Chapter 34: Coburn Mystery (Original Manuscript)

By June Morrall

(Pebble Beach ad nauseum.)

“Those who have never seen or examined this wonderful, and I may say remarkable spot,” raved the writer, called Sigma, in the Daily Alta Californian in 1867, “can have but little conception of its character of the beautiful gems that lie scattered about on all sides, if one will only take the trouble to hunt for them…Here are found the carnelian, ruby, amethyst, emerald, garnet, amber and opal, the two latter being very pure and transparent…

“The costumes of pebble hunters are as varied as pebbles while attitudes and positions are worthy of notice of an artist from the cliff above a full view of the scene may be had….Imagine a dozen females some in bloomers, and some without; some with long, some with short dresses, high boots and low-cut gaiters, straw hats, green veils, bandanas, and the inevitable shaker [said to be a sunbonnet] lying about in every conceivable position, some on their knees and hands, others flat on their stomachs with hands busy, feet stretched out and hands half buried in holes they have made in the beach; others sitting, stooping and in every position that suits them best. The scene is worthy the pencil of a painter and if there were a wreck in sight it would have the appearance of a number of bodies washed up by waves and left on the beach…

“…The most extraordinary part of it is that perfect silence is observed and I only discovered the reason when on approaching a huge bundle of of colored clothing surmounted by the antiquated shaker, unnatural and incoherent sounds emanating from under the shaker, and to my surprise discovered a well known lady from San Francisco (who wears her silks and fine bonnets there) but who was so perfectly and admirably disguised that recognition was almost impossible…In an instant she took from her mouth a handful of pebbles which had been kept in that receptacle as a matter of convenience, and pointing to me, exclaimed for the first time, ‘beautiful, isn’t it?’.

“I now discovered the cause of this fearful silence among among many females. They keep the pebbles in their mouth to test them, and if satisfactory, keep or throw them away.”

Pebble Beach was loved by all. Too bad it was located on the unfenced Pocket Ranch owned by Loren Coburn.

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