The Accident In San Francisco
( Originally Published 1915 )
After leaving the ship they mounted a trolley car which indicated that its destination was the Cliff House. They had heard of the Seal Rocks, and this determined them to remain abroad. It was a long ride, but the sight of the ocean, the first they had seen since leaving New York, and the jagged rocks covered with seals, amply repaid them for the trip.
Then the great bathhouse was visited, and there most of the time was spent in watching the antics of the captive seals. The tricks of some of them reminded the boys of the well-known sea lion at the Battery Aquarium in their own city, which has a well-developed sense of humor, one of its favorite exploits being patiently to wait until some unsuspecting person approaches too close and then surprise the individual with a copious jet of water.
Some of these animals seem actually to laugh. After performing some trick that produces applause, they will throw the head around in an affected manner, and produce a well-defined grin, just as some dogs will do. Their actions clearly indicate that they derive considerable enjoyment from the sport.
To the north could be seen the Golden Gate, at close quarters. This point also was observable from the Exposition grounds. To the west, having the appearance of a faint dark streak, were the Farallones, a little stretch of islands, that marked the last land which they would see until Honolulu was reached, 2080 miles beyond.
And this was the great Pacific Ocean! In two days more they would be out on that great wide expanse, leaving America for foreign lands, and for experiences that well might cause them to reflect upon the outcome.
Happily, they were not prone to gloomy reflections. Somehow they had confidence in them-selves. This is a great trait which counteracts many shortcomings in life. The feeling that you can overcome obstacles, whatever the barriers, is a great factor in every successful man. The suicide is the one who has this feature developed in the least degree, and some people have been known to kill themselves for fear of losing their lives.
Returning from the trip to the seashore they anxiously made their way to Mr. Sieman's office. On being admitted they were introduced to a Mr. Collins, the assistant Purser of the Shinyo Maru.
"These are the boys who have been so highly recommended to me," said Mr. Sieman. "I think they will fill the places admirably," he continued.
The boys saluted the officer, and the latter said:
"I suppose you are good at penmanship, and write well?"
"Stanwood is a much better penman than I am, but I am sure we can do anything that is required of us in reason. We shall try very hard to do anything that is asked of us," replied Winfield.
"I have a place for one of you, but I can under-stand that both must go together, under the circumstances; however, we can fit the other into a position, but the pay will not be very remunerative in view of what I have said," remarked Mr. Collins,.
"We are not expecting pay," said Winfield.
"Oh, not at all," added Stanwood. "We must get over to Japan, somehow, and you may put us at any kind of work; we won't complain, however hard it is."
" ,I appreciate your spirit, but I shall pay each ten dollars for the trip, and, of course, your board will, cost you nothing, en route."
Thank you for the offer. We accept, and would be glad to start in the first thing in the morning," answered Winfield.
"That is all right. Be at the vessel at nine to-morrow morning, and you may present this note to Mr. Kuro, who has charge of the quarters of the crew, and he will fix you up with proper accommodation," and saying this he wrote a few words on a pad and handed it to Winfield.
"When shall we present this?" asked Stanwood.
"Any time; tonight, if you choose to do so."
The boys rushed out in great glee. Transportation to Japan, and money besides. This did seem too easy. They chattered on their way up the street, and were going along in their delirium, without any object in view, until Stanwood stopped and asked:
"Where are we going, anyway? Why not get our things and put them on the boat, right now?"
Winfield assented. "But we must go to the Ex-position grounds once more and see Mr. Dion and Mr. Gabriel, and tell them of the good news, as well as to wish them good-by," he said.
They boarded a trolley car, and entered the grounds. While passing up the main avenue, Meine, Stanwood's camel, came forward with her long strides and stood beside the boys. The young man who had her in charge could not make her budge.
Stanwood laughed as he stroked Meme, and she lowered her head in acknowledgment of his recognition. It was of no use, Meme would not budge, and Stanwood shouted out "0llogooloo," and the animal, with her load of passengers, quickly knelt.
He had unwittingly used the wrong word, and he amended the order to Aw-bee, aw-bee. Meme responded, and when he followed with "Rarera" she stood still and refused to move until Stanwood took up tbe march by her side.
Winfield laughed at the situation so Stanwood was compelled to march her around the course, for she persistently refused to pay any attention to the regular driver and kept Stanwood within view until she was finally quartered at the stable.
Nashir was amused at the circumstance, and said: "You treat she too well; she no like new roogoair."
Who is roogoair?" asked Stanley.
"He man who click, click," he answered, pointing to the driver.
The hatred of a camel is bitter and never-dying; the affection is just, as intense. Stanwood had petted Meme, and she responded. It was a lesson that was afterwards of great service to them on the, plains of Arabia.
