The destinies of the county and state were in the hands of youth, dreaming of the future: and when the untamed prairie turned and bit us, as it did in frosts and blizzards and floods and locusts and tornadoes, we said to each other, like the boy in the story when the dog bit his father, “Grin and bear it, Dad! It’ll be the makin’ o’ the pup!” Even the older men like Judge Stone and Governor Wade and Elder Thorndyke and heads of families like the Bemisdarfers, were dreamers: and as for such ne’er-do-weels as the Fewkeses, they, with Celebrate’s schemes for making money, and Surrager’s inventions, and their plans for palaces and estates, were only a little more absurd in their visions than the rest of us. The actual life of to-day is to the dreams of that day as the wheat plant to the lily. It starts to be a lily, but the finger and thumb of destiny—mainly in the form of heredity—turn it into the wheat, and then into the prosaic flour and bran in the bins.
As I came driving into Monterey County, every day had its event, different from that of the day before; but now comes a period when I must count by years, not days, and a lot of time passes without much to record. As for the awful to-do about the county’s lost money, I heard nothing of it, except when, once in a while, somebody, nosing into the matter for one reason or another, would come prying around to ask me about it. I began by telling them the whole story whenever they asked, and Henderson L. Burns once took down what I said and made me swear to it. Whenever I came to the jingle of the money in the bag as we put it in the carriage on starting for the Wades’, they cross-examined me till I said I sort of seemed to kind of remember that it jingled, and anyhow I recollected that Judge Stone had said “Hear it jingle, Jake!” This proved either that the money was there and jingled, or that it wasn’t there and that the judge was, as N.V. said, “As guilty as hell.”
Dick McGill didn’t know which way the cat would jump, and kept pretty still about it in his paper; but he printed a story on me that made everybody laugh. “There was once a Swede,” said the paper, “that was running away from the minions of the law, and took refuge in a cabin where they covered him with a gunny sack. When the Hawkshaws came they asked for the Swede. No information forthcoming. ‘What’s in that bag?’ asked the minions. ‘Sleighbells,’ replied the accomplices. The minion kicked the bag, and there came forth from under it the cry, ’Yingle! Yingle!’ We know a Dutchman who is addicted to the same sort of ventriloquism.” (Monterey Journal, September 3, 1857.)
In 1856 we cut our grain with cradles. In 1857 Magnus and I bought a Seymour & Morgan hand-rake reaper. I drove two yoke of cows to this machine, and Magnus raked off. I don’t think we gained much over cradling, except that we could work nights with the cows, and bind day-times, or the other way around when the straw in the gavels got dry and harsh so that heads would pull off as we cinched up the sheaves. At that very moment, the Marsh brothers back in De Kalb County, Illinois, were working on the greatest invention ever given to agriculture since the making of the first steel plow, the Marsh Harvester.