After hearing several interesting rumors about Richard Stevens, I decided to track him down for a few answers. I found him on Montgomery Street.
Good afternoon, Mr. Stevens. I was wondering if I might have a moment of your time to ask a few questions on behalf of our Novel PASTimes readers.
I was just about to dine at this restaurant. If you don’t mind joining me, I’m happy to answer your questions. Although, I can’t imagine why your readers would be interested in me.
I followed Mr. Stevens into the restaurant and we were seated at a long table beside several other hungry men. It was a bit noisy, but I managed to speak above the din as we waited for our food.
Well, to begin, someone informed me that you have a connection to one of our previous interviewees—a Miss Eliza Brooks. Is that so?
She’s Mrs. Clarke now, but my connection isn’t so much with her as with her husband. We grew up together in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Did the two of you come to California together?
No, he came years before I did. Do you mind if I pray before we eat?
Of course not. Go right ahead.
Richard bowed his head to silently pray before nodding that I could continue.
I’ve heard rumors of scandals involving your family back east. Something about your father’s drunken temper and your mother falling down a flight of stairs.
Who told you that?
It’s true then? Did you come west to get away from your father?
Listen, I agreed to answer your questions about me. Leave my family out of it or this interview is through.
Of course, my apologies. I was just trying to establish your reason for coming to California.
I escorted my sister here, but before you ask, I’m not going to talk about why she came. I stayed because of the opportunities available to me here that I couldn’t find back east. The people here, the life…it’s very different from the parlor visits and society dinners I grew up with. I know I can make a difference here, but…
Stevens’s words trailed off as our food arrived. Once the waiter had gone, I encouraged him to continue.
Forget it. What’s your next question?
I understand you’re now the owner of the Prosperity Mine in Nevada City. Can you tell me how that came to be?
There was an accident last year that took the previous owner’s son. Mr. Pollack and his wife decided to move back east and sold me the mine.
Why you? Certainly there were others able to offer a better price for such a valuable enterprise. If you’d been working for them you couldn’t have saved up that much money. Unless you have family money…?
That wasn’t it. Mr. Pollack didn’t trust another investor not to cut corners. He was a good man who cared about the men that worked for him. He knew that, having worked there for two years, I knew what changes were needed to see that another accident didn’t happen. He trusted me to get it done.
That says a lot about you. Tell me, is it true you’ve hired a female as your secretary?
Yes. I encountered Miss Bennetti on a trip to San Francisco a few months ago. She was in need of a job and I was in need of a secretary. She has proven herself to be an excellent employee. I couldn’t be more pleased with her work.
There are several who think you hired her with ulterior motives. Your miners claim they aren’t allowed to even speak to her because you’re planning to propose marriage to her.
When did you speak with my men? Forget it. Wherever you heard that nonsense, it simply isn’t true. My relationship with Miss Bennetti is strictly professional. In fact, I’ve recently learned she’s formed an attachment with…well, I’d better not say. I’m not sure they’ve made their announcement yet.
Hmm. If not your secretary, perhaps you’re romantic interests lay with this Miss Johnson you’ve been searching for? I hear you’ve been knocking on doors all over the city.
I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed again. I’m looking for Fletcher Johnson—a man.
Hmm. Just a moment while I check my notes. Ah, yes, my apologies. It’s a Mr. Johnson and a Miss Humphrey whom you’ve been asking about. Is she the one—?
I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I thought you were going to ask questions about me, maybe about the mine or…I don’t know, what. But so far you’ve insulted my family and continued to poke your nose into topics that are none of your business. I think this interview is through.
But you didn’t answer—
My food’s getting cold.
I tried several more times to get Mr. Stevens talking again, but he just kept eating in silence. When he was through, he smiled politely, thanked me for my company, and took his leave.
Kathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.
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