Gold, Greed, Guile, and Gumption

Excerpt from Gold, Greed, Guile, and Gumption


Suzanna and the Banker

Suzanna Smith had come west from Flint, Michigan at the age of seventeen with her husband, William, a man several years her elder. It was, like so many others, a marriage of convenience. Convenient for William, who had put off marrying, if for no other reason than none of his previous proposals was accepted, and he could hope to do no better than Suzanna’s extremely attractive face and ample breasts. The fact that Suzanna also possessed an acute mind was lost on William.

The marriage was convenient for Suzanna in that it was a means of escape from a stepfather who had assumed, when he married the girl’s widowed mother several months earlier, that he was entitled to a double dose of connubial bliss. Suzanna fought off his advances as best she could but was unable to win support from her mother, a woman desperate to make her marriage work, given that her new husband was a man of some means and with an undeserved reputation of respectability.

William, who had been employed as a bookkeeper for several years before their marriage, was astute enough to recognize that he was getting nowhere in his career, having been assistant bookkeeper in a bank since completing his course at the local commercial college.

William’s uncle Hubert, who had ventured west, settling in Mariposa County shortly after the beginning of the gold rush, wrote letters describing the wonders of California and encouraging one and all back home to follow in his footsteps. William and Suzanna followed his advice.

When the couple arrived in Mariposa, they found that uncle Hubert had run afoul of a jealous husband and was thought to be buried somewhere on the outskirts of town. William was hired as a bookkeeper at the local bank.

Suzanna also considered seeking regular employment but found that she could easily earn a few dollars here and there while William was at work at the bank. She exercised great care and selectivity to avoid contacting an embarrassing disease or having her husband learn of her activities. Her clientele, although limited, ran the gamut from a well-heeled merchant to the local school teacher.

William surely would have risen through the ranks at the bank, except that toward the end of his first year he had been ...


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