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Title: Seeking Fortune in America
Author: Grey, Frederick William
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

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                       SEEKING FORTUNE IN AMERICA

[Illustration: THE WRITER AT CALGARY, 1891.]



                            SEEKING FORTUNE
                               IN AMERICA



                                   BY

                               F. W. GREY



                         _WITH A FRONTISPIECE_



                                 LONDON
                 SMITH, ELDER & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE
                                  1912

                         [All rights reserved]



                  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                   At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh



                                PREFACE


In the early ’eighties lads who preferred exercise to examinations
looked abroad for work, and parents who feared their failure in
competitions agreed with them. Ditties like—

          “To the West, to the West, to the land of the free,
          Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea,”

had long moved our agricultural class America-wards; perhaps the next
line—

            “Where a man is a man if he’s willing to toil,”

did not so much appeal to middle-class youth, but there were always
visions of “broncho-busting” and rope-swinging. Moreover, no one in
England, of whatever class, knew what “toil” meant, as understood in
Canada and the States.

Land was easy to get in those days, free grants of 160 acres on certain
conditions of exploitation which were often evaded. After weary search
from Iowa northward I reached a rolling country dotted with small lakes
and groves, leading up to the beautiful valley of the Little
Saskatchewan. My driver said that some land which I fancied here was
certainly taken up, but I saw a Scotchman ploughing and we foregathered.
He told me that the other holders around were “jumping” new grants
elsewhere, and that the little “breaking” which they had done did not
fulfil conditions. Investigation proved this, and I bought two square
miles at prairie value from the railway whose line was to traverse this
very land. My son eventually did not use it, and, twenty years later,
still as “prairie,” it fetched enough to cover the original price _plus_
accumulated interest and taxes.

My son was right; farming, as I saw it in my wanderings, was not
attractive. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, the surroundings
were delightful, but profits seemed small; while the prairie, from the
Canadian Pacific Railway down to Iowa, though certainly productive, was
to my eyes as heart-breaking as the plains of India.

Travelling south from Buffalo, after a visit to the Guelph Agricultural
College, which later received my son, a farmer joined me. He was Yankee
to look at, but his tongue was Devonshire. It attracted a rough-looking
customer in our carriage; he was Cumberland, and we three exchanged
ideas. Cumberland was a wanderer who had worked all over the States up
to the Pacific; Devonshire was naturalised, and thereon Cumberland took
him to task. Devonshire, he said, had sold his birthright for a mess of
pottage. Devonshire submitted that he could live on the pottage, while
Cumberland did not seem to thrive on the birthright. Both had been
agricultural labourers at home, and now Devonshire had a little holding
nestling in one of the lovely vales which we were traversing. He could
live thereon, certainly, but what a life! Cumberland, I think, had a
better time, while able for the varied work which he could always find.
Better for either would have been our army, navy, or police. That class
does not know the soldier’s advantages when he has risen to sergeant and
stays in the army.

Sore though my son’s struggle was he was right not to farm. Certainly he
lost his capital, but this is the normal English lot in the States; at
his mine in Texas a man came for a watchman’s job who had started with
£4000! Such, it seems, is the “footing” which the gentle, handicapped by
their traditions, must necessarily pay. Nevertheless, those traditions
are an asset, as this book shows; so are horsemanship; the athletics and
the “straight left” which public schools taught in those days if they
taught little else; also a straight eye and steady nerve behind a
pistol. My son’s experience may not tempt others of his class to seek
fortune in America, but if they do so they will learn therefrom what to
expect, in what spirit to meet it, and what equipment they need.

                                                      L. J. H. GREY.

_March 1912._



                                CONTENTS

                               CHAPTER I

                                                                 PAGE

  "Thousand Pounders"—Ontario Agricultural College—Political        1
    Meetings—Volunteer Artillery—Value of the Agricultural
    College


                              CHAPTER II

  Calgary—A Cow-puncher—"Roping"—Life on a Ranch—A Calgary         11
    Hail-storm—“Gun-plays” and "Bad-men"—Sarci Indians


                              CHAPTER III

  Road-agents—“Roping” Contests—Broncho-busting—Strathclair—A      24
    Blizzard—Lumber Camps


                              CHAPTER IV

  An Injured Knee—The "Laird"—Kit destroyed by Fire—Hunting        31
    round Strathclair—Trapping—“Batching”


                               CHAPTER V

  Chicago—American Business Methods—Work as a                      38
    Carbonator—Chicago Fair—“Hard-luck” Stories—Remittance-men


                              CHAPTER VI

  Looking for Work—An Englishman’s Disadvantages—Addressing        47
    Envelopes—Running a Lift—Bogus Advertisements—Various Jobs


                              CHAPTER VII

  Life under Difficulties—Drawbacks of a Public-school             55
    Training—Hints on Emigration—Pneumonia—Unemployment in
    Chicago, 1893


                             CHAPTER VIII

  Hard Times—Health restored—Rabbit-catching—Hunting in Iowa—A     64
    Gentleman Tramp—The Hobo Business—Free Railway Travelling


                              CHAPTER IX

  Toronto—An Interest in a Mine—The Railway Strike of              73
    1894—Stranded at La Junta, Colorado—Strike
    Incidents—Troops called out


                               CHAPTER X

  Golden—Pack-horse Difficulties—Camping out—Prospecting in        80
    British Columbia—On an Asphaltum Mine in Texas


                              CHAPTER XI

  Cline—Bunk-houses—Work on a Rock-crusher—Mexican Dancing and     88
    Music


                              CHAPTER XII

  Trouble at the Dance—A New Superintendent—Shots in the           96
    Dark—Arrest of Bud—With a Surveying Party


                             CHAPTER XIII

  Swimming-holes—Hunting in West Texas—Fishing in the Nueces      104
    River—Jim Conners—Foreman Betner—A Runaway Car


                              CHAPTER XIV

  A Sunday Fishing Party—"Bad-men"—Ben Thompson and other         113
    Desperadoes—The Story of a Hot Spring


                              CHAPTER XV

  Coyotes—Wild Turkeys—Lynching and Jury Trial in                 122
    Texas—Pistol-shooting—Negro Vitality


                              CHAPTER XVI

  A "Periodical"—Italian Treachery—Bitumen Extractors—The         129
    Mexican Disregard for Orders—In Charge of the Stills—A
    Vote Canvasser


                             CHAPTER XVII

  Elections in Texas—Feuds and Shooting Affrays—Family            138
    Pride—Prohibition


                             CHAPTER XVIII

  A "Grandstander"—The Sheriff takes Possession—Night             148
    Watchman—Monte Jim—Further Trouble


                              CHAPTER XIX

  Promoted to Foreman—Overwork and Eye-strain—Mexican             157
    Traits—Amateur Doctor—A Rival Asphalt Company—Its Failure


                              CHAPTER XX

  More American Business Methods—Trip to Corpus                   165
    Christi—Trouble at the Mine—West Texas as a Health
    Resort—Expenses of the Simple Life


                              CHAPTER XXI

  "Northers"—Almost Frozen—The Mexican Indian—Cold-blooded        172
    Ingratitude—Mexican Untrustworthiness


                             CHAPTER XXII

  Employed by a Paving Company—The Growth of Los Angeles—Its      180
    Land Values—A Centre for Tourists


                             CHAPTER XXIII

  "Graft"—Seeking Contracts in Los Angeles—In Charge of Street    189
    Work—Crooked Business


                             CHAPTER XXIV

  Bribery and Corruption—The Good Government League—Servant       196
    Problem in California—The Climate and its Effect on
    Wages—Off to Guadalajara


                              CHAPTER XXV

  The Barber Company—Guadalajara—Mexican Mendacity—Don Miguel     204
    Ahumada—His Humanity and Justice


                             CHAPTER XXVI

  The Mexican Workman—His Remembrance of a Grudge—The             213
    _Commissaria_—Private Feuds—American _versus_ English


                             CHAPTER XXVII

  Bull-fighting—Mexican Etiquette—The Police Department and       219
    its Difficulties—Treatment of Habitual Criminals—The Army


                            CHAPTER XXVIII

  Federal Rurales—Robbery by Servants—Wholesale Thieving—Lack     229
    of Police Discipline—A Story of Roosevelt


                             CHAPTER XXIX

  Tequila—Mexican Respect for the White Man—Personal Vengeance    237
    preferred to Law—Mexican Stoicism—Victims of Red Tape


                              CHAPTER XXX

  Accidents at the Mines—Mexico City—Peculiar                     243
    Laws—"Evidence"—A Theft of Straw


                             CHAPTER XXXI

  Solitary Confinement—Mexican Rogues—The Humorous Side—A         249
    Member of the Smart Set—The Milkmen


                             CHAPTER XXXII

  Carrying Firearms—The Business of Mexico—Its Management by      257
    Foreigners—Real Estate and Mining Booms—Foreign
    Capital—Imports and Exports


                            CHAPTER XXXIII

  Climate of Guadalajara—American Tramps—Courtship under          266
    Difficulties—Influence of the Priesthood—The _Metayer_
    System


                             CHAPTER XXXIV

  Curious Customs—The Abuse of Concessions—Flagrant               273
    Examples—Prospects for Foreigners in Mexico—President
    Diaz—Mr. Denny’s Life-story


                             CHAPTER XXXV

  Mr. Denny and a Mining Claim—Wholesale Killing                  282
    averted—Stories of Shooting Escapades


                             CHAPTER XXXVI


  Macdonald Institute at Guelph—Agricultural College—Their        292
    Value to Students—Back to Work through Texas


                            CHAPTER XXXVII

  Puebla, the Misgoverned—Justice under Colonel Cabrera—Royal     300
    Family of Chihuahua—Tampico—Presidents Diaz and Madero



                       Seeking Fortune in America



                               CHAPTER I

"Thousand-pounders"—Ontario Agricultural College—Political
    Meetings—Volunteer Artillery—Value of the Agricultural College.


The Western States and Provinces of North America thrive on our
“thousand-pounders” and “remittance-men.” Some years ago in one small
prairie town of Iowa there were 105 young Britons on the books of the
local club. One of these (dubbed Sitting-bull after a famous brave) was
doing fairly well in a milk-walk; a few others earned livings as farm
hands; the rest were, said the natives, “doing no good.” How should
they, unless to the manner born? Four young sons of farmers and parsons,
all neighbours from Owersby, Walesby, and other Lincolnshire "by’s,"
bought a “raw” farm on instalments in the Red River Valley. A
land-seeker was sent there by the owner. “He has not got us yet,” said
the lads; “we are ready with our instalment.” But he got them at last,
with their improvements—homestead, stable, well, and many acres under
plough. That is how the “thousand-pounders” nourish the West; not that
these Lincolnshire men had so much between them, but many collapse with
even more capital, for lack of experience. And even afterwards the
experience, thus bought at a long price, does not generally lead to
much.

In 1890, 1280 acres of carefully-chosen land awaited me in Manitoba,
bought from and traversed by the Manitoba and North-Western Railway. To
qualify myself for farming this land I went to Guelph, in Ontario,
Canada.

The Ontario Agricultural College is recognised as one of the finest
institutions of its kind on the continent of America, because of the
thoroughness of its methods and the class of graduates it turns out.
There are graduates of this college holding professorships in many of
the agricultural colleges of the States, others in charge of large
farming interests, and also of some of the largest dairies in the
country.

Students have come here from Mexico, Argentine, and even from Japan,
sent by their respective countries. I am sorry to say that the majority
of us English students did not come up to the general standard,
frittered our time away, and thought more of standing high in the
estimation of the girls down-town than in that of the professors. The
great handicap under which an English student labours at the college is
the fact that he has no practical knowledge of farming while he is
trying to learn the technical and scientific part. I could not, for
instance, appreciate duly the fact that there were over a hundred
different varieties of wheat, when I could not tell wheat from barley
growing in the fields. At a live-stock examination I once attended, the
examiner had two sheep in the room. “Now,” he said, “here are a Cotswold
and a Shropshire ram; I want you to give me what are the best points of
each class, and then try to find them on the rams in front of you.” I
had all the good points of both sheep as per text-book on the tip of my
tongue, and got them off in good style, and then proceeded to
demonstrate them on the specimens in front of me. When I got through,
the examiner said, “Very good indeed, but unfortunately the one you are
describing as a Cotswold is the Shropshire, and _vice versa_.” And the
worst of it is, that to this day I do not know if he was joking or not,
as he gave me a “pass.”

The college could accommodate about two hundred students, most of whom
boarded inside, though this was optional. The course was of three years
for the degree of B.S.A.—Bachelor of the Science of Agriculture. They
also used to give a certificate at the end of the second year for those
students who could not complete a full course. The first year’s work was
to a large extent general education, for the benefit of the farmers’
lads, being courses in literature, mathematics, and chemistry, though
there were also lectures on agriculture, dairy-work, and veterinary
science. The lectures were in the mornings and every alternate
afternoon, the other afternoons being filled with practical work on the
farm, for which the students were paid, according to their ability, from
1 cent to 10 cents per hour. The second year there is more of
agriculture, chemistry, veterinary science, &c., and less of other
matters; and the same applies to the third year. During the long
holidays from June to September the students who so desire can remain
and work on the farm under pay. This enables students practically to pay
their way through college without assistance from their people. The
college farm consists of some 600 acres, some 200 of which are under
cultivation, though a large tract of this is given up to experimental
work with different kinds of grains, different admixtures of soils, &c.
The college also grows all varieties of fruits and flowers that do well
in that climate. They have fine specimens of the different breeds of
cattle, hogs, and sheep, for use in the lecture-rooms; also a splendidly
equipped dairy, where cheese- and butter-making is taught.

For the athletic side of education there was a fine gymnasium and
swimming-pool, and a recreation field for football, baseball, &c. Here,
we English students were in our element, and, so far as I remember,
during the two sessions I attended lectures at the college the football
club was almost entirely composed of Englishmen, though there were some
fine Canadian players in the team also. The students were supposed to be
fed entirely on the products of the farm, and the meals were certainly
unequalled in any hotel in the city. Still we kicked on general
principles, as men do almost everywhere. On one occasion the boys
thought they were getting rhubarb-pie and rhubarb-pudding too
frequently, and sent up a note to that effect to the president, who, of
course, ignored it altogether. Then, of course, it became a matter of
honour that the rhubarb should stop, and next morning there was not a
plant of rhubarb growing on the college grounds. It cost the students a
fine of $1 per head, but every one was happy.

The college was supported by the government of the province, which at
that time was of the “Grit” or Liberal party, and the students were all
enthusiastic politicians whenever they could get off in the evening to
attend a political meeting. I remember one night I was on my way to a
dance, but was prevailed upon to go first to a political meeting with
the boys. When we arrived, one hundred strong, at the City Hall, we were
refused admittance. But, putting the football team at the head of the
wedge, we soon arrived close up to the stage. On either side of the
stage were hoses and nozzles for use in case of fire, and some brilliant
genius took one down and turned it on us. Then the fun really began, for
we stormed the stage, got hold of both hoses, and watered up that
assembly good and plenty. We were most of us pretty damp, and I know, as
I clambered down a fire-escape, that my shirt front was not in condition
for a ballroom.

Our president, Mr. Mills, was one of the finest men I have ever come
across, and the boys all thought a great deal of him. There was a door
between the college and his private house, and he used to say that he
never allowed college matters to pass that door. No matter what trouble
you got into in the college, you were always a welcome guest in the
president’s house. I early got into the bad graces of the Professor of
Agriculture, who had no love for English students, and the word was
passed to the farm-foreman to see that no easy jobs came our way. This
finally led to my rustication. I had been invited out to an “At Home”
one evening, and that afternoon happened to be hoeing sugar-beets when
the farm-foreman came along. I asked him to let me off early, so that I
could wash and change my clothes. He, thinking to be sarcastic by giving
what he thought to be an impossible task for me, said, “You can go when
you have hoed five more rows.” I asked him to mark them out, and then
started in to make the weeds fly, and, incidentally, some beets also. I
got through about five o’clock, shouldered my hoe, and started home,
when I met the foreman. He asked me where I was going, and I told him I
was through. He came back and found it as I had said, and then told me
to go back to work, as he was only joking. I told him I did not
understand jokes of this sort, and started off. Then he lost his temper,
ran after me, and tried to use force to stop me. He was, of course, much
stronger than I was, but, unfortunately, did not know how to handle
himself; so after a short session I went on my way rejoicing. When I
returned to my room that night I found a note from the agricultural
professor—who was in charge, as the president was away—giving me
twenty-four hours to clear out, for insubordination and assaulting my
superior. I borrowed a tent, and went into camp. One of my friends
down-town happened to be a big political gun, and the next time I was at
his house he asked me all about it. I told him the facts, and within a
week I got a letter from the Minister of Agriculture asking for proofs,
which I forwarded in the shape of letters from other students who had
been working with me at the time. By return mail I got a letter ordering
my reinstatement; and the next morning, when I applied for my old room
it was given me without more ado.

Guelph has two Volunteer Artillery companies, one filled with students
from the college, and one with town boys, four guns to each battery. I
joined the college battery, and after a couple of months of steady drill
in Guelph we were taken out to camp at Niagara, on the lake near the
falls. There were five or six other batteries there also, some cavalry,
and some infantry. One day while standing listening to the band I got
into conversation with an artilleryman from Welland, and after some talk
found, to my astonishment, that he had been a room-mate of mine at
Westward Ho. Since then I have met two or three other boys from the old
school. It was wonderful how quickly they licked us into shape, for the
Canadian lads are, like the Americans of the south and west, natural
soldiers, being bright, intelligent, anxious to learn, and able to stand
considerable hardship—as was proven in the Riel rebellion, and also, I
think, in Africa, where some of my old Guelph friends went. That the
college turned out good men is proved in the person of the president. He
had worked his way through college practically without assistance from
his people, took his degree at the head of his class, and with it a
professorship in the Mississippi Agricultural College. Then, after
various other positions, he was selected as president of his former
college on the retirement of our old head.

I would advise no young English lad to go to the college until he has
worked at least a year or two on some Canadian farm to get the practical
knowledge necessary to really get the good out of his college course. He
should also have the rudiments of a good general education. Here I might
mention that the college did not teach spelling; in this country it is
not thought as much of as in England, and nearly all Americans are bad
spellers. For instance, the business man who, on reading about
Roosevelt’s spelling reform, said that he could not see anything new
about it, as that was the way he had spelled all his life! If here and
in other places I seem to roast Americans, they must not be offended, as
it is meant in all good nature; and they must also remember that I have
been roasted by them for the past sixteen years, and this is the first
time I have had a chance to get back at them without giving them a
chance to answer me.



                               CHAPTER II

Calgary—A Cow-puncher—"Roping"—Life on a Ranch—A Calgary
    Hail-storm—“Gun-plays” and "Bad-men"—Sarci Indians.


Leaving the Agricultural College at Guelph on the start of the summer
holidays of 1891, I took advantage of settlers’ cheap rates and went to
Calgary, at the foot of the Rockies, to try and get some practical
experience. After drifting round for a week, I found that green
Englishmen were at a discount, but finally managed to get work with a
Mr. Berney, who owned two ranches, one within three miles of town, and
the other on Pine Creek, about thirty-eight miles out. Mr. Berney asked
if I could ride, and on my saying yes, told one of the boys to bring out
Bill and saddle him. I noticed all the family (consisting of four grown
girls and two boys) and most of the men loitering round in front when I
proceeded to mount, but thought nothing of it at the time. I rode Bill
out a mile or so, circled him at a good speed, and rattled him up to the
house, trying to show off, as a young lad will, in front of the girls;
but I noticed they all looked very disappointed. After this trial I
moved my baggage, and was duly installed, and Bill was turned over to me
as a saddle-horse. I found out a month later the meaning of the trial
and the girls’ disappointment. I had come in from town, taken off my
saddle, and proceeded to ride Bill down to the creek to water; I had on
a pair of box spurs (which are taboo in the cattle country), and, coming
up the steep bank, I happened to touch Bill with one of the spurs, and
the next second I knew what bucking meant. Luckily the ground was soft.
George Berney told me then that the horse had originally belonged to a
livery stable in town much frequented by cow-punchers, where, originally
a bad bucker, he had been trained by means of cockleburrs put under his
saddle blanket to become an expert. Every young man who came to the
stable looking for a mount, and bragged of his riding, was given Bill.
But one day a young Englishman, who insisted on saddling and doing for
himself, rode Bill to a standstill, and in an English saddle! So Bill
was sold for a song to Mr. Berney, and the family had hoped to see some
fun when I mounted; only it happened to be Bill’s day off. I moved to
the out-ranch, and learned to do many kinds of work, and found out that
on a ranch one did many things besides ride, such as building log
corrals seven feet high and sixty feet across, with two wings to guide
the cattle right to the gate.

I built cattle stables, horse stables, and fences all out of logs of
spruce, and during the five months I was there I broke twelve or
fourteen horses to the saddle. None were very bad, and I was never
thrown again in Calgary, though I had a rather nasty experience with a
half-broken mare. She was seven years old, and had never had a rope on
her, but in a couple of weeks, during odd times, I broke her and thought
she was gentle. Her only fault had been rearing, and she never bucked or
kicked. One day I put on my best tight riding-breeches and top-boots,
and started off to show her to some friends of mine on Sheep Creek,
about sixteen miles away. About a mile from our shack I had to cross
Pine Creek, which has high steep banks, but luckily very little water.
Going up the opposite bank the mare suddenly took it into her head to
rear, and the next instant we were off the bank and into the creek. I
fell clear on my feet; but the mare, falling square on her back, had
buried the horn and pommel of the saddle in the bottom of the creek, and
could not turn over. I grabbed her head, and could just keep her muzzle
out of the water, though the rest of her was under. I shouted and
shouted, and emptied my pistol, and did all I knew to attract attention,
till finally, after about twenty minutes which seemed hours, the local
scout of the mounted police came to see what was up, and helped me to
get the mare out. My clothes were a sight, and I split the knees of my
riding-breeches as I fell.

I had learned to rope fairly well on foot, but never made much of a
success of it on horseback. By the way, the word “lasso” is never heard
in the cattle country; the phrase is “roping.” After I had learned to
rope stumps, and could catch Bill two throws out of three, I began to
think I was a star. I went to a local round-up on Pine Creek, and went
into the corral to get out a mare and yearling colt that belonged to us.
I was rather nervous after I once was in, but made my throw after the
approved fashion from the ground, and to my amazement captured the mare
and colt in the same loop. I had a gay ten minutes; but some of the
boys, after they got through laughing, came to my assistance, roped the
mare by the legs, threw her, and got my rope off. In a corral it is not
permissible to whirl a rope round your head, as it frightens the
animals, but the throw must be made from the ground, where the coil is
spread out. Only in Buffalo Bill shows, where it gives more flourish to
the proceedings, and sometimes when roping from a horse at the gallop,
is this done—_i.e._ whirling the rope—and I have seen good ropers, both
in Canada and Texas, even in the latter case trail a rope behind and
throw it with one forward swing. Another point about ropes is never to
tie one to the horn of your saddle while riding, if you have anything at
the other end. I had gone out one day to bring in a two-year-old heifer
from a neighbouring ranch. After getting my rope on her horns, I took
one turn round the horn of my saddle, and proceeded to pull her home,
she protesting. After we had gone a few miles she quieted down, and I
thought I would take a smoke. I tied my rope in two half-hitches to the
horn of my saddle, got out my tobacco and papers, and proceeded to make
a cigarette. Just then simultaneously my horse stopped dead and the
heifer circled me on the dead run, and I could not get the brute of a
horse to turn. I cut away the rope before it cut me in two, and gained
another experience at the cost of a fine waxed linen rope and a sore
waistband.

My life on the ranch was far from being all hard work, and so it is on
most ranches, though probably I was more favourably situated than most,
owing to the owner having a large family who were fond of amusement and
could well afford it. We had picnics, surprise parties, and dances, in
all of which we hands had our share, being treated as members of the
family. The work, of course, was not neglected on these occasions, but
so arranged as not to interfere, and if some one had to stay behind we
took it in turns. The theory of a surprise party is as follows. A number
of young people arrange to have a party at a certain person’s house; all
the edibles are cooked beforehand and taken along by the guests, and the
hosts are taken by surprise. But so many accidents occurred, such as the
hosts going to bed early, or, worse, going out and locking up the house,
that in practice notice is generally given to the hosts of the proposed
surprise a couple of days beforehand. The people in the West are most
hospitable—in fact, this applies to a great extent to all Canada. A
stranger is always taken on trust till he proves himself unworthy.
Riding past any ranch-house near a meal-time, the owner will call you to
come in and eat, if he is at home. Should he be out, however, you will
generally come across a note like the following pinned to the door:
“Have gone ... will be back ... the key is under the stone to the right
of the steps. Go in and make yourself at home.” This I have often done,
hunting out his grub and cooking what I needed; and on one occasion,
getting caught out at night, I fed my horse, ate supper, and went to
bed. I woke up when the owner returned, smoked and talked with him (a
complete stranger) till he was undressed, and turned in again till
morning. In the morning you get up, help with the chores (odd jobs such
as feeding the stable animals), have breakfast, saddle up, and depart.

Calgary is a beautiful place on the slope of the foothills, at an
elevation of about 3400 feet, rather cold in winter, but delightful in
the summer and fall. On the out-ranch, however, where there was a lot of
timber, the winged pests—mosquitoes, gnats, horse- and deer-flies—made
work in the woods very trying, more especially the two latter, whose
bite will draw blood every time. The surrounding country, especially out
towards Fort McLeod, is full of immense sloughs, where the wild slough
grass will often grow to a height of five feet, and as much as 1000 tons
can be cut off a single slough. But haying is made hard work by the
gnats and mosquitoes.

It was while haying that I first saw a Calgary hailstorm. George Berney
was running the hay-rack (which consists of an immense crate on wheels,
so that it can be loaded and handled by one man) and I was raking, when,
looking up, I saw terrible blue-black clouds rolling up the valley
towards us, for all the world like Atlantic rollers. I shouted to
George, lifted the rake, and headed for the house, about a mile away. By
the time we had the horses safely in the stable and got over to the
shack, the storm reached us. I have never seen its equal before or
since. We could hear the roar of the hail long before it reached us, and
when it did reach the clapboard roof it was deafening. One stone we
measured was eight and a half inches in circumference, and seemed
composed of about a dozen smaller ones congealed together. We had about
twenty chickens killed; and some people lost heavily, losing even colts,
calves, and pigs. The oat-crop, which was being harvested at the time,
was so cut to bits and driven into the ground that not even straw was
saved.

My first experience in Calgary was with the mounted police, for as we
stopped at the station three policemen boarded our tourist sleeping-car,
and while one stood guard at each door, the third walked over to one of
the seats, lifted the spring cushion, and pulled out from the recess
underneath a 2½-gallon keg of whisky. He asked the porter if it was his,
and then asked every passenger, but all denied any knowledge of it. It
was then taken outside, the head knocked out, and the whisky emptied on
the ground. Of course the police had received previous notice from some
one, possibly the very man who had sold it and knew its destination.

This prohibition of whisky, combined with the mounted police, has kept
the North-West Territories from becoming, like Montana and Texas, a land
full of “gun-plays” and “bad-men.” Not but what there has been whisky
smuggled in in carloads of kerosene cans; there have also been
“gun-plays” and “bad-men,” but they are the exception and not the rule,
as further south. How easily a “bad-man” is made the following will
show. A young fellow, well known and well liked round Calgary, got on a
spree, and, after mounting his horse, proceeded yelling down the street.
A city policeman (distinct from the mounted police) tried to arrest him.
The puncher (cowboy) took down his rope, and galloping past the officer,
roped him, and dragged him down the street at the end of the rope;
finally he dropped the rope and rode off, leaving the officer seriously
hurt. So far, only a Western version of what the university students
used to do to the English police. But the sequel was different. The
young fellow, instead of coming in the next morning, giving himself up,
and taking his medicine, took to the hills, and it was up to the mounted
police to bring him in. The open-house system I have mentioned before
made it easy for him to live. But living in the hills and being hunted
is demoralising, and the next thing was a “hold-up” of the Edmonton
stage, for funds to leave the country, in which a man was killed. A
reward was then offered for him, and people were warned not to harbour
him. He was finally killed one night in town, shot from behind as he
stood against the lighted window of a saloon looking in. Whether he was
killed for the reward—which the killer was afterwards afraid to claim
because of the young man’s friends—or whether it was a private grudge,
no one ever knew, as the man who did it never came forward; or possibly
he was killed for the money he took off the stage.

There is something peculiar about the air of the West which makes a man
take readily to a gun and wish to be a law unto himself; but it is a
strange fact that the worst “gun-men” the West has produced were
easterners, and generally city-bred. Though in this case the mounted
police had no success, they are generally on the spot when needed, as I
saw on the Calgary racecourse one day. One of the onlookers called one
of the jockeys a thief, and accused him of pulling a horse in the race.
He had hardly finished speaking when the jockey, riding close up to the
fence, slipped his stirrup-strap, and cut him over the head with the
stirrup. They were both punchers, and their friends took it up, and two
or three guns were drawn. But before anything occurred three mounted
police rode up; one arrested the jockey, and the sight of the others
soon restored peace.

The doctor for the Sarci Indian reservation, near Calgary, was Mr.
Berney’s son-in-law. During the Riel rebellion the Sarci head chief
promised that none of his bucks should go out; but, unfortunately, he
fell sick, and the young bucks began to get restive, though as long as
he was alive they did not dare to disobey the old chief. Dr. George told
me he never had a case in his life where so much depended on his keeping
his patient alive. However, the old man pulled through, and only a few
stragglers joined the rebellion; had he died, Calgary would have been in
the greatest danger. These Indians are a lazy, dirty lot, but have
wonderful natural endurance. A mounted policeman told me of a chase an
Indian on foot led him and a mounted comrade. They ran him eight miles
before they captured him, and only twice did they get within roping
distance of him, when he dodged like a rabbit. After leading them over
the roughest ground he could find, he finally circled to where there was
a herd of Indian ponies grazing, as his last chance. But one of the
policemen headed off and stampeded the ponies, while the other, getting
within striking distance, knocked the Indian down. The Blackfeet,
though, are the only really troublesome Indians, as they are such
inveterate thieves. A homesteader on the head of Sheep Creek came home
one night to find his door-lock broken and all the food in the house
carried off. While investigating, he found in a “draw” close to the
house a camp of eight Blackfeet bucks enjoying his provisions. He kept
his temper, and picking up what he could carry, took it up to the house.
About his third trip he found out that the Indians were playing with
him, for as fast as he could carry the stuff up they were carrying it
back to the tepee. Then he lost his temper, and instead of going over to
the nearest police scout and reporting the matter, he thought he would
play a lone hand and scare the Indians. He pulled out his pistol, and
throwing back the flap of the tepee, fired in two or three shots,
without being very particular whether he hit any one or not.
Unfortunately he killed one of them, and the others ran, being unarmed
except for their knives. As soon as he realised what he had done, he
caught his horse, came into town, and gave himself up. The police
hustled him off to Regina, and that night his house was burned and his
stock killed.

Of course the Calgary I am speaking about was Calgary of 1891, a town of
about 5000 people; now it is a city of nearly 20,000, and the
surrounding country is fast becoming a farming instead of a ranching
section. Large irrigation works have been completed, and land is too
valuable for grazing. The Indians mentioned here are very different from
those to be seen in the States—for instance, at Pipestone, Minnesota.
There the Indians used to hold their “truce of God” and smoked the pipe
of peace, and they still frequent those rocks and hawk the pipes and
other curios of soap-stone. But how changed from the braves of Ruxton
and Cooper and Reid! The proud Pawnee now looks more like the degraded
“digger Indians” of Mayne Reid! In the Dominion, however, the Indians
have not been crushed as in the States; they were still formidable at
the time of the Riel revolt some twenty years ago, and they can hold
their own even now.



                              CHAPTER III

Road-agents—“Roping” contests—Broncho-busting—Strathclair—A
    blizzard—Lumber camps.


Montana, just across the line from Fort McLeod, was for years an example
of what the North-West Territories might have been if it had not been
for the mounted police and prohibition. There, in its earlier days,
gun-men and even road-agents flourished, and killings were of everyday
occurrence. In fact, at one time in Virginia City the sheriff, Plummer,
was at the head of a band of organised road-agents which terrorised the
country. Finally, the people rose in desperation, and following the
example of California, formed a society of Vigilantes, and hanged all
the bad-men, including the sheriff. Most of these men when cornered died
like curs, but there were individuals, like George Sears, who at least
knew how to die. When he was taken to the place of execution, he asked
for time to pray, which was allowed him. Afterwards he made a short
speech, in which he said he deserved his fate, but his contempt of death
showed when requested to climb up the ladder which was to serve as a
drop. He said, “Gentlemen, please excuse my awkwardness, as I have not
had any experience. Am I to jump off or just slide off?”

In Montana, Indian Territory, and Texas, great roping contests are
organised every year, and cow-punchers flock from all over the United
States and Canada to try for the very valuable prizes that are offered.
In San Antonio, Texas, some years ago was held a great contest for the
championship of the world, in which the first prize was $6000 (£1237);
silver-mounted saddles, gold-mounted pistols, and other prizes were also
offered. The steers used in these contests are the very wildest that can
be got. They are held in a large corral, and turned out singly through a
gate in a chute. One hundred and fifty feet back from this gate sits the
cow-puncher on his horse, with his rope coiled and one end tied to his
saddle-horn. The minute the steer is clear of the chute he can start. He
must rope and throw the steer, and tie three of its legs together in
such a way that it cannot rise. As much or more depends on the horse
than on the man, and some of these cow-ponies are truly wonderful. Out
comes the steer with a rush, and away goes the puncher after him with
his rope whirling. He makes his throw, the rope settles over the steer’s
horns, and as it does so the pony stops dead, sticking out his feet in
front and bracing himself for the shock. The rope grows taut along the
steer’s flank, his head is jerked round, and down he goes. Meanwhile the
puncher, as his pony stops, drops off and reaches the steer almost as it
hits the ground, with his tie-rope in his hands; and while the steer
lies for an instant half-stunned, he deftly makes a hitch over three
legs with what is known as a hog-knot, jumps to his feet, and throws up
his hands as a sign that he is through. The pony, without rider, can be
depended upon to keep the steer down by constantly side-stepping to keep
the rope taut if the steer attempts to rise.

At El Paso, during the roping contests there, Clay McConagill did this
feat in the wonderful time of 21½ seconds, counting from the time the
steer left the chute till Clay’s hands were in the air. He is the
champion Texas roper, and holds the world’s record for a single tie. But
in a long-distance contest held in San Antonio he was beaten by Ellison
Carrol of Oklahoma, who tied in this manner twenty-eight consecutive
steers in 18 minutes and 58½ seconds, or an average of 40⅗ seconds each,
one of these ties being made in 22 seconds flat, or within ½ second of
the record. One who has not seen these contests can hardly form an idea
of the speed and skill both of horse and man necessary to accomplish
such a feat as this, or of the excitement among the audience of
cattlemen, all of whom, being good riders and ropers themselves, can
appreciate every move made. There is considerable risk also attached to
it. For instance, a friend of mine had the misfortune to get a coil of
his rope round his arm as he threw, and as the rope drew taut it cut his
hand off at the wrist; and yet he had been born and raised on a ranch!
The S.P.C.A. are now trying, if they have not already succeeded, to put
a stop to these contests on the ground of cruelty to the steers. But I
can see no sense in this, for steers are roped and thrown every day in
this manner on the ranch, during the season of the screw-worm fly, in
order to kill the worms with carbolic and chloroform, and they do not
seem to be very much hurt; and this is where the puncher gets his
practice in the course of his work.

Great broncho-busting (horse-breaking) contests are also held in
different parts of the West, where the worst horses from all over the
country are brought for the men to try on. In these contests, if a man
lay hand on any part of his saddle, or tries to lock his big spurs into
the girth of the saddle, he is disqualified. At one of these contests,
Sowder, one-time champion, for a bet drank a bottle of soda-water,
without spilling a drop, while his horse was bucking. Some horses
develop a devilish ingenuity in trying to get rid of their riders. They
will buck straight ahead, and suddenly, while in the air, make a twist
and turn almost end for end by the time they land. They will buck and
twist first one way and then the other alternately, squealing all the
time with impotent rage. There used to be a big negro in Calgary called
Uncle Tom, who never seemed so happy as when on a bad horse. When his
horse bucked, his face would suddenly open back to the ears in a grin,
and he would holloa, "Dere’s de boy, good boy"; and when the horse
tired, he would pull off his hat and whack it over the head and flank.

When I left Calgary, I took a flying trip home, and on my return decided
to go up to Strathclair and look over our land there. I was met by W.
Geekie, a neighbour, who took me over to his house to stay; but as my
movements were uncertain, it was decided to leave my trunks at the
station for a few days. Geekie, I found, was all prepared to start off
on a trip, hauling provisions up to a lumber camp near Lake
Winnipegosis, so I offered to accompany him and drive one of the teams.
This was in mid-November, and the cold was bitter, but with a good fur
coat over a pilot jacket I expected to be all right. We started out the
next morning, five big freight-sledges and a jumper (small home-made
sledge) for the provisions and bedding, six men all told, and five
gallons of whisky for the eight-day trip. Strathclair with the
surrounding country is a settlement of Highlanders, and they were as
hardy a lot of men as I have ever come across, but very clannish. I had
two or three “Black Angus” steer hides tanned with the hair on for
lap-robes, but found that, in order to be comfortable, I had every few
miles to drop off and flounder through the snow to start a good
circulation. The others mostly used whisky for the same purpose.

We encountered one blizzard on the trip, and I found out that they are
not so black as they are painted, for directly the snow commenced to
fall, the temperature rose, though the wind was very disagreeable. The
flying snow, however, made it impossible to proceed for fear of losing
the way, so we pitched camp in a clump of tamaracs. We slept out some of
the nights, and the experience is not so bad as might be expected,
provided you can get plenty of spruce-boughs and a place sheltered from
the wind. Steer-hides and spruce-boughs make a very comfortable and warm
bed if you pull in your head like a turtle.

If I had a very great enemy, I would wish him a job in a lumber camp, if
they are all like the one we went to. A long house of one room, about 20
feet by 30 feet, with bunks built up on the walls; one door as the only
opening for ventilation; a large cook-stove in the centre, which was
always full of wood, and served the double purpose of heating and
cooking. In this room lived about twenty men—French Canadians,
half-breed Indians, and other conglomerations. Here they cooked, ate,
slept, washed, and dried their clothes steaming against the stove, and
cursed if the door was opened for a minute. After seeing a decrepit
Irish cook dropping ashes and nicotine from his pipe into the food he
was preparing for supper, I fed outside, and stayed out during the night
and part of a day we remained there. I doubt if these men washed their
bodies during an entire winter. Such a state of affairs would not be
tolerated even on a “Stag” cattle-ranch, and I have seen a dirty cowboy
taken out by his fellows, stripped and scrubbed, and the operation never
had to be repeated; nor could he resent it, as he could not fight the
entire ranch.



