Puget Sound is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sheets of water in the world. Its bosom is as unruffled as that of an angel who is opposed to ruffles on general principles.
To say that real estate was once active at certain places on its shores is just simply about as powerful as the remark made by the frontiersman who came home from his haying one afternoon and found that the Indians had burned up his buildings, massacred his wife, driven off his milch cows and killed his children. He looked over the bloody scene and then said to himself with great feeling; “This, it seems to me, is perfectly ridiculous.”
I once drove about Seattle for two days with a real estate man, not buying, but just riding and enjoying the scenery while we allowed prices gently to advance and our whiskers to grow. Finally I asked him if he knew of a real “snap,” as Herbert Spencer would call it, within the reach of a poor man. He said that there was a bargain out towards Lake Washington, and if I wanted to see it we could go out there. I said I should like to see it, for, if really desirable, I might buy some outside property. We drove quite awhile through the primeval forest, and after baiting our team and eating some lunch which we had with us, we resumed our journey, scaring up a bear on the way, which I was assured, however, was a tame bear. At last we tied the team, and, walking over the ridge, we found a lot facing west, seventy-three feet front, which could be had then at $1,500. I don’t suppose you could get it at that price now, for it is within a stone’s throw of the power house and cable running from the city to Lake Washington.
A friend of mine once told me how he lost a trade in Spokane Falls. He had the refusal for a week of a twenty-four-foot business lot “at $500.” He thought and worried and prayed over it, and wrote home about it, and finally decided to take it. On the last day of grace he counted up his money and finding that he had just the amount, he went over to the agent’s office with it to close the trade.
“Have you the currency with you to make the trade all cash?” asked the agent.
“Yes, sir, I have the whole $500 in currency,” said my friend, drawing himself up to his full height and putting his cigar back a little further in his cheek.
“Five hundred dollars!” exclaimed the agent with a low, gurgling laugh; “the lot is $500 per front foot. I didn’t suppose you were Pan-American ass enough to think you could get a business lot in Spokane for $500. You can’t get a load of sand for your children to play in at that rate.”
Once as my train passed a little red depot I saw a young squaw leaning up against the building, and crying. As we moved along I saw a plain black coffin–a cheap affair of pine, daubed with walnut stain to make it look still cheaper, I presume. I had never seen an Indian–even a squaw–weeping before, and so the picture remained with me a long time, and may for a long time yet to come.
I’ve never been a pronounced friend of the Indian, as those who know me best will agree. I have claimed that though he was first to locate in this country, he did not develop the lead or do assessment work even, so the thing was open to re-location. The white man has gone on and found mineral in many places, made a big output, and is still working day and night shifts, while the Indian is shiftless day and night, so far as I have observed.