From "A California Mining Camp"
By Mary Halleck Foote
Scribner's Monthly Magazine (February 1873)

I was not encouraged to investigate that camp of Chinamen below the hill, but once we went to "China Sam's" to buy a lantern. . . . [H]is wife . . . seemed not more than fourteen years old--a mere child with the smallest hands. She carried a baby slung at her back in the folds of a dark-red silk scarf, which was crossed over her breast. The baby had a tiny black cap worked with embroidery on its head,--a chubby little thing, fast asleep, swaying from side to side as the small mother trotted about. She examined my dress, hands and ornaments, and, pointing to her baby, put her fingers on her under teeth and held up two fingers to tell me it had two teeth. Whenever I tried to say anything to her she laughed and said, "No sabe." She was very delicately formed, her hands small as a child's and perfect in shape, yet when she took one of mine to look at a ring which had caught her eye, I felt uncomfortable at the touch of those slim, tawny fingers. She offered a cigar to my companion, which he accepted and held carefully, but as we left the house, I noticed that he tossed it into the bushes. In an inner closet where the day was shut out, we saw the glimmer of candle-light on some brilliantly colored papers on the wall. This was the family altar.

Several years ago Sam was head cook at the boarding-house on the "Hill." Another Chinaman tried to get his place by underhand means. Sam carefully noted his movements; there was a journey to San Jose, which ended badly for the other Chinaman, and not too well for Sam, as he was tried soon after for murder. He spent a few months in jail, but he had only killed another Chinaman, and he was an excellent cook,--probably a much better one than his rival,--so he was finally acquitted. Two or three years ago he sent to China for his wife; she excused herself from coming on the plea of being too old for so long a journey, and sent this young girl instead. Sam says his young wife is "heap fool! Allee time play chile (with the child)!" and he beats the "chile" because it is a girl.

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