                               CHAPTER IV

An injured knee—The "Laird"—Kit destroyed by fire—Hunting round
    Strathclair—Trapping—“Batching.”


I may here record a little experience I had in Calgary, which, while it
turned out all right in the end, caused me considerable excitement at
the time. I and George Berney were batching at the out-ranch on Pine
Creek, getting out black poplar posts for a fence we were building at
the home ranch. We used to take it in turns every couple of weeks to go
into town with the wagon for the mail and provisions, taking in a load
of posts at the same time. On one of these occasions, when it was
George’s turn to go, he told me he was going to stay in town for a
couple of days to go to some entertainment or other that was coming on.
He left at dawn, and I took my broad-axe and went out to square up some
logs we were dressing for a grain-house we were going to build. After I
had been working some little time my axe glanced off a small knot, and
the heel of the blade went into the hollow inside the left knee, just
below the knee-cap. I must mention that I am a left-handed chopper—that
is, I hold the butt of the axe-handle in my left hand, and so work on
the left side of the log I am standing over. The cut was not very
serious, though for a moment it numbed my leg. However, I went over to
the house and bound it up, and stopped my chopping for the time being.
In a couple of hours my leg had swollen to twice its normal size and
throbbed furiously, and by noon I could not walk without considerable
trouble. By afternoon I was considerably worried, being young and
inexperienced at the time, as I could not expect George back till about
the evening of the fourth day, and my nearest neighbours were two miles
away; and by night I had it all figured out that I was due to cash in my
checks. That night and the next morning I used my gun to try and attract
attention, but no one heard me. But about four o’clock in the afternoon
I heard a wagon coming up our trail, and soon was delighted to recognise
our own horses, and George driving. Some matter of importance in
connection with the sale of some horses had turned up, and his father
had bundled him back to attend to it. The team was too tired (having
done seventy-six miles, half of the way loaded, in two days) to make the
return trip that night. I would not wait till morning; and as we had no
other driving team, George caught my horse and saddled him, and, by dint
of wrapping and rolling my leg up in plenty of cloth and slipping on my
leather “chapps,” I made the thirty-eight miles into town to Dr. George,
who soon had me up and around again.

Now to return to Strathclair and Manitoba, about which I was writing. On
our return from the lumber camp we made a detour, and stopped one night
at Charlie Geekie’s house. He was the eldest of four brothers who were
settled in the neighbourhood; he was known as the Laird, and was at the
time I mention reeve of the township (a sort of mayor); a fine old
Highlander he was, too. I drove a jumper, with a five-gallon keg of
whisky in the hind end, in his interests during the election, which
happened to be held while I was there; but, unfortunately, he was
beaten. During the evening that we stayed at his house, which was
perched up on a hill, some one noticed a glare of fire in the direction
of Strathclair, which was about ten miles off. But as we were too far
off to do any good, and it was late, we decided not to go in till
morning. How some nights stick in one’s memory! That is one I shall not
easily forget—the red-hot stove, the deafening squeal of the bagpipes,
played by the laird (who was an immense, bushy-haired and bushy-bearded
man). He was a sight to see as he pranced up and down, full of whisky
and music. This he and his brother alternated with old Scotch songs and
ballads, while we refreshed ourselves with whisky, which we drank out of
polished horn cups. One of these the laird gave me, which I kept as a
memento for many years after. Horn, he told me, was the proper vessel to
drink out of, as no one but yourself could know the size of your tot! In
the morning we went on to Strathclair, to find that the fire had been in
the railroad station, which was burned to the ground, including the
station-master’s house and the freight warehouse. All my trunks were
lost, and I had nothing left but the clothes I stood in, my rifle,
shot-gun, and a few things I had in a gladstone bag. This necessitated
my return to Guelph to replenish my wardrobe; but Geekie was pressing in
his invitation to stay on a few weeks, and draw on him for anything I
needed in the way of clothes.

The hunting round Strathclair was very good, there being plenty of
rabbits, prairie chickens in myriads, and a few miles north, in the
timber country, plenty of moose, elk, and spruce partridge; while on the
prairie there was plenty of fun to be had shooting wolves, coyotes, and
foxes for their pelts, and in trying to trap them. I say trying to trap
them, as I put in a week at the game, trying every device I had ever
read or heard of, and only succeeded in catching one coyote in a trap.
However, I poisoned a good many, using a rabbit for a drag on horseback,
and dropping baits at intervals; but in this method there is
considerable trouble in finding your game after you have poisoned them,
as they will sometimes travel miles from where they picked up the bait,
and trailing on hard snow is slow work. The most satisfactory way is to
shoot them, and I got more this way than any other, but it means heavy
walking in the snow. Geekie had a fine larder, such as is only found up
in that country. It consisted of an unchinked log-house, in which hung,
while I was there, three sides of moose and simply hundreds of prairie
chicken and spruce partridge, uncleaned and unplucked, but frozen as
hard as a rock. This was his winter’s meat supply. I heard a story
there, in regard to being careful while trapping, about a poor old man
who made a living trapping, and who was accidentally found with both his
hands caught in a trap he had been setting, and which was chained to a
log. He had been dead a couple of days when found, from the cold. No one
will ever know how such a man, who had spent years at the business, came
to be caught.

Manitoba is not all prairie, nor timberless, as so many people imagine.
In the west and the south are immense stretches of country, dead level,
and with hardly a tree; but north, on the Manitoba North-Western
Railroad towards Strathclair, the country is rolling, and there are
patches of timber, mostly small. Still farther north the country gets
quite hilly, and there are large stretches of fine timber. It is all
capital wheat country, and also good for cattle, the only drawback being
occasional summer frosts and poor means of transport, though this latter
will soon be remedied by the advent of the new Grand Trunk Railway which
is building across the country; and also, as I understand, the Hudson
Bay Railway is finally to be built. The country, however, is far from
beautiful.

The people dispense hospitality with a lavish hand so far as they are
able. The accounts of toasting and drinking in India in the early days
remind me of a dance I attended near Strathclair, where the host, having
lost the use of his legs, lay propped up in his bed (his bedroom being
used by the men for their wraps and coats), with a keg of whisky on a
chair by his side. There he lay in state, not too far gone still to
dispense his hospitality and drink with every one who came into the
room. After a few weeks’ stay I left Manitoba and returned to the
college at Guelph. In the spring of 1893 I started for Chicago, really
to begin the earning of my own living.

The expression “batching,” mentioned before, means men doing for
themselves—a rough business out West. Exhausted with labour, the man
comes in, has a wash, cuts and toasts some rashers, prepares scones,
half-burnt, half-raw, from the barrel of flour in the corner, and brews
coffee. He had no time in the morning to sweep or to make his bed. There
it is, some tumbled blankets in a box of straw; and after a pipe he
rolls into it, to sleep like a log till habit wakes him an hour before
dawn to split wood, fetch water, light a fire, and prepare his meal as
before. Such was the _ménage_ of the young Lincolnshire men referred to
in the first of these experiences. Such was the life which awaited
myself but for the fire which destroyed, not my trunk only, but my
farming outfit, and made me abandon the idea of exploiting my land in
Strathclair. But if Western farming life is hard for men, what is it for
women who are not to the manner born? The natives can stand it, also the
Russian, Scandinavian, and German immigrants, all of the labouring
classes. But “back to the land” is madness for well-nurtured
Englishwomen; better the shop, or even domestic service.



                               CHAPTER V

Chicago—American Business Methods—Work as a Carbonator—Chicago
    Fair—“Hard-luck” Stories—Remittance-men.


Chicago, which lays claim to having the largest in everything, whether
it be drainage canals, skyscrapers, slaughter-houses, or the amount of
railroad traffic, is certainly a wonderful city.

The first thing that strikes any one on arrival is the hurry and rush.
Everybody seems to be going somewhere in a terrible hurry, but after you
have been there a few months you find yourself getting into the same
habit. My first position—_i.e._, appointment as distinguished from job—I
got through a friend, a Mr. Bole, of New York, who gave me a letter to
the Chicago Great Western Railway, where I secured a post in the claims
department of that road. Here I worked two months, and drew the large
salary for a beginner of $50 per month. Then there came a change of
management, and out I went along with hundreds of others. Here, let me
remark, lies one of the curses of American business methods. A new head
of a department, new manager, or new president in any corporation,
generally means a change of men all the way down the line, as all of
them have men of their own to fill the places. So that generally a
superintendent, manager, or president has a set of men that follow him
around from place to place. These are his henchmen, and he sees that
they get places where he is. They are, of course, efficient, and men he
can trust, and whom, therefore, he wants near him; but what of the poor
devils that are ousted?

Of course none of this applied to my case, as I got my position through
pull (recommendation), though I had to hold it down myself, and
naturally went as soon as my pull went. But I have known many cases
where there was much hardship and wrong done. I know a man who worked
twenty-six years for one railroad corporation, working his way up from
brakeman to divisional superintendent, which position he held during the
four years I knew him; a harder worker and a finer man I never knew. A
new president was elected from another railroad, and this man and five
other divisional superintendents were forced to resign in the first
three weeks of the new reign, to make way for men off the railroad from
which the new president had come.

Long service can claim no reward as in England, and that is why there is
not the same loyalty of the men to their employers as there; and that is
why a man is always ready to leave one firm and give his work and the
experience he has gained to an opposition firm, provided there are any
inducements offered. However, the main thing was to get another job, and
I was lucky enough to hear of one almost at once. The firm who had the
soda-water concession at the fair-grounds were looking for carbonators,
and were offering $3 per day; so I hastened to apply. I had not the
remotest idea what the work consisted of, but in America that is not
considered a bar to a man applying for any job. When I was shown into
the august presence, he snapped out, “What do you want?” I replied, “Job
as a carbonator.” He scribbled on a piece of paper, handed it to me, and
said, “Report Monday, office electrical building,” and I was duly hired.
Luckily, he was too busy to ask me for any references. The next thing
was to find out what I was hired to do. So off I went to the
fair-ground, and looked around till I saw some men installing a
soda-fountain in one of the buildings. These I asked where I could find
one of the carbonators, and, getting the desired information, I looked
the man up, got into conversation, and, finding him a decent sort of
fellow, proceeded to explain to him the situation, and offered him $5 if
he would show me the work and teach me enough to pass inspection the
Monday following. He started right in, and I spent the rest of the time
with him, learning to rock the cradle, handle the gas-tanks, and watch
the pressure-gauge—in fact, all the secrets of carbonating. On Monday I
reported for duty, and was given a section of about a hundred tanks,
which I was supposed to keep charged. The company had about two hundred
soda-fountains in the grounds, and about twelve hundred tanks scattered
all through the buildings. I have a natural bent for mechanics, and also
great good luck, and I was soon able to carbonate with any of them. In
fact, I got quite “cocky” about it, till one day my pride got a fall,
and under unfortunate circumstances. The firm who had the concession
were wholesale liquor dealers, and one of them who had taken a fancy to
me (the reason I will explain later) would sometimes stop and talk to me
if he met me on my rounds. Well, one day I was just going down into the
basement of one of the buildings to charge some tanks, when he came
along. So as not to delay me, he came down into the basement with me, to
talk while I worked. We were in the midst of a great discussion while I
happened to be screwing the cap into one of the tanks, and being so
interested in the conversation I was careless, and did not notice that
the cap had “cross-threaded,” and that, when I thought it tight, only
about two or three threads were holding. I opened the gas-tank cock and
commenced rocking, talking all the time while watching the gauge. I had
almost got it to 140 lbs. pressure (which was the pressure we used, so
that there should be lots of froth and little liquid), when bang! fizz!
away went the cap, and soda-water was shooting all over the place. It
was a sight to see that fat man take those steps at a bound; and I only
waited to shut off the carbonic acid gas-tank, before I followed at the
same gait, to head him off from the office. He was near the head of the
stairs getting his breath when I reached him. I managed to calm him
down, and explained what had happened, and how, and begged him not to
report me. He promised not to, but said “he thought it a most dangerous
occupation.” He had taken a fancy to me for two reasons, first because,
when time hung heavy on my hands and I had nothing to do, I would go
over to the office and ask them if there was not something they wanted
done, and would carry “small change” out to the cashiers and bring in
the bills, and, besides, never kicked about working a little late, as we
sometimes did in the evenings. Of course, when we worked over an hour
late we got extra pay for it; but what I allude to is the ten or fifteen
minutes late we often were. The second reason was because I was English,
and he a rabid American of the “greatest-country-on-earth” type; and he
loved to argue with me on the relative greatness and strength of the two
countries. I really think that when I left the firm’s employ he was
beginning to believe that the State of Rhode Island alone could not lick
the British Empire, but might need some assistance from Delaware!

Out in the lake, near the British building, a half-sized model had been
built, of brick, of the battleship _Illinois_ (or the cruiser _Chicago_,
I forget which). One day this man insisted on taking me over to look at
it, and then said to me quite seriously, “Now do you really dare to tell
me that there is a ship in the British navy as big and fine as that?” To
argue with such a man as this one has to stretch a point, as Americans
are very fond of doing, and I told him that a boat of that size was
generally used as a pinnace aboard a British man-of-war. Americans love
humorous exaggeration. An American, discussing with a stranger the
forty-five-storey building of the Singer Company in New York, said,
“Yes, they are really getting too high now; in Chicago they have a
building that has snow on the roof all the year round.” However, the
best of friends must part, and I left the firm’s employ through a nephew
of my friend, who did not care to argue. One night there was something
special on—I think it was the night they had fireworks for the Princess
Eulalia of Spain—and the firm wanted to keep running till 12 P.M. Just
as I was leaving, this nephew came and asked me if I would stay on if he
would allow me a full day’s pay for the six hours. I agreed and stayed,
but when Saturday came round I only received my regular wages. The
nephew was standing outside the office, so I went up to him and spoke to
him about it, and he denied having made me any such promise. He reached
the office door just one jump in the lead, and all that saved him was
the fact that they had a wire netting from the pay counter clear to the
ceiling, which I could not get through. The old man, hearing the racket,
came up and offered to pay me out of his own pocket; but I was young and
independent, and would have none of it.

One rather amusing experience I had out at the fair-grounds before this
occurred. At that time I had not quite forgotten the Hindustani learned
during a year in India. I had just delivered some change at one of the
fountains, and was taking a drink of ice-cream soda, when I overheard
two gentlemen, who were also taking a drink, making comments, in
Hindustani, on the good looks of the girl cashier. In fun I said, also
in Hindustani, “Be careful what you say.” I thought they would choke as
they hastily swallowed their drinks and fled. It must have astonished
them to find an American labourer in overalls who was able to understand
and answer them in a language they naturally thought unknown over here.

Next I tried to get work in the grounds, and failed; and then began the
hardest struggle for existence I have ever had. At the time I thought it
a terrible experience, but I have realised since that the year I spent
in Chicago has been worth more to me in education than all the years
previous to it. It taught me the value of money; to curb my temper, even
under the greatest provocation; to hang on to one job, no matter what it
was, till I had another one better; and, last but not least (since I
became an employer of labour), always to give a young, inexperienced lad
a chance and see what is in him. I have in hundreds of places been met
with the answer, “We only need experienced men,” and have wondered how
on earth a man was to get experience unless some one would give him a
chance to start and learn. I met with much hardness, and also with
exceptional kindness; and now that I have pulled through, I am glad that
I went through the experience.

I am afraid I am getting long-winded over what we call “hard-luck”
stories here, but it really seems a bad state of affairs that a man who
is really willing to work, and is not particular what the work is, has
actually to go hungry for the want of it. The greatest curse to the
English name in the United States is a class of Englishmen who are known
as “remittance-men.” They are content to live on what they are able to
get from home, and live as “gentlemen,” but would be insulted if you
asked them why they do not go to work. I have met hundreds of such men,
who would tell you that the reason they do not work is that they cannot
find work that a gentleman could do, and could not think of taking other
work, as they have the family name in their keeping. They are the
laughing-stock of the communities in which they live.



                               CHAPTER VI

Looking for Work—An Englishman’s Disadvantages—Addressing
    Envelopes—Running a Lift—Bogus Advertisements—Various Jobs.


During the winter of 1892-93 and the spring of 1893, thousands of men
had flocked to Chicago from all parts of the United States, owing to the
reports of work and good wages, and the expectation of a boom in the
city in consequence of the Fair. Building operations in the
fair-grounds, men necessary to instal the machinery and the exhibits,
Columbian Guards, and the employees of the concessionaires, absorbed
thousands of them; and thousands more were absorbed outside the
fair-grounds in rushing up the hotels, saloons, &c.; but still they
came. After the Fair was once in full swing, instead of there being
employment for more, thousands were being turned off daily. Besides, the
Fair was not turning out the financial success that had been expected.
Added to the thousands who came to the city looking for work were other
thousands who had only come to see the Fair, but, getting “busted,” had
to remain and look for work to earn money to get home. Then, to make
matters worse, in the summer and fall of 1893 came the tremendous
business depression and panic all over the United States, which broke
many banks and hundreds of business men in Chicago and elsewhere. Even
in the spring and early summer we felt the forerunner of this.

I have to relate all this in order to explain the conditions I stepped
into, and the reason why the struggle was exceptional at that time for
any one, and more especially for a young married Englishman whose
training-ground had been an English public school. The latter, as I will
explain later, is the very poorest training that a man could have to
meet American conditions, and in many ways it inculcates ideas and
ideals that militate against one’s chances—at least, in one’s earlier
struggles. I first tried to secure office work, but found that I, with
absolutely no business training, was in competition with book-keepers
and stenographers of fifteen and twenty years’ experience, who were also
out of jobs; besides, these men were Americans, and knew all the ropes
thoroughly. I have sat or stood (more often the latter) for two hours in
a hall in company with 150 or 200 men all come after _one_ vacancy. Any
one who has not been through the mill in dire need of work can hardly
imagine the agony one feels when a callous office-boy comes in from the
sanctum, and with a grin hangs up a sign, “Position filled.” I used to
get up before 5 A.M. to buy the early morning papers, rush home to make
a list of the vacancies I thought I could fill and the hour at which
application had to be made. Often two or three advertisements would name
the same hour, and I would have to choose between them, but always with
the feeling that I had picked the wrong one. To some places I could
walk, but as Chicago is a huge town, I had to take cars to many of them,
and car-fare eats up money. It was certainly disheartening to go day
after day to five or six places and see the sign without even having a
chance to talk to the “boss”; but it was just as bad when I did see him,
as the invariable answer was, “I need experienced men only. Yes, I dare
say you could do the work, but we cannot afford to take chances.
Good-bye.”

Finally, I got a job at a wholesale drygoods (clothing) house,
addressing envelopes. I worked hard, as I did not dare to lose even this
temporary employment, and luckily, on the third day, attracted the
attention of one of the heads, who transferred me to the permanent
office force at $10 per week. This, though small pay, was at least
permanent till I could find something better or could get a rise, and I
worked hard to make up for my other deficiencies. I had been there
working about ten days, when one night on reaching home I received a
note from an influential friend connected with the New York Biscuit
Company (Chicago branch), that I could get a position paying $15 per
week by applying to the superintendent at the factory the next morning
at 9 A.M., and intimating that the superintendent had said that the
position would only remain open till then. On reaching the office the
next morning, I applied for leave for an hour, from nine till ten, and
was refused. I was now in a quandary to throw up a job I held, paying
$10, for another paying $15, but which I was not sure that I could fill,
as I did not know of what the work consisted. I decided to take the
chance, and went to the cashier to ask for my money. He told me, “The
firm pays by the week, and if you do not stay out the week you get
nothing.” I was now in for it; so I hurried over to the biscuit factory,
and handed my friend’s note to the superintendent, who told me the job
was to run the freight elevator. This, though better than nothing, was
not what I had been expecting, and it was somewhat of a blow. I went to
work at noon, and found out that the elevator-man was the intermediary
between surly teamsters on the ground floor and cursing foremen on all
the other floors. I had not my full strength then, being under twenty,
and found it taxed every ounce that was in me to handle bales of
wrapping-paper weighing 200 lbs., which I had to load on to and unload
from my elevator, also great hogsheads of lard weighing 800 lbs. Cases
of eggs were easy, and barrels of flour, but the paper, lard, and
molasses were terrible, and I found they used the same password on every
floor, “Hurry up!” After four days I found my hands and back in such a
condition that I could not keep up with the freight, and so, in spite of
my dread of again having to hunt work, I resigned. The superintendent
treated me very well, saying how sorry he was they had no other vacancy
to give me, and paid me up.

There is a class of brutes in the States, and possibly in other places,
who live off the poor desperately in need of a job; and it must pay
well, from the offices they are able to keep up and the advertising they
do. They advertise for, say, painters at $3 per day, or it may be
workers in crayon to enlarge photos. When you apply, you find out that
there is still a vacancy, that the work is very simple, but, in order to
secure the position, you must buy your paint-brushes and paints from
them for $5 or more, or it may be crayons at the same price or a greater
one. If you are desperate, and must have work before your funds all run
out, you buy, using your last few dollars for the purpose. If you have
not quite the amount they demand, they will tell you that in your
special case they will let you have it for the few cents less you may
have, as they hate to let any one escape them. After buying your outfit
they may possibly give you work (provided they see you have money still
left) for an hour or so, when you will be told you are not up to the
standard, but that they can teach you their method for another $20 or
so; and so it goes on till they have bled you. This game is worked in a
hundred different ways, but the result is always the same, and you are
out from $5 to $25, according to how much money or sense you have; and
you will have left to show for your money perhaps 50 cents’ worth of
crayons. It is a wonder to me that such men are not killed more often
than they are by some poor, desperate devil who sees nothing but suicide
before him, but wants to pay his debts before he goes. I was lucky
enough to keep out of their clutches through being warned, but wasted
much time in answering their advertisements, which are wonderfully
plausible. I have often wondered why Carnegie and some other of the
wealthy, who are trying to give their surplus wealth away for the good
of humanity, do not start some sort of national labour bureau to bring
the worker and the work together, charging a small fee and giving honest
treatment. Surely this would do almost as much good as libraries, &c.,
and would save many a young girl from a life of shame, and honest young
fellows from suicide or crime.

My next job was as insurance solicitor (tout), but I could not make
car-fare at it. Then I sold sewing machines, or rather tried to, but got
tired of having the dog set on me. I then got a berth as city salesman
for a wholesale grocery house, and did fairly well for a while; but the
quality of the goods with which they filled the orders was so inferior
to the samples that I could never get a second order in the same store.
My next job was with a drug manufacturer as demonstrator—that is, I had
a chair and a table, which I moved weekly from one large store to
another in different parts of the city, and gave out samples (of
root-beer and different essences) and advertising matter, and explained
all about the merits of our particular goods, and tried to answer all
the fool questions put to me. The reason of all this was that we sold
our goods to those stores under a guarantee that we would advertise them
till we had created a demand for them. After some weeks of this I was
put out on the street as city salesman, and did well, making $15 per
week and expenses. The head of the firm, a “Yankee” from Hartford,
Conn., was one of the best men I ever worked for, and the kindest. The
first week I handed him a detailed account of my expenses he told me, “I
only want the total, not the items. A dishonest man cannot work for me,
and an honest man I trust.” Then, when he had looked over it, he saw I
had lunches down at 15 cents (7½d.), and he said, “My employees do not
have to eat 15-cent lunches. Get yourself decent meals hereafter.” For
men such as this it is a pleasure to work, and they lose nothing by
their kindness.



                              CHAPTER VII

Life under Difficulties—drawbacks of a Public-school Training—Hints on
    Emigration—Pneumonia—Unemployment in Chicago, 1893.


Do not imagine from what I have just written that I stepped from one of
these positions into another. Far from it; there are successive gaps
between filled with fruitless searching after work. In one thing I was
very lucky: two of my wife’s brothers came to Chicago at the same time
she and I did, and we all helped one another. When in need, one could
always get meals from the others, if they had work; and for this reason
none of us starved, though we ate slim meals occasionally. I remember,
one evening, one of the boys came up to our room to go out and sup with
us (we ate at a restaurant), whereas my wife and I had been waiting for
him to come home, so that we could get him to take _us_ out! I had a
little bank in which I had been putting pennies for a rainy day, and we
decided to break it open, as the rainy day had arrived. It had, if I
remember right, 78 cents in it; and there came the rub—none of us wanted
to hand the waiter 78 copper cents for the supper, so it had to be
changed into silver, and none of us wanted to do the changing. At last
we put the job on my wife, as we were two to one against her.

My wife was the life of the whole lot of us boys, for boys we all were.
She it was who cheered us and kept heart in us during bad times, and
during one very bad time she tided me over by getting a position as
cashier at a soda-fountain, till I was on my feet again.

We had our amusements too, and occasionally went to the theatre, in the
peanut gallery, and sometimes I got passes from an actor friend of mine.
There was a piano in our boarding-house, where a mob of about a dozen of
us would congregate in the evenings and have music, singing, and
story-telling. It was quite a conglomeration. There were two old-maid
sisters, teachers in the Chicago High School, who could recite; a young
fellow who was singing tenor in the “chorus” of Kiralfy’s America
Company at the Auditorium (he could parody anything, had a very fine
voice, and was a natural comedian); then there was an engraver in Lyon
and Healy’s piano factory, who played well; also an elderly man, who
taught music on the guitar and banjo, and played divinely on the latter;
a stockbroker’s clerk, my wife, her two brothers, and myself, who were
all strong on choruses; and others whom I forget. When times were good,
and we could buy a jug of beer and had plenty of tobacco, that house
used to be a scene of much revelry.

Chicago, however, is not like London, where you can find so many places
to see and amuse yourself without cost. Excepting the parks one has to
pay to go anywhere, either to the museum or picture gallery, and even
the parks cost car-fare. For, as I have said before, Chicago is a huge
city. When I worked at the fair-grounds I lived on the west side, and
went eight miles to my work and back every day.

I have said that an English public-school education was a poor training
for a man who had to make a living in the United States—at least, at the
start. I do not mean, of course, a man who has a finished education and
could enter one of the professions, but I mean for a lad who comes of
good family, who has failed for the army or navy, who is not studious,
but who is not necessarily an idiot. Such a lad gets ideas in an English
public school—at least, it was so in my school—both from the masters and
from his comrades, that when he grows up there are only a few things a
gentleman can do and not lose caste. He must not be a “counter-jumper”
or take any menial position. A farmer or rancher is correct form, and
even “help” on either is within the pale. But it is better to live as a
gentleman supported by relatives than to “disgrace” them by earning
one’s own support in any “low” position. Then, again, the education one
receives is not practical for the necessities of life here. Here one
needs book-keeping instead of Greek, shorthand and typewriting instead
of Latin, and the study of modern business methods instead of ancient
history. All these things, of course, are good in their place, but I am
speaking solely of the boy who finally has to come to the States to make
his way in competition with men who are thoroughly up-to-date in all
these things.

Once in Chicago I saw an advertisement for a coachman at $60 per month
and cottage. It was a bonanza. I was in great need of work at the time,
and so applied for the position; but, unfortunately, all the letters of
recommendation I could show were from the president of the Agricultural
College at Guelph, the rector of my church there, and my certificate of
the Simla Veterinary Course, all of which told the tale of my being
gentle-born and not of the coachman class. The advertiser was an
Englishman and a large broker on the Stock Exchange, and though he
acknowledged that I could fill the place, and from my veterinary
knowledge would be of more value to him than an ordinary coachman, he
refused me the job solely on the ground that I was a gentleman, and he
could not employ such in a menial position. I explained that I was
married and badly needed work, and that I was not likely to presume, but
would give him good and honest work. He said he was sorry, but it would
make him uncomfortable to have a gentleman working for him in a “menial
position”; and that was all I could get out of him.

In those days I was ashamed to write and tell my friends what I was
doing for a living; but as I grew older and got a broader view of
things, I got over that false pride, and now am not ashamed that I have
been able to earn an honest living by any and all kinds of work. Phil
May’s reproof of this false pride is amusing. He once, during his early
struggles, secured a job in a small second-class restaurant as waiter. A
friend one day recognised him, and said, “My heavens, Phil, have you
fallen to this?” May replied, "Why, yes, my friend, I _work_ here; but,
thank God, I haven’t fallen so far as to have to _eat_ here." Surely a
man can remain a gentleman no matter what he has to do to earn a living.

If I had a friend in England who had sons he was forced to send to the
United States to make their way, I would, by the light of my own
experience, advise him to send the boy over here when he was fourteen or
fifteen years of age, and—unless the father could also come here to
live—put him under the care of some friend or some reputable lawyer. If
the boy’s bent were agriculture, send him to the Ontario Agricultural
College at Guelph, which is about the best institution of its kind on
the continent. Pay his board, tuition, and clothing bills, but let him
earn his own spending money, which he can easily do. If his bent is
mechanical, get him in as apprentice with the Allis-Chalmers Company
(mining machinery manufacturers in Chicago), and after he has passed out
in four years of hard work, learning practically every branch of the
building of machinery, send him to Columbia University to take the
mechanical engineers’ course of three years. If the latter cannot be
afforded, the former will be sufficient for a bright lad who is willing
to study a little by himself. If his bent is mercantile, send him to a
good business college in New York or Chicago, to learn shorthand,
typewriting, book-keeping, and general business methods, and after he
has passed through, either let him start out and earn his own living—not
getting a penny from home except in the case of sickness, but not when
out of work—or else get him in as clerk or office-boy into the
particular business he is afterwards to follow. A little hard times
hurts no one, though the boy should be carefully watched and not allowed
to get into serious trouble. Of course, this kind of education does not
put on a very fine polish, but it makes a capable man; and if the boy
has been well trained till he is fourteen, there is little fear of his
going wrong, much less fear than if he has too much money. After this
course for a few years, he should be a practical business man, and well
capable of handling his own capital, either to start for himself or to
buy an interest in the business in which he has been working.

I worked as drug salesman for some time, when I had the misfortune to
catch a very bad cold, which turned into pneumonia. It was about four
weeks before I could walk again. My wife and the boys pulled me through
in spite of the doctor, who said, “Wire for his people.” Some cousins of
my wife, who farmed near Iowa City, invited us to come and stay with
them till I was strong again, and so as soon as I could toddle we went
to them.

I had never written home what my life in Chicago was, as, having married
so young contrary to my people’s wishes, I was determined to make my
living, if possible, without aid. But when the doctor told my wife that
my days were over, she wired Mr. Bole in New York to cable home, and he
sent her funds to meet expenses and to take us both to Iowa City.

Chicago is, I believe, the coldest city in America in the winter, and
the hottest in summer, but a splendid business town, with large
opportunities for a young man. And when I hear men tell me that they
can’t get a job and have to beg, it makes me hostile; for I know that a
healthy single man need never go hungry if he is willing to work, though
he may not always get the kind of job he fancies. This is, of course,
during ordinary times. The fall and winter of 1893 were exceptional, for
when I left Chicago in November of that year it was estimated that there
were 200,000 men out of employment in a city which had a normal
population of about one million and a quarter, though it was much
inflated at the time. The churches were opened for them to sleep in, and
soup kitchens established all over the city that winter, and the police
and railroad men bothered no one who chose to leave town in a “side-door
Pullman” (baggage wagon), as they were only too glad to see the last of
them. There was some little rioting, but, on the whole, they were all
honest labourers out of a job, and only seeking food. For this they were
willing to work, and the city put enormous gangs to work cleaning snow
off the streets, so that the feeding, &c., should not look like charity.
Of course this attitude of the railway was exceptional. Stowaways, when
discovered, are generally thrown out promptly. They are accustomed to
it, so seldom come to harm. Out West, freight trainsmen are sometimes
very civil in picking up persons who “flag” them on the prairie. They
will not, however, always stop to “set-down,” but at ordinary “freight”
pace on the prairie lines it is possible to jump without affording the
trainsmen the fun of somersaults.



                              CHAPTER VIII

Hard Times—Health restored—Rabbit-catching—Hunting in Iowa—A Gentleman
    Tramp—The Hobo Business—Free Travelling.


It was certainly a hard struggle which ended in my breakdown in Chicago
and going to Iowa, but I have never regretted going through it. I got
small helps—first and last $150—and to be sure they came at opportune
times. For instance, one of the remittances came just after the incident
I mentioned about the penny saving-bank. We never starved, but I have
eaten free lunches once in a while—that is, a good lunch you can get in
most saloons, with a glass of beer, which you purchase for 5 cents.

I have borne these things in mind since I became an employer, and I can
feel for poor fellows who are clamouring for work; for man must eat,
and, if he is willing to work, he will have work, or some one will
suffer. I have really once or twice had the thought flash through my
mind to take my pistol and hold up the first man I met, if things got
any worse than they were at the time. However, God has been very good to
me, and I have always pulled through when things looked their blackest.
It is in moments like this that one thinks of one’s family, and would
die rather than bring disgrace on them. How any man with experience such
as I have had could deny the existence of a God is more than I can
understand, and yet lots of them pretend to do so.

My wife’s uncle had a farm a couple of miles from Iowa City; he had also
a vineyard. The family consisted of himself, wife, and five children,
all grown up. Most of their grapes they made into wine, of which they
kept a liberal supply for home consumption, and the old man believed it
to be a cure for everything. The first thing when we drove up to the
door, he was there to welcome us with a jug of wine and some glasses.
For the first month I was there it used to be, every couple of hours,
“You are looking pale or tired; you must have a glass of wine,” and,
willy-nilly, I had to down a tumblerful, as he did not believe in
wineglasses. I drank more wine in the three months we stayed at his
house than I have ever drunk before or since in my life. Under this
treatment, plenty of good food, and no worry, I was strong as a mule in
no time. The boys were all great hunters, and, as work is very slack in
wintertime on a farm, they had plenty of time to indulge themselves. At
first I used to walk out about a mile and then go slowly home, but it
was not long before I could carry my gun and keep up my end with any of
them over ten or fifteen miles of heavy walking in the snow. My wife,
too, bloomed out (she was much pulled down with looking after me),
having nothing to do but eat and sleep and amuse herself. Here I was
initiated into the method of catching a rabbit alive in the snow. In the
winter, after a rabbit has fed, he hunts up a nice place to keep warm
and take his siesta. His method is as follows: After reaching the
neighbourhood where he wishes to camp, he will stop in his tracks,
crouch, and take a prodigious leap off to one side or the other; this he
will continue till he has made eight or ten such jumps and reaches the
place he had in his mind, when he will burrow a hole in the snow
parallel with the surface and only about a foot underneath it, coil up,
and go to sleep. This jumping business is to throw any coyote or fox off
the track, and makes it a hard job even for a man to track him. We would
come to one of these tracks, follow it, and, when we came to the
jumping-off place, look carefully for the place he landed, and so on to
his hole. Now if the hole was very long and the snow loose, you
generally had to get your rabbit with a gun as he bolted; but if there
was a slight crust to the snow, and the hole fairly short, you quietly
inserted your hand in the hole. Then with a rush you followed up the
hole with your hand and arm, and you had the rabbit by the hind-legs
before he could kick his way out. I have seen the boys catch
half-a-dozen rabbits in succession in this way, and even got pretty good
at it myself. It is quite exciting, and should you miss him, you still
have a chance with your gun.

The hunting of small game round Iowa was very good—quail, rabbit,
squirrels (red and black), and duck in the fall of the year. There was
also excellent fishing to be had in the river, and splendid skating in
the winter. We also had some luck with pole-cats, or skunks, as they are
called, but skinning a skunk is worth all one gets for the hide. My
uncle-in-law had a very fine colt, which had thrown all his boys, and
when they found out I had broken horses on a ranch, they asked me to
break him. I took him out into the deep snow, saddled and mounted him
against his protests, but he could not do much in the way of bucking on
account of the snow. After I had galloped him a mile or two through the
drifts, he was as gentle as a cat, and I rode him back to the house.
When I arrived, the boys were outside waiting for me; and to show them
how quiet he was, I threw one leg over the horn of the saddle and joked
them a little about their horsemanship. This was more than one of the
boys could stand, so he threw a snowball at the horse from behind, which
hit him on the inside of the flank. How I got my leg back into position
I don’t know, for things were lively for a minute; but I managed to
stick to him, though I wrenched my leg pretty severely, so as to stop my
hunting for a few days.

It was here I met my first genuine hobo (tramp) in a social way, though
I have met a few of the same breed since. He was a young man about
twenty-three years of age, the only son of a wealthy widow, who loved
the road for the road’s sake, though he would periodically come home for
a breath of civilisation; and it was because of this I happened to meet
him. His mother idolised him, and would have supplied him with all the
money he needed to travel as a gentleman and see the world. But, as he
used to tell me, it was such a relief to take off a white collar and
dress like a tramp, besides the excitement and danger of the life. The
only intimation his mother would get would be a note left on his pillow.
He would walk down to the railroad water-tank some night dressed in his
old clothes, and ride the truss-rods, or coupler, of the first freight
which stopped for water, out of town to wherever it might happen to take
him. For he told me he never planned his route beforehand. So he
travelled, seeing many towns, where he stopped as fancy took him, and
kept moving till his money gave out; then he went to work till he had a
few dollars saved up, and then on the move again. He would write to his
mother from different places, and when finally tired would head home. He
had been coal-passer on the “whale-back” at the Chicago Fair, had herded
sheep in the west, been barkeeper, and a hundred other things. He would
talk hobo-talk, so that I could hardly understand a word he said; but,
withal, he was as well-dressed, well-mannered, well-educated a young
fellow as you will meet anywhere in the West. I met him again five years
later, when he had gone broke on a tramp, and had got a job as chainman
on a railroad survey in Mexico.

This hobo business is not all cream, as my hobo friends have all told
me. There is little fun in getting turned out of an empty box-car by an
irate conductor at some water-tank twenty miles from the nearest town
where you can get food; still less fun when, hanging on the ladder on
the side of a box-car at night, trying to argue with a brakeman, he cuts
short the argument by the simple expedient of stamping on your fingers,
and you perforce have to take a wild jump off the moving train, hoping
and praying that the landing may be soft. But in all this lies the
fascination and excitement. Even when all goes well, and you are
carefully laid out on a plank across the truss-rods under a car, the
flying gravel and sand make travelling, when rapid, uncomfortable. There
is also always the danger (when you travel without knowing your
destination) of running into some large terminal and being arrested by
the police. Still, there must be a huge fascination in the life to
attract young fellows of this man’s position in life. It is not the
loafing, as hoboes of this description are ready to work when they are
out of funds, and do not steal for a living as some tramps will do.

