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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, October 21, 1900, Image 6

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Strange how long one may hunt and
seek for that which surrounds him on
every Bide. . He had many hundreds of
answers to his advertisements. Silly lit
tle girls wrote to him and trifled with his
time. Widows trifled with his affections.
Romantic young girls nibbled at the bait
which he held out la his advertisements.
in the shape of "a husband, loving and
constant, who is good tempered, does not
drink, smoke, swear nor flirt." But they
only nibbled. Some bt them were so
young that their mothers did not know
that they were out In the social whirl.
Awful widows swooped down upon him
with a paper chase, consisting of 110 let
ters in a string, threatening to bankrupt
him buying postage stamps. To defend
himself against such he notified all of the
would-be wgoeds that they must send
st;«mp? at least, and if desiring an early
love Utter, they must send If) cents. Out
of the shoals of Just as good fish in the
stta- as any that ever were caught, there
were but three who even made a fleeting
impression on him. They were, as he calls
them, his "New Mexico girl," hl3 "Ohio
girl" and the "awful widow of Florida."
That was until he saw his beautiful girl
in Washington, and the purport of all of
this writing is. In the eyes of lde Xeff,
Just to tell that Washington girl with"
laughing eyes what he never can tell her
when they are upon him
That he loves her.
It Is not of his travels that he likes, to
talk, though, but the human interest part
of the story— that is. the side of It which
relates to his search for a wife.
along- the gulf, as far u Mobile Bay,
by keeping within the chain of sea Isl
ands which line the north shore of the
There Is one limitation he has to his
way of making hU* jrnileage, though, and
that is that until .^« has seen each and
every one of the different States he will
not leave his -native land. There Is a pa
triotic idea in that- l£ie desires to honor
his own land to Uie^Uest; before h«
wmle the train went on witn me, unin»
Jured." )
The greater part of lde Neff's adven
tures have been as harmless to him al
though less spectacular than this one;
which demonstrates the remarkable fact
that one may spend half of his life trav
eling and meet with not the slightest ac
cident. Yet there are those who fear n
little ferry trip lest something befall
them. ~-'~-s : :
Though Mr. Neff has traveled continu
ously and realized what has been merely
a dream with thousands — the dream we
hope to realize when our ship comes In—
he ha» done it all without money. He
says that when you want to travel, the
way to do It Is to begin and travel — just
start out. If you haven't any money do
not let that stop you. Nothing but a po
liceman can do that if you really have a
mind to go, and no officer of the law has
•ever yet laid a hand upon Mr. Jseff, foi
he Is a good man, and tho constabulary
are only looking for bad ones. "
.Most of us are self-manacled to a life
which we detest. ' There is no reason why
we should not travel,. except that we do
not .want to. We hamper ourselves by
saying that we have our business affairs
to attend to. Mr. Xeff makes traveling
his business; and he goes right on and
attends to it. We would wait until we
pack our trunks, or perhaps we have not
one to pack and would have to wait until
we got It. "Sett . has no trunk, does not
want any and has nothing to .pack In It.
All he has Is himself, and when he wants
to travel he just puts one foot before the
other and off he goes in the very wa.y that
nature intended him to do.
If he" wants -to travel farther or faster
than his feet can take him. then he put3
1 in a few days at work, which, fty the way.
he says can always be found anywhere
In this much- underrated country of ours
by a man who Is really. looking for it.
So when he travels on foot It is only by
choice and for the reason that he wants
to see more of the country and its peo
ple than are on view from platform and
He carries no baggage, this traveler
with S6.000 miles' experience, and In that
he is as was the great De Lesseps. It
is chmper to buy than to pay freight and
be incommoded by impediments. .
He is A miser, too. in his way. A miser
In mile* only. He cares not for anything
but irdLes, fis the regular mis€r care3 only
for thogoll! Itself. When N'eff travels he
[avoids sho -rtllnes. cutoffs and crosscuts.
The longest 1 way round Is the way that
pleases him \bcst." for then he has more
miles to ' a«!<T to . his string. That is the
only thing* ;he carries with him. In his
mind is the record of the miles and the
events that. ;have happened as he trav
ersed them. Every t day, that he has been
moving he sp.lrtds\in thinking miles, miles,
miles. Some «lm» he 'will write a book.
That will be vHienlie has traveled a hun
dred thousand'; miles or secured a wtfe.
For he has a i^ual object, now that he
has got so near the one without getting
the other.
f{ y? UKTIKO for a wife, lde Ne.T.
i(~~~l who«e home is the United Btates,
i 11 ha* travcle.l ZtffA mllea. visited
morf-4han ten thousand towns and
Jn jet a bachelor.
He has kept a sttandlrsB advertisement
'in ii Chicago matrtnibolal paper, and to
furihor help himself In his lifelong quest
has written a booklet In which he cooea
his ycirnicj; for a mate and tella some
facts for these who may take an Interest
in him.
In Its opening paragraph he trius ex
plains the reason of hf« weary chant:
"To bave you urjderatand better why I
em a wanderer, will say. once upon a time
Jn the long av,o I had a sweetheart (dead
now). in school: love on. sight. I
was too bashful la upeafc. Ten years later
'she married another. "Weil, 'tis better to,
have, loved and lost than never to have
loved at all. llrr memory has kept me
out of bad comp'any."
Filled with that lonely feeling, even in
• the thickest crowds, he started on his
travels, always going nsfar as his money
would take him, pausing only to earn
more. Searching 'feminine faces every
.where, finding never a one which could
take the place of that which he had lost
forever by his early bashfulness."
The travel In search. of a mate at fast
turned his passion from wife-hunting to
travel for travel's sake alone, and he was
willing at one time to marry any one who
would bring him money enough to enable
him to make his miteagj reach the hun
dred thousand mark.'
So he continued to feel, until one day
when he was picking oranges on the Pine
apple River in Florida there came a letter
and a photograph from the State of
Washington In the opposite corner of the
United States; an answer to the little
advertisement in the Chicago paper. There
was In the wording of the letter and In
The /Han Who
WoUTd Wed.
"Never before did I make myself so
¦mall, as I tucked, away, in the little
ipace under the projecting boiler front. <
"Bang!. went the mule and my' hat and
can© over the , top of the ' smokestack
"rdid. There was no place to go and
no place to stay if the mule continued his
mind to get suddenly aboard and ride
with me. ., ' , ¦_".-¦ ;.. . .
"We were going down an easy grade
with a long straightaway stretch of track
in front. At the end of it was a white
speck, which was growing constantly
larger and seemed to be coming at me, a
mile a minute.^ As we rushed upon it I
saw that' It ..was- a' white mute standing
obstinately upon . the track, while the
whistle roared, the bell Jangled double
rings and steam screeched out of the
cylinder cocks.
"But the mule was a mule and he did
oot care. ¦ ~
"It's Mice riding straddle of a cannon
ball. ¦ '¦¦-.:
"Leaving Pierce City the moon was just
about full, and the black smoke from the
zinc smelters drifted In pIcture-Hlce clouds
across Its face. I did not care on such a
night to be shut Inside of a car, where alt
the world looks alike. Just as the train*
was ready to pull out I went ahead in the
darkness and seated myself on the cow
catcher, well back under the extension
front of the boiler.
"That is the best place of all for seeing
things. Every object In range ahead of
you seems to be flying straight in your
face, and it takes some nerve to feel com
fortable there, even if nothing does hap
pen. »
"It was on the St. Louis and Saa Fran
cisco line. I had a railroad ticket, but I
like to travel for <he sensations of trav
eling, rather than for the mere purpose
of corporeal trarispbirtatloitS ! ;>v: s '
Kor twenty years, through twenty-six
States, and Terrltortcs, he has walked 73-
C0O mllfs. rl.lden 15.000 on passenger trains
and the rame distance on steamers. and
paddled SCGo mll«*!« In a canoe, making hira
wlf the' champion In j that line a9 well.
The rest of the Sfl.OOO miles has been va
riously made en and under box and bag
gage cars. In atase*. on bronco back, and
even on the cowcatchers of engines, which
last method was^his favorite until a re
cent experience put an end to his desires
for that sort of excitement and nearly
ended life and travels ns well.
Thia is his vivid story of that night ac
the expr**r}pn of the face something that
¦promlfed to fill the void in hi3 life, and
away £e went, walking, canoeing, steam*
bnatlns and by rail on his Ion?; way acr.osi
the continent to meet the writer of the
letter. >
He has Just, passed through San Fran
cisco on what nwy prove to be tho last
lap of his rare for a wife.
All ft yeJ uncertain, for he has not
that great cu!d* to short cuts and open
»Marne- of barriers— money.
It Is A lonp story, this wife hunt of his.
and now ;i«*rde from his lack of money
there J» ar.oihr r obstacle in th^ way of h!s
nttaJnratnt of his darling wish and that
Js.his bashfulnrss.
lliat Is the reason that he elves his
*iory to the public. It !s not for all, but
for the one. that hoiells It. ire intends
that the avowrol oC his* affection herein
after set forth shall be a declaration to
thr lady of ,hJs hopet. and in this way he
makes the proposal that for a year has
been harging on his lips, which are all
unused to amorouH avowals.
IJke ro nrany thinkers, he fs hopeless
as a »penker. and has so little egotism
that, he has never told e\'en the lnter
ff tlngr wtory of hl.« life which now appears
for the first tlmfi In print.
