Still believing in the good work he had meant with his whole heart, Lane turned from the bankruptcy of his paper, sold at auction, to write to his friend of new adventures.
Tacoma, October 25, 1894
My dear Wigmore,—I have not heard from you for a year. You are in my debt at least one, and I think two, letters. I have sent you an occasional paper, just to let you know I was alive and I am hazarding this letter to the old address. ...
My affairs here have not prospered and I am thinking of going somewhere else. ... Do you think Japan has anything to offer a man such as myself? Would there be any chance there for a newspaper run by an American? Are there any wealthy Americans there who would be likely to put up a few thousands for such an enterprise? ... Life is not the “giddy, reeling dream of love and fame” that it once was, and I have decided on gathering a few essential dollars. Now Japan may not be the place I am looking for, ... but unless I am greatly mistaken, a man who is up on American affairs and alive to business opportunities could do well in Japan. But then this is all a guess, and I want you to put me right ...
Yours very truly,
LAW PRACTICE AND POLITICAL ACTIVITIES 1894-1906
Law—Drafting New City Charter—Elected as City and County Attorney—Gubernatorial Campaign—Mayoralty Campaign—Earthquake —Appointment as Interstate Commerce Commissioner
Late in the fall of 1894 Lane returned to San Francisco and for some months associated himself with Arthur McEwen, on Arthur McEwen’s Letter, a lively political weekly which attacked various forms of civic corruption in San Francisco, and made an especial target of the Southern Pacific Railroad, then in practical control of the State.
He also formed a law partnership with his brother, George W. Lane, under the firm name of Lane and Lane. In 1895 a curious case, estimated as involving about sixty million dollars worth of property, was brought to the young attorneys. The Star, of San Francisco, described the issue at stake by saying, “One Jose Noe and four alleged grand-children of Jose Noe appear, who pretend that they can show a clear title to an undivided one-half interest in nearly forty-five hundred acres within the city, on which land reside some five thousand or more owners, mostly men of small means.”
Upon investigation Lane and his brother became convinced that the suit had been instituted as a blackmailing scheme, in an attempt to force the owners to pay for quit-claim deeds; they took and energetically fought the case for the defendants, without asking for a retainer. Their clients formed themselves into what they called the San Miguel Defense Association. In a year the title of the householders to their little homes was established beyond peradventure.