible vampires of human disease-a cancer, which was slowly but surely drawing her nearer the close. Suddenly all brightness and beauty died out for me, while cloud and gloom gathered around me, deep, dark and impenetrable; for so had Hattie entwined herself about my heart, that to my darkened days there seemed for me no light, no life without her. Surely-

"Sorrows come not single spies,

But in battalions,"

And while I felt myself overwhelmed by this one deep grief in quick succession came another. One morning while at our breakfast, and without the slightest preparation, tidings was brought to me that Chicago was destroyed by fire.

My husband had just completed our new home, a comfortable resting place, with lovely garden and pleasant surroundings, and thither I had hoped ere long to go and rest from my labors. Daily, as the diagrams of the fire reached us, we traced upon them the loved site of our home, as in the burnt district.

All telegraphic and mail communication being cut off, we could receive no direct news, and in the intensity and terror of suspense pictured our home desolated, and friends perished in the horrible holocaust.

Feeling that a resumption of our life of labor was inevitable, we parted with the dear Sacramento friends, who had so kindly clung to us for fourteen months, with many a sigh and tear, and went to all the towns of importance between that place and Reno, Nevada, at which point we took the stage for Virginia City, and reached it after two weeks of inexpressible agony, during which time food had scarce passed our lips or sleep visited our eyes. On our arrival we were overjoyed to find awaiting us seven letters from home. Oh the eternity that elapsed before the seals could be tremulously broken! and the halcyon sweetness of relief of the happy tidings of friends in safety and health. Although the fire-fiend had swept his destructive wings over the property within a hundred yards of our home, through a sudden shifting of the wind its course had been changed, thus saving us from what would have seemed to me ruin. Gratefully we resumed our business and remained for seven weeks in Virginia City and vicinity, where we had most abundant success, for in spite of rock and ledge, sand and tornado, the country abounds in full purses and warm hearts.

At Carson City we found an United States Mint, where a gentleman designated Saturday afternoon, when the machinery was stopped, as a proper time to give us the benefit of a full examination, allowing me to touch everything, and giving a satisfactory explanation of the "modus operandi" of money making.

We went to Battle Mountain, where we took the stage for Austin, ninety miles distant. We had nine passengers and twelve hundred weight of bullion in the bottom of the stage, together with innumerable satchels, umbrellas and brown-paper parcels. In this cramped position we traveled from one o'clock in the afternoon until nine o'clock the next morning, an infliction that was only rendered endurable by having a relay of horses every fifteen miles, and being permitted to rest upon terra firma during the changes.

At Austin we unexpectedly met in the family of the hotel proprietor friends of Hattie, from Illinois. The kind host proved to me a "Good Samaritan," for finding myself unable to walk he carried me in his arms to the hotel, and safely entrusted me to the ministering care of his kind family.

Desiring to cross over the country to Eureka, and the stage not venturing to the eminence upon which stood our hotel, we were obliged to go to the express office to take passage, where we were shocked at the sight of three maudlin men in an advanced stage of inebriety, throwing showers of silver money upon the ground, and ostentatiously allowing the crowd to gather it up; while we were still more shocked to find that they were to be inside passengers, and our only companions.

With these three men and their "fade mecum," "the whiskey bottle," we started on our journey that bleak, winter morning. Two of them soon became so beastly drunk that their bottle fell out of the stage door and was lost beyond recovery. Their companion remained for a time sufficiently sober to prevent them from falling upon us in their constant oscillations, but, by the time they had reached the convalescent stage, he became so nauseated that it was necessary to hold his head out of the window for relief, and, finally yielding to the soporific influence of his drams, he laid himself at full length upon our feet.

Meantime a most gentlemanly person, of whose presence we were at first ignorant, would occasionally descend from the stage top, look at us compassionately, ask if anything was wanted, and take leave. At one of his calls I asked him if we were not near our dining p

lace, when, much to our discomfort, he informed us of the impossibility of finding anything to eat on the road. We had provided no lunch, and, having partaken of a meagre and untimely breakfast, were fast becoming exhausted. He politely offered to share with us his store of provisions, and at the next stopping place escorted us to the rude log cabin with the air of a Knight Errant, took off our rubbers, placed them before the fire, and after other indescribable and delicate attentions opened his basket and spread before us a lunch of truly, royal viands, which, in spite of our rude surroundings, was eaten with unrivalled relish.