It is always, of course, a point of honour with railroad men not to let
a hobo travel on their train unless he is willing to pay something, and
this a hobo will never do unless in the direst extremity. I once was
witness of a rather amusing thing at a little wayside station in West
Texas. A freight pulled in while I was chatting with the station agent,
and side-tracked to let the passenger train go by. When they stopped,
besides the train crew three tramps got off, and when they first came in
sight, the hind-brakeman and the station agent got into an argument as
to where they had come from, the agent affirming that they had come in
on the freight, and the brakeman sticking out that it was impossible, or
he would have seen them, and that they must have walked. Finally, they
each bet some money, handing it to me, and decided to leave the matter
with the tramps. When the latter came up, the brakeman asked them how
they had come in, and one of them answered they “had come in on the
train, and intended going out on it.” This answer, coming on top of the
fact that he had lost the bet, so angered the brakeman that he started
in to lick the tramp spokesman; but to our amusement and delight the
tramp did him up brown. He was mad as a wet hen; and the last I saw of
him, as the train pulled out, he was sitting on top of the caboose
(guard’s van) threatening to kill the first tramp who got on the train.
But what he had not seen, which added to our amusement, was the three
tramps climb into an empty box-car before the train started.

Some of these tramps are really “bad-men,” and will kill a trainman
before they allow themselves to be ditched; but most of them are either
like my hobo friend, or are working men out of employment and cash,
moving to where work is more plentiful. Most freight conductors carry
these last for a small sum (contrary to railroad regulations), and I
have seen twenty or thirty cotton-pickers in one empty car on their way
to the cotton-fields. If you can convince the conductor that you are
really destitute and hunting work, more likely than not he will not only
carry you free, but feed you on the road as well. I have heard of this
being done in many cases.



                               CHAPTER IX

Toronto—An Interest in a Mine—The Railway Strike of 1894—Stranded at La
    Junta, Colorado—Strike Incidents—Troops called out.


This young hobo friend of mine was about the smoothest card-sharp I ever
came across. He never played for money, as a man does not live long
cheating at cards in the west or south. He could deal from any part of
the pack of cards, and could shuffle the cards into any position he
wished. My wife’s uncle considered himself a champion player, and one
night this young fellow proposed to me that he and I should play the old
man and one of his sons, and that we would not let them win one single
game. We started about 8 P.M.; at 6 A.M. we were still playing, and had
won every game.

My health was now all right again, and I had no excuse for further
lingering. I had written to Mr. Townsley in Toronto, to whom I had a
letter of introduction, asking him about work. He wrote back inviting us
to stay with him, and said he could get me a position in the Canadian
Public Works Department. So off we started for Toronto.

I found the Townsleys very hospitable, but the promised job did not
materialise. Mr. Townsley was a general broker, buying and selling
anything on which he could make a profit, and into every sort of scheme.
He was also financing an inventor who could invent more useless things
of rare mechanical ingenuity than any man I ever came across.

Mr. Townsley was much interested in a mine in British Columbia; he had
not, however, the necessary funds to carry it through alone, and there
was another gentleman, a Mr. Sayers, interested with him. On Mr.
Townsley’s suggestion I wrote for funds to buy an interest, and also
went down to Guelph to see a college chum of mine who had recently
fallen heir to a small fortune. When the money arrived I bought an
interest, and Cursin, my Guelph friend, invested some $11,000.

Meanwhile, however, I had received a letter from my friend Bole in New
York advising me to go slow. It was decided that I should go and take a
look at the mine, and take out samples myself, and have them assayed.
Mr. Townsley and the lawyer Sayers thought they would go too, as they
wished to see personally the work that was being done at the mine. I was
to go on ahead to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I was to go up into the
Espinola Valley to look at a Bucyrus dredge, at work there on a placer
field, that Mr. Townsley and some associates were thinking of buying if
it turned out all right. There Townsley and Sayers were to join me
later.

Everything went well till I reached La Junta, Colorado. Here, at the
division terminus, the engineer and fireman refused to go on, as the
great railroad strike of 1894 was in progress; and there our train and
six others were stuck for ten days. The railway company issued us
meal-tickets free, and we ate at the station restaurant. We certainly
kept them busy, as they had to serve meals in three detachments, there
being so many of us that there was not the necessary seating
accommodation; for, besides the passengers, there were some 350 deputy
United States marshals guarding the trains and the mails, which were
stacked up in a mountain on the platform. At night it was like war
times, for when you stepped out of your car you were challenged at every
turn by pickets, and had to show your railroad tickets. The strikers did
not try to molest any one or anything at first, but instead gave dances
and entertainments in their lodge hall to raise funds to help their
cause. To these the passengers used to go, as they were glad to break
the monotony of sitting in the cars reading and playing cards all day.

But one night there was a terrific thunderstorm, such as they have in
Colorado, and in the morning it was found that the strikers had been
busy; for they had cut off the rubber hose connections of the air-brakes
from every car, while our noble guards were hunting cover from the rain.
These guards were a queer conglomeration, and had the greatest
assortment of weapons I ever saw—from the 32-calibre bulldog to the
45-calibre frontier sixshooter with its 7-inch barrel, from the
sawed-off double-barrelled shot-gun to the latest thing in pump-guns.
Most of the men were college students out for excitement, and glad to
earn something at the same time during the long vacation; but there was
a sprinkling of Western gun-men amongst them.

At Trinidad, a little farther down the line, the strikers turned some
loaded coal-cars loose down the long incline through the tunnel.
Luckily, the railroad officials got wind of it, and were able to throw a
switch and ditch the runaway cars before they had a chance to crash into
the passenger trains which were held up there. When news of this reached
La Junta, 150 deputy marshals were put aboard a train and run down to
Trinidad, officials acting as firemen and engineer. They were a noble
band of bad-men when they started out, telling us what they would do to
the strikers; but it was a sorry-looking crew that returned next morning
minus their guns. The strikers at Trinidad had got news of their coming,
and, reinforced by some miners from Cripple Creek, they, some 2000
strong, surrounded the train of deputies when it arrived, disarmed them,
but allowed them to return to La Junta unhurt. If there had not been a
sprinkling of older heads amongst the deputies, who had sense enough to
know that they had bitten off more than they could chew, there would
have been some shooting, and probably a massacre.

This victory, however, was the finish of the fight in Colorado; for when
it was discovered that deputy marshals could not handle the situation
and give the necessary protection to the mails, two companies of United
States regulars were sent down from Denver to La Junta, and from there
we all moved on together to Trinidad, where, after a delay of one day,
we went on through to our destinations, and the strike was broken.

When we reached Trinidad, the platform was covered with strikers and
sympathisers, and many of us got off the cars or went to points of
vantage to see the fun. The major commanding the troops detrained his
men, and lined them up on the platform. He made a little speech to the
strikers and passengers on the platform, saying he had to have the
platform clear, and would give so many minutes for every one to clear
out; and as he could not distinguish between passengers and strikers,
all the former must get back into their cars, or they would be treated
as strikers. At the end of the time stated he closed his watch, put it
in his pocket, and the fun began. The soldiers, using the butts of their
rifles as tampers, went up and down the line dropping them on people’s
toes, and the platform was clear in a few minutes. Not a shot was fired,
as the strikers knew better than to tackle the regulars, though they
outnumbered them ten to one.

The next day we went on to Lamy, where I took the train to Santa Fe, and
from there on to Espinola. While we were tied up at La Junta, there
happened to be a poor woman, wife of one of the strikers, who was
travelling on a pass, and in consequence the railway company refused to
issue her a meal-ticket, more especially as her husband was one of the
strikers living in Trinidad. As soon as the local lodge heard of the
matter, and that she was without funds, they took her over to their
hall, fed her, and, hiring a buggy, took her overland to Trinidad.

The Bucyrus dredging operations turned out a fiasco; for, though the
gold is there, and probably millions of it, the sand running from 25
cents to 75 cents per cubic yard, it is fine flake gold, so fine and
thin that it just floated on the water over the amalgam tables, and the
plates caught nothing.

I stayed there about three weeks, and then, being joined by Townsley and
Sayers, we went on to San Francisco. There we took boat to Vancouver and
on to Golden over the Canadian Pacific Railroad, the trip being well
worth many days’ travel; but one may read all this in the guide-books
issued by the Canadian Pacific Railway. From Golden we had to make
arrangements for pack and riding animals to take us over to the mines, a
distance of about eighty-five miles.



                               CHAPTER X

Golden—Pack-horse Difficulties—Camping out—Prospecting in British
    Columbia—On an Asphaltum Mine in Texas.


At that time (1894) Golden consisted of three frame hotels, a smelter,
post-office, a sawmill, the usual quota of saloons and dance-halls, and
probably fifteen houses. Still, all the land was staked out into town
lots and streets, and lots were valued at $250 up. I met a friend a
short time ago who had just come from there, and he told me it was now a
city of about 3000 people. It had three churches, a baseball club,
chamber of commerce, mayor, aldermen, and all the appurtenances of
civilisation.

We were met in Golden by Mr. Townsley’s younger brother, who had been
out at the mines overseeing the work. We hired seven horses—four to
ride, and three to pack—and started off. I wanted to take along a rifle
I had borrowed, but was voted down on the ground that if I took the
rifle I should want to hunt, and this was solely a business expedition.
I also wanted to take along a skilled packer to look after the horses,
but I was again voted down, on the score that it was a needless expense,
and that there were enough able-bodied men in the crowd to do all that
was needed. I was completely ignorant about packing, and knew it, but
the rest of the party were blissfully ignorant of even their ignorance.
After this second defeat I swore I would only go along as passenger, and
would not be in any way held responsible for the lack of the necessaries
I had wished to take along, nor would I assist in the packing, all of
which was agreed to; and so the rest of the trip was pure enjoyment to
me, whatever it was to the others.

We arrived at Carbonate landing the first night, over level roads,
without any mishaps, about twenty miles by land, and thirty-two by
water, from Golden. But here we struck off into prospectors’ trails up
the mountains. They adjusted the packs for us at the hotel before we
started, and we all stood around to see how it was done, and thought we
knew all about it and could tie a diamond hitch with any one. The first
afternoon after leaving the landing we saw a bear down in the valley
below us, and there was much regret that we had not brought the rifle.
That night we camped at a deserted hut, and everybody was tired; for
twenty-five miles’ riding behind pack-animals at a walk in the hills is
tiring work. The next morning we repacked and started off, but had not
gone a mile when we saw another bear—and more regrets.

There seemed to be something lacking in our knowledge about packing, for
every few miles the packs would slide round underneath the horses’
bellies. Luckily the horses were quiet, and really seemed quite
accustomed to having packs do this, for they would stop at once and
commence eating till some one came and readjusted the load. The work
fell on the two Townsleys, who were riding one in front and one behind
the pack-animals; and amidst much cussing and reviling of one another,
the horses, the packs, and everything connected with the expedition,
they would get the packs back, and we would travel a few more miles,
when the same scene would be repeated. On one occasion I offered the
suggestion that they should put the pack-saddle on top and hang the
goods underneath, but they seemed to take it too seriously. The job was
not so easy as it looks on paper, as the trail was narrow, and the
cliffs very steep in case a man slipped; so each new halt called forth
choicer language than had been used at the last, and what one could not
think of the other said.

We camped out the second night on a large plateau, but as poor Sayers
could not sleep himself, he annoyed the rest of us by gathering wood all
night and keeping up an enormous fire. The bears and coyotes seemed to
have got on his nerves, also portions of his anatomy had acquired
saddle-galls. The next day we intended making the mine, but it took hard
and late riding to do it, owing to the constant stops to fix packs,
which seemed to be harder to handle each time they were unloaded. The
only thing that disturbed my complete enjoyment was that I could not
enjoy a hearty laugh in peace, as relations were beginning to get
strained. Whenever they had breath left over from cussing the pack and
the horse, they cussed me, simply because I suggested that they should
not undress the pack-animals at night. However, by riding late, we made
the mine-camp that night, and none of us were sorry to reach it.

Next morning, bright and early, we started over to see the mine, which
was about half a mile from the camp. Considerable work had been done.
Two tunnels had been driven at right angles to one another—one about 130
feet long and the other about 50 feet—besides three vertical shafts, or
prospect holes, on different parts of the ledge. About a mile above the
mine site there was a good-sized glacier, from the foot of which ran
quite a respectable stream of water, which could be utilised for
water-power by installing a turbine and dynamo.

To get from the camp to the mine we had to cross a ravine filled with
frozen snow with a pitch of about 45°, and across this a narrow path
about 16 inches wide had been cut. Here Sayers baulked, until he found
that there was absolutely no other way to get across, when he gave in.
It turned out that he had one glass eye (which I had not known till
then), and so, being blind in one eye and lame in the other (he wore
glasses), he could not see very well, poor fellow.

Coming back, we decided to go another way to look at a new outcrop that
had been discovered. This brought us above the camp, and we could, by
scrambling down a pretty steep cliff, save a long walk round. We got a
rope round Sayers, which was held by a man above him, and with another
man below to place his feet, we managed to get him down, though he
protested strongly. This was the first and last trip Sayers took with
us, as he decided he was not cut out for mountaineering; and he was at
least convinced that there was a mine, which was all he had come to see.

We stayed about a week; then I collected my samples, and we started back
for Golden. On the second day, as we were coming round a bend, we ran
full into a she-bear and two half-grown cubs. She certainly looked mean
as she barred our way, while the cubs fled up the hillside. I told
Sayers I was going to take a shot at her with my revolver (of which I
had not really the least intention), and he nearly died of fright. I
should not have felt like joking had I not known that the bear would
have to eat Sayers before it could begin on me.

We got down to Carbonate landing without mishap, and there, as we were
all heartily sick of riding Indian file, we sent our horses in with a
man from the hotel, and, getting a boat, we rowed down to Golden,
thirty-two miles, in something like three hours, assisted by a current
like a mill-race. Here I sorted out my samples, and shipping half to
Vancouver for assay, I brought the rest back with me to Toronto for the
same purpose. We had bought the property—part cash and part
time-notes—but, owing to bad management, and, I am afraid, considerable
crooked work, our funds ran out and we could not meet payments. I went
to every friend I had in Guelph and Toronto and tried to borrow money to
tide us over, and Townsley did the same, as we were preparing to float a
company on the good reports of the mining engineers and the different
assays I had had made. But we were a year or two too early, as no one
would touch West Kootenay mines or advance a dollar on them. Later on,
every one was scrambling to buy stock in any hole in the ground up
there, and some of the very men who refused me in 1894 sank thousands in
1895 and 1896 in worthless prospects. The end of it was we lost the
mine, which was afterwards taken up by wealthy Hamilton men, who are
making money out of it to-day. I believe, however, if it had been
decently and honestly managed we might have just scraped through.

I returned to Guelph, broke and disgusted, and tried to get something
to do, but did not succeed that winter. In the spring of 1895 I
received a letter from Bole in New York, saying he was interested in
developing an asphaltum mine in Texas, and if I wished I could get
work there. But I should have to start at the bottom as a labourer and
work my way up, if I had it in me. He was very sore at my not taking
his advice in regard to the mine. My wife’s health needed my remaining
a few weeks longer, if possible, but I was told that I could not
expect the offer to remain open. So, on the 12th of April, with a
heavy heart I started off for Texas to make another effort to recoup
my fortunes and make a living for my family. My friend, Cursin of
Guelph, was just starting on a trip to Mexico, and we decided to
travel together. I arrived in San Antonio, and took my letter of
introduction to the company’s office. There I was duly hired at $1.25
(5s. 2½d.) per day, and told to report to the superintendent at Cline,
118 miles west of San Antonio. Young Cursin wanted to see the mine,
and I got permission for him to go out and stay a couple of days. We
arrived at Cline station, which is seven miles from the mines, but
luckily a freight wagon of the company’s was there, and I got the
Mexicans to take our trunks, while Cursin and I walked. This Kootenay
mine, above mentioned, is an example of the fact that the western
states and provinces of America thrive on our “thousand-pounders.” I
put in £1000, and, as I have said, my English friend Cursin put in
£2270; total, a present of £3270 to the Hamilton men! That is how the
“thousand-pounders” nourish the West. Nor did the experience lead to
much, for we both lost largely in subsequent investments.



                               CHAPTER XI

Cline—Bunk-houses—Work on a Rock-crusher—Mexican Dancing and Music.


Immediately on arrival I reported to the superintendent in charge of the
mines at Cline. He told me to go to the men’s boarding-house and take
any cot I found vacant, and also one for my friend.

The men’s boarding-house was a two-storey frame building, of which the
upper part was divided into three dormitories, and the lower into
dining-room and kitchen. It was built so shakily that any one walking
upstairs shook the whole building, and was so roughly put together that
the wind whistled through the walls everywhere. It was terribly hot in
summer, having only a light shingle roof; and when a norther was
blowing, the cold was intense in the winter.

Besides this bunk-house there was an office building, above which the
office force slept, a house for the chief engineer, one for the foreman,
and one for the superintendent. The latter was an old Confederate
colonel, once a slave-owner, who could not get over the slave-time idea
that a “gentleman” should not work, and really must not be bothered with
“details.” I heard him say once, in answer to a query as to whether he
had time to come and look at something: “Sir, I want you to understand
that a gentleman always has time.” He really had so much time that about
a month after I arrived the company decided to give him an indefinite
holiday. They tell a story in the south about the old Confederate
veterans. A farmer, who was showing a visitor over his farm, made the
remark that all of his hands were old soldiers. Said the visitor, "You
don’t tell me! Are any of them officers?" “Two of them,” said the
farmer.

“That one there is a private, the man beyond is a major, and the man way
yonder is a colonel.” “Are they all good men?” asked the visitor. "Well,
I ain’t going to say anything against any man who fought for the South,"
said the farmer. "That private is a first-class man; but I’ve made up my
mind to one thing—I ain’t going to hire any brigadier-generals."

The Cline foreman was what is known as “poor white trash” in the south,
and his failing was drink, in which his wife often joined him. When on
these sprees they used to quarrel, and sometimes he threw her out of the
house, and sometimes she threw him. But as he did not bother the
superintendent with “details,” the colonel overlooked these matters. Of
course I found out all this later, but describe it here to give an idea
of the class of men I worked under.

The mattresses and beds in the bunk-house were indescribable, and dust
was everywhere, as the men were supposed to clean out their own rooms,
and tired men of their stamp are not over-particular. I and Cursin spent
a good part of the night fighting pests—winged and otherwise—but he was
sleeping when I got up to get my breakfast before going to work at 6
A.M. the next morning. The food was good and plentiful, and the cook was
good as camp cooks go.

I was ordered to go to one of the rock-crushers, of which there were
two, and was handed a crowbar and sledge-hammer as the working tools of
my trade. My work consisted of putting, unaided, forty-five tons of rock
per day through the crusher. When the rock stuck, I had the bar to push
it through with; and if the pieces were too big to go into the mouth of
the crusher, I had the hammer to break them. The rock came up out of the
pit in one-ton cars on an incline railway over my head, and were there
dumped on to my platform, from which I had to pick them by hand and put
them into the crusher mouth, which was about waist-high to me standing
on the platform. This extra and unnecessary work was simply owing to the
bad design, or rather absence of any design, when the plant was laid
out.

Across, on the other side of an endless chain-bucket elevator, was my
shift-mate, who, owing to his having a 6o-ton capacity crusher, had a
Mexican assistant. Both crushers dumped into the same elevator, which
carried the crushed rock up into an elevated bin, from which it was
distributed to the extractors, which I shall describe later.

I worked all the morning, wondering what young Cursin could be doing
with himself that he had not come round to visit me. But when I went to
dinner, at noon, I found a note from him, saying he could stand it no
longer, and he had gone off to catch the morning train.

I got out a pair of dogskin gloves from my trunk at noon, as my hands
were nearly raw from the rough rock, and, as they were good English
leather, by the time they wore out my hands were tough enough to stand
the strain. By night I ached in every muscle, and I had cramp in my
hands and wrists from the jar of the crusher, because, owing to lack of
knowledge and unskilfulness, I would, when jamming down a rock, get the
bar between the rock and the moving jaw, and get all the jar of the
machine stiff-armed. After a few days, however, I and my shift-mate got
on friendly terms, and he would come over to show me how to do things
right, so that the work became much easier. Each night I went to bed
almost convinced that I could not stand more, and that I would have to
quit in the morning. But in the morning I felt I could stand it one more
day; and so it went on, all the time getting easier, till the idea of
quitting went out of my mind entirely.

There were thirty odd white men working at the mine, and about one
hundred Mexicans, when I first went there, and it was certainly a tough
camp. There was a barbed-wire fence dividing the Mexican camp, which was
known as “Mexico,” from the rest of the buildings where the
boarding-houses and the rest of the factory were. Over in Mexico they
had a dance hall with a saloon attachment, and most of the men went over
there when off duty. Fights were frequent and gun-plays occasional, but
as a drunken man is seldom dangerous with a gun, no one got seriously
hurt.

The man (an American) who ran the dance hall was the son of the man in
charge of the company’s freight wagons. He was called “Bud” Towser, and
had the makings of a “bad-man” minus the “sand,” or pluck. Sober, he was
very quiet and generally polite, but drunk, or even partly so, he was
very quarrelsome, and the Mexicans were in deadly fear of him; and most
of the white men gave him the road.

One night two of the boys started a “rough-house” in his dance hall,
thinking he had gone to town, but he had returned and was back in his
room. When he burst out they made a bee-line for home, and as his gun
barked after them in the dark they carried away most of the barbed-wire
fence in their hurry.

On the 5th of May (one of the Mexican national holidays) I heard that
there was to be a big dance about a mile from the mines, at a
fence-rider’s house, and I went up with some of the boys to look on. The
dance was held on a big levelled piece of ground in front of the house,
and round this piece, which was laid out for the dancing-floor (just mud
wetted and well packed), there was a ring of posts on which were hung
lamps and lanterns to light the dancers. Outside of this again were rows
of benches for the dancers to rest on and for the onlookers; the side of
the circle towards the house, however, was left open, so that there was
a free passage to the refreshments, which were served inside, and
consisted of tamales, enchiladas, and unlimited quantities of mescal.
Mescal, or tequila, is spirit distilled from the sap of the large cactus
known as the century plant in the States, and called _maguey_ by the
Mexicans.

It was a great surprise to me to see how gracefully these Mexican
labourers danced; in spite of the fact that they were dancing on a mud
floor and wearing heavy work shoes. Waltzing seemed the favourite,
though occasionally they danced Mexican dances. The music was furnished
by a string band—all the members of which were labourers in the
mines—and was remarkably good. The whole scene was one to be remembered
for years. The bright colours of the girls’ dresses, the young men
dressed in their Sunday best, with silver-plated buttons on their short
jackets and down the outside seam of their tight-fitting trousers, their
bright-coloured sashes and enormous felt hats, with which they reserved
their partners’ seats while dancing; the ring of lamps, and the circle
of spectators blanketed like Indians; the background of oak and
mesquite; the cry of the whip-poor-will mixing occasionally with the
plaintive wail of the violin, while from the surrounding hills the
coyotes joined in chorus.

A young Mexican, when he asks a girl to dance, comes up, hat in hand, to
make his request, and if it is granted lays his hat in her seat to hold
it for her. The minute the dance is over he brings her right back to her
seat, picks up his hat and retires. There are no cozy corners, and no
talking and walking about, the etiquette being very strict, even amongst
the labouring classes.

Nearly all Mexican music is sad, but very beautiful, and they all seem
to be born musicians. I have seldom met in Texas a Mexican who could not
sing or play on some musical instrument, if it were only a mouth-organ.
Their singing I cannot admire, at least that of the men. Their main
object seems to be to sing in as high-pitched a tenor voice as they can
accomplish, and as slowly as possible. They seem to have only two kinds
of songs: either very mournful—sung slowly; or very vulgar—sung very
rapidly. Of course, all the above only applies to the Peon, or labouring
class.



                              CHAPTER XII

Trouble at the Dance—A New Superintendent—Shots in the dark—Arrest of
    Bud—With a Surveying Party.


I was absorbed in the beauty and strangeness of the scene when suddenly
the peacefulness was broken by the “bang-bang” of a pistol, almost in
our ears. Everybody jumped, but it was only a young Mexican, who had
been “turned down” by his girl, and, having loaded up on mescal, was
amusing himself by trying to stampede the crowd. Unfortunately, however,
there were other young fellows in the crowd, back of the benches, who,
happening to be in the same predicament, decided to assist him, and soon
there was “bang-banging” all around the outer circle.

There was a Mexican deputy-sheriff on the ground to keep order, who,
when things were getting pretty lively, got up on a stump and made a
short speech.

He begged the young fellows to keep quiet, as things had gone as far as
decency would permit, and said he would have to arrest the next man who
fired a gun. While he was speaking a young Mexican, with more mescal
than brains in his head, crept up behind him and fired off his pistol
almost in his ear. The deputy turned like a flash, and before the young
fellow could use his gun again he dived under his extended arm, caught
him by the throat and wrist, pinned him to the ground and took his gun
away from him. The minute the deputy had his prisoner down half a dozen
young Mexicans ran up to rescue him, but the host and the deputy’s two
half-brothers ran to his assistance, and for a minute or two things
looked bad. I beat a hasty retreat behind a convenient oak-tree from
whence I could observe progress in safety. There was a young German lad
at the mines who stood over six feet, and weighed close on 200 lbs., and
was “Muy bravo” with his fists. Just as I reached the shelter of my
friendly tree he came dashing by me, saying, “Let me in to this! Let me
in!” as if I were trying to keep him out. As he ran up to the crowd some
one stuck a "Colt’s Frontier 45" under his nose, and he literally fell
out backwards.

The determined attitude of the deputy and his friends stopped the
trouble, though the dance was broken up. But as the crowd was moving
away and the deputy was taking off his prisoner, Padilla, one of his
half-brothers, gave a yell and clapped his hands to his stomach. Some
one had taken his revenge, as Padilla had a cut which extended from his
left hip almost to his right lower ribs, done from behind; the man who
did it was never discovered. They carried him back to camp, and within a
month he was back at his old job, running the car-hoist out of the mine.

Of course this kind of business was not conducive to good work, and so,
in May 1895, a little more than a month after I started work, the new
superintendent arrived, bringing with him a new foreman and a shipping
clerk. The new superintendent was exactly the opposite of the colonel.
He was a short, heavily built Northerner, born in Nantucket. “Details,”
so repugnant to the colonel, were just what he was after, and he did not
take kindly to drinking and dance halls on the company’s property. He
put a stop to the dance hall, and no liquor of any kind was allowed on
the company’s land, which comprised 27,000 acres. He caused the sheriff
of Uvalde County to appoint him as deputy, so that he could enforce his
own orders, and the place began to quiet down.

As the company had no house to give me, I got funds from home to build a
three-roomed house. I bought some furniture from the company, and
sending for my wife and boy we started housekeeping in a small way.
Meanwhile I had been changed from the crusher to fireman on the three
stationary boilers. It was promotion in so far as it was considered to
need more skill, but it only carried with it harder work and no higher
pay. It was terrible work during the months of June, July, and part of
August, under a Texas sun, firing three 80 H.P. boilers with mesquite
wood. There was no cover over the boilers, and the fireman stood out in
the open with the heat of the sun on his back, and the heat of the fires
in his face whenever he opened a fire-door to put in wood. Here I first
found out what was meant by the saying, “A man does not know what heat
is till he shivers from it.” I had always thought this a foolish thing
until I found out that a man can actually get so heated that he has cold
chills run over him till he shivers. The only relief we could get was to
go under the water-tank between times, while the steam held, and then
before starting out douse our heads under the tap. I had two Mexican
assistants to wheel wood from the pile to the boiler, and to wheel away
the ashes. The reason there was no shed over the boilers was simply bad
management and bad plans; later on all this was changed.

One night in July my wife, the boy, and I were sitting out on the front
porch of my house trying to keep cool, when “whee-whee,” two bullets
came over the house. I could not imagine what was the trouble, but
hustled them into the house, got my shot-gun, and went to investigate.
As I came down the hill I could hear voices in altercation down at the
stable, and when I reached it I found the elder Towser trying to take a
rifle away from Bud, who, it seems, was drunk, and had been trying to
shoot out the lights on our porch. I was mad enough to have given him
both barrels, but the old man talked me out of it. Later on, the same
evening, after taking a few more drinks from his private stock, he went
over to Mexico and, getting angry with a Mexican, took a few shots at
him, but luckily missed, and then he started home again. Meanwhile, Mr.
Brooks, the superintendent, had been notified that Bud was on the
rampage, and started out to find him. He met Bud on his way home from
Mexico, and said, “Bud, I want your pistol, and you are under arrest.”
Bud promptly and forcibly refused. Brooks said, "Bud, if I don’t have
that gun in a couple of minutes, I shall have to take it from you."
There was silence for a minute, then Bud took out his gun and handed it
over, saying: “All right, if you want it so d——d badly as all that.” Bud
was sent into town the next day and fined $60. It is a peculiar thing
how a man, with the law behind him, can cow one of these would-be
“bad-men.” Brooks told me years afterwards that he was in a great stew
while Bud hesitated; but as he had put up the bluff he intended carrying
it through, even to killing Bud, if he could, before Bud killed him.
Bud’s day was over, and shortly after he left the camp.

Towards the end of August the company decided to build a spur railroad
connecting the mines with the Southern Pacific Railway at Cline Station.
As I had some little experience in surveying, I was taken off the
boilers and sent as rod-man with Himan the engineer, who was to be in
charge of the work. This was a very nice change, and Himan was a fine
fellow to work for, and willing to explain and teach all he could as the
work went along. He was, however, very hot-headed, which got him into
trouble while I was with him, and nearly cost him his life some years
later. We were measuring one day on the dump (earth-fill), when a
Mexican came along with a wheel-scraper. Himan called to the Mexican to
stop, but the latter either did not hear or paid no attention, and drove
his scraper over the tape. Himan cursed him in Spanish and English for
his carelessness. The Mexican promptly turned loose his team, saying in
Spanish, "You can’t curse me," drew his knife and came at Himan. My rod
was lying at my side, and I grabbed it and made a lunge for the Mexican,
which distracted his attention, and the axeman coming up at the time,
his ardour cooled a little. He went off after his team, and that night
drew his pay and quit. The rest of us persuaded Himan to carry a pistol,
as Mexicans will hold a grudge for months and get even if they can.
About a week later I was helping Himan in the office, when he pulled out
his pistol and laid it on the table. I picked it up, and found the
hammer so rusted in the seat, from carrying it in the hip pocket without
a holster, that I could not cock it. I advised Himan either not to carry
a gun, or else to keep it in working condition.

Some two years later he was building a railway out of St. Luis Potosi,
in Mexico. He had a strike amongst his men, and was advised to leave
camp till the men quieted down. He started off, much against his will,
and the men, seeing him go, started after him, calling him a coward, and
daring him to come back and fight; at last one or two threw stones at
him. He restrained himself as long as he could, but at this last insult
he lost his head, jumped off his horse, drew his pistol, and ran back at
the crowd. When he got close enough to shoot he found, to his horror and
disgust, that his gun was jammed with rust. While he was looking at it
and trying to cock it a Mexican made a stab at his throat. He saw the
flash and ducked, and the knife took him in the cheek, the point passing
out the other side, and loosening some of his teeth. Before the Mexican
could use his knife again he was shot and dropped dead, and another
Mexican who was in the act of stabbing Himan in the back was also shot.
At this the rest of them ran, and Himan turned to find his rescuer was a
little Spanish “cabo,” or foreman, who had followed with a Winchester to
see that Himan got safely out of the camp. Himan and his cabo had the
usual trouble with the Mexican authorities, and lay in jail for some
time, but finally got clear. When I next met Himan he told me that he
had learned his lesson, and would never be caught napping again, as he
cleaned and oiled his gun every day. He wanted me to go back and work
for him, but at that time I had no idea that I wanted anything to do
with Mexico.



                              CHAPTER XIII

Swimming-holes—Hunting in West Texas—Fishing in Nueces River—Jim
    Conners—Foreman Betner—A runaway car.


About a mile above the Cline mines there used to be a splendid
swimming-hole, some 12 or 14 feet deep, with a sandy bottom, and a large
flat rock on the bank to dress on. Many an exciting game of catch and
water polo we had there during my first year at the mines.

But I shall never forget my first swim in this hole. A week or so after
I arrived, I asked where a man could get a swim, as the creek at the
mines was shallow, with a muddy bottom. A young fellow offered to show
me a good place, and, as no one else seemed to want to go, we started
off together, and he took me to the hole I have mentioned. When we
arrived, he “guessed” he would not go in, so I stripped and dived in by
myself, while he sat on the rock and watched me. After I had been in
some ten minutes he drawled out, “Say! do you know why I and the other
boys do not want to go in swimming?” “No,” I said.

“Why?” “Well,” he said, "we’re some scared of the alligators." I was out
of the water in a flash, and then he began to laugh, and laughed all the
way back to camp, where he told all the other boys, and they certainly
had lots of fun at my expense. It turned out that there was not an
alligator nearer than 100 miles of us.

But “water-moccassins” (a species of snake that lives in the water and
is claimed to be poisonous) there are in plenty, though I never saw one
bother anybody. They tell a story about a New York tourist in Florida
who wanted to go swimming. His guide took him to a pool where there were
lots of moccassins. The Northerner, in spite of his guide assuring him
that they would not touch him, refused to go in, and demanded to be
taken to some place where there were no snakes. The guide then took him
over to a bayou, where there was not a snake to be seen. Here the Yank
was satisfied, stripped, and went in for his swim. When he got out, he
asked the guide if he could account for the fact that there were no
snakes in the bayou when there were so many in the first pool. "How come
there ain’t no snakes in hyah? Why, the ’gators keeps them et up!" the
guide replied.

Later on the company built two large dams, with a capacity of about five
million gallons each, one below and one above the camp. The upper dam
then became our swimming-hole, as it was closer to the works, and on it
we also used to sail canvas boats or canoes that some of us made. Fish
were very plentiful, mostly catfish, rock-bass, perch, and sunfish;
though some years later I got black-bass from the government hatchery,
and stocked the entire river with them.

This part of West Texas is an ideal hunting country for small game.
There are plenty of rabbits, both the cotton-tail and the jack-rabbit,
or hare; quail in thousands, both the Mexican and bob-white varieties,
also at certain seasons of the year wild pigeon and duck of all kind
abound; deer are plentiful of the “white-tail” variety, and a few
“black-tail,” and these are increasing, owing to the new protection laws
passed by the state, whereby the sale of game is practically prohibited.
Coyotes, javelines (the small wild boar), wild cat, fox, coons, and
possum are plentiful in the lower part of the country, and up in the
cedar brakes and hills in the northern part of the country there are
still bear and panther to be found; these sometimes come down into the
plains, one of the latter being shot about two miles below the mines,
and on another occasion I saw two. Of turkey there are still a few left,
but they are very wild, wilder even than the coyote, which is saying a
good deal.

The fishing on the Nueces (Nut) River, about nine miles from the mines,
is very good, and the water is of crystal clearness; there I have caught
bass up to 12 lbs., and alligator char up to 4 feet in length, and have
seen others over 6 feet long. Although these latte are no good for the
table, they are well worth trying for, as they are one of the gamest
freshwater fish I have ever hooked; they have given me splendid sport,
much to the disgust of my camp partner, who could not see the sense of
catching fish that were not good for the pot, and then throwing them
back again. They are a species of pike, with a much longer mouth, like
an alligator, hence the name. Catfish also have been caught, weighing as
much as 45 lbs., and a blue cat of that size will give a man all he can
handle on a light rod.

Our new foreman, Betner, was a well-built man of about forty-five years
of age, of the stamp known as “raw-hider” in the States, and his boast
was that he could get more work out of a gang of men than any man he had
met. He was of the stamp of the famous Jim Conners. Conners was put as
boss of a gang of rough longshoremen in Buffalo; before he started work
he decided to call his men altogether and give them a talk. When he had
them all there he roared out, "Now yez are to work for me, and I want
every man to understand what’s what. What I sez goes, and whin I spake I
want yez to jomp, for I kin lick any man in the gang!" There was silence
for a minute, then one burly fellow stepped out and said, "You can’t
lick me, Jim Conners." "I can’t, can’t I?" bellowed Conners. "No, you
can’t," was the reply. “Oh, thin go to the office and get your money,”
said Conners, "fer I’ll have no man in me gang that I can’t lick." So it
was with Betner; he would not have any man in his gang who would not
lick his boots.

His history will give some idea of the man himself, and also of what
extraordinary chances some men get in this extraordinary country. Betner
started life as a bell-boy in a hotel that used to be the stopping-place
of Flagler, the great Standard Oil magnate, who tried later to build up
Florida. He was a good-looking lad, quick and cheerful, and Flagler took
an interest in him, and asked him one day if he would not like to quit
the hotel and come and work for the Standard. Betner jumped at the
chance, and Flagler gave him a job, kept his eye on him, and pushed him
along all he could stand. After some years, when Betner was a grown man,
he had charge of a small barrel repair shop for the Standard. Then
Flagler came forward with the capital and started Betner in a cooper
shop for himself, and at the same time gave him part of the Standard’s
contracts for barrels. He was clearing over $10,000 a year, when he got
the idea that all his rise was solely due to his own wonderful business
ability and efforts, and that he did not need Mr. Flagler any longer. He
began drinking and gambling, and became a man about town—-all of which
were Mr. Flagler’s pet aversions. He sent for Betner and remonstrated
with him, and was practically told to mind his own business. After this
the end came quickly, as Flagler broke him much quicker than he had
raised him up. Then our superintendent, who had also been a Standard man
before he came to us, and knew Betner in those days, gave him a job, and
brought him to the mines.

Betner fell foul of me shortly after he arrived, and did his best to
make things so unpleasant for me that I should quit; and this he kept up
till the day he left, though he did not seem to have nerve enough to
fire me. And I walked the chalk line as closely as I could, and tried to
give him no opportunity. I found out later that the reason he was after
my scalp was because he had got wind of the fact that I had been sent
down by Bole of New York, who was at that time president of the company,
and he thought I was there as a spy on the rest of them. But in any case
it came natural to him to rawhide all the men, as he had been accustomed
to do in the east, where men will either stand it or quit. Besides, he
had been mostly handling submissive foreign emigrants, and now had a
different class to deal with, and did not realise it. The Southern boys
will not stand it except from some one they look up to and respect or
fear. There used to be a man named Kipp Kinney at the mines, who really
was a genuine gunfighter. He had killed a man in Uvalde some years
before, and had lived in the hills till the affair blew over. He had
been with the sheriff, Pat Garrett (the most noted sheriff in the South
at that time), when they had to kill the notorious Billy the Kid, who
had killed nineteen men by the time he was nineteen years old. One has
seen pictures of the typical Texas cow-boy, tall, ungainly, all bones
apparently, with heavy eyebrows and a long drooping moustache. Well, add
to this pale grey eyes, deeply set, dark reddish-brown skin, with little
hair-like veins close to the surface, and a pronounced Roman nose, and
you have Kipp. Kipp told me one day he was going to quit, and on my
asking him why, said, "Well, you know that man Betner and I cannot just
naturally get along. I guess he cannot help being as he is, but if I
stay I shure’ll have to kill him, and I am getting too old to have any
more trouble." Betner was quite unaware of the risks he was taking with
men of this stamp, for I proved later he had very little courage to back
his bluffs.

He never learned much Spanish, but he had the Mexicans scared to death
of him, and they jumped when he spoke, whether they understood clearly
what he wanted done or not. One day Betner was raising a three-foot
steel stack, forty feet long, up to its base on top of a boiler. He had
it swung up on a block and tackle from a gin-pole, with three or four
Mexicans on each guy-wire holding it perpendicular. He had it almost
ready to place and lower away, when he found he needed one more man to
assist him at the foot of the stack. Without turning round to indicate
any particular man, he called out, in broken Spanish, “One man come here
quick.” Mexicans of this class are natural born fools, and each poor
frightened man thought that he must mean him individually, so let go his
guy-wire and ran to Betner. It is a wonder no one was squashed, as down
came the stack and flattened out.

On one occasion Himan the engineer wanted to lower three flat cars
loaded with bridge-timbers down the track that led to the mine, a 2½ per
cent. grade. He put me on the first car ahead, took the last himself,
and the axeman climbed on the middle one. When I slacked up my brake
away we went, and in about 100 feet we were going fairly fast, so I
jammed on my brake, and turned round in time to see the other two
fellows jumping off. My brake had practically no effect on the speed,
and they yelled to me to jump. But by the time I was ready we were close
to the pit, and there were buildings so near the track on both sides,
that I could not jump for fear of striking them. However, just as we
passed the corner of the warehouse, there was a small clear space, and I
jumped. As I picked myself up, I saw the last car going over the edge
into the quarry. Also there was Mr. Betner, who asked me what I meant by
jumping off and letting the cars go. I told him that I had done all I
could, but could not hold them. He said no one but a born fool would
attempt to move cars on that grade (thinking that I had been the one to
move them), and just then the engineer arrived on the scene. He asked
Betner if he were alluding to him, as he had ordered the cars moved, and
then they had it out. It turned out that the middle car’s brake was
broken, and that on the last car the chain had come unhooked from the
rod when Himan released it, so that my brake was the only one holding
the three heavily loaded cars.



                              CHAPTER XIV

A Sunday fishing party—"Bad-men"—Ben Thompson and other desperadoes—The
    story of a hot spring.


A few weeks after I arrived at the mines, some of the men wanted to get
up a fishing party one Sunday to go over to the Nueces River, and I was
asked to make one of the number.

It was arranged that we should leave the mines on Saturday night, camp
out, and come home on Sunday afternoon. We started at 6.30 P.M., got
over to the river by eight o’clock, and by eleven o’clock I and a young
electrician named Burnet were the only two sober men in the crowd.
Luckily for me Burnet was a giant in strength and a “Long-horn” (as
native-born Texans are called); for it was not long before the others
started wrangling, and finally one of them said he could lick any one in
the crowd, bare hands or with a knife. I and Burnet suppressed him and
took away his knife, then Burnet told the rest of the men he would lick
any one who started trouble, and we all rolled up in our blankets and
tried to get some sleep. But every few minutes the first man would stick
his head out of his blankets and say, “I can lick any one in the crowd.”
Finally, this got monotonous, and Burnet told him he would sit him on
the fire to cool off. This subdued him for a while, and I was beginning
to think for good, when, just as I was dropping asleep, out popped his
head with the same remark, which he repeated again after a short
interval. Not getting called down by Burnet, he finally got quite brave,
crawled out of his blankets, and kept getting louder and louder in his
remarks. Just as I was beginning to think Burnet must be asleep, and was
preparing to try a fall with him myself, up jumped Burnet and, grabbing
his man, threw him bodily into the fire. Luckily for the poor devil, he
staggered as he fell, and consequently dropped mostly on the far side of
the fire, with only his legs in it. He soon jerked them out, and escaped
with no worse hurt than singed pants. After this we had peace for the
rest of the night.

Next morning they started drinking again (we had not destroyed the
liquor as we could not fight the whole crowd), but by noon we got them
started home. Most of these young fellows would have been quiet enough
in different surroundings. But the little town of Uvalde had turned out
more “bad-men” than any town of its size in the West, and the fathers of
these young men had been handy with a gun and mixed up in some shooting
or other, so the sons thought it behoved them to keep up the family
reputation. One young fellow, John Garnet (who was later my shift mate
in the extracting house), was the only survivor of a large family, every
member of which had died by violence. His father was a large sheep-owner
and very brutal to his Mexican herders. One night the boys, coming home
from a barbecue in town, found the old man tied in his arm-chair with
his throat cut, and every herder on the place gone. There and then the
eldest boy made a vow to kill every Mexican he met. He went over to C.
P. Diaz, across the Mexican line from Eagle Pass, and shot two or three
Mexicans who, he thought, had been implicated in his father’s killing.
The Rurales tried to arrest him, and he killed two and wounded three
before they finally killed him. John himself I saw once in Uvalde, some
years later, have a fight with his Cousin Joe, whom he licked. Joe said,
"John, you are too big for me to fight with my fists, but I’ll get my
gun and fix you." The rest of us got round John, and finally got him
into his buggy and started off to his ranch, but fifteen minutes later I
saw him drive round the plaza with a shot-gun across his knees. We
remonstrated with him, but all he would say was, "Boys, it’s no use; I
cannot leave town as long as Joe is looking for me." Luckily, some other
friends had worked on Joe by telling him how bad it looked for the last
two members of the family to be fighting, and got him to go home. It is
this feeling that they cannot back down that makes so many young fellows
who are naturally decent enough become killers and bad-men. For once you
had killed some one and got a reputation as a fighter, your gun had to
guard your life, for there were plenty of would-be fighters willing to
try you out, and if they killed you they got the reputation you had and
their own as well. The reader wonders probably why the city marshal or
the sheriff did not interfere in a case like this. The reason is
twofold: in the first place, whoever moved would make an enemy of both
men if he interfered before there was any shooting done, and it would
hurt his chances at elections; in the second place, because a fair,
square “shooting-scrape” was even at that time not thought a very
serious matter in West Texas. And how could it be otherwise in a
community like Uvalde, where the man who was sheriff while I was there,
and had held the office for twenty-two years, had killed more than one
man in his youth in a private feud which his father had started; in a
community where they still speak of Ben Thompson as a hero?

Ben Thompson was a noted character of San Antonio some years ago—a man
utterly without fear, a good shot and quick on the draw. He was a
bad-man of a peculiar type, insomuch as he never bothered any but
bad-men, and therein lay his immunity from the law, as the men he killed
were all practically outlaws, and he could always plead self-defence.
When he heard of any really tough man in his neighbourhood who was wild
and woolly, he would hunt him up, pick a quarrel with him, and generally
shoot him. He finally fell out with the men who kept a gambling and
dance hall in San Antonio, and in a row one night shot up the furniture
and the lights. Subsequently, on two or three occasions when the thought
of how he had been robbed there rankled in his breast, or perhaps just
for excitement, he used to go in and kick up a row. Finally, this got
monotonous, and they summoned up courage to call his bluff. They sent
him word that he was not to come to their place again, as every man in
the house would take a hand and kill him. When the message was brought
to Ben Thompson, he said, "I wonder if they really have the nerve?
Anyway, I’ll just go and see about it," and over he went. The signal was
passed from the door-keeper, and, as Ben opened the swinging doors,
eight or ten pistols cracked at the same time, and Ben’s days were over.
They had the nerve all right when there were enough of them. I knew one
of the men implicated in this killing some years later, and I never knew
him to turn his back to anybody or to a door or window. He was not at
that time scared of any one, but it had become a habit from years of
watching for some of Ben’s friends to avenge him.

Billy the Kid, of whom I made mention before, was a noted desperado, but
of quite a different stamp. He never fought fair like Thompson, and
never gave the other man a ghost of a show if he could help it. He was a
half-breed Indian, or at least had Indian blood in him. When he was
finally killed, it was proved that he had killed more than one man for
every year he had lived. He is supposed to have originated, or at least
brought to perfection, the art of whirling a gun and shooting. On two
occasions when arrested, he pulled out his gun and handed it butt first
to the sheriff, holding it by the barrel with the butt up and with his
first finger in the trigger guard. As the sheriff on each occasion
reached for the gun, the Kid would whirl it on his finger, and, as the
butt reached his palm, shoot. Finally, as I said before, Sheriff Pat
Garrett (a product of Uvalde) and Kipp Kinney went after him. They found
out a Mexican girl whom the Kid used to visit, and lay in wait for him
there after tying and gagging her. Garrett stayed in the house behind a
sofa, and Kipp was to stay outside to see that the Kid did not get to
his horse again after the shooting commenced. The Kid rode up when night
fell and walked into the house; but, like all hunted animals, his
suspicions were easily aroused, for he had hardly entered the dark room
when he drew his pistol and asked who was there. As he called out,
Garrett rose from behind the sofa, and, sighting the Kid against the
light of the doorway, fired twice, killing him instantly. This was not
showing much sporting spirit in Garrett, but the man was a murderer of
the worst type, killing men just for the sport of it.

While I am on the subject of bad-men, I may tell a story of Luke Short,
another of that ilk. Luke had been arrested by two deputies, who were
taking him to the county seat, handcuffed, in a buggy. They stopped at a
wayside saloon to get some refreshment, and, for security, left Luke
handcuffed to the buggy wheel. While they were inside taking a drink or
two, the door opened and in walked Luke Short with the wheel of the
buggy to which he was still handcuffed. He went up to the barkeeper and
said, "Colonel, these two snakes left me out there to die of thirst. I
haven’t any money in my pocket with which to pay, but how many drinks
will you give me on this?" and he slapped the wheel down on the bar. How
many drinks he got, or how he got the axlenut off, the narrator did not
explain.

The same raconteur told me this other tale, which he also swore was
true. He and a partner once found a hot spring and mud-bath of wonderful
curative properties. A New Yorker, who was suffering from some
complication of diseases, heard of it, and offered that, if they would
take him out and it would cure him, he would not only pay them for their
trouble, but buy their rights in the spring and bath as well. The money
was payable on their return if he was cured, but said the narrator, “I
never got the money.” On being pressed, he told the following tale: “We
took him out with ten pack-mules carrying fancy canned goods and other
truck. When we arrived and pitched our camp, it was arranged that we
should bury him in the mud every morning up to his neck and dig him out
again every night. Well, after a week he was so much better that one
night he opened up a bottle of champagne for a celebration. The next
morning, after we had buried him, we were feeling pretty thirsty from
the celebration, so my partner and I decided to sample some more of the
fizz. One bottle led to another, so that by night we were too drunk to
remember to dig him out. In the morning, when we came to life again, we
went to see how he was getting along, and we found that the blamed
coyotes had eaten his head off, so we lost our money.”

The Pat Garrett above mentioned got such a reputation as a killer of
bad-men that they paid him $10,000 to come up to New Mexico to be
sheriff of a county there where the bad-man flourished. Later, he was
with Roosevelt’s rough-riders in the Spanish American War, and, when
Teddy was elected president, he appointed Pat to be the head of the
Customs Department in El Paso, Texas.

Some time ago he got into a private row with some farmer over irrigation
rights, and the farmer killed him. “How are the mighty fallen!”



                               CHAPTER XV

Coyotes—Wild turkeys—Lynching and Jury Trial in
    Texas—Pistol-shooting—Negro vitality.


I was telling a coyote story for which I cannot vouch, but I myself had
an experience with a coyote one night when I was on a fishing trip on
the Nueces River.

I and Ed Anderson, my pit boss, hired a wagon, and taking along a
Mexican and his twelve-year-old boy (to cook and look after the horses),
we drove down to the ranch, about forty miles below the mines, for a
couple of weeks’ fishing. One night we were all sleeping soundly, when I
was awakened by Anderson’s dog fighting with something at my feet. I sat
up, and in the bright moonlight saw it was a coyote. As I jumped to my
feet I instinctively lifted my blankets up with me, and I was lucky in
doing so, for just then the brute made a dash at me. I threw the
blankets over him, and, calling to the others, made for the wagon where
my gun and rifle were. While I was hunting for them under the litter of
camp stuff, Ed and the Mexican jumped up into the wagon. Then we
discovered that the boy was still sleeping through the racket. The
father kept holloaing, “Save my boy, oh, save my boy!” but not making
any effort or move to get out of the wagon and do anything himself.
However, by this time I had found my gun and some shells, and, waiting
my chance till the dog and coyote got separated for a minute, I soon
killed the latter.

In the morning we examined the coyote and came to the conclusion that it
had hydrophobia, so we kept the dog tied up the rest of the trip as Ed
would not let me shoot it. They told us at the ranch that quite a number
of coyotes had been killed lately, one having run into a cow camp in
broad daylight and attacked some of the men. But it was really funny for
the rest of the trip, for, whenever a coyote howled close to the camp,
out would pop four heads from the different blankets. One night I nearly
scared the Mexican to death by hitting him with a clod of dirt just as
he was dropping asleep. The howl he let out would have made a coyote
envious. Nevertheless, we had a most enjoyable trip, and were not
disturbed any more. It is a curious thing that although I have slept on
the ground hundreds of times in Texas, rolled in my blankets, when
hunting or fishing, I have never been bothered by tarantula, centipede,
scorpion, rattlesnake, or any other of the reptiles with which the
country abounds; and this was the sole occasion on which my sleep was
disturbed in any way.

The Nueces River is so called from the immense quantities of pecan trees
which line both banks from the head to the mouth, making delightful
shade to camp under and a great feeding-ground for wild turkeys. The nut
is something like a walnut, though about half the size. The wild turkey
is probably the wildest thing to be found in the United States. I only
killed three during my eight years in Texas, one with my revolver by a
fluke shot, and two sitting roosting at night. Years ago they were in
thousands both on the Nueces River and on Turkey Creek (the creek that
ran through the mines)—were in fact so plentiful that Pinchot, who used
to have a rest-house on the California trail that ran through Cline,
told me he only used to bring home the breasts of the birds he killed to
feed his guests. They were so plentiful on the market in San Antonio
that people got tired of them and would pay a higher price for tame
turkeys. A gentleman in San Antonio once asked his nigger to go out and
buy him a tame turkey. “Now,” he said, "don’t you try and palm off any
wild turkey on me." The man swore that he would not, and that evening
the turkey arrived. When eating it the next day, the gentleman came
across some shot in the turkey’s breast. He sent for the negro and said,
“Sam, you promised you would not try and cheat me, but would bring me a
tame turkey, and here I find shot in it.” "’Deed, Boss," the man
replied, "dat war a tame turkey all right, but de fact is, I’se goin’ to
tell you in confidence, dat dem shot war intended for me." This
wholesale slaughter has made the turkey like the buffalo—very scarce
where once they were to be found in thousands.

One hears a good deal about lynching, but of course it is not only
negroes that get lynched. A few years ago it often happened that a town
would get tired of one of its bad white men and take him out and hang
him. But this is getting rarer and rarer, especially now when the law
officers are starting prosecutions for manslaughter against every known
member of a lynching mob. A few years ago, though, lynchings were very
common. They tell a story about a lynching party riding up to a house,
and the spokesman said, “Madam, we are sorry to report that we hanged
your husband. We admit that we got the wrong man, so you sure have the
laugh on us there.”

Texas is different, I believe, from any other state in the Union in its
methods of jury trial. Here the jury not only decides the innocence or
guilt of the defendant but also assesses the punishment, and all the
judge has to do apparently is to instruct the jury on points of law, and
tell them the limits of punishment for the offence under trial. He also
does the actual sentencing after the jury have brought in their verdict.
I have seen myself, in a civil case, a lawyer rolling and smoking
cigarettes while addressing the court, so one can imagine there is
little of the majesty and dignity of the law in some Texas courts. A
jury is said once to have sent the following note to the judge: "If you
don’t send us in something to eat we will have to find the defendant
guilty; but if you send in plenty to eat and drink we will stay here
till he is innocent." They tell about a J.P. up in Pecos county who had
a man before him on the charge of shooting a Chinaman. He said, “I have
carefully gone over the statutes of the state of Texas, and I cannot
find it anywhere stated that it is a crime to kill a Chinaman. I
therefore declare the prisoner free.”

Henry Burns, our sheriff, was a fine-looking man, well over six feet in
height. He did more than any one man to make Uvalde a law-abiding place
during the twenty-two years he was sheriff. He was far from a good shot
(I myself have beaten him pistol-shooting), but he was a man of
wonderful nerve, which is what really counts. For a man may hit a target
every shot at 30 yards, and yet cannot hit a man at 30 feet if the man
is also doing some shooting. In my wanderings I have met one really
wonderful shot who could, with a Colt’s 44 frontier 7-inch barrel, hit a
tomato can almost every shot at 40 yards. I have also known men, who
were considered very good shots, stand at a distance of fifteen paces
and empty their guns at one another without either getting a scratch.
There is a saying throughout the South that the best weapon made is a
double-barrelled shot-gun and buck-shot. I have heard and read a great
deal about the wonderful pistol shots, but have, with the above
exception, never met one who came up to the standards I have read of.
The general advantage the bad-man had over the rest of the community was
twofold: first, he practised drawing his pistol as quick as a flash, and
then he always knew when he intended to shoot, while the other fellow
was still thinking over the pros and cons. The first shot always counts
in these affrays, as most of the shooting is done in a saloon or
gambling-hall at a distance of a few feet when it is impossible to miss.

Henry Burns was considered a good, steady shot because of his nerve, but
I have seen him miss a whisky bottle two or three times at a distance of
about ten paces. He could shoot to kill, however, as the following
instance will show. He used to relate this to show the wonderful
vitality and grit of the negro. Henry had put this man in jail for some
offence, and the man had sworn revenge and promised to kill Henry on
sight after he was let out. One day Henry was standing at the corner of
the Court House, when he saw the man with a pistol in his hand crossing
the street toward him. Henry pulled out his own gun and called to the
man to halt. The man made no reply, and Henry fired and kept it up till
his gun was empty, the man still advancing. When the man was within two
or three paces of Henry he raised his pistol, pointed it at Henry, made
two or three attempts to pull the trigger, and collapsed almost at
Henry’s feet. When they picked him up he had five 41-calibre balls
through his body, so Henry had only missed him once. With modern
weapons, such as the Colt’s, Luger, or Mauser automatic pistols,
shooting becomes much easier, but with the old-time Colt there were few
men who could be sure of hitting their man at 25 or 30 yards.



                              CHAPTER XVI

A "Periodical"—Italian treachery—Bitumen extractors—The Mexican
    disregard for orders—In charge of the stills—A vote canvasser.


Henry Burns had once to arrest a man who was a “periodical.” He would
not touch a drink for weeks, even months, at a time, then he would go on
an awful spree, paint the town red, and end by shooting up the saloon.
After one of these strenuous sprees, Henry told him that he had reached
the limit, and that he would be arrested the next time he caused any
trouble. A month later the man went on another spree and started in to
enliven the town. After a while he heard that Henry was after him, so he
went over to his office in the Court House (he was county clerk) and
locked himself in, sending word to Henry not to disturb him or he would
shoot him. Henry picked up two or three deputies and went to make the
arrest. When they reached the locked door Henry made his deputies stand
on either side, while he broke it down. “Now,” he said, “boys, I will go
in alone and try to arrest him quietly; but, if he shoots me, take no
chances, but kill him.” As he broke in the door, the man, who sat behind
his desk with a shot-gun resting on it and pointing at the door, called
out, “Henry, I will have to kill you if you come in.” Henry did not even
draw his pistol, but walked quietly up to the desk and took the gun
away. The man’s nerve failed at the last minute, and, as Henry laid his
hand on the gun, he turned and jumped out of the window, with Henry
after him. The drop was slight, with grass below, and he was arrested
and put in jail. A month or so later he was again arrested and locked
up, got into a fight with another prisoner, and was killed by the
latter. His son ever after claimed that Henry had hired the man to kill
him, which was manifestly absurd.

Texans, as a rule, will give a man a fair fight and some chance for his
life, but all the men at the mines were not Texans, not even Americans.
There were two Italians from New York, expert mastic-makers, who were
sent down by the company to instal a mastic plant. One of them had
trouble with the foreman and laid a trap for him. On the third storey of
the mastic-house there was a balcony exactly over the main entrance.
Here the Italian took his stand, leaning on the rail, and at his feet a
piece of plank. When the foreman passed underneath, he timed things very
nicely, tipped the plank over the edge with his foot as he turned, and
went into the building, not stopping to see the result. Fortunately,
some one saw the whole performance and yelled. The foreman ducked, and
the plank struck him a glancing blow on the shoulder. Of course it was
“an accident”; but both Italians were discharged at once.

The branch railroad on which I was employed being completed, I was put
in the extractor house as apprentice to learn the work. After the rock
is crushed to about two inches in diameter, it is put into large
steam-jacketed extractors holding five tons each. The top is sealed down
and naphtha pumped in on the rock till the extractors are full; then
steam is turned into the jacket, and the hot naphtha extracts all the
bitumen from the rock. After a while the asphalt-laden naphtha is drawn
off; the rock is then washed with fresh naphtha, which, in turn, is
drawn off. The live steam is turned in on the rock and drawn off through
condensers, carrying with it the last of the naphtha. The condensed
steam and naphtha are run through a settler having two pipes, one at the
top to carry off the naphtha to its tank, and one at the bottom for the
water. Two or three days after I started in the extractor house the man
in charge let the water run too low, and thus some naphtha got out
through the water-pipe into the creek, for which he was discharged. I
was then put in charge, and though I hardly knew anything about the
business, I dared not let the opportunity for advancement slip by me.

There were five of these extractors and two pumps to look after, and it
kept me on the move. The second or third day one of the pumps went on
strike, and I had to take it down and get it working again. When I got
through I went my rounds, and found to my horror that I also had let the
water get too low in one of the settlers. Here was an opportunity to get
rid of me, and I very soon got my “time.” Then Providence took a hand in
my behalf, for my predecessor had left the camp and the day man got
sick. The night man took one of his shifts, and then tried to take his
own, but gave out; and so at 12 P.M. the foreman came and woke me up to
go back again. We had the naphtha stored in overhead tanks, and the
orders were most strict against smoking or carrying matches near the
works; yet one day we caught one of the extractor loaders sitting on top
of the overhead naphtha tanks smoking a cigarette, endangering not only
his own life but that of every man on the place.

It seems natural to Mexicans to disobey orders if they think there is
the bare chance of their not getting caught; and the more danger there
is the more they seem to like it. There used to be a standing order that
no one was to ride on the ore cars that ran on the incline down into the
pit. One day while I was still working on the crusher I saw a rather
amusing thing occur through a man disobeying this order. One of the
Padillas, brother of the hoister man, was riding the car down to the
pit, when his brother, thinking to have some fun with him, slipped the
clutch, and let the car go at a tremendous pace. When, however, it
neared the switch at the bottom of the incline, where the cars branched
off to the different parts of the pit, the hoister man got scared and
lost his head; instead of gently slipping the clutch in, he jammed it
down hard and stopped the car dead, standing his brother on his head in
the car. Talking of car accidents, another happened a couple of years
later, when we had enlarged the plant and built a new extractor house up
on the hill. To get the crushed rock up to this house we built a double
track incline 900 feet long, with a rise of about 70 feet. The ore bin
was set up over these tracks, and behind the bin was a platform on
struts, on which was placed a double drum hoisting engine. One day I had
just come out of the pit when I heard some one shout, and, looking up, I
saw that the cable had parted and the car with two tons of rock in it
had started down the incline from near the top. I shouted to the
hoisting man to get down out of the way, but he seemed fascinated by
that car, and stood there with his mouth open watching it come. By the
time it reached the bottom it was going like an express train, and the
way it took the struts out from under the engineer’s platform was a
sight to see. Down came the engineer, but he was up and dusting himself
by the time I reached him; and all he said was, “H—l! she was sure
travelling!”

I was working with Himan, the civil engineer, when we built this
incline. We built the bents on the ground, marked a centre, then hoisted
them upright, and while Mexicans held it steady with guy-ropes, I
climbed on top and gave Himan a “sight” with a pencil, while the men
moved it on the mud-sill, with bars, one way or another as he directed.
I did not relish the job, as I had a very poor head for working on
heights, and had little faith in the men on the guy-ropes. Himan used to
laugh at me, but one day we were up in the extractor house and he walked
out on a 2-inch by 12-inch plank that was laid out to the first bent. A
2-inch plank over a 15-foot span bends considerably under a man.
However, he got out all right on the bent, and, after looking at the
placing of some sheave wheels, he started back. He had already begun to
get giddy, and, when he stepped on the plank and it bent, he lost his
nerve so much that in spite of my laughing at him he crawled in on his
hands and knees. After the incline was completed, we put up a 4-inch by
12-inch plank “run-way” the whole length between the tracks for the men
to go up and oil the sheaves. Working on heights is all a matter of
practice, and few men can do it the first time, though of course there
are exceptions. Once when shingling a very steep roof I worked the first
two days sitting in a sling and expecting every few minutes to fall off;
but after a while, with three or four pair of heavy woollen socks to
keep me from slipping, I was running all over the same roof and never
thought of falling. I have won many bets from cow-punchers who came to
the mine that they could not run up the 900-foot incline in two minutes.
They would start away at racing gait, then, as the incline left the
ground, they would slow down to a walk, and finally they could be seen
carefully placing one foot in front of the other, till generally they
gave up and came back. As one fellow said, “Down here that plank is wide
enough for me to ride my horse on, but up there it is like walking a
tight-rope.”

After some time in the extractor house I was given charge of the stills,
where the naphtha was driven off, cooled, and returned to its tank, and
the pure bitumen left, which was run into barrels. A short while after I
got this move, a firm in New York contracted to take our entire output
to make into paint and varnish. They were looking for a local agent, and
I got the position. I had to see that all the output was up to a certain
grade, and when stored in the warehouse or shipped I gave receipts for
it on which the company got their money. One day when I was at work a
man came out to the warehouse, got into conversation, and after a while
offered me a cigar. I told him I could not smoke there, but he insisted
on my taking it anyway and smoking it later. He and I had quite a chat,
and after a long while he finally drew a card out of his pocket and
asked for my vote, as he was running for some county office. The look of
disgust that spread over his face when I informed him that I was a
British subject and had no vote was truly ludicrous, as he thought of
his wasted time and cigar. On railway journeys sometimes this canvassing
is a nuisance; moreover, the excuse that you are a Britisher is not
always cordially accepted. I said in an early part of these
reminiscences that I had been roasted by Americans for many years, and
now had a chance when they could not reply to me of getting back a
little. But it is a fact that among a certain class of people in the
States that the instant they find you are English they immediately drop
all other topics of conversation to refer to the time “we licked you
badly,” or to discuss the degeneracy of the House of Lords, or some
other topic which they think will be of interest to you. At first I used
to get very angry and try to argue with them, but later I gave this up,
and found the only position to take was one of superiority, and say in
so many words, “How can people be so ignorant of facts, so dense as to
talk such utter rot? Yet they look intelligent.”



                              CHAPTER XVII

Elections in Texas—Feuds and shooting affrays—Family pride—Local
    Prohibition.


Elections used to be exciting events in Uvalde, Texas, during the first
few years I was there, as the Mexican vote controlled the county, and
the rival candidates used to give dances for them, where there was
plenty of liquor and cigars. But for the past few years this has all
been stopped, as the Mexican vote has fallen to practically nothing,
owing to a law that was passed by which every voter had to show his poll
tax receipt when registering, and a Mexican will die sooner than pay
poll tax—in fact will never pay any tax if he can get out of it. In
order to stop the candidates (in a close election) paying the tax for
them, the law said that the receipt must be dated at least six months
before the election. It is curious in the States how in certain
localities certain nationalities control the elections; in some places
it is the negro vote, in others, the Mexican, or it may be the German
vote. I heard of an election once for county officers in a county where
Swedes predominated, where all the officers on the list but the sheriff
were named Oleson or Paulson or other such name, but the sheriff’s name
was Brown. A visitor said, “I see that all your county officers but the
sheriff have Swedish names; his sounds American.” “Yes,” was the answer,
“they are all Swedes but him, and we only put him up to catch the
American vote.” I know towns in South-west Texas where one will not hear
a word of any language but German spoken from dawn to dark, unless one
does not happen to know the language and they have to address you, when
they will speak English. Yet all the Germans there were born in Texas
and never saw their native land. The trouble with these Mexican voters
is that they will promise you anything while at your dance drinking your
liquor; but they promise the same to the other man at his dance; so you
never can tell what they will do at the polls, unless you have them
under your thumb as we had them at the mines. For instance, we, for
years, only employed Mexicans who brought us a paper from Henry Burns
the sheriff, saying they were all right (meaning they would vote for
him); yet later, when I was in charge of the mines and was fighting
against Henry’s election, these same men, with only one exception, voted
against Henry under instructions from me.

It was at one of these elections that the son of the county clerk
(before mentioned as a “periodical”) and Henry Burns’ son John met in
the Horseshoe saloon in Uvalde. After a few words the clerk’s son pulled
a knife, bent John Burns over the bar, and tried to kill him, in revenge
for the supposed killing of his father by the orders of Henry Burns.
Luckily, the knife struck the brass support of the bar-rail and the
blade broke half-way up, and at the same time one of Henry’s deputies
tried to get the boy off John by stunning him from behind with brass
knuckles. The boy had grit, however, and while his own head was being
cut open with the knuckles he was doing all he could for John with the
stub of his knife, and they were both a sight to see for weeks after.
Henry himself, when a boy, was the cause of starting the big feud which
kept Uvalde stirred up for quite a while. It started in a fist fight
between him and young Gilchrist in the Uvalde camp yard.

Gilchrist’s father and uncle were there cheering their boy on. When he
finally got Henry down they were so worked up they were calling to their
boy to kill Henry. The old man was dancing round, holloaing, “Kill him,
Bud, kill him,” when Henry Burns’ father (who had been a general in the
confederate army) came out of Piper’s store. He took in the situation at
a glance, and, whipping out a bowie-knife, he ran at the elder Gilchrist
and with one stroke cut him almost in two. The uncle and son made their
escape for the time being and the feud was on.

One incident of this trouble seemed to me characteristic of the grit and
coolness of these men. One member of the Gilchrist faction (a man
considerably over sixty) was upstairs in the old Uvalde Hotel when Henry
Burns passed and stopped to speak to some one under the balcony.

The old man picked up his shot gun and, leaning over the balcony with
the muzzle of the gun about six feet from Henry’s head, pulled both
triggers. The gun missed fire, but Henry hearing the clicks whirled
round, and had the old man covered before he could move. He held him so
for a few moments, then he said, “I ought to kill you, you old
scoundrel, but I guess I will let you off this time.” Then he turned and
walked off.

On another occasion a deputy-sheriff, who was on the Burns’ side, had
arrested one of the opposite faction for being drunk and disorderly. He
had taken him by surprise, disarmed him, and was escorting him to jail.
On the way to the lock-up, the boy (for he was nothing but a lad),
feeling keenly the disgrace of being so arrested without fight, taunted
the officer with taking him by surprise. He told him that he dared not
have arrested him in any other manner, and dared the officer to return
his gun and then try and rearrest him. The officer was about to accept
the challenge, when one of the boy’s friends rode up and warned the
deputy. Said he, "The kid’s drunk, and has no show against you who are
sober, so if you give him back his gun and then kill him, I will sure
kill you." However, the deputy had been so annoyed by the boy’s taunts
that he handed him his gun and the shooting commenced. Of course the boy
was shot, but at the same time the man on the horse shot the deputy, and
left town at a gallop.

A man who will receive a gun in this manner has no chance, even if
sober, unless he is like lightning, because as his hand touches the butt
the other man shoots. Not necessarily because he wishes to take any
advantage of the other, but because he is all keyed up and shoots
involuntarily the moment he sees the other man is armed: somewhat the
same impulse that causes false starts in square racing. I saw a case in
the Silver King Saloon in San Antonio one night. Two men had a row, and
one slapped the other’s face and then immediately drew his gun. (It is
generally safer to kill a man first, and slap him afterwards.) The man
who had been slapped said: “You cur, you only dare strike me because I
am unarmed, and you have a gun.” "Don’t let that worry you," said the
other; “I will lend you a gun,” and with his left hand he drew a second
gun and offered it to the man, butt first. The other, however, was too
wise even to put out his hand, and by this time the “lookouts” of the
gambling hall and the barkeepers got around the armed man and hustled
him out, for it hurts business to have any shooting in the house,
besides the inconvenience of the trial, &c. It is a bad business to be
an “innocent bystander” in cases of this kind, as they are the ones that
generally get hit. But, unfortunately, I had no place to go to, as the
negro porter had, who was a witness at the trial of a killing which
occurred in the hotel where he worked. He was asked how many shots were
fired, and he answered “two.” “At what intervals of time?” “About one
second.” “Where were you when the shots were fired?” "Well, boss, when
the first shot was fired I was in the hall shining a gentleman’s shoes,
but when the second shot was fired I was passing the depot!"

Texas is different from most other southern states, where pride of
family is very strong. In Texas, a few years ago, it was not considered
good form to dig into a man’s antecedents or family record, as you were
liable to come across the bar sinister in the shape of a noose at the
end of a rope.

Consequently, rank and family were not much considered, and a man had to
stand on his own record. An English “remittance-man” in one of the small
Texas towns had two titled friends come to visit him. One day in the
hotel he thought he would impress the natives, so he said to the clerk,
“Jim, this gentleman is a viscount in England, and this other gentleman
is an earl.”

But Jim had never heard of such things, and asked what it all meant. It
was explained that these were marks of distinction by which you could
tell a man’s social standing. “Oh,” he said, "now I see; but there are
only two kinds of people here—those that call for soda in their whisky,
and the others that aren’t so darned particular." On the other hand, war
records are very much prized and brought forward on all occasions. More
especially at elections, where, if the record is very good, it is almost
sure to capture the votes. But that this is not always the case the
following instance will show. An old veteran on the stump was giving his
record as follows:—

“Fellow-citizens, I have fought and bled for my country. I have fought
the savage Indian; I have slept on the field of battle with no covering
but the heavens; I have marched barefoot till every footstep was marked
with blood!”

At the close of his oration one of the leading citizens approached him,
wiping the tears from his eyes, and in a voice broken with emotion said:

"My dear man, if you have done all you claim, I’m afeered I’ll have to
vote for your opponent, for I’ll be gosh darned if you ain’t done enough
for your country already."

The first election in which I took any active part occurred when I was
in charge of the mines, and was fought over the question of prohibition.
A retired cattleman, who owned a saloon in Uvalde, had been of much
assistance to the company and to me personally, and we were under many
obligations to him. I had promised him in my own and the company’s name
to return favours when called upon. He wired me one day to come in to
town, and when I drove over he told me that there was to be an election
to vote the county “dry,” and he needed our help. This I promised, and
when the election came off the county went “wet” by thirty-five
majority, and as our box gave some forty-five “wet” votes, we had been
the means of carrying the election. At first there was some talk of
throwing out our box on the ground of undue influence, but finally they
decided to accept defeat for the present. Uvalde since then has voted
“dry,” and in fact the large majority of Texas counties have local
prohibition, though the liquor interests have so far kept “dryness” out
of State elections. Local prohibition is, however, becoming each year a
more prominent factor, and in a few years Texas is sure to be a “dry”
State. Last election I was told the fight turned almost entirely on the
liquor question, and each candidate, for even trivial positions, was
asked where he stood. One candidate, on being asked, as he stepped down
from the platform, “Do you drink?” said: “Before I can answer that
question truthfully I must know is this meant as an inquiry or an
invitation?” I may give the impression from the above that I am in
favour of the liquor business. But nothing is further from the truth, as
I am a great believer not so much in local prohibition as in national.
But with me it was a case of carrying out a promise made, at no matter
what cost to my personal views.

Texas is not in all respects so lawless as one might suppose from what I
have written; for instance, my father and sister visited me for six
weeks in 1896, and they rode about everywhere in perfect safety. On the
other hand, while he was there, the superintendent twice borrowed money
from him, for petty cash. They, of the staff, were four men in one
house, well armed, but “they were not paid to fight,” so they kept no
money. Everything was paid by cheques on Uvalde, eighteen miles distant!
Nor was this without reason, for twice in that year even town banks were
attacked. In one case the employees beat off the robbers; in the other
the citizens pursued and hanged them.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

A "Grandstander"—The Sheriff takes possession—Night Watchman—Monte
    Jim—Further trouble.


Besides Henry Burns, the sheriff, there was also another man whose
re-election I opposed. He was the city marshal of Uvalde, and a regular
“grandstander,” as they call a man who is always striking poses. The
young man before mentioned as having caused so much trouble on my first
fishing trip, got drunk and disorderly once in Uvalde, and some one told
the city marshal. Instead of quietly arresting the young fellow, he
walked up pompously, drew his pistol, and sticking it in Jim’s face
arrested him in the name of the State. To his astonishment Jim made a
snatch and took the gun away before the marshal was quite through
posing, which was manifestly taking a mean advantage of him. Then Jim
said, "Run, you coyote, or I’ll kill you," and run the marshal did, with
Jim after him; and at every jump he would shout "Don’t shoot, Jim."
Finally Jim tired and let him go, and the marshal never had the nerve to
lay any complaint. So at the next election we ran him out.

While I was working on the branch railway to the mine, there was a gang
of nine men putting up small bridges and culverts. All the members of
this gang were relations, except one man, and he was made the butt of
all the jokes and horseplay; and some of them were pretty rough. Finally
one day the worm turned and said to his tormentors that he had stood all
he was going to stand, then walked off towards their camp, about two
miles away. They passed it off with a laugh, thinking they could smooth
him down in the evening when they returned to camp. But to their
astonishment he turned up again, in about an hour, armed with a
shot-gun, and aiming it at his principal tormentor he told him he would
give him a minute to say anything he wished to, or to pray if he so
desired. The bridgeman told him, at the end of the time, to go ahead and
shoot if he intended to, as he was ready. The man stood for a minute
hesitating, then turned and walked down to the mines. I had rather liked
the fellow, and felt sorry for him, and when I heard of the trouble I
went and had a talk with him before he left. I asked him why he had
walked four miles for a gun and then not used it. He said, “I intended
to kill him up to the last second, and then to wipe out as many of the
rest of them as I could. But I could not shoot him while he stood still.
If he had come at me, or run away, or if any of the others had moved, I
should have fired, but I could not as things were.”

About this time there occurred a rather amusing shooting case in Uvalde.
Our head book-keeper was a Texan, the shipping clerk was a New Yorker.
They went to town together to celebrate. When they were both half drunk,
the Texan asked the other if he had a gun, and on his replying “No” he
seemed much shocked, and said he would borrow one for him. This he
proceeded to do from a bar-keeper, and handed it to Tom the New Yorker,
who, however, was too drunk to put it away in his pocket, and for the
rest of the time carried it in his hand. After a few more drinks they
got into some argument on the street, and the next minute the Texan was
emptying his gun at Tom. The latter was so far gone that he had actually
forgotten the gun in his hand, and never used it at all; in fact, he did
not know that the Texan was firing at him at all—so he said the next
morning in court. Luckily no one was hit, but the book-keeper was fined
fifty dollars for “shooting in the city limits.”

