“‘There have been many such cases,’ said the medical student. ’Many of the mothers have died—few of the babies have lived. I, personally, know of nine babies that have been born in the park to-day. There must have been many others here, among the sand hills, and at the Presidio.’”
“Think of it, you happy women who have become mothers in comfortable homes, attended with every care that loving hands can bestow. Think of the dreadful plight of these poor members of your sex. The very thought of it is enough to make the hearts of women burst with pity.
“To-day I walked among the people crowded on the Panhandle. Opposite the Lyon Street entrance, on the north side, I saw a young woman sitting tailor-fashion in the roadway, which, in happier days, was the carriage boulevard. She held a dishpan and was looking at her reflection in the polished bottom, while another girl was arranging her hair. I recognized a young wife, whose marriage to a prominent young lawyer eight months ago was a gala event among that little handful of people who clung to the old-time fashionable district of Valencia Street, like the Phelan and Dent families, and refused to move from that aristocratic section when the new-made, millionaires began to build their palaces on Nob Hill and Pacific Heights. I spoke to the young woman about the disadvantages of making her toilet under such untoward circumstances.
“‘Ah, Julia, dear, you must stay to luncheon,’ she said, extending her fingers just as though she stood in her own drawing-room.”
“I looked at the maid in astonishment, for I had never met the young society woman before. The maid shook her head and whispered when she got the chance:
“‘My mistress is not in her right mind.’
“‘Where is her husband?’ I asked.
“‘He has gone to try to get some food,’ said the girl. ’She imagines that she is in her own home, before her dressing table, and is having me do up her hair against some of her friends dropping in.’
“‘She must have suffered,’ I said, ‘to cause such a mental derangement.’
“The girl’s eyes filled with tears. She told me that her mistress had seen her brother killed by falling timbers while they were hurrying to a place of safety. A little farther on I saw two women concealed as best they might be behind a tuft of sand brush, one lying face down on the ground, while the other vigorously massaged her bare back. I asked if I might help, and learned that the ministering angel was the unmarried daughter of one of the city’s richest merchants, and that the girl whom she succored had been employed as a servant in her father’s household. The girl’s back had been injured by a fall, and her mistress’ fair hands were trying to make her well again.
“Thus has this overwhelming common woe levelled all barriers of caste and placed the suffering multitude on a basis of democracy. On a rock behind a manzanita bush near the edge of Stow Lake I saw a Chinaman making a pile of broken twigs in the early morning. The man felt inside his blouse and swore a gibbering, unintelligible Asiatic oath as his hand came forth empty. Observing my escort, the Chinaman approached and said: