Chapter XLIII.


Narrative of our Visitor's Life--His Early Studies and Aspirations

--His Marriage to a Deceitful Wife--He Flees to California His Wife Assumes Repentance and he Returns to her-- Further Hypocrisy

ABOUT noon, while we were in camp, a gentleman, apparently some forty-five years of age, came down the trail from the mountains. His outfit consisted of two fine looking mules, sleek and fat, with all his traps neatly packed. His riding rig and arms were all of the best; his blankets and clothing clean and meat. The owner himself was a large-sized, fine-looking man, and in every way presented the appearance of a gentleman.

We were near the road and as from the direction he had come and the hour being noon, it was natural to suppose that he would make camp. We invited him to stop and share our shade tree with us. Politeness and hospitality can be, and often is, extended in the camp of the traveler as well as in the abode of a dweller.

As the stranger unsaddled we noticed his movements were graceful. His mules were perfectly gentle and seemed to understand their master's kindness to them. This captured me individually, for if there are more unpardonable stands allowed than are on the list, and it was my duty to furnish another, I believe I would hand in "cruelty to dumb brutes."

I have seen men who are considered both good and great buy some people--themselves included--who would get angry with their animals and beat them in a cruel, senseless manner, even showing a murderous spirit. I have always believed that such persons would serve human beings the same way when in anger, only they are too cowardly to take the immediate consequences.

Our visitor accepted our invitation to dinner. We soon found that he was an "old-timer," having been in California and the west for many years. We insisted on his resting over Sunday with us and, finally, he consented.

Our conversation led on from one thing to another until our new acquaintance became quite communicative. His conversation was very interesting, as he had traveled a great deal in the west. He had visited Salt Lake City and knew many places and people that were familiar to us. Finally, he gave us his name and related the following story, as near as I can remember it:

He was a native of one of the Middle States. Was left an orphan with a small fortune, some thirty thousand. dollars. His disposition was to make the best use possible of his time and money. After finishing at the common schools he attended an eastern college, studying medicine, etc.

While at college he was allowed a stipulated amount for pocket money. This was always used prudently, but not stingily, allowing himself all the pleasures he desired, such as would be proper in good society; but never spending a cent in vices of any kind.

At the same college there were a great many young men, sons of well-known capitalists. Many of these wealthy young men did not have occasion, seemingly, to spend any more money than did our friend; but many of them were addicted to habits that soon emptied their purses, and they would have to borrow, sometimes coming to the "The Doctor" (as we will now call him).

Now, inasmuch as these rich young fellows were often "broke," whilst the Doctor always had money and to loan, and at the same time never showed any penuriousness, it became rumored that he was immensely wealthy. This he knew nothing about, as he was rather retiring in his disposition and did not take part in the gossips of the day.

As time went on he found himself becoming very popular and sought after, being invited to parties, balls, receptions, etc. He thought nothing strange of this, as he met others whom he knew to be his inferiors, although much wealthier. Money influence never entered his mind, as he felt content with his little fortune, believing that, with a good profession and his start, he would be independent. His mind was at ease. He neither looked for a money-match or supposed that he was a "catch" for anyone.

Like all other places, this, where the Doctor was, had its belle--the handsomest, sweetest-dispositioned, most unselfish and kind-hearted divinity upon earth. All the young bloods were in love with her. This was before people got "mashed." Of course she treated them all so nicely that each fool thought he was the favored one. All divinities do this, I am told.

The Doctor, according to his own words, really fell in love with this she-angel. She returned his affection with compound interest--in her eye. The courtship was all that two fond hearts could wish, as the Doctor's purse was, as before described, always equal to the occasion. All envied his success, yet respected his character and perseverance.

Everything looked bright. So the Doctor applied himself to his studies with double vigor, looking forward to the happy day when, with his diploma and his beautiful, intelligent, loving wife, he could go to his home and old friends and settle down to business, with as bright a future as ever man hoped for.

After graduating, the wedding soon followed. Everything went off in proper shape, no lack of means being in the way. The Doctor never asked or cared what the bride's fortune was; her heart and love were all the dowry he wanted. Having given his fullest and purest love, he fully believed that hers was as fully returned.

I do not recollect just where this occurred; but this much I do remember, that, after the wedding, the Doctor took his bride aboard a boat and started for home, supposing she understood his intentions, as he had talked of nothing else but their future home and happiness.

On arriving at a point where they took the conveyance, and in different direction to what the lady suspected, she asked:

"Where are you going?"

The Doctor replied, "This is our way to--"

"Why, are you not going to Europe on a wedding tour?"

"Well, no; I had not thought of that. We are going home. We cannot well afford a trip across the ocean; besides, I'm anxious to get home and attend to business."

This occurred in the presence of many persons.

The divinity (?) flew into a terrible rage, asked him who he was that business called him home, and that he could not afford a wedding tour.

In relating this the Doctor seemed to go through the whole scene in his feelings, the tears often showing in his eyes. He did not pretend to relate all that had been said.

Imagination can only picture his feelings when he learned that there was no love, that all was mercenary on her part, and as he never had in any way meant deception, it was a cruel blow. But like a true man he decided at once and took her back home; offered her a divorce which he refused. He gave her most of his fortune and started for California, probably as sad a man as ever crossed the plains.

While in California he was prospered and soon accumulated quite a fortune. After a time his wife seemed to repent of her cruelty to him. Wrote him kind and loving letters, asking forgiveness and excused herself for her unnatural conduct, by saying it was on account of her ill-health. The Doctor, with kind-hearted simplicity finally believed her and returned.

She had spent the most that had been given her. The dctor now commenced anew, with all his former hopes and aspirations rebuilt as much as possible. All went well for awhile.

Two children were born and the doctor really felt happy. But all was sham and hypocrisy with his wife. She was now acting so as to get hold of his money and property. At length another scene was enacted. The doctor was told all that was wanted of him was his money. A divorce was again offered and urged. The lady refused, but declared it her intention to hunt him wherever he went, till the day of his death, and get all she could out of him, using the children as a means of working upon his honor and her rights as wife, to demand all she possibly could.

The Doctor again left for the west, leaving all his property. For many years his whole aim had been to keep track of the condition of his children, and send money for their education to a trusted agent; and keep himself hidden from the knowledge of his wife.

In doing this he had become a wanderer upon the earth, but he was still a gentleman.

I learned more about this man afterwards--of his private business. He was quite a successful prospector. But few if any ever heard this story from his lips, except ourselves. And as it was not given me for publication, I have given no names.

Like this man there are thousands in the far west to carry, in their bosoms, facts that would be far more interesting than the average fictitious romance.

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