While I was agent for the New York paint firm the company began to get
into difficulties, but the first intimation we had of it was when the
sheriff drove out one day and seized the property in the name of the
bondholders. This threw us all out of our jobs, and the place was closed
down. This was tough, as I was a shareholder, and my father was a
bondholder; however, I got an offer of a few days’ surveying of some
boundary lines for a man, but it turned out a poor job for me; for while
I was away the court appointed watchmen, and I lost the chance of this.
There were four watchmen appointed, one from Uvalde, and the other three
were the superintendent, the foreman, and the shipping clerk I mentioned
above. I certainly was disappointed when I got back and found out what I
had missed. I had to send my wife and boy off to Vancouver, B.C., to her
mother, and settled down to wait till the court proceedings were over.
After a few weeks the shipping clerk got sick and I was put as night
watchman in his place, which job I shared with Betner the foreman. He
watched the far buildings on the hill and I watched the main buildings
and the offices. At midnight I cooked supper and then whistled for him
to come in and eat. He used to order me about more than I thought was
justified in our present positions, so one night I “called his bluff”
and told him I would have no more. The next morning Mr. Brown, the
superintendent, sent for me and told me that I had been reported by
Betner for reading on my watch instead of attending to my duties. We
were entitled to an hour for supper, but it seldom took us over ten or
fifteen minutes to eat. As soon as Betner was through he used to take a
nap for the balance of the hour near the stove, and I used to read. I
used to wake him when the hour was up and we went back to work. This was
the reading he tried to make Mr. Brown believe I did all night. I
explained this to Mr. Brown, and he said it was all right. This last
straw put me in fighting trim, and that night I cooked my own supper and
ate it, and when Betner came in I gave him my opinion of him in language
he could understand. I told him also that in future he could cook his
own meals, as I would have nothing further to do with him. But if he
bothered me again I would beat him, and if he bluffed with his gun I
would kill him. He then showed the stuff that was in him, for at first
he blustered and finally crawled.

Some few months afterwards, when the receivership was done away with,
Betner and Brown quarrelled, and Betner was dismissed. We were none of
us sorry to see him go. It was a case like the bad man who was dying. A
clergyman went to see if he could make him repent. He pictured the
future in such glowing terms that he had the man convinced. At last he
said, “Brother, are you not ready to go?” and the bad man replied, “Yes,
I am very glad.” “Thank Heaven,” said the pastor, “because that makes it
_unanimous_.” I don’t think, however, Betner was glad to go, though I
can swear that the rest of us were unanimous.

The bondholders now took hold of the property, and we started up again
and I sent for my family. The shipping clerk had left in the meantime,
and I was appointed shipping and material clerk, and also had charge of
the company’s commissary store, in which I had two assistants. A new
foreman was brought in from San Antonio. He was known by the name of
“Monte Jim,” having been at one time a professional gambler (Monte being
a Mexican gambling game). How Mr. Brown ever came to hire him I don’t
know, as the man was a crook of the worst kind. The first trouble I had
with him was when I found out he was playing poker with one of my store
boys, and that the latter in order to pay his debts was stealing from
the store. I stopped this by firing the boy and warning Monte that he
had to stop this business. Later we clashed again on the question of
authority. Mr. Brown had told me that in the commissary and material
storeroom I was supreme, and laid down certain hours during which they
were to be open. Monte disputed my authority one day, and ordered me to
close the store and open the storeroom for him out of hours; we had an
argument, and I ran him out of the store, and after this we had no more
trouble. He was, I knew, taking rebates from the men (that is, the men
paid him part of their pay to be easy on them). I was not hunting
trouble, however, so kept my knowledge to myself, especially as it would
have been practically impossible to prove a case against him. The men
would naturally all have sworn that it was not so, if inquiry had been
made. He was also, I heard, bringing liquor into the place and selling
it to the men, besides increasing his income playing poker. One day he
came to me and asked me to lend him my pistol, as he was going to town
in company with the pit-foreman, the latter’s daughter, and the pumper;
and was taking in a good deal of money to the bank. I refused to lend my
gun (as I did not want it confiscated in case of trouble), but lent him
a 44 rifle carbine, which would serve better to protect the cash but
could hardly be carried round town for trouble purposes—at least so I
then thought. I did not like the idea of the girl going, as the men were
all hard drinkers, and her father I knew had already killed two men. He
had got into a fight with them in a saloon, and one of them had knocked
him down. As he fell he drew his gun and killed them both, getting off,
of course, on the ground of self-defence. However, I could not say
anything, and anyway it was none of my business, so off they started. In
the evening the girl walked past the office by herself. I asked her
where her father, Monte, and the pumper were. She told me her father had
driven round by the back gate, so she had got out and cut across; that
the pumper had fallen out of the wagon about half a mile back; and Monte
was riding in by himself on horseback.

I went out to see about the pumper, and on my way passed the pit-foreman
in the wagon trying to drive the team across the pit, and the unhappy
owner of the wagon running like mad to save his team from destruction!

The pumper I found sleeping in a sage brush where he had fallen, and had
him brought in. After a while, Monte came in and I got my rifle away
from him. It seemed that they had quarrelled in town, and that the
pit-boss, his daughter, and the pumper had driven off in the wagon,
leaving Monte to walk. The latter had hired a horse and started in
pursuit; when he came in sight of the wagon he started shooting with my
rifle to stop them. On this the pit-boss said he would go back and kill
him. But as he was getting out of the wagon his daughter slipped his
pistol out of the holster. Luckily for the unarmed pit-boss, Monte did
not await his arrival, but rode off when he saw him climb out of the
wagon. The rest of them came on home, but as they were rounding a corner
the pumper, who had stood up to make a speech (on the evils of drink, I
presume), fell out, and slept peacefully till I rescued him. This
escapade was the end of Monte Jim and the others, and I was put in
charge of the works as foreman, still retaining my other jobs.



                              CHAPTER XIX

Promoted to Foreman—Overwork and Eyestrain—Mexican Traits—Amateur
    Doctor—A rival Asphalt Company—Its Failure.


I had plenty to attend to when I was promoted to be foreman, but was so
pleased that I tried to do the whole job by myself; I succeeded for some
three or four months, nearly breaking myself down in the attempt, and
later found out that I got no thanks from the company either. I used to
be at the office at 6.30 each morning to lay out the day’s work and to
issue time checks to the men who were to go to work. During the day I
was over the plant and in the pit on practically continuous rounds, and
between times I was in the office attending to my correspondence, making
out reports for the head office, and posting my books, as I had no
office help at all. At 6 P.M., when the day-shift came off duty, I
opened up the commissary, and with the help of a Mexican assistant I
issued to the men the food, &c., they wished to buy. This generally took
till 7.30 P.M., then to supper, and back to the office with a round or
two over the works to see what the night-shift were doing; and then to
bed at 10.30, sometimes midnight. Finally my eyes gave out from doing so
much office work under an electric light, and I practically broke down
from overwork. A man can stand long hours for a short time; I myself
have often stood thirty-six and forty-eight hour shifts in the extractor
house, two such shifts in one week but with a rest between; it is the
long, steady grind that wears one out. I had to get leave and go into
San Antonio to see an oculist, who gave me glasses and fixed me up so
that I could return to work, but under orders to do no reading or
writing at night for some months. The name of the eye trouble I was
suffering from I have forgotten, but it was not the same as that of the
man I heard of who, when the oculist had fitted on a number of different
glasses said, in reply to the question as to how he could see with the
last pair, “Well, the green giraffe I can shee firsh rate, but the red
elephant and the purple trantula still look kinder—kinder blurred.” I
wrote to the company that I either must have assistance, or an immediate
rise of salary to warrant doing the work and taking chances. They
replied that the salary I was receiving was all that the position I held
was worth, but they sent me a man to take charge of the commissary, and
let me get a book-keeper to do the office work, so that I had little
night work to do.

I was practically the law and the prophets among the Mexicans at the
mines, and they soon learned that I would carry out anything I said. Of
course they had to prove this by a course of experiments, for the
Mexicans hate to take anything for granted. I remember, once, two of
them having an argument in the pit as to whether an electric fulminate
cap could be exploded by a blow or only by the electric spark, one of
them must needs experiment by striking the cap with a stone; it took him
the rest of the day to get the pieces of stone out of his hand. I had
issued an order that any man coming drunk on to the work would be
discharged, and my best “hand driller” tried the experiment and went
herding goats for a change. So things went on till they were convinced.
This confidence that I could and would do what I said got me out of a
hole once. There was a young Mexican at the mines who had been
ill-treating his wife, and finally one evening he decided to kill her.
She managed to escape from him, and ran over to the house of the head
fireman, whose wife gave her shelter, the fireman himself turning out
and running the husband off with a rifle. I heard about it the next
morning, and that the husband was still full of threats. So I sent for
him, his wife, and the fireman, and held court. The wife refused to
return to the husband, as she said he would certainly kill her, and the
fireman and his wife also refused to give her up. The husband of course
denied all the charges, and said he could not return to Mexico without
his wife, as suspicion would be aroused. I was in a quandary, for I knew
that unless I could get the young fellow away either he or the fireman
would get killed, and I could not afford to lose the fireman. Finally I
gave the young fellow the alternative of either leaving the place at
once, and leaving his wife in the care of the fireman and his wife, or I
would take him into town and turn him over to the sheriff. It did not
take him long to make up his mind that he did not want to make the
acquaintance of the sheriff, and so he skipped out. The story somehow
leaked out, and the next time I met Henry Burns the sheriff he joked me
unmercifully about my divorce court. On another occasion an old woman,
who ran a sort of restaurant for the bachelor Mexicans at the mines,
came rushing to the office to tell me that two drunken Mexicans had run
her out and were tearing her house to pieces; then just as I started off
she warned me to be careful, as they both had pistols.

I went over to Mexico (as we called the Mexican part of the camp), and
as I approached the old woman’s house, I saw the two men standing
outside the door, but as soon as they saw me they went inside. It scared
me for a minute, for I expected they would take a shot at me from some
crack or other, but, just as I reached the door, they both stepped out
again. I then searched them and found neither of them armed, and they
denied that they had done anything or bothered the old woman, though
they were both pretty drunk, so I let them go, thinking the old hen had
lied. Then as I started to go back to the office I thought I would take
a look in the house and see if any damage had been done, and there in a
corner lay the two pistols. I had no real authority either to make
arrests or even carry a pistol, as I was not a deputy-sheriff, nor could
I be made one, as I was not an American citizen; but Henry Burns had
told me to carry a gun and try and keep the peace unofficially, which I
did to the best of my ability. Once a Mexican came running to tell me
that a man and a woman were lying dead on the road from the mines to
Uvalde, about half a mile from the mine. I hurried over and found the
woman sure enough dead, shot through the heart from behind, but the man
was still alive, though a horrible sight to see. I used to keep a
medicine chest and plenty of lint and bandages, as, having no doctor
nearer than eighteen miles, I used to attend to all hurts, and even
prescribed remedies in simple cases, till my wife protested at the
string of sick babies that used to be brought up for my inspection. As
was proved at the subsequent trial, the man had killed the woman and
then attempted suicide. He had stuck his Winchester under his chin and
kicked the trigger. The bullet broke his jawbone and came out over his
right eye. I washed out the wound and tied his face back into place, and
just then Henry Burns arrived on the scene and I turned the whole
business over to him. He was on his way over to the mines about another
case. They carted the Mexican over to his house and put a guard over
him; just as they were laying him on the bed he mumbled something,
turned over, and pulled a pistol out of the back of his waistband, that
was hurting him as he lay. Henry laughed at me for not searching my
prisoner. The man was a poor half-witted chopper working for our
firewood contractor. He got a ten-year sentence, and died later in the
penitentiary.

A rival asphalt company started to open up another deposit two miles
below our mine, and began to haul their product to the Cline station
through our land. Under orders from the head office I went out, took
down all gates, and fenced all roads up solid, so that they could not
haul through the company’s pasture.

The law in the State of Texas makes it a felony to cut a man’s pasture
fence, and the punishment is up to five years in the penitentiary. A
couple of days after I had fixed the fences the station agent at Cline
telephoned me that the wagons were up there again unloading. I got on my
horse, and soon found where they had torn down the fence and come
through. I wired the sheriff to send me out a deputy at once, and on his
arrival went out with him and a gang of men, rebuilt the fence, and the
lot of us sat down to await results. Soon the wagons arrived, and on the
first one sat the president of the rival company and his lawyer. The
former, whom I knew, called out to me and asked me why I had built the
fences so strong, as it only gave his men unnecessary trouble. The
deputy then warned him that he was breaking the law in touching the
fence, but he gave his men orders to pull it down, and they came on
through. I wanted the deputy to arrest him, and I and my men would help,
but he refused, for fear, as he said, of trouble; but his real reason, I
found out later, was that his orders from Henry Burns were not to make
any arrests. The case came up for trial, and Henry Bums turned us down,
getting an unfriendly jury who threw the case out of court. He had been
bought by the opposition, and this was the main ground on which I fought
him later at elections. We got an injunction in the federal court,
prohibiting them from crossing our grounds, and they had to haul to
Uvalde, twenty miles, instead of Cline, eight miles. The whole thing,
however, had been a bluff, as their deposit was worthless, and they were
simply trying to scare us into selling our product at a low price to
them. Their bluff not working, they finally had to buy material from us
at our own price, as they had a large paving contract to fill and
nothing to fill it with. The way these bluffs are worked in some of the
States, regardless of law, is simply astounding.



                               CHAPTER XX

More American Business Methods—Trip to Corpus Christi—Trouble at the
    Mine—West Texas as a Health Resort—Expenses of the Simple Life.


I mentioned some of the lawless and extraordinary things done in
American business. When I was in California an oil company was building
a pipe line to carry their product to market. Whenever they could they
bought the right of way over private lands that they had to cross, but
whenever they could not buy at a price satisfactory to them, they simply
surprised the owner by building over his land at night, and let him wake
up in the morning to find the line an accomplished fact. Then it was up
to him either to fight a long-drawn-out suit (during which the company
would be pumping oil over his land) or to give in gracefully and take
what he could get. One old farmer, however, hired armed guards to watch
his land, and the pipe line company, after first trying to intimidate
his men and then to trick them, finally gave it up in disgust and paid
him his price, besides what he had expended on his guards.

The price of refined asphalt taking a big drop, owing to the successful
refining of asphalt from crude oil in California, the refinery at Cline
was shut down, and the pit and crushers only were worked, to get out
material for street paving. All American help was dispensed with, and
the only white men left on the place were the pit-foreman, the
book-keeper, and myself. The book-keeper I had was the same young
English friend who had gone into the mining deal with me in Canada in
1894, when we lost our mine and our money. He had subsequently lost
every penny that remained to him in one deal after another, and he wrote
me from New York that he was broke. As I was under many obligations to
him I sent him the funds, and he came to Cline and took charge of the
office work. He seemed just as happy without a cent as he had been
before with plenty, and I never heard him utter a single complaint about
his lost fortune: he had real grit. Just before his arrival I had
obtained three weeks’ leave to go on a fishing trip, and I was to leave
the pit-foreman in charge. I took my wife and boys to Corpus Christi,
south of San Antonio on the Mexican Gulf, intending to leave them there
for a few months’ change of air. I had some misgivings about leaving the
pit-foreman in charge, as he was a “periodical” drunkard; and as I had
liquor in my house I locked it up before leaving, and gave the key to
the Mexican store-clerk, with instructions to give it to no one except
on a written order from me. I had been at Corpus Christi only three days
when I got a wire from the general manager, “Return immediately.” When I
met him in San Antonio he told me that he had received a wire from the
store-clerk, “Had bad accident, foreman drunk,” and as he was too busy
to go out to the mines himself he had wired for me.

The store-clerk met me at the station with a conveyance, and told me the
pit-boss was armed and crazy drunk and had every one terrorised, also
that there had been an accident in the pit in which a man was nearly
killed. I met the pit-boss on the steps of the manager’s house, and he
wanted to know what I had come back for. I noticed that he had the
company’s 45 Colt buckled on him, the gun that was supposed to lie on my
desk in the office. This I proceeded to take from him, and then went
over to my house. It turned out that one of the men (disobeying strict
orders), while unloading a “missed shot,” started to dig out the
dynamite with his iron spoon, instead of loading on top of it and so
discharging the shot. When the spoon reached the cap it exploded, the
charge tearing off one of his arms at the elbow and the other at the
wrist. They had sent him into town in the hack, and wired for a doctor
to meet him on the road. After attending to this the pit-foreman’s nerve
failed him, and he asked the storekeeper for the key of my house, so
that he could get a drink, as he felt sick. He had found out about the
liquor by the storekeeper running up to my house for a drink for the
injured man. Having once started he went at it in good shape, for in
four days he consumed a bottle of whisky and three gallons of
Californian wine, besides about three dozen pint bottles of beer. The
men in the pit got scared and refused to go to work, as there was a
rumour that there were some more shots that might go off. This so
enraged the foreman that he went to the office, got a Colt’s 45, and
going down to the pit threatened to kill any man who did not go back to
work at once. In his frenzied state they were more afraid of him than
they were of any possible explosion, so they went back in a hurry.

It took me some days to get things working smoothly again, and in the
meantime the pit-foreman sobered up. One rainy night I had occasion to
go over to the Mexican quarters to see one of the men I needed for the
morrow. On my way over I saw a flash of light in the second storey of
the extractor house, which went out so quickly that I thought I must
have been mistaken. Still, I went over and climbed the staircase
quietly, as I could hear a low murmur of voices, and wanted to catch
them unawares if there was any “monkey work” going on. When I got
inside, without their hearing me, I struck a match and found about
twenty Mexicans, men, women, and children, camped up there, and, what
was worse, smoking cigarettes. It had been the flash of a match I saw.
There was a wild scramble, but I rounded them all up, and then they told
me in the most artless way that the roofs of their houses leaked and so
they had moved up there; utterly ignoring the fact that they were
smoking in a building in which were stored 16,000 gallons of naphtha,
and about 50 tons of excelsior (a sort of wood shavings) with which they
had made themselves beds. This is the sort of recklessness with which
one has to cope when employing Mexicans. To show how inflammable and
explosive this “63” naphtha is, I will mention what I saw once. We had
been emptying all the extractors of rock out of which the naphtha had
not been properly distilled. We had taken out about seventy-five tons
and run it out on the dump pile in cars. While unloading a car one of
the men, who had a pair of O.K. shoes (miner’s shoes with the soles
studded with nails), jumped down the pile to get a hoe that he had
dropped. There was a puff and the whole pile was on fire; he had struck
a spark with his shoe. He looked for a minute like an understudy for the
devil in “Faust,” then beating the world’s record for high and long
jumps he was out with nothing worse than a singed whisker and a
wholesome respect for naphtha.

West Texas is noted as a health resort for consumptives as the air is so
dry, and I myself have seen some wonderful cures. One young fellow I saw
helped off the train, who I thought could not live over a week or two,
was, within a year, one of the best cow-punchers in the county, and
could stay all day in the saddle without trouble. His case was one of
perhaps fifty that I have personally known. The idea seems to be to buy
a camp wagon and a couple of horses, a gun, a rifle, and fishing tackle,
and go wandering round the country hunting and fishing and leading the
simple life. The initial expense for a first-class outfit would not be
over £50, and after that you can live for £3 to £4 per month, provided
you cook for yourself. If, however, from weakness or lack of knowledge
one cannot do for oneself, a man can be hired to go along, and the
expense account would not pass £15, including his wages and keep. This
of course does not include any luxuries, it only allows of the absolute
necessaries, such as flour, bacon, salt, sugar, coffee, lard, canned
milk, dried apples, and rice. Meat, fish, &c., your gun and rod supply.
I and a friend once lived for three weeks, and lived well, on £1 worth
of provisions. As I have before said, the country is well stocked with
game, and there are fish for the catching. Lots of young fellows with
weak lungs and small capital, who cannot afford to loaf, buy a few
stands of bees and make a decent living, while getting well. The work is
light and keeps one out of doors, as most of these bee-men live in
tents. £100 will buy one hundred stands of bees, the profit of which is
sufficient to keep a man in food and necessaries. It is a solitary sort
of life, but if a man has sporting instincts and a longing to get well
he can stand it for a year or so, by which time he is fit for harder
work. The heat is great in summer, but, being very dry, does not affect
one’s health, and the springs, falls, and winters are delightful, all
except the “Northers,” of which I shall have more to say.



                              CHAPTER XXI

"Northers"—Almost frozen—The Mexican Indian—Cold-blooded
    Ingratitude—Mexican untrustworthiness.


The chief drawback to the fine Texas climate is the “Norther” or cold
north wind, that is really sometimes pretty bad. You can hear the wind
roar for minutes before it reaches you, and when it strikes the
temperature goes down and down. I heard a norther coming once about four
o’clock in the afternoon, and ran out to the porch to look at the
thermometer. It stood at 106° F., and within fifteen minutes it was 70°
F. and still dropping, and by morning it was freezing. These northers
seldom last over three days at a time, and they are generally followed
by beautiful weather. There are about a dozen or so of them in a winter,
but unless accompanied by rain they are not so bad as one might think. I
was fishing on the Nueces river one Saturday night about ten o’clock for
cat-fish, when I was surprised by a wet norther. I crawled with my
saddle, &c., under a shelving rock and waited for the rain and hail to
let up a bit. After a while I noticed that the river was rising, and as
I happened to be on the wrong side from home, and the river sometimes
stays up for three or four days, I had perforce to saddle up and get
across while I could. When I got to the other side I could find no
shelter, and as I had a good mess of fish I thought I might as well
strike out for home. I did not feel the full force of the wind till I
got out of the bottoms, but it was bitter when I reached the hills. I
was so nearly frozen when I got home, about 2 A.M., that I could not
unsaddle my horse till I had gone into the house, got a hot whisky, and
warmed up.

On another occasion I was deer-hunting with a friend. We drove out in
the evening in my buggy and pitched camp on a little rise where there
was dry firewood, and after cooking supper we rolled up in our blankets
and went to sleep. In the night a dry norther came up, and it was one of
the worst I ever saw. Each pretended to be asleep so that the other
should light a fire, but at last we could stand it no longer, so we both
got up and built a fire. The only way we could keep from freezing was to
pull the buggy up to the windward side of the fire and make a wind-brake
of some of our blankets tied to the wheels, so that we could sit between
this and the fire. But the windbreak also acted as a chimney and sucked
the smoke into our faces. When day broke we had to give up the idea of
hunting. Our faces were the colour of a well-smoked ham, and our eyes so
bloodshot that we could not see a deer at fifty yards. But curiously
enough, one never seems to be the worse for being caught in one of these
storms, and one seldom takes cold.

The average Mexican Indian is a peculiar man, and one rarely can tell
what his real feelings are. They are not dependable; a man may be your
friend for years and then for some slight cause or supposed insult may
turn and kill you. The only real personal trouble I had at the mines
came about in this way. There were two young fellows who had started
with us as water-boys, and finding them intelligent I had finally raised
them to drillers, and given them each charge of an Ingersoll drill.
Their father was a hand-driller, and also owned a couple of wagons doing
freighting for us. The family considered themselves under obligations to
me, and I thought I could depend on them. One day the old man came to me
(accompanied by his two boys) and said the timekeeper had made some
mistake in his time, and asked me to have it rectified. Instead of
sending for the timekeeper I thought I would straighten up the matter
personally, as I was not very busy at the moment, and I took them into
the office. While I and the old man were going over the time slips and
wagon reports, the younger boy kept interrupting and putting in remarks,
till he aggravated me into telling him sharply to shut up. He answered
me in an insolent manner that he had come to see his father get justice
and intended to do so. His father and brother tried to shut him up, and
I told him that if he spoke to me like that again I would throw him out.
“You will, will you?” he said, jerked out his knife, and came for me. As
I reached for my gun his brother took a flying leap on to his back, and
down they came at my feet struggling for the knife, which finally the
elder brother took from him. When they got up I told the young man he
was discharged, and would have to leave the company’s property at once.
The father and elder brother begged me to let him off this time. But I
said to them, “You know that Manuel now has a grudge against me. I have
a lot of night walking to do. Life is too short for me to have to live
in fear of, or have to pull a gun on, every man who walks up behind me
in the dark, so when the nervous strain reaches a certain pitch I shall
either kill Manuel or he will kill me. Is it not so?” The brother and
father had to agree that I was right, and I never saw Manuel again. It
was a case of a mountain out of a molehill, but I could not afford to
take chances, and now, after sixteen years’ experience of Mexican ways,
I am still convinced that I did the only thing that I could do under the
circumstances.

A case of really cold-blooded ingratitude happened near Uvalde to a
young fellow that I knew. There was an elderly American couple with one
son, who had adopted a Mexican boy, bringing him up as a member of the
family. The old man died when the boys were about nineteen years of age,
leaving all he had to his wife. They had a small ranch on which they
raised goats, besides having a few stands of bees. A short while after
the father’s death they decided to sell out their Uvalde ranch and move
to Devil’s River in North-west Texas, where they could get a larger
ranch for their increasing flocks. They sold the ranch and were to move
the next day by camp wagon, driving the goats, and taking the money
(about $800) with them. The party was to consist of the mother, the son
John, the Mexican boy Juan, and an old Mexican goat-herd who had worked
for the family for years. The day before they were to start John went
into town to get some supplies and the money, but before leaving the
ranch he asked Juan if there was anything he could bring him out from
town. Juan said he wanted a good bowie knife. When John, on his return,
drove up to the house he handed the sheath-knife to Juan, whom he met
out at the corral, and then carried the money and the things he had
bought into the house. Amongst the things was a new rifle which he had
bought at the last moment, and which he now loaded and put up on two
nails over the lintel of the door: this act saved his life. For while he
was inside, Juan went to the old goat-herd with the proposition that
they two should go in and kill the two Americans, take the money, wagon,
goats, and pull out for the border. “Every one will think they are gone,
and there will be no hunt for them till we are safe,” he said. At first
the old herder thought it was all a grim joke, but when he saw it was
really meant in earnest, he started for the house to warn them. The
younger man was too quick for him, however, and stabbed him twice in the
back before he could reach the door of the house. His cry brought John
to the door, where he was met by a stab in the chest from the Mexican,
who reached there at the same time. John fell in the doorway, and Juan
jumped over him and made for his adoptive mother. She, however, had seen
John stabbed, and, being an old frontier woman, was quick to act and
full of fight. As Juan came for her she grabbed an old shot-gun from its
hooks on the wall, which he also had to seize with both hands to keep
its muzzle pointing away from him, and so could not make use of his
knife. The old woman was strong, and the fight was desperate for
possession of the old gun.

The grim joke of the thing, if joke there can be in such a tragedy, was
that neither of them knew that the gun was unloaded and useless.

Meanwhile John had managed to get to his feet and reach down his
Winchester, then, dropping again to the floor from weakness, he was
ready for action. “Turn him loose, mother,” he called, and the old lady
without question turned Juan and the gun loose and got out of the line
of fire. As soon as Juan saw that the tables were turned, and that John,
instead of being helpless as he had thought, was armed, he dropped on
his knees and prayed for his life. But all the answer he got was ten
shots from the Winchester; John believed in making a good job of it. The
old lady went out, caught one of the horses, and rode into town for the
doctor and the sheriff. The old herder only just lived long enough to
tell his tale, but John recovered. As for Juan, I think he was lucky in
receiving death from the Winchester, instead of at the hands of the
Uvalde citizens when they heard of the tragedy.

I have lived nearly seventeen years in daily contact with Mexicans, and
I can truthfully say that there is not one of them that I know of (of
the lower or working classes) with whom I would go into the hills alone
with $500 in my possession, if the Mexican knew I had it and thought he
could get away with it after disposing of me. Yet I like them as
workmen, and get along very well with them. So I do not utterly condemn
them, nor would I go as far as the clergyman who made a tour of Mexico.
He was a very literal and truthful man, and on his return to the States
he was asked what he thought of the Mexicans. “Is it true,” he was
asked, “that all the women are immoral and all the men liars and
thieves?” “Well,” said he, “I would hardly go as far as that, because,
you see, I did not meet all of them!”

It must be remembered that the Mexican lower classes are Indians, either
pure or with slight European admixture. Naturally they retain the moral
code of their nation, by which the first duty is revenge for injury,
however small. Ingratitude and greed are defects, perhaps, by that code,
but too common to be reckoned as vices. When “wild in woods the noble
savage ran,” he seems from contemporary accounts to have been much like
the Pathans of India’s border.



                              CHAPTER XXII

Employed by a Paving Company—The Growth of Los Angeles—Its Land Values—A
    Centre for Tourists.


The Uvalde Asphalt Company started a paving company to use up their
products, and, as I was getting very tired of the mines, and also seemed
to have reached the maximum salary that the Company would pay for my
position, I applied for a job on the paving end, where I should have a
pleasanter life and possibly a chance of promotion, besides learning
another side of the work. The head office, however, told me that they
needed me where I was, and therefore could not transfer me; and then put
a green man into the position I had asked for, paying him $125 per
month, while I was only getting $75! I wrote to a number of different
paving companies, and the asphalt trust offered me a place as yard
foreman in Los Angeles at three dollars per day, provided the Uvalde
Company would give me a good letter of recommendation. The Uvalde
Company then made me some vague promises as to the future, but I refused
to stay, and finally they gave me a really very good letter.

So on the 26th October 1902 I left Cline, Texas (where I had worked
seven years and seven months) for California. My people thought me
foolish in leaving a company where I was known, and had made some small
record, and in which I also held a good share, to go to another concern
where I was unknown and had no friends. This may apply to England, where
long service is appreciated, but it does not apply to America. Here a
new man has as good or really a better show than one long in the firm’s
employ; in fact, when I arrived in Los Angeles, I found that I was to
supersede a man who had been sixteen years in the Barber Company, and
who was acting yard foreman till my arrival.

My own experience has been that if a man starts in a concern at a very
low salary, he can never work up past a certain figure. I suppose it is
natural to think—“This man used to work for so much a day, and we have
more than doubled his salary since he has been with us, and he is an
ungrateful hog if he wants more.” And even if they are forced to give
the amount asked for, sooner than lose the man, there is a feeling of
soreness at the man’s ingratitude. People rarely consider that they
cannot get another man to do the same work for the same money. When I
first went to Cline the foreman’s salary was $125 per month, and he had
no office work whatsoever to do. I started as labourer at $1.25 per day
and worked up to twice that rate, or $75 per month, as foreman; at which
figure I was doing not only the foreman’s regular work but most of the
office work as well, yet because I had started at low wages the company
thought I was well paid. When I arrived in Los Angeles and reported for
duty, the general manager took me over the works and introduced me to
the men who were to work under me; then we returned to the office and he
posted me as to my men and duties. The chief engineer (who had been
acting foreman) was, he told me, an old man and trusted employee, whom,
however, he could not use as foreman as he had not the ability to handle
men. The manager said, “As to him, I would like you to try and get along
with him, bearing in mind that he will be angry with you for taking the
position which he thinks should have been his; but if you cannot get
along I shall have to find another place for him.” Of course I know that
in such cases a new foreman has to prove himself to his men before they
will look up to him and readily recognise his authority. I was young,
and the men would begin to take liberties unless I could show them that
“I knew where I was at,” as they said in Texas. Luckily for me, my
opportunity came at once, for I had noticed on going over the plant with
the manager, one improvement that would do away with a lot of
unnecessary work in connection with the screening of the different
grades of gravel and sand. I made my proposal of a change to Mr. Arthur,
the general manager, and he asked the opinion of the chief engineer, who
happened to be near. The latter at once laughed at the idea and said it
was impracticable. I insisted, and said I would stake my job on the
result, and then Mr. Arthur told me to go ahead. I took some of the men
and tore down the screens and rigged one the way I had proposed, and it
turned out the success I had predicted. This was sufficient for all the
men, except the prejudiced engineer, that I knew my business; and they
all seemed friendly disposed with the exception of him and the mixer-man
(the man who had charge of the mixing of the paving material). One day
one of the men said to me, "I guess you are all right, so I want to warn
you to look out for Harry Kern (the engineer) and 'Old George' (the
mixer-man), who are doing all they can against you; the former at the
office and the latter amongst the men." I soon had proof of this, for
one day the cashier (a great friend of Harry’s) came out of the office
and spoke to me most offensively about some reports which he wanted me
to make at once for him. I told him to get back to his office, that I
allowed nobody to boss me in my own yard so long as I was foreman; that
seemed to settle him, and then I took the bull by the horns and went to
see Harry, to whom I talked like a “Dutch uncle.” I told him it could do
him no good if they made it unpleasant enough to make me resign, as he
would never get the job of foreman; that I had not known of the state of
affairs when I came or might have stayed out; but, as I had come, we
must work together in harmony or he would have to go somewhere else. He
took it well, and we afterwards became great friends. Old George, of
course, I had to handle in a different way, so I jumped him on the first
pretext, and, as I expected, he gave me impudence in order to show off
before the other men. I had a monkey wrench in my hand, and I told him
that he would apologise or I would beat him good and plenty and then
fire him. He owned up that he had been hasty, and so we let it go at
that. Old George was one of the best men I had on the place after we got
to understand one another, and after I left the company and came to
Mexico he wanted to come along with me.

Los Angeles is one of the most wonderful towns in the United States, and
the growth is phenomenal. It is essentially a tourist town, being
practically supported by the tourists who come there to spend the
winter, and by men who have retired from business and wish to end their
days in a decent climate. It is estimated to have over 60,000 transient
population. In 1900 the real estate men put up “prophecy boards” all
over the town saying “in 1910 Los Angeles will have a population of
250,000,” and every one laughed at them. In 1907 they scratched out the
“2” and put a “3” over it, as the population was then about 275,000, and
is to-day over 350,000. In 1893 a German bought for $800 a tract of sage
brush and sand in what is now “Boyle Heights,” and went to work at his
trade of carpenter to make a living and pay the taxes. He had grit and
held on, finally selling out for some $200,000. One of our men in the
Barber Yard bought a small cottage for $1400 and within six months was
offered $2000 for it, which I advised him to refuse; judging from the
value of other property in the same neighbourhood, it is worth to-day at
least $8000.

Fortunes have been lost in real estate in Los Angeles, but for the past
eleven years it has been going up by leaps and bounds. Yet all wonder
what keeps it up, as there are practically no manufactures, and though
it is surrounded by orange and lemon orchards, those fruits are taken by
buyers from the east and shipped there direct, so that there are few, if
any, local middlemen. But there is, as I said before, a large influx of
the wealthy class of tourists, and these leave an immense amount of
money in the city. Besides, there are a number of the millionaire class
from the eastern states who winter there. One striking feature is the
great number of small detached cottages, with beautiful gardens, owned
chiefly by the mechanics and labouring men of the city. Los Angeles is
sometimes called the city of cottages. Most of these small five-and
six-roomed cottages, quite up-to-date with all the latest conveniences
and improvements, and costing from $1200 to $2000 each, are being or
have been paid for on the instalment plan. Of course they are sometimes
forfeited, but if one has paid enough to make it worth while, one can
generally sell one’s equity if unwilling or unable to continue the
payments. I knew a labouring man who in this way acquired three houses.
He earned $2.50 per day in our yard as blacksmith, and his wife earned
about the same amount as seamstress; they were childless and were saving
for old age. As soon as they had a house paid for they rented it out,
and with this rent and their savings commenced to buy another one. They
expect, when they have enough houses, to retire and live on their
rentals, looking after their property. As Los Angeles caters for the
tourist trade, one can hire hundreds of houses of all sizes and prices,
completely furnished even to bed and table linen, table and kitchen
ware.

Another thing that strikes the visitor is the street car system,
claimed—and rightly, I think—to be the finest in the world. One can get
a car to any part of the city, or to any of the suburban towns or
seaside resorts (called beaches), at intervals of from three to ten
minutes, according to the importance of the line. There are good roads
out of Los Angeles, and in fact all over California, and the city itself
has very fine asphalt streets. In consequence, the wealthy bring their
automobiles, and also almost every labouring man has his bicycle to take
him to and from his work. At 6 P.M. Spring Street and Broadway are a
sight to see with the streams of bicycles and motor cycles wending their
way homewards. In the evenings, in front of the cheap five and ten cent
theatres (where really good vaudeville entertainments are given), the
library, and the Y.M.C.A. rooms, I have seen bicycles five and six deep
against the curb; it is quite a job to pick out your own amongst the
hundreds of others.

These cheap theatres are a great institution and play to crowded houses
all night long. They tried to start a palm garden theatre where one
could smoke, but it did not turn out a success owing to the chill of the
evening making it unpleasant to sit outside. In the other houses they
prohibit smoking.

During the winter, too, the horse races, which last for a couple of
months, bring lots of people and money to the town, which has also
become quite a centre of boxing. Boating, fishing, and sea bathing are
to be had at any of the numerous beaches about twenty minutes’ car ride
from the centre of the city, so that forms of amusement are plentiful.



                             CHAPTER XXIII

"Graft"—Seeking Contracts in Los Angeles—In Charge of Street
    Work—Crooked Business.


Winston Churchill’s _Coniston_ and _Mr. Crewe’s Career_ explain the
methods of bosses and railway presidents, and their conflicts or
combinations for the robbing of the public in America. For the railways
it may perhaps be said that they have to protect themselves against the
“Bosses,” and for the “Bosses” that they are what the people make them:
at any rate, I need not discuss the forms of that business immorality
against which Mr. Roosevelt has struggled. But I will try to give some
idea of the rottenness of the contracting business and the city
officials, and truly it was awful. But what can be expected when
contractors make their men scoundrels in order to hold their jobs, and
teach them to rob the public, and then are horrified when they are
robbed or cheated by their own men! Then the men, many of whom have no
idea of honour, are all the time trying to hurt one another in order to
show up well with the company; of this I shall say more later on. Those
who are inclined to seek fortune in America must reckon with such
difficulties.

Los Angeles is a very expensive town to live in, and I soon found that
financially I had not made a change for the better. But I was gaining in
experience in my business, and being in a city, had a better chance to
look for openings than I had when cut off from the world, as I was out
at the Uvalde Mines. A good part of my work consisted in going round
town keeping track of all building and improvement work going on, and
trying to get contracts for paving cellars, driveways, and warehouse
floors; in fact, anything I could obtain. For this purpose the company
gave me the use of a horse and dog-cart. I would see a fine house going
up, try to find the architect, get the specifications, and, if asphalt
was mentioned, would put in a bid on the spot. I was given a free hand
as to prices, the only condition being that the work should show some
profit, and, in case the other companies had put in a bid, I was to cut
their bid if I could do it without showing a decided loss. In the case
of a very big job, or something that might lead to more work, I referred
to Mr. Arthur, who would sometimes take the work even at a loss, to keep
the other fellow from getting it. This does not sound like good
business, but our company was the largest, and could stand a small loss
if Mr. Arthur could keep the other fellow without work, so that his
pay-roll should eat him up. We could stand the game longer than they
except for politics. Of this and our final downfall I shall write in
another chapter.

