I have bought some more real estate. It occurred in Oakland, California. In making the purchase I had the assistance of a prophet, and I hope the prophet will not be overbalanced by the loss. It came about in this way: A prophet on a bicycle came to Oakland suddenly very hard up a few weeks ago, and began to ride up and down on his two-wheeler, warning the people to flee to the high ground, and thus escape the wrath to come, for, he said, the waters of the great deep would arise at about the middle of the month and smite the people of Oakland and slay them, and float the pork barrels out of their cellars, and fill their cisterns with people who had sneered at his prophecy.
This gentleman was an industrious prophet and did a good business in his line. He attracted much notice, and had all he could do at his trade for several weeks. Many Oakland people were frightened, especially as Wiggins, the great intellectual Sahara of the prophet industry, also prophesied a high wave which would rise at least above the bills at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. With the aid of these two gifted middle-weight prophets, I was enabled to secure some good bargains in corner lots and improved property in Oakland at ten per cent. of the estimated value. In other words, I put my limited powers as a prophet against those of Professor Wiggins, the painstaking and conscientious seer of Canada, and the bicycle prophet of the Pacific slope. I am willing to stand or fall by the result.
As a prophet I have never attracted attention in this country, mostly because I have been too busy with other things. Also because there was so little prophesying to be done in these degenerate days that I did not care to take hold of the industry; but I have ever been ready to purchase at a great discount the desirable residences of those contemplating a general collapse of the universe, or a tidal wave which would wipe out the general government and cover with a placid sea the mighty republic which God has heretofore, for some reason, smiled upon. Moreover, I can hardly believe that the Deity would commission a man to go out over California on a bicycle to warn people, when a few red messages and a standing notice in the newspapers would do the work in less time. Reasoning in this manner with a sturdy logic worthy of my rich and unctious past, I have secured some good trades in down-town property, and shall await the coming devastation with a calm and entirely unruffled breast.
California, at any season of the year, is a miracle of beauty, as almost every one knows. Nature heightens the effect for the tenderfoot by compelling him to cross the Alpine heights of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and freeze approximately to death in the cold heart of a snow blockade. Thus, weather-beaten and sore, he reaches the rolling green hills and is greeted with the rich odor of violets. I submitted to the insults of a tottering monopoly for a week, in the heart of the winter, and, tired and sick at soul, with chilblains on my feet and liniment on my other lineaments, I burst forth one bright morning into the realm of eternal summer. The birds sang in my frozen bosom. I shed the gunnysack wraps from my tender feet even as a butterfly or a tramp bursts his hull in the spring time, and I laughed two or three coarse, outdoor laughs, which shook the balmy branches of the tall pomegranate trees and twittered in the dense foliage of the magnolia.
The railroad was very kind to me at first. That was when I was buying my ticket. Later on it became more harsh and even reproached me at times. Conductors woke me up two or three times in the night to gaze fondly on my ticket and look as if they were sorry they ever parted with it. On the Central Pacific passengers are not permitted to give their tickets to the porter on retiring. You must wake up and converse with the conductor at all hours of the night, and hold a lantern for him while he slowly spells out the hard words on your ticket. I did not like this, and several times I murmured in a querulous tone to the conductor. But he did not mind it. He went on doing the behests of his employer, and in that way endearing himself to the great adversary of souls.