As I oucstioned the mother _upon the
early life of this tnlfrma of nature I found
that from lnfancv music had a stranr*
What a curious pror'oler.i this Involves,
considered in the context of the entire in
tcilecturil structure of this boy. In Intel
lect, reason and judgment he Jg an Imbe
cile, entirely incapable of comprehending
the simplest conversation on ordlnnry
subjects, yet possessed of this remark
able ability »to retain and produce every
musical note that falls upon his sensitive
ear. Placed where the work of the RTent
masters could be hcarrl, what po?sibIHy
does not lie with the phonographic accu
racy of that memory and these ten sup
ple fingers?
This time it was a lively Scottish air,
and as the note? came faster, faster, ori«;
rpontaneou3 burst, ar.d Buddy was dan
cing about much as a young elephant
would cavort, all tho time clapping hi?
hand.? find prinr.ins until >.e spied KiUlnj:
In the doorway his favorite brother DieK.
for whom he made ntfaiSHtway and bo^;in
a systematic search through his pf>ckM:\
at last finding his reward! with which he
went off like a pleased child.
This extraordinary boy, possessing no.
knowledge; of music, and in his limited
world hearing but little, will sit at the
piano and the strange weird outpouring's
of an -imprisoned soul fill -the air with an
unknown wild harmony as his fingers ca
rets the key*. Sometimes;, but seldom at
request, thi.« creature will to his own ae
eompars!rr«»nts King with Qtiejar lnnrtlrru
late yrorCk of his own In a deep, full voice
which, though >f no great rargo, is full of
rare sweetness. He fang for us, and as
the rounded notes fell frcm his lips ire
forgot that our eyes wore renting upon an
almost repulsive Imbecile and we broke
forth Into enthusiastic npplau?c in which
the strange musician joined as he twisted
about on his <tool and Imitated our mo
tl'.-n by bringing hi* fat. puggy hands to
gether, then with a chucMe of delight he
turned again to hfcj music.
At our request that we should have
Eome music he arose clumsily and shuffled
along with uncertain step to the parlor.
There. • seating himself at the piano, his
fingers strayed over the keys; cadences
followed, broken, wanOorirg, yet full of
beauty and pathos, and as I listened I
could not but think that seme* beautiful
caged soul struggled for breath under
that ungainly form and undeveloped
brain. Will It ever gain Its freedom?
Perhaps not in this life.
N'o attempt has ever been* made to give
this boy any scientific teaching. He is en
tlre'y ignorant of a note; has never had a
Irrsnn in his life and har. no power to com
prehend It were he given one. But. blessed
with a memory which Is developed to an
abnormal degree, he is enabled by the
mere repetition of nn;s!c hoard but once
to reproduce the xtrnfns of the organ af
ter service or the distant song of the
schoolboy as he pecs his way, with start
ling fidelity, without a note missing. |
Possessing an affectionate nature, he
ehows a dog-like devotion to the mem
bers of the family, and In return never
falls to receive a kind word and caress,
which are to him as essential as food, for
his keen, nervous sensitiveness will. cause
him to burst into tears at the slightest
unkind tone or look. There must be no
dtscord3 in his worltf; all is harmony.
lo the present age— twenty years— he has,
and not unjustly, been regarded as an
Idiot, for his Judgment and reason 'and
even Bpeech rank with that xif a child of
two years.
' As we prepared to say good-by Buddy
was Induced by the bribe of more candy
to play* for us, but his mood changed now.
ar.d or.lv. , the memory at Ihe last n^n'lce
at chuccn was piven. "At the Cross" was
followed- by another hymn. "Rock of
Agfs," one of his favorites, and this time
he accompanied It with his own queer
v. ords.
,\s ro said gcod-by our hands wfre fill
ed -with fragrant mlcnnnrtte and our
hearts w«re full of an Inexplicable some
thing which . iVKponrtr-tl • to tin- fervent
"God bless yoi:" as we prrttf-A the hand
of th!s fker mother whr><b«;irs her bor
der cheerfully, a living example to the
impniif-nt, dTscoritffUevI cynic. As we
turr>e«l the corner a flood of mrlody float
ed through th«* windows and iv.er the
head,* oj the flowers was r>r>rne away on
the ever.Jns air. We went «>ur way In
silence, each j^e kins to solve the solu
tion of, this problem— thl:> « umplex. im!»e
tile. rhu£!$al phenomenon. ¦
3 if/ if. yi:iMBY.
' A'. preference for foods? Yes. He al
most; liv*-j» on fruit and vegetables, but
like a child, is fond of cakes and sweet*.
