Chapter Thirteen

By the next spring, William had preached his way back to the Golden Gate. Annie's dark-toned eyes grew wide as she beheld the fertile rolling hills of San Francisco's Bay. And splattered they were in a thousand different shades of riotous color, all blooming gold and green, vermilion and sky blue. In the background soared grey-green Australian Eucalyptus trees. Nor should we omit the umbrella-like red and green pepper trees. Since she had never seen any of these things before, it filled her with unaccustomed excitement. Now she understood the fascination the West held for William.

How her eyes would shine with each new spectacle, and all the time William kept boasting, "Didn't I tell you, Annie, my darling? God willing, we shall settle here in San Francisco some day. You like it here, don't you?"

"Oh, I do, yes!"

He smiled then mostly to himself, repeating from Deuteronomy:

For the Lord thy God bringeth thee

into a good land,

A land of brooks of water,

Of fountains and depths that spring

out of valleys and hills;

A land of wheat, and barley, and vines,

And fig trees, and pomegranates;

A land of olive oil, and honey;

A land wherein thou shalt eat bread

without scarceness,

Thou shalt not lack any thing in it ….

She loved the way William always recited verses to her. She had a feeling he did not think she read enough, and by quoting passages he found in the Book or any of the many volumes he devoured, he was helping supplement what she had not gotten by herself.

It was impossible for him to separate the state from the city. He always thought of it as a unit and never ceased to marvel how this new life was filled with God's promises to supply "all their needs."

This, perhaps, more than anything else made him a man of deepest security and so happy in it that he believed and wanted everyone else to enjoy it. Thus his life had but one purpose -- to preach to the unchurched, especially the poor.

He carried two ten-dollar gold pieces in his pocket and usually before a sermon was ended, he would offer one to anyone who could bring to him one believer in Christ who was hungry. He carried them always. Not to the very day he died were they ever claimed! So he would put them inside his pants pocket each new day as he dressed and the promise bobbed into his mind again:

I have been young,

And now am old;

Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken,

Nor his seed begging bread.

Both Annie and William found it impossible to ignore the excitement that was the City's birthright less than fifty years ago when gold started it racing up steep hills in nothing flat. The City, as William always called it, seemed to have no other passion except amusement. He decided, however, there was an open-handed frankness that he liked, an honesty that promised success in this evangelistic work he would be doing until Annie would have their second child: teaching and feeding the newsboys, boot blacks, and unemployed men on the streets; Chinese in one of the several Christian missions, or in any of the valley towns to which he frequently called for special meetings.

He knew it would always be easy to train horses here where he had had such a good following among the rich. There was no place in all the world where one could make a living as easily as in San Francisco. It had always been a friendly town to street preachers who could forget sectarianism and stick to a straight, forthright message of God and His love. He would offer his services again to the Church of the Stranger, most certainly. These good people, he knew, would give Annie every friendship she needed in this strange, new place that was so different from her Middle West.

But, as they walked down the planked sidewalk, William noticed it was changing from the wild, raucous city to which he had come. He noticed the wooden shanties were fast being replaced by larger stone houses. Many streets were now macadamized.

"Shanghai" was still a fearful word on the waterfront, though, and the Barbary Coast was the same wild bit of hell. Life was stirring all over this City of Seven Hills. William felt a definite call to work more energetically in the disheveled, charming open-handed city.

"Let's see if we can get a little flat on Telegraph Hill," he suggested. "I think you would like it there. And you could walk most anywhere. It would do you good to get out in the sunshine, dear."

"I want to live where you used to live," Annie told him referring to the Happy Valley neighborhood he lived in off and on for ten years.

"Oh, but that is on the south side of Market. It was a residence section then. Now it's filled with foundries and repair shops and lumberyards. I don't think you would enjoy it."

"It isn't at all like it was when you lived here?"

"No," William said sadly. "But we can still go to the Church of the Stranger. You will like the church people there I know. The women especially are not so tightly bound by convention as are the whale-bone-waisted women we found in the Middle West where we held our missions."

He always hated tightly-corseted styles after getting accustomed to the loose garments the women of the Islands wore. He hated the hide bound convention and formality just as much.

A sad smile must have crept around the corners of Annie's mouth. "So he still smarts under the snubbing he got at Coldwater!" She thought the extensive publicity he had on his tour west should have erased the memory of those stinging early failures.

Yes, they got a little flat on Telegraph Hill with a big window to let in the sunlight, and Annie planted geraniums in flower pots that grew in every available spot of her second floor balcony. She just couldn't believe anything could grow as fast as her geraniums!

