We give below an especially accurate picture from the description of the well-known writer, Jane Tingley, who, an eye-witness of it all, did so much to help the sufferers, and who, with all the unselfishness of true American womanhood, sacrificed her own comfort and needs for those of others.
“May God be merciful to the women and children in this land of desolation and despair!” she wrote on April 21st.
“Men have done, are doing such deeds of sublime self-sacrifice, of magnificent heroism, that deserve to make the title of American manhood immortal in the pages of history. The rest lies with the Almighty.
“I spent all of last night and to-day in that horror city across the bay. I went from this unharmed city of plenty, blooming with abounding health, thronged with happy mothers and joyous children, and spent hours among the blackened ruins and out on the windswept slopes of the sand hills by the sea, and I heard the voice of Rachel weeping for her children in the wilderness and mourning because she found them not.
“I climbed to the top of Strawberry Hill, in Golden Gate Park, and saw a woman, half naked, almost starving, her hair dishevelled and an unnatural lustre in her eyes, her gaze fixed upon the waters in the distance, and her voice repeating over and over again: ’Here I am, my pretties; come here, come here.’
“I took her by the hand and led her down to the grass at the foot of the hill. A man—her husband—received her from me and wept as he said: ’She is calling our three little children. She thinks the sounds of the ocean waves are the voices of our lost darlings.’
“Ever since they became separated from their children in that first terrific onrush of the multitude when the fire swept along Mission Street these two had been tramping over the hills and parks without food or rest, searching for their little ones. To all whom they have met they have addressed the same pitiful question: ’Have you seen anything of our lost babies?’ They will not know what has become of them until order has been brought out of chaos; until the registration headquarters of the military authorities has secured the names of all who are among the straggling wanderers around the camps of the homeless. Perhaps then it will be found that these children are in a trench among the corpses of the weaklings who have succumbed to the frightful rigors of the last three days.
“Last night a soldier seized me by the arm and cried: ’If you are a woman with a woman’s heart, go in there and do whatever you can.’
“‘In there’ meant behind a barricade of brush, covered with a blanket that had been hastily thrown together to form a rude shelter. I went in and saw one of my own sex lying on the bare grass naked, her clothing torn to shreds; scattered over the green beside her. She was moaning pitifully, and it needed no words to tell a woman what the matter was, I bade my man escort to find a doctor, or at least send more women at once. He ran off and soon two sympathetic ladies hastened into the shelter. In an hour my escort returned with a young medical student. Under the best ministrations we could find, a new life was ushered into this hell, which, a few hours before, was the fairest among cities.