After I had been some months with the company my salary was raised to
$3.50 per day, and I was put in charge of the work on the street, and
turned the yard over to a man who came down from a branch in San
Francisco. The company employed at this time in Los Angeles, beside the
general manager, two superintendents, myself as foreman of the asphalt
gang, and a yard foreman to whom I had given over charge of that job.
Some weeks after the change this man Bister asked me to come up to his
room as he wanted to see me about something important. One night I did
go, and he informed me that he had heard that the company was going to
cut operating expenses, and some of us would be let out as soon as the
present rush of work was over. One of the superintendents, Mr. Weber,
was drinking, he said, and he proposed that I should join himself and
the other superintendent, Cressfield, to get Weber discharged; in return
for which Cressfield would guarantee our jobs to Bister and me. I never
found out if he had any authority from Cressfield to make me such a
proposition, but in order to clinch me, he said that Weber had been
speaking rather disparagingly about my work. I laughed at him and told
him that I wanted no hand in the fight as I was not interested enough,
and that when the company wanted my job back they could have it.
Finally, however, they dragged me into the fight against my will, but on
the opposite side to that he wanted me to join.

Weber and Cressfield were each in charge of a contract, and my gang did
the asphalt work for both of them, so that I worked part of the week for
one and part of the week for the other. Cressfield asked me to put his
brother on as a skilled tamperman at $2.25 per day, but after he had
worked a few days I found that he was not skilled, and the other men
would have kicked if I had paid him as a skilled tamperman. I told
Cressfield that I could not keep him on as tamperman, but would keep him
as a labourer, if he wished, at $1.75. Cressfield did not seem much put
out, but told me I was too particular. He took his brother on his
concrete gang, where, of course, he had nothing to do with me, though I
had made an enemy of him, a fact I was made to feel in a hundred
different ways. Weber, on the other hand, tried to help me in as many
ways, even when I refused to join him in some of the schemes he was
working. Mr. Arthur seemed to be the only man who really was absolutely
square, and his principles were such as do not help a man in contracting
business in the States.

Some time before I came to the company the foreman of one of the street
railway companies in the city had come to Mr. Arthur with a proposition
to turn over to him the contract for all the company’s business for a
term of two years if Arthur would give him $2000 as a bonus. Arthur
replied that he had already put up a bid lower than any other company,
and if he could not get the work by a fair bid he did not want it at
all; and, furthermore, that he (Arthur) would report the conversation to
the owners of the railway line. He did so, but the owners would not
listen to him; they said that it was impossible: the man had been in
their employ for a number of years, and they trusted him completely.
Later on this man was found out and discharged, but through political
pull he got the position of chief inspector of the Public Works
Department. This occurred shortly after I went on to the street
business. The first intimation I got was when we had a new inspector
sent out to stay with my gang, and this man from the very first day
proceeded to condemn our material, our work, me, and my men; we could do
nothing right. I had a great friend in the Public Works Department, a
member of my Order, and to him I went at once to see what it all meant.
He told me, “You had better get out from under, as the word is out to
kill Arthur (in a business sense), and we can only hit him through you
fellows. There is nothing personal to you in this, but move while you
can.” I could not of course repeat this to Arthur, but I went and told
him that the inspector was most unreasonable, and asked him what I
should do about it. He told me not to give way to the inspector, and
that he would back me in anything reasonable.

I went back to the street and told the inspector that he must not
interfere with my men any more, but, if he had complaints to make, to
make them to me. He got impudent, and I requested him to take off his
spectacles (in California and some other states it is a most serious
offence to strike a man with glasses on his nose); he dashed off to a
telephone and sent for the street superintendent; I went to another
telephone and sent for Arthur. When they both arrived on the scene the
inspector stated that I had threatened to assault him for doing his
duty. I told the street superintendent that the man was interfering with
my men, contrary to rules, and had been abusive to me. The upshot of it
was that the superintendent told me that if I could not get along with
the man from his office he would “Call me off public work” (the law
gives this power to the street superintendent, and any man called off
can work on no further public work in that city). During all this Arthur
sat in his buggy and never said a word. After it was over I went across
to him and offered my resignation, but he asked me to stay on till the
job in hand was through.



                              CHAPTER XXIV

Bribery and corruption—The Good Government League—Servant problem in
    California—The climate and its effect on wages—Off to Guadalajara.


My resignation being refused, I decided to stay and finish up the
streets we were on. Of course after this the inspector had it all his
own way, and he certainly led us a dance. I continued to look out for
other work, and one day the chief sewer inspector told me that he could
give us all the repaving work in connection with the sewers if there was
anything in it for him. I reported this to my superintendent, and was
told to give the inspector ten per cent., and the cashier told me the
same thing. Arthur, I knew, would not have allowed it had he known it,
but I was ordered not to report to him. The barefaced bribery, robbery,
and swindling that went on in Los Angeles, in fact, in any town I knew
anything about in the United States, was really surprising. However, I
understand that so far as California is concerned all this has been
changed since the prosecution and conviction of Reuff and Smidt, Mayor
of San Francisco, and the formation of the Good Government League. A
contractor was at the absolute mercy of the city officials and dared not
say them nay; it was not that he wished to bribe but it was forced upon
him if he hoped to remain in business at all. The same applied to his
superintendents and foremen; if they were not ready to supply cigars and
drinks for the inspectors their work would turn out so unsatisfactory
that they did not hold their jobs long.

Between the city officials and the labour unions the contractor had a
bad time. Los Angeles had not much trouble as far as the labour unions
were concerned, but San Francisco was practically run by the unions
during Mayor Smidt’s time (the man mentioned above), he himself being a
union man. I do not mean to infer that I am against organised labour,
for in many cases that is their sole defence against starvation wages.
But when the unions allow such men as the Macnamara brothers (just
convicted of the _Times_ Building dynamiting) to guide their destinies,
they cannot expect the outsider to sort the sheep from the goats. In
“Frisco” a delegate came every day from the Labour Council to visit your
gangs, and would order you to discharge any man who did not belong to
their Order; if you complied they sent you men in the place of those
discharged, and if you refused they posted you as “unfair,” and you
could not get men. They called off the union bricklayers on a building
once because we were working non-union men laying asphalt in the cellar.
We told them that there was no such thing as an asphalt union in Los
Angeles, so that the men could not belong to it, but this made no
difference to them. So we had to wait till the building was completed,
and then go back and finish the asphalt work. I have heard of some
extraordinary lengths to which they would carry their “unfair list,”
though I will not vouch for the following story, but tell it as it was
told to me: A walking delegate came to notify a doctor that he was on
the “unfair list.” The doctor was surprised, as he had always been most
careful to deal in stores with union clerks, to pay his servants union
wages, &c. The delegate said, “You have been attending Martin Brady who
is ill with pneumonia.” “Yes,” said the doctor, “but I found out first
that he was in good standing with the union.” The delegate replied that
"Brady got his cold through getting wet at a farmer’s pump, and we have
found out that the pump was not union made."

The servant-girl problem is worse in California than in any other place
I have ever been to; they get wages running from $25 to $50 per month,
and in consequence are as independent as can be. My wife got ill, so I
went to one of the employment bureaus to see about a girl, and passed
through the ordeal of my life. One woman I spoke to asked me how many
there were in the family, and what I did for a living, and then, when I
told her the house had only five rooms (as an inducement, I thought),
she turned to me and said, “Five rooms, indeed, and I would like to know
where you could put a girl!” One girl that came said, “I am so glad to
see you have a piano as I do love to play in the evenings.” They tell of
a Swedish girl whose mistress asked her, the first morning after she had
arrived, if the table was laid for breakfast. The girl replied,
"Everytang bane laid but the aigs, and I don’t tank dat bane part of ma
job."

The climate of Los Angeles is much better than that of San Francisco,
but it is not all that it is cracked up to be. The winters are much
damper than in Texas, and though the summers are fine there are very bad
dust storms at times, and it gets very hot indeed. But the residents
resent complaint of their weather, as they think it is the finest on
earth, and you can hardly blame them, for the climate is what brings
most of the money to the town. And certainly it produced some of the
finest and healthiest-looking men and women it has ever been my luck to
see. This question of climate has a curious effect on the labour market.
So many young fellows of large brain but weak bodies have flocked to the
town that an office man cannot approach the wages paid to a labourer or
a mechanic; good office men could be got for from $40 to $50 per month
at the time when labourers could get $1.75 per day, carpenters $3.50 for
eight hours’ work, and masons $6.50 per day. I had a negro raker working
under me who was getting the same salary as myself, and we had a cement
sidewalk finisher who was drawing more pay per week than the
superintendent.

The yard foreman and I soon fell out, for the inspector was condemning
the material he sent up, and, as I could not say anything, it was sent
back to the yard. The yard foreman, to get even, would report more stuff
sent up than I had received, and finally things got to such a pass that
when we got the first of the streets finished I left. The day after I
resigned I was riding up town on my bicycle when I met the manager of
our big rival company. He stopped me and asked if it was true that I had
left the Barber people. When I told him so he asked me if I would work
for him. I refused, saying that I was sick of Los Angeles and the
trouble with the street department, and had the offer of a position in
Boston. He told me that if I worked for them I would have no further
trouble with the street department, and he would give me the same salary
as I had been getting, besides a bonus on any exceptionally good work.
So the next day found me at work for the rival concern, and it was like
coming into a harbour from a storm at sea. This concern had been making
friends with the powers that ruled while Arthur had been making enemies,
and the inspectors helped instead of hindering the work. If any of us
were called away for a time the inspector would take hold of the gang
and look after things till one returned. I was surprised, till I found
out that they were one and all on the company’s pay-roll, besides what
the city paid them for looking after the city’s interests. Thus the
public was robbed; but this form of robbery is so common that the public
seems to expect it, and can hardly realise such a thing as an honest
contractor or honest public officials.

I was getting pretty sick of all this trickery, and was glad, a couple
of months later, to hear of a new company formed in Los Angeles who were
looking for a man to go down to Mexico to take charge of a contract they
had there. I reckoned that conditions would be so different there that
things might be run on the square. I went to the manager and president
of the new company and applied for the position of superintendent. He
took me in his auto and we went over the different jobs I had done, with
which he seemed satisfied. So we signed a contract for six months at
$4.50 per day, which was to be raised at the end of six months if
everything was satisfactory. I then went to see the manager of the
company I was with and told him of the offer. He told me he did not wish
to stand in my way if I wished to go, and that if I did not like Mexico
he would try to place me again if I cared to come back; but that owing
to the keen competition in Los Angeles they could not offer me a higher
salary. So on 4th September 1904 I left Los Angeles for Guadalajara,
Mexico, the second largest city in the republic (population 130,000).

Poor Arthur, they got him a few months after I left the city, as, being
an honourable man, he was unable to make a single contract pay; so the
Barber Company dismissed him to make way for a new man who had no
enemies in the city. Arthur followed in my footsteps, and went to work
for the company which he had been fighting for so many years. A few
months later came the elections, and the street superintendent was
himself turned out of office (if only Arthur could have outlasted him!),
and immediately started a paving company of his own to fight the other
two; and owing to his general crookedness and knowledge of the political
ropes of the town he seems to be making a success of it. The Barber
Company is an immense corporation with hundreds of branches and dozens
of different names to work under, but its most desperate fight has
always been with its own men, who turn and rend it.



                              CHAPTER XXV

The Barber Company—Guadalajara—Mexican mendacity—Don Miguel Ahumada—His
    humanity and justice.


I think I can safely say that twenty per cent. of the opposition the
Barber Company gets in the States is from men who were formerly in its
employ. This is right enough in most cases, but in some that I have
known it was done in a most underhand way. A manager of one of the
branches gets well acquainted with all the politicians in his town or
district by the judicious use of the company’s entertainment fund, then,
when there is some exceptional contract coming up, he gets some of these
politicians to go into a new company, obtains funds from his friends,
and the Barber Company not only loses the contract but there is an
opposition formed with strong political backing which must eventually be
beaten or bought out. Somehow this sort of thing is not looked down upon
by business men as it should be, who will pardon almost anything if it
is “cute.” Here are two stories which illustrate cute business methods.
A certain lawyer was suing the city for damages for his client, who had
fallen through a defective culvert and injured himself. He won his case,
and sent word to his client to come and get the money. When his client
arrived he handed him $1, and told him the jury had awarded $1000. “What
is this?” asked the client. “That is what is left after deducting cost
of appeal, my fee, and some other expenses,” returned the lawyer. “Yes,
I understand that,” said the client, who was a business man, “but what
was wrong with this dollar that you have given it to me?” They tell of
the Yankee salesman during slavery times who was travelling through the
South. A southern planter lent him a horse to ride on to the next town,
and sent along a negro boy to bring the horse back. Some time later,
neither the horse nor the boy having returned, he sent in to town to see
what had happened. His messenger met the boy on the street and asked him
why he had not brought the horse back yet. The boy replied that the Yank
had sold the horse. “Well, why did not you come back and let us know?”
asked the messenger. “Cause he done sold me too!” So any trickery, if it
is clever and works successfully, is never thought much of, but is
laughed at as a good joke. Of course this is only my particular
experience of business methods. I may have been unfortunate in having
met a certain class, those interested in contracting, and city and
government officials.

I was glad to leave Los Angeles, which I did in company with the
assistant manager of the new company I had joined, and my new yard
foreman. Before going further, I must say that the views stated above
have changed much since coming to Mexico and meeting American gentlemen
in the contracting business. I have never been asked to do crooked work,
and, on the contrary, my orders have always been to do the best work
possible under the specifications.

After passing the Mexican border at El Paso the journey lies for the
first hundred miles or so through a dreary sandy waste till one reaches
Torreon, which, owing to its irrigation canals, is the centre of a very
fine farming district. The town possesses large smelters, a white-lead
works, and a glycerine and dynamite factory. And this is the town where
in Madero’s late revolution 303 poor unhappy Chinamen were slaughtered
in cold blood! The next place of importance is Zacatecas, one of the
largest mining centres in the Mexican republic, with mines, now being
worked, that were worked by the Spaniards some three hundred years ago.
Its cathedral, perched up on the top of the mountain, was all lighted up
for some great church _fiesta_; a very pretty sight, visible for miles
after we had passed the town. From Irapuata a branch line runs to
Guadalajara. The country here changes entirely as one enters the State
of Jalisco, known as the granary of Mexico. Guadalajara itself is a fine
old Mexican city, in the centre of an immense fertile plain, at an
elevation of 5200 feet. It is a town that has always been against the
Liberals, being the great centre of the Clerical Party, and consequently
the Federal Government under Diaz never did much to help it. Juarez was
nearly assassinated here, and General Diaz was hissed by the people when
he went up there some twelve years ago. It has a beautiful cathedral,
and churches are to be found in almost every block of the centre of the
town. It is a very sleepy place, distinguished for this even in a land
where the people are accustomed to take life easily; things have,
however, changed much in the last eight years.

There are certain ways hard to get accustomed to in this country. One is
the habit of lying, not maliciously, but that lying to keep you in a
good humour which is practised by all classes. For instance, you go into
an office and ask for a certain person who happens to be out. You ask
when he will be back, and the reply is invariably, “Please sit down, he
will be back in a moment.” In fact, they lead you to suppose that they
are astonished that he has not already returned. And all the time they
know that he has gone home, and left word that he would not return! I
have been to a foundry to get delivery of work promised me by the owner
on his “word of a gentleman,” by the following day (which he knew, and I
knew, could not possibly be done), and I have finally got the work
delivered three weeks later, after going up and cursing him twice a
week. I have asked for work long overdue, been met at the door and told
that I must have missed it on the way there as it had just left for the
factory, while all the time it was still unfinished. Then there is the
siesta habit indulged in by all Mexicans, though foreigners do not
follow the custom or find it at all necessary to health. From 1 P.M.
till 3 P.M. all business is stopped, not a store is open or an office.
Another trouble is stealing; it seems to come natural to a Mexican of
the lower classes to steal. Then, if he can, the Mexican does everything
in the opposite way to any one else. I have heard it said that the only
thing they do the same as other people is digging a well, because they
do not know how to start at the bottom; but this is an exaggeration.
When a Mexican gives his address he puts the street first and the number
afterwards; their exclamation marks are used upside down, and the query
mark is like this ¿. If they are going to pull down an old house and
build a new one, they build the new one inside the old one, and only
pull down as it becomes necessary; they saw with the teeth of the saw
away from them, and other things too numerous to mention.

Guadalajara claims to have the cheapest electrical power on the
continent (six cents the kilowatt hour), and in consequence it is an
important manufacturing town, having cotton mills, flour mills, two or
three foundries, soap factory, a smelter, sugar refineries, three
breweries, whisky distillery, and other industries. The schools also are
good, and it has an engineering and medical college and two industrial
schools, one for boys and one for girls. The city was founded in 1541 by
Nuño de Guzman. It has a climate far surpassing that of Los Angeles,
and, if it were only known, it would become a great centre of tourist
travel. Now that the line is built to Manzanillo on the Pacific coast,
it is easy to reach Guadalajara from any of the Pacific coast ports in
the United States or Canada. Close to Guadalajara are the falls of
Juanacatlan, called the Niagara of Mexico (575 feet long and 400 feet
high). Within twenty miles is Lake Chapala, about fifty miles long and
five to ten broad, which affords good duck, goose, and snipe shooting,
though practically no fishing, as the only fish are German carp and
catfish, neither of which are game fish. There are also a few deer,
bear, and mountain lion to be had, if one has time and patience and is a
good climber. The quail have been practically exterminated, as have also
the rabbits.

The government of the country has been a benevolent despotism; and as
this was the method of the Federal Government while in the hands of
General Diaz, so also it was that of each governor in his particular
state. It has not as yet had time to change much under Madero, but I
think it will do so gradually, as the people get accustomed to their
civic rights and demand them. They have a congress, it is true, both in
the States and the Federal one, but these are more for show than
anything else. The Mexicans have a story they are fond of telling in
regard to this. A woman once went to see the governor to get an
appointment for her son. The governor said, “I will put him in as a
clerk.” “But,” said the woman, “he cannot read or write.” The governor
then said he would make him a captain of police. Said the woman, “He
cannot ride, and the truth is he is a little feeble-minded.” “Then,”
asked the governor, “what do you want me to make him, and what is he
fitted for?” The woman replied, “I thought he would make a good
congressman!”

This form of government seems just suited to the people, and I have
heard Mexicans of standing, even since the revolution, say that they
were not fitted to govern themselves, but needed a strong man at the
head, and this is the main cry against Madero, the present president.
Every Thursday afternoon the governor holds a public audience, at which
any one can attend, and if he has a grievance he can state it; the
governor will look into it and, if possible, set it right, sometimes
even overruling police magistrates’ or judges’ orders. It is an
experience to attend one of these audiences and see people of every
grade who come for justice or to have some grievance attended to. It is
the _Nousherwan_ ideal of Asia, but as little capable of being realised
there as here; better, nevertheless, than India’s _Vakil ka Raj_
(lawyers’ rule), according to the Bengali writer, Mr. Mitra. Of course
the whole system hinges on having an honest governor like Don Miguel
Ahumada of Guadalajara, as in the hands of a dishonest man it is a great
lever for blackmail.

Such men as our governor, Colonel Don Miguel Ahumada, are hard to find
in this country—in fact any country might be proud to claim him. He was
a man of about six feet four inches tall, with chest and shoulders in
proportion, wore a black imperial and large curled-up moustache, his
forehead was high and broad, and, though his face was a trifle hard,
there were lines of humour round his eyes and mouth. He was a man of the
old school, like his great leader Diaz. He was honest, absolutely just
(rich and poor looked alike to him), had a keen sense of humour, very
proud, but a thorough democrat. I have seen him walking the streets in
the early morning, unattended, and stopping to chat and ask questions of
the street-sweepers, the small street-corner vendors, beggars, and
whomsoever he met who he thought might have information of use to him.
Thus he kept in touch with the needs of the poor, and heard of abuses
and petty thievery amongst the city’s employees. I could give hundreds
of instances of his humanity and justice, but will content myself with
one. On one occasion a widow came to him with the following tale: Her
husband when dying had left all the property to her, but had asked a
trusted friend of his to arrange all the details of succession and so
forth. This friend, through one excuse or another, kept affairs strung
out for a year or more, and then demanded sundry thousands of dollars
for his work. Don Miguel (as every one called him) sent for the fellow
and told him to bring all the deeds, inventories, &c., with him. When he
arrived, Don Miguel took all the papers, &c., and, after putting a fair
valuation on the work done, paid the man as many hundreds as he had
demanded thousands, and turned everything else over to the widow.



                              CHAPTER XXVI

The Mexican workman—His remembrance of a grudge—The
    _Commissaria_—Private feuds—American _versus_ English.

As a workman the Mexican is surprisingly good, considering the poor food
they are able to buy with the small wages they get. They have not much
initiative, but can be taught to do almost anything and do it well. A
few years ago American mechanics could command almost any salary in
Mexico, but now Mexicans can do for themselves, and Americans would
starve on the salary. When I arrived I had not one single man who had
ever seen asphalt laid before, or knew anything about a plant. I had
plans with me, and we went to work and put up the plant. Then I had to
teach my yard foreman (an American) the first principles of the asphalt
business. I got up at three each morning and started up the plant, then
went to the street with the first load and showed the men how to lay it,
and did the rolling myself. I soon found, though, that I could not keep
this up, so we wired to the States for a roller-man and a raker. And
with these two men, who understood their branch of the work, I managed
to get through the first season and complete a contract for $84,000. The
yard foreman picked up his end in an astonishing short time, and after
the first job that end gave me very little trouble.

We were about two-thirds through the work when I noticed that my two
Americans were acting sulkily and hanging back, till finally it came one
day to a climax and they both went on strike. The cause of the strike
was so trivial that I thought there must be something more behind, but
did not find it out till some months afterwards. A short while after I
came here the company had got a superintendent for their Mexico City
branch from New York, and this roller-man and raker were men who had
worked for him there. It seems that he had arranged with them to make
trouble for me so that I should not finish the work, and then he could
get a man of his own in my place. However, in the middle of the trouble
he was caught padding the company’s pay-roll, and just escaped arrest by
getting out of the country. This broke up the strike, and I was able to
finish up and get rid of my men, who had done one good thing for me—and
that was to break in a crew of Mexicans, with whom I have done the work
ever since.

I early had trouble with the men stealing tools, and soon found that the
only way was to charge whatever tools were missing amongst the whole
crew. This kept the thieving within bounds, as the innocent men watched
the guilty, though they would never tell on them, as this was against
their code of honour. This does not hold good in every case, and lucky
for us it did not. We had a gatekeeper whom we trusted implicitly,
giving him duplicate keys for the office, storerooms, &c. Well, he and
the night-watchman fell out. One morning the latter came to me and asked
me to make the _portero_ give him back $3 that he had of his. I told him
that I could not interfere with their private quarrels. He said, “But he
stole the money from me.” I still told him that I would not interfere.
“But,” said he, “he is stealing from you also.” I think this really
slipped out in the heat of anger. I asked him who else knew about the
matter, and had all witnesses at once taken to the _Commissaria_. There
they were forced to tell their tale and sign their names to their
declaration. We then had the _portero_ tried, convicted, and sentenced
to six years and four months in the penitentiary.

A Mexican seldom forgets a grudge, and the day he got out this man found
and tried to kill the old night-watchman, and I later met him in
Chihuahua dressed as a soldier, and he told me he had got a five-year
term in the army. I have known of cases of men getting stabbed, and yet
denying that they knew the man who had done it, hoping when well to be
able to revenge themselves, as they only believe in personal vengeance
and dislike the law to step in. One of my stable hands had trouble with
some man, and one night there was a tap at the stable door (he slept in
the grain-room); when he poked out his head to see who it was he was
slashed with a knife from ear to ear. He recovered, but never would tell
who did it, saying that he had not seen; yet I have no doubt that matter
has been settled ere now. Another of our men had a fight to which there
were two eye-witnesses, one of whom told me how the whole affair came
off. Yet when the man was arrested both swore that they knew nothing
about it and had never seen any fight. The man was held four months for
evidence and then turned out. I suppose, morally, I should have told
what I knew, but it is a good axiom in this country never to volunteer
information to the police, as you will surely be held in jail as an
important witness. As a very friendly judge once said to a friend of
mine, “My dear sir, you know too much.” My friend at once took the hint
and immediately forgot everything he had been trying to tell.

Americans seem to have an idea that Englishmen have no sense of humour,
and are very fond of telling stories at our expense. To illustrate the
cleverness of an American over an Englishman, they tell of the American
over in England who insisted in smoking in a “non-smoking,” first-class
carriage. An Englishman in the carriage, who had protested in vain,
finally called the guard. When the guard arrived the American quickly
spoke first. “Guard,” he said, “this gentleman is riding in a
first-class carriage on a third-class ticket.” Investigation proved this
to be true, and the irate Englishman was ejected. One of the spectators
asked the American how he had known that the Englishman only had a
third-class ticket. “Well,” said the American, “I happened to see a
corner of it sticking out of his waistcoat pocket and noticed that it
was the same colour as my own.” But I have also heard a story of an
American from the interior, unfamiliar with crustacea, who was doing
England. By way of seeing life he lunched at the Savoy on the day of his
arrival, and, settling himself at a table, prepared to enjoy a hearty
meal. Some celery in a glass was placed before him, which he ate whole
without much satisfaction. But the second course—a crab in
mayonnaise—was too much for him. Beckoning the waiter to him, he said,
"Say, I’ve eaten your bouquet, but I’m damned if I’ll eat that bug."
Mexicans also are great story-tellers, but their humour is so peculiar
that one has to be a Mexican to understand and appreciate it. But then
their way of looking at things is so different from ours. They think a
boxing match a most brutalising sport, and will hardly allow even
amateur boxing exhibitions in the country; yet they think bull-fighting
is elevating, and can see absolutely no harm in it. Whereas to most
foreigners one bull-fight is all that they can stand.

Neither Americans nor Mexicans here show much interest in any but local
affairs. Of course educated men know something of European matters, but
the ignorance of some Americans on such a subject as India is
surprising. A doctor here argued with me the other day that “Hindu”
simply meant the race, and “Mohammedan” was their religion; and he tried
to prove it by saying they got the name “Hindu” from “Hindustan,” the
name of the country, as Englishman from England, and that the religion
of the Hindu race was Mohammedan. Yet he is an educated American
professional man!



                             CHAPTER XXVII

Bull-fighting—Mexican etiquette—The police department and its
    difficulties—Treatment of habitual criminals—The army.


There is one kind of bull-fighting that I have often attended and
thoroughly enjoyed. In the first act they bring out a young bull, or
steer, which is then roped and thrown, and a thick rope is put around
its body just behind its forelegs. A man mounts it while it is on the
ground (barebacked) and holds on to this rope. The bull is then allowed
to get up, and the idea is to see how long the rider can stick on. I
have seen many horses buck, but a fighting bull can give a horse points,
as he has some steps that are entirely his own, and few men stay with
him very long. When the rider is thrown, others rush in with _capas_
(red capes) and attract the bull away from his fallen foe before he can
do any damage. In the next act they set up a sort of a "giant’s stride"
right in front of the bull-chute. A bull is then turned in, and when he
charges the man makes a run, swings out, and over the bull. It is
certainly exciting and pretty risky work. One time I was there the bull
charged, and as the man started for him and sailed up into the air, the
bull stopped in astonishment right in the man’s descending course. There
was nothing for it, so the man stiffened himself, stuck out his feet,
and landed square on the side of the bull’s head, turning him head over
heels. They both got on their feet about the same time, and the bull
chased the man round the pole so rapidly that it was some time ere he
could make use of his rope to swing again.

Another form in which they do this act is using a pole and pole-vaulting
over the charging bull. In the next act they have an enormous Mexican,
all padded out like an American football player. The bull is turned in
(generally a young two-year-old), and he plays with it for a while with
the _capa_, till he gets his distance; then he suddenly lunges forward
and, with his chest against the bull’s horns, leans over and grabs the
animal round the neck. Then there is a tussle indeed, but the man seems
easily to hold his own, and finally, when he has tired the bull, he lies
down on his back, pulling the bull’s head down with him, and, taking off
his hat, waves it at the crowd. This also is not so easy as it sounds,
and is sometimes dangerous, for I once saw a young bull scratch with his
hind-legs like a cat, and he was not long in pulling the stuffing off
his opponent. He probably would have killed the man, but assistants are
always ready, and they dashed in and pulled the bull off by main
strength. In other cases, when the man is through his act he suddenly
releases the bull, springs to one side, and waves the _capa_ in the
bull’s face. The show ends with acrobatic and other performances, and is
well worth seeing. On one occasion they let any of the public who wished
to do so go in and play with the bull; when the bugle blew about one
hundred peons jumped into the ring with their red blankets, and the fun
was furious for a short time, as the bull would charge one and then
another, finally tossing two or three of them who could not get out of
his way, but without serious consequences. Most Mexicans of the lower
classes are would-be bull-fighters, and the great game amongst the
Mexican children is “bull-fighting”; one boy represents the bull and the
others the matadores, picadores, &c., and when the bull pokes one of the
others in the ribs he is supposed to be out. An American lady here had a
very cross Jersey bull in a corral. Some lads from sixteen to eighteen
years were baiting him, but, as they were not experts, he killed three
of them before they decided to leave him alone.

Mexicans in some ways are very polite and look upon Americans as boors;
and truly a great many of them are so, especially the tourists, whom I
have seen going into the churches here with their cameras, when mass was
being said, and other things equally outrageous. The Mexican takes off
his hat to his gentlemen friends as well as to the ladies; he shakes
hands with everybody (whether known to him or not) when entering or
leaving an office, and does not put on his hat till he leaves the
building; he will generally give you the inside of the side-walk if he
meets you on the street (always to a lady). I have seen two of them
arguing for quite a while on meeting as to who was to give the other the
inside. All this to his men acquaintances; on the other hand, he will
stare in the rudest way at any pretty woman he may meet in the street or
in a street-car, and I have often been tempted to punch their heads. He
will stand on the street-corner with a knot of friends taking up the
whole side-walk and making everybody who passes walk round them in the
street. Their ideas of politeness are so contradictory that I have never
been quite able to make them out. When they have a row it is considered
quite gentlemanly to beat your opponent over the head and shoulders with
your cane, but to strike him with your fist is a deadly insult. The
following are a few of the main rules of Mexican etiquette, for the
benefit of those who might visit this country: Ladies do not attend
funerals. Children kiss the hands of their parents. The hostess is
served first at a Mexican table. The bridegroom purchases his bride’s
trousseau. Women friends kiss on both cheeks when greeting or taking
leave. Gentlemen bow first when passing lady acquaintances in the
street. The sofa is the seat of honour, and a guest waits to be invited
to occupy it. Men and women in the same social circles call each other
by their first names. When a Mexican speaks to you of his home he refers
to it as “your house.” When you move into a new locality, it is your
duty to make the first neighbourhood calls. When friends pass each other
in the street without stopping they say _adios_ (good-bye). Young ladies
do not receive calls from young men, and are not escorted to
entertainments by them. Daily inquiry is made for a sick friend, and
cards are left, or the name written in a book, with the porter. Dinner
calls are not customary, but upon rising from the table the guest thanks
his host for the entertainment. Mexican gentlemen remove their hats as
scrupulously on entering a business office as in a private residence. If
in riding costume one must remove one’s spurs—this applies more
especially to government offices. Often on entering a house the owner
will ask you to keep on your hat (this, however, you are not supposed to
agree to), and this is meant to make you feel as much at home as if you
were the owner. After a dance a gentleman returns his partner to the
seat beside her parents or chaperon and at once leaves her side. Never
allow a caller to carry a package of any size from your house; always
send it to his home: Mexicans do not carry parcels. If you change your
residence you must notify your Mexican friends by card, otherwise they
will not feel at liberty to enter your new home. The fashionable call of
a few minutes is unknown. A lady who arrives at four o’clock will remain
until six or seven. The calls of intimate friends are half-day visits.
Gentlemen raise their hats to each other, or at least salute in passing,
and shake hands both at meeting and parting, though the interview may
have lasted only two minutes.

I have been in contact with the police department a good deal, owing to
our men getting into trouble, or to other people causing us trouble in
our work. Paving was such a new thing that the people would congregate
in crowds to see the work progress and how Gringoes did things. Thus
they would not only block up the side-walks but crowd into the street so
that we could hardly work. The first year, when I was rolling, I had to
ask for police protection to keep the people out of my way so that I
should not run over any one. (Our rollerman in Mexico City did run over
and kill a man who slipped and fell in front of the roller when trying
to get out of the way.) But as the police were as much interested as any
one else, and spent most of the time gaping themselves, they were not of
much use. There are said to be over 900 police (including detectives and
mounted men) in this city, and they are certainly to be found at every
street corner except in the “Colonias,” or foreign colonies. But they
are a bedraggled lot, undersized, with ill-fitting uniforms, armed with
clubs, and pistols of every size and calibre. The mounted men who, as a
rule, are a better built lot, have no club, but carry a sabre and a
rifle (of very antiquated pattern) as well as a pistol. Nobody pays much
attention to the foot police, but the mounted men make themselves
respected, as the following instance will show. On the 16th of September
1905 (the great national holiday) some of the mounted men were clearing
the streets by the simple expedient of backing their horses into the
crowds. The horse of one of these was crowding a big burly peon (farm
labourer) and occasionally stepping on his feet, till in desperation the
man put his hands under the horse’s flank and gave such a push that he
nearly sent horse and rider over. Immediately he did so he ran, and
directly the policeman recovered himself he pulled out his sabre and
went after him. As far as I could see them the policeman was belabouring
the poor fellow over the head and shoulders with his heavy sword, until
the man found an opening where he could duck into the crowd and was
safe.

Of the foot police in Mexico city, some time ago, it took nine to arrest
a drunken Irishman, and then they had to carry him bodily to jail. Last
year, here, I saw an American hobo who had just licked four of them, and
was feeling so proud that it finally took a whole squad to land him in
the commissaria. He reminded me of a farmer in Guelph, whose boast it
was that, whenever he got drunk, it took the whole police force of the
city to lock him up. There were only the chief and four constables in
Guelph at the time, and they certainly hated to see him get drunk.

The police here, however, are at a great disadvantage. For if they
should club a man who has any friends or influence they are sure to lose
their jobs, and are lucky if they don’t get locked up as well. And if
they should shoot under almost any circumstances, they are certain to
land in the penitentiary. I saw a prisoner once being escorted by three
guards armed with rifles and bayonets from the penitentiary to one of
the barracks (to become a soldier) when he suddenly made a dash, got
free, and ran up the street like a shot. The guards were hampered by
their weapons and could not catch him, yet not one of them offered to
shoot. The man finally ran into the arms of a policeman at a corner, who
happened to be awake. In the States, on the other hand, the police are
too free with their guns altogether, and will club a man on the
slightest pretext.

The custom in this country is to put habitual drunkards, criminals, or
loafers into the army for a term of years. So that nearly all the
infantry regiments are composed of at least one-third of this class, the
balance being volunteers. Within the last few months the Congress passed
a new law regarding the army, to the effect that the soldiers should be
drawn by lot, one man out of every hundred of the inhabitants. This law
went into effect, and the first drawing was to be made on the fifteenth
day of January 1912. From this date no more criminals are to be drafted
into the ranks. There is considerable opposition to this law in some
parts of the country, and I have not heard how the drawings came off.

The volunteers I mentioned above are intended to see that the criminal
element do not run away. The barracks are always surrounded by a high
wall like a prison, and have iron gates at which an officer and the
guard always stand. No one goes in or out without a permit. When the
wives of married soldiers bring their food (the Mexican soldier feeds
himself) all the baskets are searched by the officer for prohibited
articles. I have seen them at drill with a line of armed guards thrown
out around the drill grounds to watch over the rest. It can be imagined
what a round-shouldered, unkempt looking lot the majority of the troops
are. The cavalry are a good deal better as a whole, as they are mostly
volunteers. About five years ago, when there was some talk of war
between Mexico and Guatemala, the police rounded up all the saloons and
captured every one inside them to fill up the “Volunteer” regiments that
this state was raising as its quota. They got some of my men, and I had
to go up and identify them so as to get them out.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

Federal Rurales—Robbery by servants—Wholesale thieving—Lack of police
    discipline—A story of Roosevelt.


What I have said about the Mexican troops does not apply to the
regiments of Federal Rurales (Irregular Horse), who are an entirely
different class of men. Originally they were recruited from captured
bandits, for the purpose of hunting down others. Now they are mostly
recruited from the cowboy or _vaquero_ class. They have good uniforms,
fine horses and arms, are splendid riders, and have almost unlimited
authority in the capture and even execution of bandits or road-agents.
They are the men who are used in most of the Indian fighting and in
local uprisings such as happened some years ago on the Texas border.

A few years ago a bullion train, between here and Tepic, was attacked by
bandits and all but one of the guards were killed. He managed to
stampede the mules, and get away with the bullion to safety. The Rurales
were ordered out, overtook the bandits and arrested them; nearly thirty
were shot without trial, on the spot where the attack had been made.
Mexican justice, in cases of this kind, or in labour strikes, is very
prompt, though to an outsider it may seem rather cruel. In the great
strike in the cotton mills in Orizaba a few years ago, the strikers,
after some rioting, burned down one of the mills. The Rurales captured
the president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer of the local
union who had instigated the trouble, and shot them on the site of the
burned mill. This seems pretty rough on the leaders, but strike
disorders will not be tolerated in this country. If by shooting four of
the ringleaders the disorders can be stopped at once it is cheap at the
price, considering the loss of life that would ultimately ensue if the
disorders were allowed to continue. Look at the number of men killed and
crippled for life in the teamsters’ strike in Chicago, or in the
street-car men’s strike in San Francisco, and that was in a Saxon
country. In a Latin country it would start in a strike and end in
revolution.

The first year we were here the servants robbed us of nearly everything
we possessed, and managed to get away without being caught. On one
occasion, however, my wife caught one of the girls trying to sneak out
with some of the children’s clothes. She stopped her in time, and,
locking the front door, she told the girl she would have to wait till I
came home at noon, it then being about 11.30 A.M. A few minutes later I
happened to return, and my wife told me of the circumstances. I went to
get the girl before I called a policeman, but she was not in the house.
All the houses in Guadalajara, and in fact in the greater part of Mexico
except in some of the foreign colonies, are built in continuous blocks.
The front windows on the streets have iron bars covering them, and they
all have double front doors; the outer one of wood and the inner one of
steel bars, with a short hallway between them. The garden is in the
centre of the house and is called the patio, so there is no outlet
except through the front door. The girl, however, had taken a small
ladder we had in the house, and with its assistance had got up on the
roof of a small wash-house. From here it was nearly seven feet to the
roof of the house, a straight wall without footholds, yet she had
managed to make this climb taking her bundle of clothes with her, and
had gone from roof to roof (they are all flat) till she found a way to
get down to the street and to safety.

