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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 83

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bundles. My father and Hugh stayed behind. It was each person’s determination to stay with his property until ordered away by the soldiers. When Mary Belle had left after dinner, Mother told her we would go to Nellie Mason’s, but we were all sure the fire would be controlled long before it reached the hilltops. We arrived at Mrs. Mason’s home about four o’clock in the morning. She wasn’t too pleased to see us; already about twenty of her relatives and friends were there, but she offered us such hospitality as she had. Mother and I were put in one of the servants’ rooms on the third floor; the maids, as well as my grandmother, were downstairs on sofas. It was only fitful sleeping any of us could do, since at any moment another heavy shake could send us into the street. But at least we had shelter. My own small world was concerned only with my personal well- being. My child was evidently feeling the effect of the shock and lay still in my body for long periods of time, then trembled with a spasm far too violent and relapsed again into hours of quiet. Late in the afternoon Mary Belle arrived to tell us that she had been ordered away from her home. She was intending to go to San Anselmo, across the Golden Gate in Marin County, to stay with friends. She would walk through the Presidio to the beach, from where, she had heard, people were being taken out to the ferries in small boats manned by soldiers, thence across to Marin County, where the interurban trains were still running. Then she told me that she had had to leave all my baby clothes except the prettiest dress. Now my precious baby clothes were gone! I told myself she had left her home carrying all she could stagger under; it was only fair that my things should be left behind; but I went off into the conservatory alone and shed some tears. I was overcome by the first realization of personal loss. When my husband and my father arrived about evening, Hugh found me still grieving alone and told me how silly I was. But I grieved silently all through the succeeding weeks. The most beautiful layettes from the finest New York stores would never make up for the loss of the things I had made myself. Naturally, Hugh was determined to get word to his family in Ohio, and he was eager to communicate with his office in Tonopah. He left me early the next morning to try to reach a telegraph office across the hay in Oakland, with the understanding he would he back by nightfall. Too many have described the days after the earthquake, days filled with comedy, pathos, tragedy. The most tragic people I saw were the tiny- footed Chinese women who walked all the miles over our terrible hills on their tortured, deformed feet, bound in childhood according to custom. Out there by the Presidio, they inched themselves along by anything to which they could cling, winding their fingers into fences, leaning on low copings. The memory



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