I Certainly Never Saw So Much Silver At One
Time In My Life, As During The Week That We Were At Monterey.
The Truth Is, They Have No Credit System, No Banks, And No Way
Of Investing Money But In Cattle.
They have no circulating medium
but silver and hides - which the sailors call "California bank notes."
Everything that they buy they must pay for in one or the other of
The hides they bring down dried and doubled, in
clumsy ox-carts, or upon mules' backs, and the money they carry
tied up in a handkerchief; - fifty, eighty, or an hundred dollars
and half dollars.
I had never studied Spanish while at college, and could not speak
a word, when at Juan Fernandez; but during the latter part of the
passage out, I borrowed a grammar and dictionary from the cabin,
and by a continual use of these, and a careful attention to every word
that I heard spoken, I soon got a vocabulary together, and began
talking for myself. As I soon knew more Spanish than any of the
crew, (who indeed knew none at all,) and had been at college and
knew Latin, I got the name of a great linguist, and was always sent
for by the captain and officers to get provisions, or to carry letters
and messages to different parts of the town. I was often sent to get
something which I could not tell the name of to save my life; but
I liked the business, and accordingly never pleaded ignorance.
Sometimes I managed to jump below and take a look at my dictionary
before going ashore; or else I overhauled some English resident
on my way, and got the word from him; and then, by signs, and the
help of my Latin and French, contrived to get along.
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