Arriving at Eureka, we stopped at the Parker House, in which Mr. Hinckley, the proprietor, made every exertion to secure our comfort. It had rained for a week, and the streets were in such a horrible condition that we were filled with forebodings of failure. Quite unexpectedly we again encountered our cavalier, who insisted upon lifting us over the deep mud of the crossings, placing us entirely at ease by the assurance that it was the custom of the country, after which he offered his assistance in the sale of books, and, going into a faro bank, he sold twelve copies at a dollar and a half apiece.

We described this gallant gentleman to Mr. Hinckley, who informed us that he was Pete Fryer, the most noted gambler of the Pacific coast, whose unrivalled success and universal popularity were in a great degree owing to his sobriety, his elegant presence and polished manner.

Our next move was to Gold Point, where we spent a day. We met there a Virginia physician with whom we had a long and interesting conversation. We were boarders at the same hotel, and at the tea table he came over to Hattie, and placing in her hand a ten dollar gold piece, said it was for the blind lady, and he wished her to buy with it a keepsake. We went to Palisades in a mud-wagon, the only means of transportation at our disposal, and we found it highly appropriate, the mud being over the hubs of the wheels.

In this primitive style we reached our destination upon Christmas Eve, weary and homesick; yet our Christmas dinner in this insignificant town was choice and recherche, the quality and variety of the wines being worthy of the cellar of a connoisseur. Our business success here was greater than in many larger towns.

We visited the places en route to Ogden, and on our arrival there found snow almost two feet deep, and hundreds anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Union Pacific train, which had not been in for two weeks. The hotels were so intensely crowded that we were forced to wade through snow over our knees for half a day to find a comfortable place to stay, and were very thankful for a third rate boarding house.

The next day, when almost in despair, we heard in the distance the welcome sound of a locomotive whistle. The gentlemen rushed to the depot and soon bore us the pleasant tidings that the train would leave in two hours and a half. We hurriedly gathered together our baggage and sufficient supplies for a week, arriving at the train just in time to secure a section in the sleeping-car. Hoping for no more delay, we started, but ere long found ourselves landed in a snow bank, with five trains ahead of us, in the same predicament. A three-days stand-still of this kind, with its trying tedium, can be imagined only by those who have been similarly situated, and its tedium is equaled by nothing but an Ohio River sand bar imprisonment on a stern wheel steamer.

My sensibilities had quite a reawakening jog from an incidental abrasure, received by coming in contact with one of the acute angles in the person of Miss Susan B. Anthony, who honored us with her distinguished presence. She was in company with the family of the Honorable Mr. Sargent, United States Senator from California. This gentleman evinced great native delicacy in his quiet, unobtrusive attentions. Miss Susan had been very impatient at the long delay, and constantly berated the male sex and their inadequacy to great emergencies, and was offered by the complimented parties the privilege of engineering the train, an honor she respectfully declined. One day I was saluted by a voice, not sweetly feminine in tone, while an impetuous hand pitched, at me one of my own books. The voice asked:

"Were you ever in Michigan? Are you married? I knew a blind woman there who had five children, and they were all deaf and dumb! I think Congress ought to pass a law to prevent these people from marrying and bringing such creatures into the world!"

These burning words came with the fierce force of the tornado and the horrible heat of the simoon. So abruptly had she taken her leave, that she was beyond hearing before I could sufficiently recover to reply. Words I would have spoken burned upon my lips, and emotions welled up from the depths of an affection as deep, true and unfathomable as ever struggled in such a heart as that of Susan B. Anthony.

Long did I dwell upon the cruel words, wondering if they could have emanated from a woman who advocated the inviolable rights and bewailed the deep wrongs of her own sex, or if Congress had the power to exclude the blind from loving and following the holiest impulses of their natures, like other human beings!

After our extrication we sped on to Sherman, the highest of the mountain towns, and the Railroad Company treated us to a dinner, which, although poor, was much relished, after our protracted dieting. After leaving Laramie we had another delay of two days' length, after which we went via Cheyenne to Omaha, rejoicing, and after eleven days of weary travel felt ourselves really homeward bound.

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