Mr. Gabriel saw the boys, and the latter could not' thank him enough for his kindness in securing the position. Together they walked over to the menagerie, where the new assistant was on the rostrum, and Mr. Dion, standing nearby, hailed them as he saw them approaching.
Winfield actually resented the new recruit who had taken his place and was reciting the same speech he had committed to memory and had livened up with variations of his own. "The giant dinosaur" stuck to him; it had such a fine sound, after he learned to pronounce it correctly.
Mr. Dion congratulated the boys, and wished them a happy journey.
"When we get back I may hunt you up," said Winfield, "and I hope you will be in the East some-where. I rather like the animals."
After an hour of jolly talk, Mr. Gabriel invited the boys and Mr. Dion to a farewell dinner, which certainly was a treat to them, and more forcibly than ever impressed on their minds the wholesouled nature of the two men.
At parting Mr. Dion said: "If ever you are in trouble, it matters not where you may be, and you are in reach of a telegraph office, remember, you can always telegraph to me, and if I get the message you may depend on me."
You may be sure that this message was received with heartfelt thanks by the boys, who were much affected by the real interest and attention shown them. They passed from the Exhibition grounds, with conflicting emotions, happy, but subdued, and somehow, there was a feeling, as the trolley car speeded its way toward the Bay, that they were leaving real and lasting friends, and were not doing their share to show appreciation.
After reaching the vessel Mr. Kuro was sought, and Mr. Collins' note presented. Kuro was a bright Japanese, just the kind of a man adapted for the position he held, and thoroughly capable. Without a moment's hesitation he said, in perfect English:
"Step this way, and take charge of this cabin."
With the new belongings which the boys had purchased, consisting of shoes, and each an additional pair of trousers, as well as underclothing, a couple of the Iatest fancy striped shirts, ties, socks, and other little adjuncts which appeal to the traveler, they had accumulated quite a good-sized package, in addition to the contents of their knapsacks.
After rambling about on deck for an hour, and when they were about to proceed to their cabin, Winfield observed: "I feel awfully hungry; let's get something to eat."
"So do I," responded Stanwood. "Wasn't that, a good dinner, though? I wonder what's the reason a fellow always wants to follow up a big meal like that with something else?"
Vinfield laughed as he answered : "That's so; I never thought of that. Why, when we used to eat at the ten cent lunch counters I never felt like eating before going to bed."
"I guess our habits are getting to be too luxurious," said Stanwood. "Why not go up to Market Street? We'll find plenty of good places there," and without waiting for Winfield's answer he ran up the gangway and sprinted along the dock.
Winfield was by no means loath to follow the hint about something to eat. They had nearly eighty dollars, an assurance of a berth to Japan, and would be ahead of that when they arrived there, so that a little matter of a few dimes did not count against an empty stomach.
Just as they were swinging into the open place before the great Ferry house, at the foot of Market Street, and were about to cross the circles of tracks there, they heard a shout, and almost immediately a crash resounded behind them.
Turning quickly they saw a motor car, which had struck the side of a buggy, and dashed it against the side of one of the trolley cars which was turning the curve. The impact threw out the driver of the buggy, who was driven forcibly against the car, while the horse, frightened at the sudden lurch, leaped forward, directly toward the boys.
There was no time to decide what was best to do, as the horse was not ten feet distant, and they must either jump for safety or stop the animal in some way. Winfield, ever quick in an emergency of this kind, shrieked out: "Stop him, Stanwood, stop him!"
The latter, urged on by the warning, stood his ground, and Winfield sprang toward the head of the frantic beast, and fortunately succeeded in grasping the .bridle on one side, while Stanwood caught the bit on the other side.
The animal, with the two boys clinging, reared upwardly while both hung on with tightened grips, and, although they were dragged forward for twenty feet or more, were successful in quieting the frightened horse. When a policeman who had witnessed the deed came up and saw that the animal was under perfect control, he took out his book and requested the boys to give him their names and addresses.
A crowd gathered about them, and freely commented on the quick work, and the officer took occasion to add a word of praise, as he said: "This card will tell you where to appear in the morning."
"But we have just been employed on the Pacific liner Shinyo Maru, and it may be difficult for us to be there," said Winfield.
"I am sorry," said the officer, "but it is my duty to subpoena all who are witnesses of the accident, as the man in the buggy was severely injured, and it may be necessary to detain you until the time of the trial."
The boys. looked at each other in amazement. It might mean a sudden end to their world tour, and when they were able, finally, to leave the crowd and walk up Market Street, they had no appetite for an evening luncheon.
They went back to the ship half dazed. Some-thing must be done to avoid that calamity, but what? All their plans were upset by doing a duty, that was plain.
