A more amusing instance of the spirit of saving is that told by another narrator, who says that he saw a lone woman patiently pushing an upright piano along the pavement a few inches at a time. Evidently in this case, too, it was the poor soul’s one great treasure on earth.
He also tells of a guest berating the proprietor of a hotel, a few minutes after the shock, because he had not obeyed orders to call him at five o’clock. He vowed he would never stop at that house again, a vow he might well keep, as the house is no more.
In one room where two girls were dressing the floor gave way and one of them disappeared.
“Where are you, Mary?” screamed her companion.
“Oh, I’m in the parlor,” said Mary calmly, as she wriggled out of the mass of plaster and mortar below.
At the handsome residence of Rudolph Spreckels, the wealthy financier, the lawn was riven from end to end in great gashes, while the ornamental Italian rail leading to the imposing entrance was a battered heap. But the family, with a philosophy notable for the occasion, calmly set up housekeeping on the sidewalk, the women seated in armchairs taken from the mansion and wrapped in rugs and coverlets, the silver breakfast service was laid out on the stone coping and their morning meal spread out on the sidewalk. This, scene was repeated at other houses of the wealthy, the families too fearful of another shock to venture within doors.
Another story of much interest in this connection is told. On Friday afternoon, two days and some hours after the scene just narrated, Mrs. Rudolph Spreckels presented her husband with an heir on the lawn in front of their mansion, while the family were awaiting the coming of the dynamite squad to blow up their magnificent residence. An Irish woman who had been called in to play the part of midwife at a birth elsewhere on Saturday, made a pertinent comment after the wee one’s eyes were opened to the walls of its tent home.
“God sends earthquakes and babies,” she said, “but He might, in His mercy, cut out sending them both together.”
There were many pathetic incidents. Families had been sadly separated in the confusion of the flight. Husbands had lost their wives—wives had lost their husbands, and anxious mothers sought some word of their children—the stories were very much the same. One pretty looking woman in an expensive tailor-made costume badly torn, had lost her little girl.
“I don’t think anything has happened to her,” said she, hopefully. “She is almost eleven years old, and some one will be sure to take her in and care for her; I only want to know where she is. That is all I care about now.”
A well-known young lady of good social position, when asked where she had spent the night, replied: “On a grave.”
“I thank God, I thank Uncle Sam and the people of this nation,” said a woman, clad in a red woolen wrapper, seated in front of a tent at the Presidio nursing one child and feeding three others from a board propped on two bricks. “We have lost our home and all we had, but we have never been hungry nor without shelter.”