by Harry M.Gorham
Due to the frenzy of speculation occasioned by the ore discovery in the Sierra Nevada, every stock quoted in the San Francisco exchange was quoted at ridiculous prices, and those who could not afford to buy in the midst of the “find,” nibbled away at lesser and more in deadly investments. dozens of stocks in claims of no possible value were listed.
Mines, so-called, away from the true Lode, away in the East country, on the upper sides of Mt. Davidson, on American flat, on the Geiger Grade, were capitalized, and the stocks peddled about at the most surprising rate and speed.
One notable incident was in Six Mile Canyon, the canyon that leads east from the town down to the site of the entrance to the Sutro Tunnel. The story is no secret. I tell it now more as joke than the serious matter it appeared to be sixty years ago.
John Kelly, a celebrated “bear” operator, who made a good bit of money shorting worthless securities, had a mine some two miles or more east of the city. It was the Lady Bryan and was quoted on the exchange. Suddenly the stock started to advance — then inquiries, investigations. I do not remember the depth, but John whispered among some friends that he had run a drill hole from one of the drifts and had cut five feet in width of rich ore. Many bought the stock on the strength of the “pointer” — and I remember that my uncle, Sam Jones, bought five thousand shares at about five dollars per share.
Who can tell? Maybe it was Kelly’s stock he bought.
Anyway he lost his money, the “find” faded out — the whole thing was lost in the midst of other things, but always afterwards, to distinguish him from other numerous Kellys abiding there, John was known as “Lady Bryan” Kelly.
Such was the temper of the people, such was the hazard of their financial lives, such was the leaping about from one stock to another — rich today, broke tomorrow — that as time went on, this, as well as a number of other similar episodes, was forgotten except for the clinging memory of the name.
Although I left the Comstock thirty-four years ago, vividly in my memory stick the recollections of things and events that happened In my youth. Having heard all about this little speculative story, I have held it in my mind as if it occurred yesterday.
And so, about two or three years ago, my wife and I were returning from a visit to Bodie, to my old friend “Jim” Cain — owner, alcalde, supervisor of that remarkable old town. We stopped at Mojave to get gas and have some supper.
On the other side of the pump, where the attendant was filling our tank, there was a beautiful motor car with a New York license, and in it two fine-looking women and two nice-appearing men. The man went into this station and left the women. You know western ways — they prompted me to speak to them and ask what kind of a trip they had had and where they were bound. One, a charming person, said they had a pleasant but rapid journey from New York, and were bound for a town of which it was quite likely I had never heard. I inquired where it was, and she replied that it was in Nevada and was called Virginia City.
She said they had bought a large interest in a mine — she became a little vague about the exact location but it was down in a canyon, the name of which she could not recall. and then she asked where we were going and what business I followed. Real, fine, pleasant people, they were.
I replied that we were simply motoring about the country and my profession was mind reading and fortune-telling. For as soon she mentioned that the canyon was east of Virginia City, I knew that there was only one canyon — Six Mile Canyon — and I had one of those inexplicable “hunches” which I suppose we all have at times.
She had an expression of eagerness mixed with skepticism on her face as she asked me if I could read her mind or tell their fortune.
I had already determined to take a chance of hitting the proverbial nail on the head should she ask me, so I replied, “some minds refuse to be sympathetic and sometimes fortunes are changed by the most insignificant interpositions of fate, but if you will look in my eyes and fix your mind on where you are going, the mine you have bought, and what you expect — if you will concentrate — I will make the effort.”
So, imagine me, this old relic of Pliocene times, gazing fixedly into the eyes of a very charming women in the midst of the Mojave Desert under the lights of a gasoline filling station.
And presently I said, “You are on your way to Bishop, to Bridgeport, to Carson City, to Silver city, to Gold Hill, to Virginia City, where you will enter a canyon called 6 Mile Canyon and then you will drive to your objective — the Lady Bryan Mine.”
As I mentioned the name of the canyon I saw the look of unbelief disappear and one of credulity take its place, and when I spoke the name of the mine — well, her amazement and enthusiasm knew hardly any bounds.
“it is true — true!” she exclaimed. And then she asked me if there were a fee to pay.
“No,” I replied, “when I give exhibitions for a remuneration it is always to an audience where subjects are selected at random, but your face was so intelligent and so responsive that I could not resist making the effort, and you are welcome indeed to any small success with which I may have met.”
And so I bade her goodbye, and had returned to enter my car and speed on toward home when she called, “but you have not told the fortune.”
What could I say? Anticipation, hope, blazed in her face. But in time I remembered the cryptic messages of the oracles whose interpretations were left to the hopes and wishes of the hearers, so I turned and answered with solemnity, “You’ll be surprised!” and drove off into the night.
With all my heart I hope that charming person has found the lost ore body discovered by Lady Bryan Kelly in that drill hole run so many years ago.