The bustle in the servants' quarters, early in the morning, prevented further sleep, and the moment they awoke the occurrence of the night before impressed itself on them most vividly. The card said they must appear at nine o'clock.
Shortly before eight o'clock, after they had discussed the matter over and over again, Stanwood said: "I suppose we ought to see Mr. Collins; he might advise us what to do?"
To this Winfield assented, and together they called at the Purser's room. Mr. Collins was at the open door, and greeted them. They stated the. circumstances and the object of the call.
"It will be necessary for you to appear. It will not do to try to avoid an order of Court. I have always found that a plain, frank statement is the most effective way to treat matters of this kind. Simply relate the circumstances under which yon are touring the world, your employment here, and how you happened to be at the Ferry where the accident happened, and that while you might have stepped aside and allowed the horse to pass by, you thought the most courageous thing would be to stop the horse."
"Thank you, Mr. Collins, for the advice; then I suppose you will give us leave to attend to this matter?" said Winfield.
"By all means," was the reply.
Together they appeared at the court room at the appointed time. The owner of the automobile was arraigned, and the witnesses examined. The prosecuting officer stated that the owner of the buggy was seriously injured, and asked that the case be adjourned to the following day, so that the condition of the man might determine the question whether the charge of homicide might not be made instead of the present one of assault.
The court warned all witnesses to appear at ten o'clock the following morning, and the boys walked out of the building seriously disturbed in mind. The Shinyo Maru was due to sail at 1 P. M. the next day.
For an hour or more they were in great doubt and perplexity, when Winfield remembered what Mr. Dion said: "If yon are in trouble let me know." He repeated it aloud, and Stanwood jumped at the suggestion.
"Let us go at once," he cried; and without waiting to inform Mr. Collins, they boarded a car, reached the Exposition grounds, and were soon rushing along the street leading to the Menagerie.
To the proprietor they unburdened themselves, and he took a lively interest in the recital. "It would be too bad to break off your tour, just be-cause you have done your duty. Call me up by 'phone at three this afternoon; in the meantime I shall try to find a way that will smooth things out for you."
Needless to say, they went back with happier hearts, and at the appointed time they called him up. "Yes, this is Mr. Dion; oh! is that you, Win-field? Glad to hear from you. Meet me at the court room in an hour; I am working the wires all right."
"What was that he said?" asked Stanwood, as Winfield hung up the receiver.
"He said we should meet him at the court room in an hour, and that he was working the wires for us."
"Working the wires! I wonder what he meant by that?" asked Stanwood.
As they ascended the stairway at the court room Mr. Dion accosted them and introduced both to Mr. Sampson. "This is my attorney, and we have an appointment with the judge, so we may, possibly, get you off, all right," he said.
Mr. Sampson led the way, and introduced the boys as the heroes of the exploit, and added: "It is an unfortunate matter for them, because they are on a tour of the world, under a contract which prevents them from remaining longer than two weeks at any place, and tomorrow, unfortunately, is the last day, and furthermore, they have secured employment on board the Shinyo Maru, which sails at one in the afternoon."
"I appreciate the situation," replied the judge, "but as an officer of the court, you know, as well as I do, that I would not be doing my duty if I permitted the two most valuable witnesses to leave this jurisdiction."
The matter was argued for some time, bat the judge was obdurate, and when the party emerged from the Judge's chambers, the boys had heavy hearts, and Mr. Sampson could give them no encouragement.
Promptly at ten o'clock they entered the court room the following morning. The unfortunate victim of the accident was then in a state of coma, a condition which did not offer any hope, as he might die at any moment.
It was fully twelve o'clock before the case was reached, owing to an unusually heavy call of the calendar that day, and then the prosecuting attorney requested a postponement until the following (lay, but finally consented to a hearing in the after-noon.
The boys heard the decision with heavy hearts. They were doomed to stay. It was now past twelve o'clock. The moment the decision was made Mr.,Sampson arose and stated the matter of the conversation the previous day in chambers, and then added:
In view of the extraordinary circumstances, I have taken the pains to learn something of the character of the testimony that the boys would be able to give, and I find that they knew nothing of the affair until the damage was done."
What is that?" said the Judge.
"The boys are here and can testify for them-selves. They knew nothing of what happened until they heard the crash, and the horse sprang to-ward them, and for that reason, as there appear to be at least three witnesses who can testify as to what the condition was immediately before the accident, the testimony of these two witnesses would be of no value."
The Judge hesitated a while, and then said: "This statement makes it clear that the testimony of the witnesses is not essential to the cause of justice, and I am glad to dismiss them. It would be wrong to penalize the boys for doing a plain duty, and I take the occasion to thank them for the prompt and efficient manner in which they did their work."