Actual physical debility follow* this
condition of mind. Consequently every
thing of a disagreeable nature Is kept
from him, and he now lives In a world of
his own with his "music, birds and flow
<rs; his very helplessness making him the
pet of the family; the members of which
arc Intelligent nn'd entertaining. ,
..Two of the brothers have until this last*
year been teaching school,, and the sister,
the only one at home, a bright, pretty
girl, takes almost enUr* charge of Buddy,
who Obeys her every wish.. She washes
his face, combs his hnlr and, tucking a
snowy napkin about his* n<rck. sets be
forejilrn his dinner, which she has cut for
him. for though his ton fingers csn exe
cute upon thr> piano that . which would
take other* years to be taught, yet they
fail to properly manipulate the knife and
fork; h<*#eats bis food after the manner
of Adam, conveying it to his mouth by
hfs finger*. N
influence over the child. Quletefi in a mo.
ment by melody, be it either vocal or ln
stnumental, a discordant note or harsh-
Bound would cause the tiny body to
writhe as with intense agony. Later,
when the years passed and the helpless
condition of this boy became apparent,
the fact that melodies followed when his
fingers touched the piano did not seem to
cause comment among- the members of
the family, but was accepted as a matter
of course. And the neighbors, who In
this country of stock farm and fruit
ranch are few and far between, would
listen to the music of that foolish Blair
boy as they called him, but Instituted no
Inquiry as to the cause of this phenom
enon. In the course of conversation I am
told that Buddy has an Inordinate love
for flowers, birds and animals, flying Into
a* paroxysm of rape when a horse or dog
Is punished In his presence. Chancing: "one
day upon his brother, who was killing a
chicken to be prepared for the noonday
meal, he uttered a cry as of physical pain,
and he hurried into the house, chattering
and E^stlculatlnR. As he became quieter
he rocked himself to and fro, looking at
no one and for hours refusing all food.
w?a*res It. limitation, too. that
foes almost without saying, ar.d that Is
that he travels honestly, paying his way,
unless for a freak or variety he takes,
for a short time, one of the unconven
tional methods by which tramps project
themselves across the landscape. Of
course. In traveling so much one ha* to
do something 1 t» vary the monotony, else
he woidd com* to be an Itinerant auto
maton, like the gentleman of color who
presides In the sleeping car and never
knows •what station or county tt Is. what
the name of the rtver Is. never feels more
than half sure what State he la In and
doesn't care where he la, as long as there
Is a tip In sight.
But canoeing Is Ide's favorite way o*
covering distance.
Then at the happry time when he has
• finished a season's work In Minnesota
and starts to float down to the gulf he
permits himself the luxury of some bag
gage, and with a companion. If he picks
up a congenial one. paddles, sails and
drifts down the meridians and across the
parallels of latitude.
There Is a freedom on the river that ob
tains nowhere else. The river people are
cosmopolitan, for they see much life la
passing, while the decadence of heavy
river traffic has at the same time separ
ated them frem the hurry and bustle of
the world. The country Itself which bor
ders the margins Is returning to a more
primitive condition, and all life Is seen at
Its best. Fertility of soil Is a natural
consequence of the flowing river, the yield
of fruit and vegetables makes the farm
ers liberal, and ono may always have for
the mere asking a bounteous supply from
'the gardens and orchards that lie behind
the willow veil.
I Mr. NefC has not only canoed on the
Mississippi and its tributaries, but has ex
tended his voyages beyond Xew Orleans.
V, X Tulare County, under the sr.adow of
|! the Sierra Nevadas. ir: a little home
t> mad» beautiful with flowers and sun
shine. In a world of Ideality • of p<»are
and of harmony, lives a strange chi'.d
iran. We toss our bridle to the boy and
ir.ake our way through the old-fashioned
pnrden whrre hollyhock ar«i sunflowers
nod with neighborly intimacy, where mig
nonette sh^ds on incense in our path anrl
aisles look up saucily as we pass, and
ascend the steps, where we an? welcomed
¦with true country hospitality by sweet
.faced, Ellvery-haire-1 Mrs. Ulair.
I "To speak with ray boy?" she repeated
,in answer to my request. A moment's
hesitation, :h»>n she led the way over tlM
v'.r.e- covered veranda through the hall to
the back porch, where we found him,
seated in h!3 favorite rocker, "swaying "lils
' body to ai:d fro In time, to a peculiar
musical cadence whici: sremed strangely
cut of harmony with the liaif-clo.scd eyes
fcnd the vacant grin of idiocy with which
he noted our presence.
"How do you do. Buddy? See. I have
/".rouKht you some candy." "Buddy liken
randy." said the mother. "Buddy Iikea
candy," he echoed as he held out his hard
for th» sweets. Truiy nature has strange.
(fancies; she is both kind and cruel.
\ This child-man, chosen by God to be
cro'nted with the holy chrism. Is Buddy
jBIalr; the baby In a family of ten. Vp

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