From here she watched the orange lateen sails of the Italian fishing boats returning to harbor and saw the white-shawled women hurrying down the pathways to greet their fishermen home.

She would frequently take two-year-old Calvin for a walk to Chinatown, past the arabesque shops, marveling always how no two were alike, or stroll down the narrow sandalwood and fish-scented streets, stopping to window shop in the hundred and one colorful bazaars. And how Calvin loved to listen to the stringed instruments that wailed in pleasant disharmony! They enjoyed watching the Chinese men wearing lavender coats and long queues braided with cherry-colored silk ribbons, bobbing back and forth, as they shuffled down the street on padded soles, greeting one another in a sing-song of monosyllables. How proud they were of their sons, in bright tunics and cunning caps with dazzling tassels and bells that twinkled from colorful headdresses! But she, too, smiled proudly as she looked at her son in his whitest of linen suits she had laundered herself?

Annie had always loved to go to Chicago's west-side shops, but they were no match for San Francisco 's bazaars that strung from California Street to Clay Street, stores that displayed strings of sausages, glazed roast duck, dried shrimp, Chinese vegetables, square cakes, bean cheese, candied coconut, litchi nuts, sugar cane, dried lizards, toads, and shark eggs.

"Oh, lookee, lookee," Calvin would cry, tugging at her hand to get away and grab a goodie.

Yes, Annie felt a kindred sprit with these quiet, hard-working people whom so many seemed to hate more for their virtues that their vices, or that was the way William explained it. She noticed how proudly they walked down the ribbon streets with their offspring tightly clasped by work-worn hands. Yes, she decided she liked them very much. Her world, too, was a world of four walls and minding children, of scrubbing floors, and baking bread and caring for a family.

Once a week on Sundays she would ride along Van Ness Avenue, her arm entwined in William's for security. And what fun to see the trim ladies with wasp-waisted dresses that had immense sleeves and many-gored skirts which were flounced with dust catchers.

Most of all, she loved the cartwheel hats with large birds perched on tiny crowns. She wished Lizzie could see the smart styles of San Francisco's women and how they walked. Such daring, tall, deep-bosomed women they were! It was fun to watch them promenade arm-in-arm, with their men handsomely dressed in striped trousers and derby hats.

Ah, yes, already she felt at home in William's city. Small though she was, she did not look unlike these neatly-dressed women, with her gloved hands and her veiled hat, but she was not by temperament like them. They loved to live in hotels and dine out. She yearned to care for her family with German thoroughness and efficiency.

She agreed to help William at his Chinese Mission until the baby arrived. That would give her some work to do. She hoped William would settle down by then and be content to buy a home, perhaps across the Bay at Oakland where the sun smiled more regularly, and the west winds did not blow so steadily ten months out of the year. It was cooler in San Francisco than she had imagined it would be, especially indoors.

"Oh you will be all right once you get acclimated," William promised her.

The little fireplace was cozy enough at night when one sat by it and did mending, but she missed the comfort of the big, base-burner her sisters had had at the Paulina Street apartment. She wondered how the girls were in Chicago. San Francisco was really quite far away.

There were some days when Annie felt lonely. When the first little one had come, she had gone to her sister's flat for two weeks, but that could not be done now.

The baby came in June -- a little girl whom William named Anna, for her mother and for her father's sister, the sister for whom had worked in vain to bring to this country. And, like his sister, the new little girl was also blue-eyed and blonde.

"Annie, little Annie," William said, his eyes flashing the gladness that filled his heart. "God is good, a son first, and, now a daughter!"

When they realized, several days later, there would be confusion with the mother and daughter both called "Annie," William decided, "Indeed, we will have to give her a middle name or you both will always be mixing me up."

He took down the Book which directed his ways from little to big matters. It opened to the sixty-second chapter of Isaiah. He began reading:

…and thou shalt be called

by a new name,

Which the mouth of the Lord

Shall name.

Thou shalt also be a crown of

Glory in the hand of the Lord,

And a royal diadem in the hand

Of thy God.

Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken;

Neither shall thy land any more be

Termed Desolate;

But thou shall be called Hephzibah,

And thy land Beulah:

For the Lord delighteth in thee…

And so I acquired the name of Beulah; a name I never liked, but it did not matter greatly, for my father called me "Sister," and my brothers "Bee." Mother stuck to that name from "the mouth of the Lord." When I finally did look up the verse myself, I was grateful Father had read on a little more and named me "Beulah." I concluded later that he had named me more for the land he loved, the land of my birth, than for any other reason. I was the first Mullen to be born on California soil and in his heart he knew he would someday make California his home.