The police never make any very strenuous attempts to catch a criminal if
the offence is committed against a foreigner, for they are regarded as
lawful prey. Another girl stole my wife’s watch and chain, and though I
laid complaint within an hour of the occurrence, the police declared
that they could not find her, and she must have left the city. We had at
our yard an old man as night-watchman who had spent most of his life in
the secret service here. I went to see him, and told him that I would
give him $5 if he could catch the girl, and within three hours he had
her in jail. We never recovered the watch, but the girl got a sentence
of four years. One woman robbed us in rather a funny way. We had taken
her in without a recommendation, and my wife was watching her closely
the first day she was in the house. About ten o’clock she came to my
wife and asked if she could take out the “basura” (rubbish for the
garbage wagon); she came from the back of the house with the basket on
her head, walked right past my wife, who opened the door for her and
then went into the parlour. As the girl was a long time in returning my
wife went out to the _zaguan_ (the hall between the inner and outer
doors), and there lay an empty basket but no girl. She then went to the
back of the house, and there on the kitchen floor lay the _basura_; and
the wash-line was empty of all the clothes that had been out there
drying.

A friend of mine had his house completely stripped of everything of
value (by his servants) while the family were out; the thieves were
never caught, though one of the girls had two gold front teeth (a most
uncommon thing amongst Mexicans). Most people when they leave their
houses, and no member of the family stays at home, either turn out all
the servants and lock the doors, or lock the servants in the house while
they are away. An American ore-buying concern here had its office in
front of the railway station, the busiest part of the city. One Sunday
afternoon four men drove up in a wagon, opened the door with a key,
loaded the cash-safe on to the wagon, locked the door, and neither they
nor the safe have ever been seen since. The police saw them at work, but
thought they were employees of the house and so did not interfere. I
went into a billiard hall a few days ago in Acambaro (while waiting
between trains) to play a game; the proprietor said he was sorry but
some one had stolen all the balls. A few weeks ago I was in a street car
in Morelia; when we got to a cross-over the conductor cussed, for some
one had stolen the switch (tie rods and all) during the night.

In Guanaguato, a mining town near here, there used to live a mine
manager who was in the habit of keeping rather large sums of money in
his house. His servant girl told some of her friends of this, and also
that he would be out at the mine on a certain night. She was, however,
mistaken about the latter, as he happened to stay at home. During the
night Mrs. Rose woke up and found four men in her room. When she called
to her husband one of them struck her across the back with a machete
(cane knife), then her husband woke up and grappled with them though
quite unarmed. While the poor fellow was putting up a most unequal fight
his wife, though badly hurt, ran to the bureau, got out his revolver and
handed it to him. But he was so terribly wounded that though he was able
to empty the gun and scare off the robbers he could not shoot well
enough to get any of them. His wife recovered, but poor Rose died the
next day from his wounds. I am glad to say that the murderers were all
caught later and shot. But there is a moral to this which many of us
have learned: if you have a revolver keep it under your pillow and not
in a bureau drawer.

A few years ago a poor old American market-gardener here was killed a
most brutal way, being first tortured to try to make him show where he
had hidden money that did not exist; he was well over seventy years old,
rather childish, but liked and admired by the entire American colony
here. Some of this bandit element then decided to hold up the owner of
one of the largest hardware (ironmonger’s) stores here; but his wife and
fourteen-year-old boy happened to overhear some of the conversation from
the porch of their house (not one hundred yards from where the old man
had been killed), and one with a shotgun and the other with a 22 calibre
rifle went out and so peppered them that they fled with what lead they
had received. It was lucky for them that they did so, for, on another
occasion, a man did actually hold up this same gentleman, and when
Kipper finally got through with him, he was glad to get into the hands
of a policeman alive. I have said enough to show that the people are
thieves, and at times dangerous. As I said before, there are plenty of
policemen, but they are on actual duty twelve hours per day, and then
have to sleep in the police station, ready to be called out in case they
are needed; therefore they put in most of their duty-time getting
cat-naps in doorways or wherever they can find a place. Besides this,
they are recruited from the peon class, and get very little pay. During
my first year’s work, when I used to go to the yard at 3 A.M., I have
seen a dozen of them asleep on the benches in San Francisco park as I
passed through. Discipline is almost unknown, and I have seen policemen
on duty sitting on the curb shining their shoes. Of course they smoke
all the time on duty, and very frequently drink more than is good for
them.

What they need is a Roosevelt for police commissioner. They tell a story
of Roosevelt when he was police commissioner in New York. One evening he
saw a policeman standing before a saloon back entrance about to take a
drink of beer. “What is your name?” asked Roosevelt. “It is none of your
business; what is your name?” said the cop. “My name is Roosevelt,” was
the answer. The policeman finished his beer, wiped his mouth on his
sleeve, and said, “If your name is really Roosevelt then I guess my name
is Dennis” (a slang phrase in America, used in the sense that he was
discharged). The quick reply saved him from more than a reprimand. This
reminds me of a story of the judge in Kentucky who had a man up for
making illicit whisky. “What is your name?” he asked the prisoner, and
was answered, “Joshua.” The judge smiled on the court, and said,
“Joshua, Joshua, it seems to me that I have heard that name before. Oh
yes! you are the fellow who made the sun stand still.” “No,” replied the
prisoner, “I am that Joshua who made the moonshine still” (the name
given to an illicit distillery).



                              CHAPTER XXIX

Tequila—Mexican respect for the white man—Personal vengeance preferred
    to Law—Mexican stoicism—Victims of red tape.


Tequila, which is the common drink in Guadalajara, is fermented and
distilled pulque. Pulque is the fresh sap of the maguey or “century”
plant (one of the big-leafed cacti), tasting something like sweet cider.
Like “tari” in India, it is practically non-intoxicating when fresh, but
when fermented is very much so, and when distilled into tequila it is
something like Indian “arrak,” and has the effect of driving most men
fighting-crazy. An ordinary tumblerful sells for six cents, so the very
poorest can afford it, and practically every one, men and women, drink
it. The police are very indulgent with drunks, and generally leave them
alone if they can zig-zag within the confines of the street. Even when
they do have to arrest them they handle them tenderly. For instance, one
night I saw a drunk, on his way to the lock-up, sit down in the middle
of the street and swear by all the calendar that he would go no farther
until he had another drink. After remonstrating and arguing in vain one
of the police went and got him a drink, when he arose and went peaceably
along.

Only on two occasions have I seen the police club a man, which in the
States is no uncommon sight. Once was when two police were taking off a
man by his arms pulled over their necks; he took a bite out of one of
the necks, and they had to club him off. The other case shows the
respect of the average Mexican for a white man. On one occasion two men
started to fight near where I was working. One of them had a knife and
the other a blocksetter’s spike. I noticed that one of them was wounded
and, being the smaller, would probably be killed by the other. They were
not my men, but I hated to see an unevenly matched fight, so I ran up,
and on my demand (I am afraid I spoke rather roughly) they both gave up
their weapons. One had a stab in the stomach, and I told him I would
send him to the hospital, at which he broke and ran. I followed, but to
all my arguments he would reply that he had a family to support and
would be sent directly from the hospital to the jail for fighting, so
preferred to cure himself. Finally I let him go, and when I got back to
the work I found a policeman whom one of my men had run to fetch when I
started to take a hand. To him I turned over the weapons of war, and, on
his insisting, I also gave him a description of the men, telling him
about the wounded man. As he was returning to the police station to make
his report he ran into my wounded friend who was on his way home, and
with the assistance of another officer tried to take him to the
hospital. Then this man, who had given up his weapon to me without a
fight, now, though unarmed, put up such a fight that they had to club
him into submission before they could take him. On another occasion a
man who formerly had worked for us got into a fight on the Paseo, and
with two policemen after him, shooting at him, he ran into our gate, and
getting behind some barrels of asphalt defied the police. They did not
seem anxious at all to come to close quarters with him, and so things
rather hung fire. Our yard foreman, who was an old miner and prospector
in the early days of Colorado, told the police to hurry up as his men
were doing no work owing to the excitement. Then, seeing that the police
were stuck, he walked up to the man, took him by the wrist, and jerked
him out from his barricade and turned him over to the police out in the
street.

The police in Mexico carry open lanterns at night, I suppose it is to
warn evildoers to get out of their way! I saw three of them once hunting
for a man among the vacant lots of the Colonia Francesa, and they looked
like three fireflies whom any one could easily elude in the darkness.
Once one of my men disappeared for a few days, and when he returned to
work I asked him what he had been up to. He told me that he had got into
a fight, and a policeman in trying to arrest him had hit him over the
head with his lantern and broken it, and that he had to lie in jail till
he could pay his fine, besides paying for a new lantern.

The Mexicans hate the law to step in to settle their differences, as
they believe only in personal vengeance. I was in the commissaria once
when a man was brought in badly hurt, and, as he refused to tell the
judge who had done it, he was sent to jail till he should tell. On a
recurring sentence or, as the judge said, “trenta days y vuelta” (thirty
days and return); this is a very common way of prolonging a sentence
when the law distinctly lays down the limit of sentence for the offence.
I said to the judge, who is a good friend of mine, that this seemed
queer justice. “Well,” said he, "it is the only means I have to deal
with these people, and to avert murder. If I can only find out who the
other man is I can put him out of harm’s way till this fellow cools down
and forgets his wrongs." I heard of another case of a man brought in as
a drunk, who was set in one corner to wait his turn at examination. When
his turn finally came, they tried to prod him up when he did not answer,
thinking he was shamming, but they found he was dead from a bad stab in
the chest. He had kept himself so covered with his blanket that they had
not known he was wounded, trusting, I suppose, that it would not be
discovered, and that later he could settle with his opponent in his own
way.

Mexicans are of a stoical Indian blood, and pain that they understand
they can bear without a murmur. But a headache or other pain that they
cannot account for makes them think they are going to die. One of our
men slipped into a melting-tank containing liquid asphalt at between
300° and 400° Fahrenheit. He fell in up to his armpits, yet never made a
sound either then or when he was pulled out, but actually assisted us in
getting his clothes off. We rolled him in oiled cloths, got him into a
hack, gave him half a bottle of tequila, and prepared to start him off
to the hospital when a priest came up, running, confessed him, and gave
him the last rites of the church. Through it all he never made a moan,
though his teeth were chattering with the shock. The law in this country
said that in case of an accident one must not touch the person until the
police have had a chance to investigate, and had this happened with only
Mexicans around, they would have telephoned the police, and then sat
idle till they came, with the man still in the kettle: this law has
since been changed. I, however, took chances, and ordered a hack, then I
telephoned to the _Jefe Politico_ (mayor and chief magistrate) asking
permission to send the man direct to the hospital without waiting for
the police investigation. He consented on my assuring him that it was an
accident. So I sent a man with the poor fellow and a note to the
director of the hospital, but I found out later that when the director
saw that the man was certain to die, he refused to receive him without a
permit from the police captain of our precinct. So the poor devil was
driven one and one-half miles back to the police station and from there
back to the hospital, and it was nearly two hours from the time of the
accident before he got medical attention. At the police station the man,
half crazy with pain and tequila, accused the man who had pulled him out
of having pushed him in, so down came the police and arrested him. The
judge of the first criminal court was a good friend of the company, and
we went up to see him so as to have an immediate trial if possible. He
took our depositions, and as luckily half a dozen of us had seen the
accident, he turned the accused man loose in a very few hours, though it
caused us some trouble. I told the judge about the hospital business,
and he severely reprimanded the director.



                              CHAPTER XXX

Accidents at the mines—Mexico City—Peculiar laws—"Evidence"—A theft of
    straw.


Mexicans, like the natives of India, have a great dread of hospitals.
During our first year’s work one of the men got his finger caught in the
roller and had the end joint cut off. As I was writing a note to the
doctor the police came up and insisted on taking the man to the police
station, whence he was taken to the hospital. Three months later I saw
him when he had just come out, and he had lost the use of the entire
hand through blood-poisoning. They tell me that the young students of
the medical college do most of the operating on the poor, and, if this
was a sample, I am not surprised at the prevalent dread of the
hospitals.

As I said when writing about Texas, Mexicans are most careless and take
desperate chances, generally through ignorance. One day two gangs of men
that I had moving some heavy rock crusher parts began racing with the
flywheels (weighing 1200 kilos each) which they were wheeling along on
the rims. I warned them, but the words were hardly out of my mouth when
one of the wheels toppled over on the foot of one of the men. He did not
complain much beyond some grimaces, and when we lifted the wheel he
staggered off, limping. I thought that the soft earth had saved his
foot, but the doctor later pronounced some bones broken. One year we
were piling up some crushed rock near where our electric power wires
entered the motor-house; these wires carried 2000 volts. I had noticed
the men on top of the rock pile touching these wires (the rock being
absolutely dry and the insulation on the wires fairly good, they
received no shock), and warned them that they would get a shock some day
that would kill some one. I found that they paid no attention, so I had
a board stuck up warning them of their danger, and stating that the
company would not be responsible for any accidents. The next day or so
the government inspector, the general manager, and myself were down at
the yard on inspection. We heard a yell, and there was a man hung on the
wire, kicking like a galvanised frog. Another Mexican, with more
presence of mind than the average, ran up with a stick, knocked the wire
loose, and the man fell down as if dead. We telephoned for a doctor, and
meanwhile tried artificial respiration. The doctor soon arrived, and
within an hour or so the man was all right but for a very badly burned
arm and hand. There had been slight rain which had wetted both the
insulation and the rock pile under their feet, thus forming a ground
circuit.

Mexicans are very good to their poor, but seem to have very little
sympathy for any one hurt in an accident. They are much like children in
many ways and can only see the funny side of a serious matter. There was
a fire in Mexico City in a lumber company’s yard, and two fire companies
were attacking it from the roofs of houses on different sides. In moving
a hose one of the firemen accidentally directed it on the firemen across
the way. They immediately retaliated, and for the next few minutes the
fire was entirely forgotten by the two companies, who were busy pumping
on each other amidst much laughter. Finally, one of the men, in trying
to reach a vantage point, slipped and fell into the burning yard, at
which a perfect howl of laughter went up from all the spectators. He was
luckily rescued with only a few bruises, and a trifle singed, but the
moral remains the same. In Guadalajara fire protection is a farce. The
fire-engine consists of a tank on wheels with a pump attached, which is
worked by hand and throws a one-inch stream. Luckily, the city is
practically fire-proof, being almost entirely built out of adobe
(sun-dried brick), with some few modern buildings made out of stone,
brick, or steel.

The city water-supply is insufficient, though the sewerage system is
good and modern. The city now has some twenty kilometres of
asphalt-paved streets, with cement curbs and side-walks built by our
company in the past eight years, and we shall probably do as much more.
Mexico City has about 200 kilometres of asphalt pavement, about half
belonging to our company, Puebla, twenty-five kilometres, Durango,
thirty-two kilometres, Chihuahua, four kilometres, Tampico, nine
kilometres, Morelia, eight kilometres, all of the last-named cities
having been laid by our company, and the majority of it by myself, apart
from the work done in Mexico City. All have good sewer systems and
water-works, so Mexico is not so far behind the times in some things.
Every property owner or lessee has to sweep and water twice daily the
street in front of his property, except in the business districts, where
the city supplies sprinkling carts and sweepers. The police see that
these rules are carried out; if you are behind time in doing your part
the policeman hustles you; if you are warned repeatedly, then the
government sends a man and you are charged an exorbitant rate for his
work. In this way the streets are kept better than those of many cities
I have known in the States.

Mexican law is a thing to leave strictly alone if you can. The procedure
in some respects follows that of the French courts. The stamp law no one
pretends to understand. Our company was fined $600 in the Federal
district for something, in regard to stamping contracts, which they had
done under the advice of the most noted lawyer in the republic, the late
ambassador from Mexico to the United States. Once our night-watchman
captured a thief trying to steal some tools and the anvil from our
smithy. He trussed him up, and then for further security tied the anvil
to his feet. The police insisted on taking along the anvil as
“evidence,” and we, being inexperienced, allowed them to do so. It took
seven days to try the case, and, until the man was convicted, the court
would not give us back the “evidence.” On another occasion one of our
carters ran over a child with his wagon and killed it. He at once
disappeared, but the police arrested the wagon, and it was nearly two
weeks before we could get it back.

In a complaint of theft you have to appear with two independent
witnesses who can vouch, not that you owned the article stolen, but that
you are a man of means sufficient to have owned such an article; public
repute is not sufficient evidence. For instance, I appeared for the
company once in the case of a theft of about $50 of straw. I was told to
bring the necessary witnesses. I asked the judge if this was necessary
as every one knew our company, and he himself knew that we were handling
contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It made no difference;
so I went out and got two clerks, who earned possibly £4 per month each
in a neighbouring store, and took them up to vouch for the company. In
all my cases I have never employed a lawyer. In the court-room there sit
the judge and his secretary at ordinary desks, each witness is brought
in by himself, and neither the accused nor any one else is in the room,
unless you wish for an interpreter, whom you either supply yourself or
the court provides. The judge offers you a chair and you sit down near
him. You are not sworn, but the judge inquires if you intend to tell the
truth, your age, nationality, &c., and then asks you to tell him all you
know about the case, which his clerk takes down. Your statement is then
read over to you, signed, and out you go.



                              CHAPTER XXXI

Solitary confinement—Mexican rogues—The humorous side—A member of the
    smart set—The milkmen.


_Incomunicado_ (solitary confinement) is one of the bad features of
Mexican law. The accused is placed thus for the first forty-eight hours
(in some cases up to seventy-two hours), and during this time the
investigating judge is trying his best to wring a confession out of him,
or to confound him by constant interrogations. Another bad feature is
the length of time the officials can hold a man without trial while they
are trying to get evidence against him; but this is not done so much now
as formerly. I have known men held thus for over a year in jail without
trial, and then turned loose when the case could not be proved against
them. Another peculiarity is the length of time a man condemned to death
can delay the execution by appeals, &c. All this is now under discussion
by the new government, and the consensus of opinion is that changes for
the better will be made in the laws. There was a man shot here in the
penitentiary a year ago who was condemned six years previously for the
murder of his wife. Woman murder is about the only thing they seem to
execute a man for in Mexico. For any ordinary killing in a fight, eight
years is the longest sentence I have seen recorded, though some have
been condemned to death and their sentence afterwards reduced to this
amount. Yet I have seen sentences ranging from two years to twelve years
for robbery with breach of trust.

Mexican rogues work out some clever schemes; for instance, the following
was worked successfully in San Luis Potosi, and the perpetrator has not
yet been caught: A man dressed as a wealthy _hacendado_ (ranch-owner)
walked into the largest implement house there, and, after looking over
their stock, picked out and bought $15,000 worth of machinery. He said,
“As you do not know me, I will pay in cash,” and pulled out his
pocket-book. “Oh,” said he, "I forgot to cash this draft, and find I
have only about $1000 in cash with me, but here is a sight draft for
$30,000, made out to me by the Bank of London and Mexico; which I will
endorse over to you. When you have cashed the draft, please send the
balance to this address." The owner of the store was delighted to meet a
customer who bought such large orders without beating down the price,
and who also paid cash, and was bowing him out with much ceremony when
they encountered coming in another presumably wealthy _hacendado_. “Why,
old fellow, what are you doing here?” said No. 2. “Just buying a few
things for the ranch,” said No. 1; and then, laughing, “Do you know, I
found myself without ready money to pay for them, and so had to leave my
draft here for these people to collect.” "If it is not more than $50,000
I will settle for you, old friend, but that is all the money I have with
me," and he pulled out a pocket-book filled with bills of $500 and
$1000. So they marched back, and No. 2 paid the balance of $14,000.
“Now,” said No. 1 to the store proprietor, “if you will kindly endorse
back my draft to me, I think we have the business closed up; please ship
the goods as soon as possible.” The check was endorsed back, and the two
old friends went out arm-in-arm. To his disgust the storekeeper found
next day that No. 1 had been to the bank with the draft, which the bank
had cashed on the storekeeper’s endorsement.

They also show some humour in their thefts. A Mexican lawyer who lived
near me in the French colony had some friends to his house one evening,
who sat out with him on the porch. They went in to supper, and when they
returned found all the chairs had been stolen. The lawyer decided not to
call in the police but to catch the robbers himself, so after his guests
were gone he brought out some more chairs and then hid in the shrubbery
with a gun. There he sat till 3 A.M., when he made up his mind that they
would not come again, so he went into the house to put away the gun.
When he returned to bring in the chairs the rest of them were gone also.
How the thieves must have enjoyed watching him as he watched for them,
and then stealing his chairs from under his nose! The town has hardly
got over laughing about it yet.

As we did not have very much success with the police protection afforded
us by the government during our first year’s work, we asked permission
to have two or three police turned over to us, whom we would pay. The
government refused, but said we could put on any of our own men and buy
them uniforms and clubs, and that then the government would give them
authority as regular police. So the second year we put two of our own
men in uniform, and I picked out two of the cheekiest young cubs we had.
One day a young man of the _gente fine_ (smart set) started to walk
across some fresh-laid pavement, which had not yet cooled and set, when
the policeman interfered and requested him not to cross. The young
fellow gave him a withering glance and started forward again; the
policeman again interfered with the same result. When he started the
third time the policeman grabbed him by the coat tails and pulled him
back. This took the dude by surprise; he tripped over the curb and sat
down rather forcibly on the sidewalk. I was standing about one hundred
feet away, and ran forward as soon as I saw that there would be trouble.
I reached them just as the dude was unmercifully hammering my policeman,
who did not dare to retaliate. I grabbed him by the wrist and gave it a
twist (the old schoolboy trick), and soon had him marching along. He
struggled furiously, and in a few minutes we had a crowd of about one
thousand people around us, and I was glad to see three city policemen
coming up on the run, to whom I turned him over. He spent the rest of
the day in the lock-up, and, the story going round, we had very little
more trouble with this class. On one or two occasions we had trouble
with the police themselves trying to cross our work. On the first
occasion a mounted officer started to ride across some fresh concrete in
spite of the protests of the concrete foreman, who was an American; then
the latter lost his temper and jerked the officer’s horse off the
concrete. When I heard of the occurrence, which was only a few minutes
later, I dashed off to the _Jefe Politico_ to put our case before him
before any exaggerated version could reach him. On the second occasion a
police captain ordered me to remove some barricades I had across a
street so that the carriage of some big-wig could drive across. I
refused, and told the captain he could remove it himself if he were
willing to take the consequences. He rode off, threatening all sorts of
things, but I never saw him again.

My pet aversions are the milkmen, who have caused me more trouble than
all the rest put together. The milkmen in Mexico ride on horseback and
carry the milk in four large cans, hung two on each side of the saddle,
one in front and one behind the leg; thus they gallop from house to
house making their deliveries. They and the hack-drivers are the
toughest element in the city. On one occasion I warned two of them not
to cross the street on which I was working, but the minute my back was
turned they galloped across, thinking that I could not catch them on
foot. But I happened to have my horse at the next corner, and I mounted
and galloped the block, caught up to them, and grabbed one man’s horse
by the bridle. After a little argument, finding I was determined to take
him to the commissaria, he suddenly leaned forward, slipped the
headstall over the horse’s head, and dashed off, leaving the bridle in
my hands. His companion, though, thought he would put up a fight,
demanded the bridle, and on my refusal started for me. I generally carry
on the work a Luger automatic pistol in a holster slung from the
shoulder, so that the gun hangs just under the left armpit. When the man
came forward I jerked my coat open instinctively, on which he turned and
fled. The joke of the thing was that I had no pistol with me at the
time, though I had forgotten the fact when I reached for it. On another
occasion one of them galloped past my concrete foreman, who made a
snatch at him, and at the same time the man put out his hand to push him
away. The foreman’s hand closed on his wrist, and off he came over his
horse’s tail, while his steed galloped on. I was standing a few feet
away, and the man’s face, as he felt himself going, was really too
funny. Of course we had no right to take the law into our own hands in
this way, but we had to do so in self-defence, or we should have got no
work done at all. I told the foreman he must be more careful, which he
promised to be, and a day or two later he told me a dairykeeper had
ridden over the work with two of his milkmen, and when called to had
cursed him for his pains. He described the man, and, as I knew him, I
looked him up and told him that he must not do it again, and that I
thought he owed the foreman an apology. He was the black sheep of one of
the best families in town, and was consequently very uppish. He told me
he would ride where he pleased and would go the same route the following
day, and, to show me that I could not stop him, if I were not there when
he passed he would wait for me. So I said I would be there. Our manager,
however, heard of it, and went to the _Jefe Politico_, who insisted on
sending up a large squad of police to arrest the man should he attempt
to pass. But it was trouble wasted, as the man was only bluffing and
never appeared again on the work. The _Jefe_ told me that I had the
right to arrest and hold offenders till a policeman arrived. At first I
carried no gun, but when our yard foreman narrowly escaped being stabbed
by one of his men, and I myself got into one or two rows of this sort, I
decided to carry my Luger like the rest. Any one can get a permit to
carry a pistol here who will pay the $1.50 for the licence.



                             CHAPTER XXXII

Carrying firearms—The business of Mexico—Its management by
    foreigners—Real-estate and mining booms—Foreign capital—Imports and
    exports.


I spoke of carrying pistols; I am not in favour of it, but when working
a large body of men, as we do here, and of the class of these people, I
think it wise, as the very fact that you are known to have one will
often keep you out of trouble. For the people are treacherous, and you
can never tell at what moment some man with whom you have had trouble
will decide to take his revenge, generally when he has you at a
disadvantage. Here is an instance from the _Mexican Herald_: "George T.
Jennings, superintendent for the Pacific Lumber Company, was shot and
instantly killed by a Mexican workman at one of the company’s camps in
the Culiacan district of the state of Michoacan on 19th March.... The
shooting was done by a workman just discharged.... A second telegram
states that the murderer has been captured, seriously wounded." Probably
Mr. Jennings managed to shoot as he fell.

They do not understand fair play, but think a man who does not take all
the advantage he can get is a fool. Even in affairs of honour some of
them will take all they can get, though the following is an exceptional
case: Some time ago Burns, an American, had a quarrel with Martinez, a
Mexican, son of a wealthy _hacendado_ (ranchman) of Guadalajara. Burns
was manager for a mining company at Ayutla, a town near here, and young
Martinez had charge of his father’s ranch at that place. They were in
love with the same girl, quarrelled over her one evening, and decided to
fight a duel. They were both armed, and agreed to walk together to a
secluded place on some side-street and shoot it out. On the way
Martinez, who was walking a little behind the other, drew his pistol and
shot Burns twice in the back, and then fled; Burns, though badly
wounded, turned and emptied his pistol at the fleeing man without
effect. This was Burns’ dying statement. Martinez lay out in the hills
for a few days, then came in and gave himself up as soon as he heard
that Burns was dead. His family moved heaven and earth, and he is now
out a free man. Yet this is the second man he has killed by shooting in
the back, as it became known later.

Though we overstepped our rights in defending our work, it is nothing to
the way the _gente fino_ treat the peon class. I was once after duck
near here, on a ranch where I had a permit to shoot. At the lake there
was a Mexican of the peon class shooting mud-hens, and unconsciously
aiding us as he kept the ducks moving. The owner of the ranch and his
foreman happened to come riding by, and asked if the peon was of our
party; when we said “no” the owner told the foreman to run him off. The
foreman rode up to the man and ordered him off, telling him to run;
then, as he was not going fast enough, he rode over the man, knocking
him down. The poor fellow picked himself up and fled for his life, but
in Texas that foreman would have been a poor insurance risk. Mexicans of
the lower class, in spite of their poverty, are great spendthrifts. We
have a man who has been with us four years. He started at 45 cents per
day, and has worked up to $2.75 per day, which he has been getting now
for over two years. I asked him one day if he had any money saved up. He
replied, "I have $10." I asked him why he did not lay by $1 per day,
which he could easily do, having no one but himself and one sister to
support, and that he would have nearly $400 at interest by the end of
the year. He replied, "If I had $400 all at one time I would go crazy."

Mexicans control very little of the business of their own country except
that of agriculture. The mining is nearly all in the hands of English
and American companies, with a few mines in the hands of other
foreigners, notably the French. The street railways and electric power
and light companies are also in the hands of Canadians, Englishmen, and
Americans, except one belonging to a Chinese company. What is called in
the States the drygoods (clothing, &c.) business is almost entirely in
the hands of Frenchmen, as also are nearly all the cotton mills. The
hardware business, including that of agricultural implements, the
foundries and the machine shops are nearly all in the hands of Germans,
with a sprinkling of Americans and Spaniards. The Spaniards run most of
the small stores, and you generally find Spaniards as managers of the
big ranches, so that the Mexican cuts a very small figure in the
industry of his own country. They own, of course, most of the land, fill
all the government offices, and for the rest are the clerks and
labourers of the country; and this is what makes them dislike the
foreigner who comes into their country to take all the good things which
they consider as their own, though they will not make use of them
themselves, and will not invest their money in new undertakings; but
when a business is sure, then they want it all for themselves, and howl
that the foreigner is stealing their country.

All real-estate and mining booms are handled by Americans, who are, I
suppose, the greatest boomers on earth. But when the bottom drops out of
the boom, as often happens, you rarely see the wily American holding the
sack, for he generally manages to unload on the natives whom he has
succeeded in getting all stirred up. The latter hold on too long and get
caught—like the southerner whose slave before the war had tried to buy
his freedom with some money he had saved up, but as he was a good man
his master was loth to part with him. Then the war broke out, and as it
approached its end the master changed his mind. He sent for the slave
and said, “Sam, you remember you asked to buy your freedom some time
ago. I have been thinking the matter over, and I have come to the
conclusion that I did not act right by you. You have been such a good
and faithful servant that I have decided to accede to your request.” The
nigger scratched his head, rubbed one leg with the other, and finally
said, "Massa, I did want to buy myself, but Ah been studying erbout it
lately too, an Ah come to de clusion dat niggah prop’ty am not good
investment just at present."

The way real estate has jumped in this city during the last eight years
is simply astounding. Land that could be bought once for 17 cents a
square metre sold within four years for $8 per metre, though I must say
that the promoters had spent $1 per metre on improvements before they
sold. Since the revolution prices have fallen badly, but will pick up
again as soon as confidence is restored.

The day for selling and booming unimproved suburban property seems to
have passed here as well as in Los Angeles. Nowadays, if one wants to
start a new subdivision, or _colonia_, as it is called here, one has to
lay out the streets and pave them with asphalt, or something nearly as
good, put in cement side-walks, instal a complete water and sewer
system, and when that is done you are ready to sell lots; but with a
well-picked site and plenty of capital it is a most profitable
undertaking even to-day in Mexico. I have seen in Los Angeles men laying
out cement side-walks and paving the streets in the middle of an orange
orchard, the lots of which would be sold later, snapped up, and the
entire place built upon within the course of a few months. I have seen
the same thing here, all but the building, in the _Colonia Moderna_, the
land I spoke of above. The lots were nearly all sold within a year, but
the building has been slow, as most of the land was bought for still
further speculation at even higher prices. I mentioned above that
foreigners own the greater part of the industries of the country, and
the following few figures will give a clearer idea of what I mean. The
Mexican Government having no Statistical Department, it is hard to get
really accurate figures as to foreign investments in the country. The
following figures, however, are most reliable, being compiled partly by
the Canadian Bank of Commerce (for the benefit of its directors and
stockholders), and published in its annual report, and partly from other
trustworthy sources. The foreign capital (which is over seventy per
cent. of the entire capital of the country) invested in this republic is
drawn from the following sources.

British, including Canadian, $350,000,000, about 60 per cent. being
invested in railways, 15 per cent. in mining, and 25 per cent. in
agricultural and other enterprises.

The United States about $500,000,000, about 35 per cent. invested in
railways, 45 per cent. in mining, and the balance in other industries.

German, French, Austrian, Spanish, Italian, Belgian, and Dutch (in the
order named) about $150,000,000, invested largely in bank stocks, in
manufactures, and in wholesale and retail trade. The United States, of
course, leads, being such a close neighbour, but England, with the help
of Canada, has nothing to be ashamed of. Still there is a large and
profitable market for England to investigate more fully, as her exports
to this country are not in the same proportion. The last figures
available of the imports and exports of this country are, the former,
$97,428,500, and the latter, $130,028,000. Mexico produces many
minerals, and the report last year of this production shows: gold,
$22,507,477; silver, $38,555,000; copper, $10,191,500; other minerals,
$9,946,000.

Guadalajara is bound eventually to become a great manufacturing city,
owing to the cheap electrical power which can be generated from the
river close by. Up till last year 9500 horse-power was brought into the
city, and the company charged from two cents to seven cents per
kilowatt, according to the amount used, but it has been estimated that
the river can supply power up to 200,000 horse-power, and a plant has
just been completed which adds 50,000 horse-power to the 9500
horse-power we had before. Another industry which should bring great
wealth to the country is the raising of eucalyptus trees for use in
making railroad ties, mine timbers, and for furniture. In California the
Santa Fe Railroad has planted 40,000 acres with these trees, and now the
Mexican Central Railway and the Amparo Mining Company have followed
suit, and the business is also being taken up by private parties. It is
claimed that in three years a tree grown here is fit for telegraph
poles, and in five years is big enough for railroad ties. As there is no
timber in this section suitable for ties, this alone will give a good
market. The Southern Pacific Railway, which is building a road from
Mazatlan to Guadalajara, had to import the ties it needed from
California and from Japan. It is stated that eucalyptus makes a growth
of three inches in diameter and fifteen feet in height each year for the
first five years or so, and needs very little care after the first year;
an acre yields $4500 in seven years, or nearly $643 per acre per year,
and the trees can be raised on soil that is not suitable for any other
crop. Even supposing this estimate as much as threefold sanguine, still
eucalyptus is even better than strawberries (which are grown all the
year round, and sold here), though a man here who has a thirty-acre
tract, part in berries and part in alfalfa, clears $5000 net per year
off it. A man with brains, a fair amount of capital, and energy should
do well here, and the climate is the finest that I have encountered in
twenty years’ wanderings in Canada and the States, even superior to that
of California either in winter or summer. During the rainy season, which
is from about the middle of June till the end of September, the rainfall
is about thirty-five inches, but, curiously enough, during this entire
season there will not be more than half-a-dozen days in which it will
rain during the daylight hours. The days are sunshiny, bright, and
delightfully cool; then about four or five P.M. it will begin to cloud
over, and the rain will commence about seven to nine P.M., and continue
a steady downpour till sunrise, when it will clear up as if by magic.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII

Climate of Guadalajara—American tramps—Courtship under
    difficulties—Influence of the priesthood—The _Metayer_ system.


During June and July the average mean temperature in Guadalajara is
68.85° F. in the sun; the average maximum for these months is 88.52°,
the average minimum is 56.48°, and the highest recorded temperature was
95° on 1st July 1908. All these records are officially taken on the top
of the Degollado Theatre. In August the mean for the month is 69.26°.
During November it ranges from 63.5° to 72.8°. During December and
January the average mean is 57.5°. It sometimes freezes in the winter,
but never enough to hurt flowers or fruit if protected from the wind.
Violets grow out-of-doors all through the winter. Except during the
rainy season it seldom rains, though we do have occasional showers in
the spring. The country is truly a paradise, and if only the big
holdings were broken up among small farmers, all Mexico could be
supplied with food grains, instead of having, as now, to import them.
The reason for this is that the _hacendados_, like squatters in
Australia, hold tracts of from one thousand to one or more million
acres, and of this they only cultivate probably one per cent. The
Government of Madero is at present trying to borrow $100,000,000 for the
purpose of buying out these large holdings and selling them on long-term
annual payments to the actual cultivators. If the plan succeeds, the
country is bound to go ahead at a wonderful rate. As in India, the chief
industry is agriculture, but Guadalajara, Aguas Calientes, and Celaya
are noted for drawn-work lace and embroidery; the work is certainly
beautiful. The Mexicans also are no mean decorative painters, sculptors,
and builders. In buildings they put in “flat arches,” which never sag or
crack when the supports are removed, and they can hang masonry stairways
up in the air, apparently without supports, if they can build them in a
long curve. I have asked American builders how it is done, and have not
received any clear answer yet.

There are at present but two ways of getting to Guadalajara by
rail—either by branching off at Irapuata from the main line of the
Mexican Central, which runs from El Paso, Texas, to Mexico City, or
coming by steamer to Manzanillo, and from there by rail, passing _en
route_ the volcano of Colima, which is in eruption. This latter route,
from the Pacific coast, is by far the best and pleasantest, as you
thereby miss the northern desert of Mexico, and see, besides, some
beautiful wild scenery. There is also a third road, which the Southern
Pacific are building into Guadalajara from Mazatlan, but this will not
be completed for a year or two.

Every winter Mexico is filled with American tramps who come to escape
the cold up north, and they are a perfect pest at times. The Mexican
police will never touch them unless some American or Englishman makes a
complaint, in which case they run them out of town. Seven years ago we
had such a bad lot here that the colony made complaint, and the police
cleaned them up. Two of the most impudent, who returned, I had the
pleasure later of seeing do some honest work on the city streets. In
Mexico City the Saxon colony has a committee whose business it is to
investigate the case of every tramp who arrives; if he is a good man in
hard luck he is helped; if, on the other hand, he is a professional
tramp, the police are at once notified, and he has to move out.

One of the things that strike a visitor to this country is the method of
courtship. A Mexican girl of good family is never seen on the street
with a man till she is married to him. When a young man wishes to court
a girl, he walks up and down daily before the windows of her house. If
she reciprocates, she comes to the window after a decent interval, the
length of which is according to how highly she values herself, and
smiles on him. As he gets bolder he comes nearer and nearer, till
finally they get on speaking terms. All this may have taken some weeks.
When matters have progressed far enough for the couple to arrive at an
understanding, he makes a call on the family, and if they approve of him
he is invited to call again. After this he calls as frequently as he
can; the girl is present at these state calls, but it is not considered
etiquette for him to speak to her directly till they are officially
engaged. He must converse with the other members of the family so that
they can size him up. Imagine what intellectual conversation a man would
“get off” under the inspection of the whole family, and what endurance
the family must have to stand it night after night. As soon as he has
stayed the length of time that etiquette demands (or as long as the
family can stand him), he retires to the street, she comes to her
window, and they talk nonsense through the bars for the rest of the
evening. It is amusing to take a walk through the residential district
from eight till ten P.M. and see the hundreds of young fellows hanging
on the bars courting their lady-loves. But it is still more amusing when
the lady happens to live on the second storey and he has to shout all
his pretty speeches up to her! In most Mexican houses the first floor is
one abode and the second floor a separate one, with different entrances
and owned by different people. I often wondered what they would do when
they built five and six storey flats, till I went to Puebla and saw
small telephones in use, which the lady let down to her Romeo. In the
case of the idle rich this form of courting goes on all through the day,
the young fellow only going home for his meals.