Soon afterwards, William received a letter from Rev. Collins, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Bakersfield, asking him to supply his pulpit there for six months. The membership of the church was now a paltry sixteen, and discouraged, the pastor had given up and was leaving.

William read the letter aloud, watching Annie's velvet eyes grow dark and moist, and seeing the corners of her small mouth curve as to make her look childlike. He knew she would say it would be all right to accept if he asked her point blank, so instead he asked her why she didn't want to go.

"It isn't that I don't want to," she said slowly, thinking out each word carefully, for she never wanted to be a stumbling block. "It is just I was beginning to feel so settled here. But tell me about Bakersfield." She tried always to appear unbiased.

"Oh, you will love it," he said, using his considerable persuasive ability. "With the fall coming on, most of the hot weather will be over."

"Hot? Does it get hot?"

"Does it!"

"Hotter than Chicago?"

"Yes, but drier. That's why you wouldn't mind it."

"How do you know so much about it?"

"I worked for the Kern County Land Company at the Stockdale Ranch before I met you," his eyes were brilliant with the memory of those lightsome years. "There's as fine a horse flesh there as you'll find in the world."

He remembered how many blooded horses he had trained there before. He thought, too, he might be able to combine his preaching with working again for the Land Company and thus give Annie some of the comforts she had never had since her marriage.

"The Land Company has the largest irrigated farm in the world," he told her. "I have often thought if God hadn't called me to preach, I should have saved up a couple thousand dollars for land and started ranching for myself at Kern County when four hundred dollars could have built you as trim a little house as anyone would want."

"A farmer's wife! Oh, William, I couldn't be a farmer's wife."

His answer was a good-natured laugh.

"No, I couldn't. I just couldn't."

"But why?"

"Too lonely for one thing."

"Bakersfield is anything but lonely," her persisted. "They discovered oil there six months ago and it's swarming with people now. Why, I was reading they have made twenty-five oil strikes in six months." In his mind he was going over the type of a town it must be today, with the wild, rough men who always flock to an oil town, the type of congregation he liked best.

"But I thought you never wanted a church again," Annie argued.

"This one might be different."

"I hope so."

"When I first went to Bakersfield as a young man, it was a desert waste," he recalled. "Next time I went down there to train horses for Tevis and Haggin, they had brought irrigation to a quarter million acres of fertile soil and it was difficult to find a vacant house. They must have built about three hundred miles of irrigation canals and over a thousand miles of laterals to water all that fertile land. I'll wager now we'll see green alfalfa fields where the desert was, and fat herds where jackrabbits roamed, and where hard-working farmers used to strive in vain to produce wheat and barley. Prosperity will have taken the place of poverty, and the little village I first knew will have become a substantial town. I was talking to a Bakersfield man I met downtown the other day, and he said oil will do more for Bakersfield than was ever accomplished by water, and where water brought thousands of dollars into the county, the oil will bring it in by the tens of thousands. But mark my words, the day will come when water will make Bakersfield and the entire valley the most prosperous section in the entire world."

"You are planning on accepting, aren't you?" she said.

"I was thinking I wouldn't have gotten the call out of the blue like this, if God hadn't wanted me to go."

"But there is so much to be done in San Francisco. You have said so yourself."

"I know … I know that." He was dreaming again of that wide open boom town, with the streaming oil and the filled saloons and the groups of men congregating on the streets and always willing to gather around welcoming any conversation. He was thinking, too, of the big Stockdale Ranch and the properties of the Land Company and the broad acres and that perhaps there would be opportunity for Annie to live in a little house again!

He knew there would be no uncertainty about money either in this new town, that he could make needed funds in a short time and devote the rest of the time to his calling. "But I will wait for a sign from God before I make up my mind," he agreed. "If it comes, I will investigate it. Is that all right, my dear?"

"Whatever you say."

"God," he said, still talking in that direct way he had learned at the chapel. "God, if you want me to go to Bakersfield, send some money so I can know."

"That would be a sign, a practical sign," Annie agreed.

Walking down Market Street later that day, he looked down into the gutter. There was a twenty-dollar gold piece. He picked it up and put it in his pocket and went home to pack. The next morning the little family took the Southern Pacific train to Bakersfield.

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