In the evenings the band plays in the Plaza de Armes, the central garden
in front of the governor’s palace, and all the young folk turn out. The
girls all walk in pairs in a long line one way, and the young men in
pairs also walk in an outer ring the other way, so that at every round
they can see and make eyes at the particular fair one. Only in Chihuahua
is this rule relaxed, and the young men and women are allowed to walk
together. But then Chihuahua is near the American border, and most of
the boys and girls are placed in American schools, so that it is almost
an American city with American customs. The architecture of the new part
of the city is American, and the houses of the rich are built on large
plots surrounded by gardens and trees. As the Mexican law does not
recognise a religious marriage, it is always necessary to have two
ceremonies—one before the judge and one before the priest, but the only
binding one is that performed by the judge. Another custom which I think
is peculiar to this country, at least I have never seen it in Catholic
Canada, is that of kissing the priests’ hands on the street. This is not
only done by the poor but by almost all classes.

The church, though not recognised by law in this country, has yet an
enormous power, especially amongst the poorer classes. Our labourers are
always willing to work on a national holiday in case of necessity, but
they cannot be persuaded to do so on any saint’s day, and the number of
these days is considerable. One reason for this hold that the clergy
have on the Indian is the way that they have grafted the Catholic faith
on the superstitions and beliefs of the Indians, instead of combating
them. For instance, you can always tell the advent of a feast day,
because the evening preceding it bombs are fired from all the church
towers. Ask any Indian what it is done for, and he will tell you it is
to drive away the devil. On All Souls’ Day images of Judas Iscariot,
filled with powder, are sold by thousands, and at midday are all blown
up. Few Indians can tell you who Judas was, and they believe it is the
devil who is being so treated. Whatever the cause, the government has
failed in its object of breaking the hold of the priesthood over the
country.

I wrote before of a thirty-acre farmer who makes $5000 net per annum in
strawberries and alfalfa. Another with only three acres of strawberries,
near Guadalajara, cleared in 1901 $1500 as his half share of the sale of
the produce (on the _metayer_ system) from April to August. There are
seven wells on the farm, with an average lift of fifteen feet, and ten
cultivators, on half shares, plant, water, tend, and sell the crop.

Agricultural labour is cheap—thirty cents per day—but land is dear, as
the great landholders stick to it, and it is only gradually coming into
the market. To get it, one has to know the owners and be familiar with
the language, the country, and local circumstances. The system of
cultivation is everywhere _metayer_; the great landholders furnish the
stock, implements, and seed to their Indian peons (the “ryot” of British
India), and make advances for their maintenance. The peon takes half of
the crop that he raises, less the amount he has borrowed for maintenance
while raising it, and is cheated at every turn and transaction. Of
course on such terms much of these great estates remains uncultivated,
and no doubt the owners will gradually be persuaded to sell land.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV

Curious customs—The abuse of concessions—Flagrant examples—Prospects for
    foreigners in Mexico—President Diaz—Mr. Denny’s Life-story.


One of the curious customs in Mexico is the blessing of animals on the
17th of January, the feast of Saint Anthony. On this day at the Merced
(Mercy) Church of this city, from four o’clock in the afternoon till
dark, the people bring all their animals to be sprinkled with holy water
and blessed by the priest. All the animals are highly decorated (I have
seen dogs painted all the colours of the rainbow and covered with
ribbons for this occasion), and every kind, horses, chickens, goats,
pigs, cats, cows, all are brought to the street in front of the church,
when the priest comes out and walks down the line, sprinkling them. In
some matters Mexico keeps abreast of the times, and possibly is ahead of
India and even England. For instance, a dirigible balloon was brought
here from the States and run by an American, who could handle it
perfectly, going wherever he wished and sailing or swooping at will. It
was brought by a Mexican tobacco firm to advertise their cigarettes! I
doubt if India or England has yet begun to advertise with dirigibles. It
was also, incidentally, a godsend to the _rateros_, pickpockets and
thieves, who reaped a harvest while every one was gaping at the heavens.

One of the things which militate against the growth and prosperity of
the country is the custom of granting concessions for every imaginable
purpose. When these concessions are asked for by people who intend to
invest money in the country and develop a new industry it is bad enough,
but the trouble is that many of these concessions are obtained by
concession hunters who have barely enough money to put up as the
necessary guarantee. These people, hearing of the possibility of some
company starting a new industry here, immediately ask for a concession
covering the industry, put up the few hundreds or thousands necessary to
secure the concession, and then sell out at an enormous profit to the
prospective manufacturer. These holdup methods do not always succeed,
however, as in the following case. The men at the head of our concern
contemplated putting up gas plants in most of the big cities of the
republic to supply light and power and heat, and to consume part of the
immense production of oil from their field—gas here and in California
being now made from oil instead of coal. A lawyer here, hearing of this,
asked for the gas concession for this city, put up the $1500 asked as a
guarantee, and was granted the concession. With this in his pocket he
went to Los Angeles and tried to sell it to our company, who, however,
only laughed at him, told him to go ahead and put up his plant, and that
they would sell him oil when he was ready. In the meantime they had
secured the concession for Mexico City. After this rebuff he tried to
get other people to take up the concession, and only after much expense
and two years’ time succeeded in getting people who would buy his
concession and build the plant which is now in operation in Guadalajara.
Some of these concessions are a robbery of the community at large. One
granted to a dynamite concern gives them the sole right to manufacture
this article, so vital to the mining industry of the country. To protect
them, a duty of $90 per ton was placed on the import of the foreign
dynamite, but the concession states that, if the company cannot
manufacture sufficient to meet the demand, they may import free of duty
the balance necessary. The outcome of this is that the company
manufactures enough to protect their concession and import all they
need, and the entire industry is in their hands. Another concession
granted to a young Mexican of this city was ostensibly for irrigation of
waste lands, and it reads in part as follows: He is allowed to take all
the water he needs from Lake Chapala to irrigate these federal lands
(some 400,000 acres), and is paid by the government $5 for each acre so
irrigated. He is allowed to build hydro-electric works on the canal, and
transmit and sell power wherever he likes; it is estimated that he can
generate 50,000 horse-power on the works he has installed, and was first
a competitor, and later, combined with the light and power company of
the city. Then comes this small, innocent-looking clause: the land round
the borders of Lake Chapala, between the present high-water mark and
whatever point he succeeds in lowering the lake to, is given to him.

Just imagine a strip from 10 to 50, possibly 100, feet wide round the
border of a lake that has about 130 miles, more or less, of border!
Besides, he cut every landholder off from a water-front. One wealthy
_hacendado_, realising what it meant to his ranch, paid him $500,000 not
to touch his borders. A German company offered him $2,500,000 in cash
for the bare concession.

Foreigners, as a rule, are fairly welcome in this country, as they bring
in money and start new industries. The upper class and the labourers
appreciate this, but the middle class and the skilled mechanics do not,
as the latter are crowded out. The Mexican railroad men some time ago
agitated for a law which would practically prohibit Americans working at
this business, as at that time there were very few Mexicans holding
responsible positions on the railroads of the country—few indeed got to
be engineers or conductors. When they could not get their law passed
they started anti-foreign agitations all over the country, and were
backed by all who were “agin the government,” till finally, five years
ago last September, the word went round that all foreigners would either
be killed or run out of the country. Notices were posted in this and
other towns (and immediately torn down by the police) warning us what
was to happen if we did not leave, and things began to look serious. Of
course few of us looked for any general rising, but for isolated attacks
on individuals. Lots of people found it necessary to leave for the
States on business (?), and I think most that remained went armed.
However, the government was not idle. On the 14th September they ordered
all the saloons to be closed and stay closed till the 17th. On the 15th
they started making arrests of persons known to be disaffected, and some
five hundred from this city and about seven hundred from surrounding
towns found themselves in the penitentiary that night. On the nights of
the 15th and 16th (the great national holiday) soldiers in small squads
patrolled the city till morning, and any one who even shouted “_Abajo
los Gringoes_” (down with the foreigners) was immediately carried off to
the Quartel. It was the quietest 16th of September we have had since I
have been in the country; on the 17th the prisoners were all released,
and the crisis was over, without a single case of assault in the entire
republic. This is the way Diaz handled revolutionary talk. Now, since
Madero’s successful revolution, all this is changed, and the country is
trying to become a real democracy, and may succeed unless some other
Diaz arises. The railroads have been taken over by the government, they
buying a controlling interest, and Americans are gradually being
eliminated and Mexicans pushed to the front as fast as they can find
suitable men for the higher positions.

I have not till now described the vice-president and real head of our
company, Mr. E. L. Denny, and yet he is worth mentioning as well as some
of the incidents of his life. A handsome man, well read, with a low,
soft voice, and as well dressed a man as I have ever met; all of which
sounds incongruous with his early life. He was, till a few years ago, a
“prospector,” who did not have much luck in his prospecting. His
partners at different times were Harry Carter, who at the time was our
yard foreman, Tom Grand, who is here on a prospecting trip for Denny,
and Charles Canrod, who is his partner now in all his big undertakings.
Twenty years ago Mr. Denny joined forces with Charlie Canrod, who had
also been a prospector, and who had once made a strike and invested his
money in a livery stable and hotel, which cost him $35,000, and which he
later lost; for these men are rich one day and poor the next. Eighteen
years ago they were both broke and came to Los Angeles to find work in
order to earn enough money to go back prospecting. This a miner calls
earning “a grub-stake.” Denny had been working for the city, but took
contracts to paint some houses, and while working on the outskirts of
the town, near what is now “Westlake Park,” found some oil exudes. He
asked some one what it was (for he had taken a sample as a prospector
does), and was told it was “Brea.” He remembered that when he was in
Mexico that was the Spanish name for asphalt, and also having heard that
where there was an asphalt deposit there was or had been oil. He got his
partner Canrod, and they clubbed together what money they had and what
they could beg or borrow, and took options on all the land in the
Westlake district that they could get their hands on. The two began to
sink a shaft, 6 feet by 4 feet, down to find the oil. This shows how
much either of them knew at that time about oil; for if they had found a
gusher they would certainly have been killed. As it was, they were both
overcome once or twice by gas fumes, but did not know what it was.
Luckily, they only found a very little “seep” of oil, but sufficient to
peddle round for painting and other purposes, and to convince the
capitalists (whom they later interested) that they really had something.
Thus, getting a start with the aid of borrowed capital, they interested
a well-driller, who knew his business, to go in with them and sink
proper wells, and they soon had a paying proposition. From Los Angeles
they went to Bakersfield, where they got hold of oil properties, and
when they cleaned up there they had about one million dollars each. Then
they came to Mexico, bought up a tract of land, which they had
personally investigated, some 500,000 acres, which showed oil
indications, and invested over $1,000,000 in works, tanks, drilling
rigs, &c. This field and others later purchased, of which only a small
portion has so far been developed, is producing 57,000 barrels of oil
per day; and this production can be doubled by opening wells already
drilled and capped, as soon as the market is enlarged. Mr. Denny is now
worth probably over $30,000,000, and Charlie Canrod not much, if any,
less. They started the asphalt company to use up some of the by-product,
and have installed a gas company in Mexico City for the same purpose,
and will probably instal them in other cities as conditions warrant.
They also own oil fields at Sherman and other places in California, and
are interested in a dozen different ventures. Such are the men who have
made the Western States what they are to-day—men not afraid to take a
chance and with the brains and ability to carry their schemes through.



                              CHAPTER XXXV

Mr. Denny and a mining claim—A wholesale killing averted—Stories of
    shooting escapades.


Any one seeing Mr. Denny (the vice-president and biggest stockholder of
our company) now would think him only a quiet man of affairs, yet some
years ago he was known as one of the finest fighting men of New Mexico
or Colorado. While working a prospect he had near Silver City, New
Mexico, he decided to study law, did so successfully, and was called to
the bar; but his ideas of practice were peculiar. He was employed by a
mining company to protect a mining claim that was in litigation and
which the opposing parties were about to take possession of while court
was not in session. He put in an injunction of his own devising; he laid
in a stock of provisions and water, built a barricade of dynamite boxes
in the mouth of the tunnel, took up his position with a Winchester, and
defied the sheriff and posse to oust him till the case could be tried;
and the sheriff, not seeing any way to dissolve the injunction, left him
strictly alone. Later, the court found for his clients. In the same city
he had heard that an Italian named Carrera had made some slanderous
remarks about him. Though this Carrera weighed nearly 200 lbs. and Denny
at that time only about 125 lbs., he went up to the former’s office with
a paper for him to sign, retracting what he had formerly said. Carrera
refused, and Denny beat him till he signed. Then Denny took the document
to the office of the daily paper and asked them to publish Carrera’s
free and full retractation. But as the document had accumulated much
blood during the progress of negotiations, the editor refused to publish
it on the ground that “Carrera did not sign that of his own free will
and volition.” “Sure he did,” said Denny; “I made him.”

Silver City had the reputation of being a camp in which more men were
killed than any other in the United States. On one occasion a young
fellow was shot in a billiard hall and was laid upon one of the tables
to pass away in comfort. He had been what is known as a “grandstander”
all his life (playing to the gallery), and as he lay there dying he
suddenly raised himself on his elbow and said to the assembled crowd,
"Boys, ain’t I dying brave"—a grandstander to the last!

Kingston, New Mexico, was divided into two factions, Denny at the head
of one and a man named Bill Langly at the head of the other. One day
Denny was walking down the street, and happened to be unarmed, when Bill
Langly stepped out of a saloon and emptied his pistol at Denny across
the street. Denny, who was walking towards Bill when he started
shooting, did not increase his pace by the fraction of a second, but
calmly walked on past Langly down to the blacksmith’s shop that Harry
Carter owned at the time. Though Bill was a good shot he had been
drinking, and so missed Denny with all six shots. Just as Harry Carter,
who had heard and seen the shooting, ran out with a Winchester, which he
handed to Denny, the sheriff came and arrested Langly. Denny walked out
into the middle of the road, dropped on his knee, and, just as he was
about to shoot, a woman happened to step into the line of fire; by the
time she moved out of the way Langly and the sheriff had turned the
corner and were out of sight. That woman unconsciously averted a
wholesale killing, for while Denny knelt in the street some of the
opposing faction had him covered from the door of a saloon, and Harry
Carter and some of Denny’s friends were covering these men from the
doorway of the smithy.

Denny does not forget the friends of his days of poverty now that he is
a millionaire, for though Harry Carter has been working here as yard
foreman it is simply of his own wish, because he preferred to feel
independent. But Harry knows that his wife and children are provided
for, no matter what may happen to him. Denny has offered to start him in
business, but he does not care for this. Another friend and old-time
partner is Tom Grand, whom I mentioned before as being down here
prospecting for Denny. He is doing so under the following terms: Denny
pays all expenses, and will put up the money necessary to develop any
mine that is found, and the proceeds will be divided evenly. This also
leaves a man feeling fairly independent, more so than if he were a mere
pensioner.

Grand is a very good friend of mine, and as nice a man as one would wish
to meet anywhere, yet he has the record of having killed three men in
fights and seriously wounded four others; and at one time he was hunted
over the hills of New Mexico by the state militia. He was generally very
quiet, though full of fun, and I never could get him to tell me of any
of his shooting scrapes, but on one occasion I saw even a drunken man
realise that he was a bad man to fool with. A party of us were standing
talking in front of the railway station in Guadalajara when a man we all
knew came along just drunk enough to be aggressive, and began to make
himself objectionable. Tom Grand had just come in from the mountains,
and the clothes he had on were rough and dusty, and this attracted Mr.
Drunk. He walked up to Tom and said, “My heaven, Grand, you look tough”
(_i.e._ rough and dirty). “Yes,” said Tom, putting his face close up to
the other, "and I'm just as tough as I look" (_i.e._ bad customer). The
other understood the play on the words and the look on Tom’s face, and
backed away full of apologies and did not bother us any more.

The life some of these prospectors lead would kill any man who was not
made of iron and had not courage to spare. Tom Grand was telling me of
one experience of his when he was opening up a tunnel one winter all by
himself, forty miles from the nearest habitation. It was 15° F. below
zero, and he could find nothing to burn but sage brush. Any one who
knows or has seen sage brush can imagine what a delightfully cheerful
fire it would make! Then the loneliness would drive most men crazy. On
another occasion Grand, Denny, and another man were up in Colorado
prospecting in the Grand Canyon, when the third man fell over the bluff
to a ledge 150 feet below. They had no means of getting up the body for
burial, and all they could do was to lower a red blanket by strings till
it covered the body; and so they had to leave him, trusting that nothing
would touch the body for fear of the blanket. It is hard to get these
men to talk of the past—they live in the present and the future. Harry
Carter once told me of a narrow escape he had years ago at Kingston, New
Mexico. I was mentioning a case of a policeman and he said, “Why, I had
just such a thing happen to me.” He had got into an argument with a
friend of his who was pretty drunk at the time. The argument waxed warm,
when suddenly this man jerked out his gun and swore he would kill
Carter. Harry was taken by surprise and was unarmed. He was leaning
against the open door, and as he told it to me in his own words, “Right
back of the door at my elbow there was a Winchester rifle leaning
against the wall, which I had noticed as I came in. When the drunken
idiot threw his gun down on me, I remembered it, and it flashed across
my mind that I would jump back, grab the rifle, and take my chances. All
that kept me from doing it was the thought that the darned thing might
be empty, in which case I would have looked like a fool and been killed
sure. I found out later that it was not only loaded but had a cartridge
in the barrel” (he meant he would not have had to work the lever to
throw one in the barrel). “Still, as things turned out, it was just as
well I did not get hold of it. While I was debating what to do, Jack was
getting himself all worked up to the shooting point, and the madder he
got the nearer he came to me, cursing all the time like a trooper. I was
expecting him to shoot any minute, when he stepped too close and I saw
my chance. I made a quick grab for the gun, and, as luck would have it,
my hand slid down the barrel and the hammer fell on the fork here
between the thumb and first finger; that was all that saved me.” “Well,”
I said, as he stopped, “what did you do to him?” "Do to him? why, I
didn’t do anything to him; he was a friend of mine, and would never have
thought of hurting me if he had been sober." After a few minutes’
thought, he said, "Oh yes I did, too—I kept the gun, and it was a fine
Colt’s 45."

One day I was telling Harry Carter of what I had seen in the Silver King
Saloon in San Antonio. He said, "Well, once I saw a thing like that in
Kingston, which at that time was a very small camp, but it turned out
different from what you described. Jim and Ben had trouble down in a
saloon. Jim said to Ben, ‘I’ve got no show because I’m not heeled.’
'Don’t let that bother you,' said Ben; ‘come on up to my cabin and I’ll
heel you.’ So up they went, and, while Jim stayed outside, Ben went in
and brought him out a pistol. They agreed to back off five paces and
then empty their guns. But at the very first shot Jim shot Ben square
between the eyes with the borrowed gun."

Harry Carter left the company last year and went back to California,
where he has bought a ranch and is farming, and I have certainly missed
him, both as a great help in the business, and as a good fellow out of
working hours.

I mentioned that since my arrival in Mexico some of my views had been
changed as regards American business methods. Rather I should say that I
have at last come in contact with American gentlemen in business, and
not the class I had heretofore met. I will now try and describe our
manager in Mexico, Mr. H. Wilkin, and his assistant, Mr. P. H. Harway,
under whom directly I worked for the first six years I was with the
company. Mr. H. Wilkin is a young man, probably two or three years
younger than myself, standing some two inches over six feet in his
socks, with shoulders to correspond, fair hair and blue eyes. He is a
lawyer by profession, and a born diplomat: he would have made a great
success if he had entered the United States Diplomatic Service. I have
seen him take a hostile board of aldermen and have them all agreeing
with him in an hour’s talk. When we had some trouble in Chihuahua I saw
him talk suggestions into the governor’s head in such a way that the
governor really believed that he had originated them himself, and felt
quite proud in consequence. To show his kindness to those under him I
will mention two instances where I was the beneficiary. When in Tampico
I broke down from climate and overwork, and the doctor ordered me off
the job. I was in such a nervous condition that, seeing that I could not
hold down the job, and wishing to make the way clear for the company, I
sent in my resignation. As soon as Mr. Wilkin received my letter he got
on the train, came down to Tampico, and came to see me. He said, “Let me
have your leggings and your horse, then go home, forget the job, forget
you wrote me, and rest. I will take your job off your hands!” This he
did till I was fit to take up the reins again. Later, in Morelia, I had
my room in the hotel looted; besides all my clothes, I lost some of the
company’s money, all in small silver, that I had there for safe keeping
(it is very hard to get change here, so when one gets it one holds on to
it to pay the men). When Mr. Wilkin heard of the robbery he immediately
wrote me to reimburse myself out of company funds for the entire loss,
and so charge it upon the books. These are things a man with any red
blood in his veins does not forget.

Mr. P. H. Harway is also a man well over six feet, about the same age as
the manager, and took his degree as mining engineer. I worked directly
under his orders for the first six years, but he left our company to
take charge of Mr. Denny’s gas company in Mexico city, as vice-president
and general manager. I never think of him without the kindliest feelings
and deep gratitude for the thousands of kindnesses he has shown me
during the years we worked together. At first there was some little
friction before we understood one another’s peculiarities, and before I
appreciated his great business ability. Most heads of jobs take all the
credit to themselves, but Paul Harway, in a report to the directors in
California, gave most of the credit for our good showing to Harry Carter
and myself. This at the time meant $25 per month more salary to each of
us. Paul Harway was the practical man of affairs of the company, and he
and Mr. Wilkin made a team which was bound to force any business ahead,
and we have been much crippled since he left. These two young fellows
represent one of the best traits of American character. They are both
sons of wealthy fathers, yet neither of them would be content to loaf at
home. Paul Harway once said to me, “I want in later life to feel that I
have _done_ something, and made my mark, no matter how small.” If only
all wealthy men’s sons were like that, more especially in England, how
the world would go ahead. But it is more often that the man with push
lacks capital, and the young fellow with capital lacks push. Harry
Carter was fond of telling me that "An Englishman says, ‘Thank God, I
have a father’; while the American and German say, 'Thank God, I have a
son.'"



                             CHAPTER XXXVI

Macdonald Institute at Guelph—Agricultural College—Their value to
    students—Back to work through Texas.


In March 1908 the doctor advised me to send my wife north for a change,
as she had lived too many years in a southern climate, so I sent her
back to Guelph, Canada, where she was born. In October of the same year
I got leave from the company, and went to bring the family back, my
first holiday in four years. On my way up I stopped some hours in St.
Louis, where I saw Taft, the president-elect, who was then on a
stumping-tour, and was speaking in St. Louis. The country was election
crazy, and all that men could talk about was the elections, and, as is
always the case in America, election stories were on everybody’s lips.
Two that I heard I will give here. A republican orator was holding forth
in New York, and after his speech he said he would be glad to answer any
arguments brought by the other side. After two or three men had made
remarks and been answered, an old Irish-American got up and said, "Eight
years ago they told us to vote for Bryan and that we would be
prosperous. Oi did vote for Bryan, and Oi’ve niver been so prosperous in
all my loife, so now, begory, Oi’m going to vote for Bryan again." For
the benefit of those who do not understand American politics I may say
that Bryan was the Democratic candidate who ran against Taft, and had
run each time for the eight years previously and been beaten each time.
The other story relates to a Democratic big gun who was to speak in a
small Texas town where the people were mostly prohibitionists. He
arrived on the speakers’ stand pretty intoxicated; not incapable of
making his speech, but his unsteady walk and flushed face told the tale
to the people, and the audience hissed and howled. He held up his hand
for silence, and when it was restored he said, “Ladies and gentlemen,
when a statesman of my prominence consents to appear in such a small
one-horse town as this is, he must be either drunk or crazy. I prefer to
be considered an inebriate.”

When I arrived in Guelph, which I had not seen for nearly fourteen
years, I found it wonderfully changed for the better, and as for the old
college I should hardly have known it. Since I was there they had built,
with money bestowed by Sir William C. Macdonald (the tobacco millionaire
of Canada), a woman’s institute called the Macdonald Institute. Here
young women are taught domestic science, which includes—elementary
chemistry, and chemistry of foods, cooking, sanitation, household
administration, laundry work, sewing, child-study, biology,
bacteriology, home nursing, and emergency nursing. Then there are also
many short courses, one teaching advanced sewing, which takes in
dressmaking, millinery, embroidery, textiles, colour and design. After
they have grasped all this they should be ready to marry and make good
housewives.

This Macdonald Institute and the various short courses are simply
crowded, girls coming from all over the country to take them. Some to
learn to be housekeepers, some to prepare for marriage, and even girls
of wealthy families to learn to take proper care of their homes.
Attached to the Institute is the Macdonald Hall, also given by the same
gentleman, where 110 students board and lodge at a charge of from $3 to
$3.50 per week. Those that cannot be accommodated in the hall are found
lodgings round town in well-known, respectable boarding-houses. For
farmers’ daughters, and more especially for young women whose families
have come from abroad to settle in the country, this Institute is
invaluable, as is the Agricultural College for young men.

I heard in Guelph of a case of an English widow, her two daughters, and
one son who had come to take up land and settle in the country. The
mother and the two daughters went to the Institute while the son took a
course in the College. When they had all graduated they moved west,
bought a farm, and are doing well. In the college, too, there have been
many changes. The course now is four years for the degree of B.S.A.
(Bachelor of the Science of Agriculture), instead of three as formerly,
and the range of studies has been much extended. It now includes animal
husbandry, agriculture, arithmetic, book-keeping, botany, chemistry,
dairying, farm mechanics, field husbandry, geology, zoology,
bacteriology, horticulture, poultry, veterinary, entomology, forestry,
French, or German. And under the head of physics: agricultural
engineering, electricity, surveying, and drainage, calorimetry, cold
storage, and meteorology.

This seems to cover the ground pretty well for a farmer, but farming is
now becoming a science as much as other professions. The cost to a
non-resident student (_i.e._ one whose parents do not reside and pay
taxes in Ontario) is for tuition $40 per year, laboratory fees $1.50 per
year for the first two years, and $5 per year for the last two years,
and between $4 and $5 per year for chemicals and other materials. The
board is $3 per week, but the net cost for board and tuition during the
first two years need not pass $125 per year for a non-resident student
who works regularly and faithfully in the outside departments.

One of the new rules practically does away with what I before said was
one of the handicaps of an English student. He must now produce
certificates of having spent _at least one year on a farm_, and must
have a practical knowledge of ordinary farm operations, such as
harnessing and driving horses, ploughing, harrowing, drilling, &c. And
his knowledge will be tested by an examination at entrance. The terms
are from 15th September to 22nd December, and from 4th January to 15th
April, thus allowing farmers’ sons to go home for seeding, haying, and
harvesting, and non-resident students to get work on a farm during these
operations; or, if they prefer, they can remain at the college and work
on its farm, for which they are paid. Since I was there the college has
made great improvements in its accommodation. Mr. Massey built and
presented to the college the Massey Hall and Library, in which are held
the literary meetings, concerts, &c., and which has a seating capacity
for 450 people, while the library has room for 80,000 volumes. They have
also a fine gymnasium with a swimming-bath in the basement, besides
another open-air swimming-bath. A new machinery hall, 146 feet by 64
feet, has been built, in which manual training and farm mechanics are
taught. There are also other new buildings too numerous to mention. Last
year 367 students attended Macdonald’s Institute, and 794 students
attended the College, either taking the entire course or the various
short courses. To show how the college is patronised by people from all
over the world I took this list of the hailing-places of the foreign
students: nine from the Argentine Republic, Belgium one, England
twenty-nine, Egypt one, Scotland eight, France one, Germany one, Ireland
three, India two, Japan three, Jamaica two, Mexico one, South Africa
one, Spain two, United States twenty-four. My old friend Creelman is now
president of the college through which he worked his way, and in his
hands the reputation of the college is spreading far and wide.

After spending a month in Guelph, we started back by easy stages, and
stopped one day in St. Louis, one day in San Antonio, and two days at
Cline, my old stamping-ground. Texas has boomed in the past ten years,
and land that was selling there for $2.50 per acre at the time I left in
1902 is now, 1912, worth from $60 to $100 per acre, and cotton is being
raised on what was considered rather poor grazing-land. And as Texas is
getting wealthy, it is also getting very moral. No more gun-plays, no
more gambling, and not even any more whisky in the greater part of the
state. There is even a state-law prohibiting a man from taking a drink
out of his own bottle on the trains, or playing a game of cards for fun
in any public place, which includes trains. They tell about Judge J——,
of San Antonio, going to the smoking-room on the Pullman to get a drink
of water. When he picked up the glass he smelled whisky. He glared round
the room, and demanded who had been drinking whisky on the train
contrary to law. After he had repeated his question a couple of times a
young fellow said in a shaky voice, “I did, judge.” “Well,” thundered
the judge, “how dare you hide the bottle?” They also tell a story about
this judge’s memory for faces. A prisoner was before him who denied ever
having been arrested before, yet the judge was positive he knew him for
an old offender. Finally the judge said, "Oh, I know you, and you can’t
fool me; now, own up, have I not seen you often before me?" “Yes,”
finally replied the prisoner, "I’m the bar-tender in the saloon across
the way."

Of course, these strict prohibition laws in some of the counties have
started every known scheme for secret whisky selling. They tell about a
secret-service man who was trying to catch a nigger whom he suspected of
acting as distributor for the whisky men. He met him on the street one
day and asked him, in a whisper, if he knew where he could get some
whisky to drink. "I specs I can get you some if you gimme $2," said the
nigger. The detective handed the $2 to the coon, who said, “You hold
this box of shoes till I come back,” and hurried off round the corner.
The detective waited patiently for a couple of hours and no nigger. So
he decided he had been buncoed, and went up to the police station with
the box of shoes. When the box was opened, inside it, carefully wrapped
in tissue paper, was a quart of whisky! I was telling a Texan about the
thieving qualities of the Mexican here, and he argued that they could
not be any worse than the negro in the south. Said he, a nigger preacher
was warning his congregation against the evils of drinking, of theft,
against robbing chicken-coops, and stealing melons. When he got to this
part of his discourse up jumped one of the members and started for the
door. "Whar am yer goin' brudder?" said the preacher. "I’se goin' fer
mah coat kase yo jes minds me whar I lef it." They also tell about a
lady who left $2 at the cottage of a sick, coloured lady to buy a
chicken to make into broth. As she stepped out of the door she heard the
sick woman say to her boy, “Here, you Mose, bring me dat money, and go
get the chicken in the natural way.”



                             CHAPTER XXXVII

Puebla, the misgoverned—Justice under Colonel Cabrera—Royal Family of
    Chihuahua—Tampico—Presidents Diaz and Madero.


In 1909 I went to Puebla, to take charge of a large contract there, and
came in contact with another kind of governor from our old friend Don
Miguel Ahumada. He also was an old-time soldier (friend and supporter of
Diaz), General Mucio Martinez, but as different from Colonel Don Miguel
Ahumada as night is from day. Puebla was the most misgoverned state in
the country, and the barefaced robbery and oppression openly carried on
was a revelation to me. All the butcher business, public coaches, the
best of the liquor business, and the theatre were in the hands of a
clique headed by the governor. The _Jefe Politico_ had bought from the
state the right to all fines. The effect of this was twofold; habitual
offenders, drunks, thieves, ladies of the Vida Alegro, &c., were turned
loose as soon as their friends paid the fines, and never got jail
sentences because they were such a profitable source of revenue. They
would soon err again, be rearrested, and fined once more. I was told
that any policeman who did not make a certain number of arrests in the
month lost his job. On the other hand, the casual offenders (more
especially those with a trade) always got jail sentences, which they
worked out on private jobs or contracts of the _Jefe Politico_. This man
made a fortune in less than six years, and skipped for France when the
revolution broke out.

The _Jefe’s_ assistant, Colonel Cabrera, was the chief of police till
killed by one of the members of the Serdan family at the outbreak of the
revolution. I found this was the man who could either be of much
assistance or annoyance to me on the contract, and I went to call on him
to find out what could be arranged. I told him, in the course of
conversation, that I needed three watchmen on the job, and he at once
offered to get them for me. He asked as to pay, &c., and then sent me
three of the city’s secret-service men, and, I presume, pocketed their
pay, as he was more than friendly to me during the time I was there. On
one occasion a man of some importance in the city walked across the
fresh asphalt and one of my men spoke rather rudely to him about his
lack of brains and culture. He promptly had my foreman arrested, and in
the argument that followed two or three more of the men got arrested for
taking the foreman’s part. As I was riding down the street I met them
all on the way to the commissaria, and had the matter explained to me. I
rode on ahead, and went to see Colonel Cabrera. When I had finished
explaining the matter to him he called an assistant and told him to go
down and tell the judge to turn my men loose as soon as they arrived
without further investigation. I thanked him and went down to see the
order carried out. When we arrived in the court-room the complainant was
in the middle of his speech, and the assistant, instead of going up and
whispering the order in the judge’s ear, said, in a loud voice, "Colonel
Cabrera’s compliments, and you are to turn these men loose without
further investigation." Such was the justice one could get under these
men; but it was really comical to see the complainant’s face at such
summary methods.

On another occasion I went to see him about one of my men that I had
discharged, and who had gone up to my office and scared my clerk nearly
into a fit by waving a pistol and saying he wanted to kill me. Cabrera
asked me if I had a pistol, and on my replying in the affirmative he
said, “Then it is very simple, you shoot him the first time you see him
near your office, before he can shoot you.” I told him that was all
right, but I did not want to get into jail. “No,” he said, “that need
not bother you, as he has threatened your life before witnesses.” I
happened to meet this man a day or two later on the street, and went up
to him and said I had heard he was looking for trouble, and that Colonel
Cabrera had told me to shoot him if he came near my office. But he
denied all enmity, &c., &c. I have always found it best to tackle these
cases at once, for if you do not treat them with a high hand you are
liable to get shot in the back some night.

From Puebla I went to Chihuahua to take charge of a contract there. The
town and state of Chihuahua used to be run by what was known as the
Royal Family. The head of the family is Terrazas, who owns in ranches
almost the entire state, and the balance of the family consists of the
Creels, the Munoz, and the Quilty, and I was told that there were 116
first cousins. All these, of course, had to have a living, and they were
all provided for. One of them was building a large edifice at the time I
was there, and was using one of the principal streets as his stoneyard
to cut the stone for the building. He had the street closed to traffic,
and was getting along very comfortably; unfortunately, this street was
one that was in our contract to be paved. When we had completed nearly
all the other streets we asked him to please move out and let us in, and
his answer was, “I wish to get my work completed by a certain date.
Naturally it will inconvenience you, but that cannot be helped. Of
course if you think that you can have me moved, why, go ahead and try,
but I think you will find that I am a man of some importance.” So the
interview closed, and we found that he was indeed of some importance,
and that nothing could be done. I was told that the only way to go into
business up there was to get some member of the family in with you, and
the facts bear this out. They own the street car-lines, the brewery, the
lumber-yard, the brick-yard, the biscuit company, the electric power and
light company, and the slaughterhouse, and if they missed anything it
was because it was not worth having. Yet, with it all, possibly because
of it, the town is a very busy one, though it was this state of affairs,
and the way things were run in Puebla, that brought about the
revolution. The people had nothing to lose, and might gain by a change
of government.

From Chihuahua I went first to Durango, where I only stayed a short
time; and then to Tampico, where we had another large contract. Tampico
is only a small town of possibly 35,000 people, but one of the busiest
towns in the republic, with an American population of about 1000 people.
The main industry, of course, is oil, and most of the men are employed
or connected in some way with that industry. But of late years many
settlers have gone into the country to buy farms, and cultivate tropical
fruits, and some, at least, seem to be doing well. But the country has
many drawbacks, at least for a Saxon; for, though the climate is not at
all bad, the insect-pests are numerous, and keep one too active for such
a warm climate. The soil which is so good for the tropical fruit is also
good to raise tropical jungle, and the jungle of the Tampico country is
something that one must see to believe. However, those that have taken
up farms seem to be well satisfied, and are making money.

For sport, Tampico and the surrounding country can hardly be beaten in
the Republic, both for fishing, hunting, and boating. While I was there
the record tarpon up to date was caught (7 feet 5 inches long); but
besides tarpon there are many other game fish—the yellow tail, black and
red snapper, various kinds of rock-fish, and I caught one shark, 7 feet
long, which gave me plenty of fun. Tampico saw nothing of the
revolution, though after it was all over we had one day, or rather night
and day, of rioting, which kept everybody in a state of anxiety. Of the
revolution every one has no doubt read in the papers more than I could
tell. On the whole, I think it passed off very well, all except the
horrible slaughter of helpless Chinamen in Torreon, of whom 303 were
killed in cold blood for the money they were supposed to have. One
American there saved the lives of thirty-six of them. He was the
yard-master, and got that number into an empty box-car, which he
switched round all day long while the rioters searched the trains for
them. For a little while the changes were rapid, and both in Guadalajara
and Morelia they had three different governors in one day. Diaz was not
beaten when he finally decided to leave the country. He had been kept in
ignorance up till the last moment by his friends (?) as to the true
state of affairs, and when he found out that the people as a whole were
against him, he resigned to save further bloodshed. Since then we have
had rumours of counter-revolution after counter-revolution, but none has
so far materialised, except the fiasco of General Reyes, who could only
get together seven followers. He is another “grandstander,” and when he
gave himself up he said he had decided not to go on with the “War.”

One hears much of the uprising of Zapata, but Zapatism is not a
revolution against any particular government but against a condition.
The people are demanding that the land shall be divided up amongst them,
so that they will not be slaves of the _hacendados_, and when once this
is done we shall hear the last of Zapata.

At first the feeling against Diaz was very strong in the country, for
the people did not understand, then, that it was his so-called friends
who were to blame, and not he. Now, however, this feeling is dying out,
and you hear many people talking of Diaz, and agreeing that he has done
much for his country, for which the country should be grateful to him.
Many people are fond of decrying Madero, saying he is not a man of
force, but if he had been a second Diaz they would, on the other hand,
have been crying, “We have exchanged one tyrant for another.” It seems
to me, an outsider, that he will “make good” if allowed the chance, but
any man who tries to fill Diaz' clothes will have a hard job of it.

I am still seeking fortune in America; I have sought it in Canada, the
United States, and Mexico, but it appears as far off in 1912 as ever it
did. America is a land of great opportunities, but rarely for the Briton
or the man without capital. I have written my life to date, attempting
at the same time to depict my surroundings, and if any one has got half
the pleasure out of reading these rambling reminiscences that I have had
in going back in spirit over the old scenes, I am satisfied.

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laymen who read it will only follow Mr. Withers’ advice more than one
“bucket-shop” will be closed till further notice.'

_Daily News._—'Should be of the greatest value to investors and all who
take an interest in City matters.... It is eminently readable, and the
description of a typical flotation, “Hygienic Toothpowder, Ltd.,” is a
literary gem.'

------------------------------------------------------------------------

          London: Smith, Elder & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.

  23.15    they can hold their own even now[.]            Added.

  266.17   Except during the rainy season it seldom[s]    Removed.
           rains





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