Larry Clinton/Sausalito Historical Society
With this essay, we conclude Elenore Meherin’s four-part history of William Richardson’s daughter, Mariana, from the Sausalito News:
The rooms, even of wealthy haciendas, were usually bare, except for the bed which had exquisite linens and coverlets of satin, they had little furniture. But Mariana Richardson had a father who was a go-getter, a trader beloved by captains and cabin-boys.
He was always bringing gifts for his winsome daughter.
The bed had a blue brocaded quilt, yards of lace on the many pillows. She had a rug from Cathay on her floor and a carved shrine with a statue of the Virgin on the wall. Before this were a pair of tall, magnificent candlesticks of Russian brass. These were the gifts of Don Alexander Rotcheff, of the Russian company at Fort Ross.
As she now stepped into her room, two Indian maids greeted her explosively. They had a large crude wooden tub on the floor, and several pails.
“Look,’’ said Rosalia, dipping long thin fingers into the water, “it’s hot! We had to bribe that lazy Pedro to fetch the water from the spring.”
“El Senor, your father,” said the tall Elena, “should not give Pedro such fine clothes. That beautiful blue serape! All he does is lie in the sun!”
“But he is a wonderful vaquero,” said Mariana, laughing. “And it is he who plays the violin for the dance.”
“Is that work? Look,” said Rosalia, “we had to steal a tray of dulces for him. Victoria does not know. We shoved the tamales from the oven while she took the siesta and we heated it. Are you not pleased?”
“I am overjoyed. You are my blessed friends.”
“Then it is I, being the older,” said Elena, shoving Rosalia before her from the room, who shall return in five minutes to brush your hair!”
Mariana stepped into the lukewarm water, counting it un-dreamed-of luxury. By doubling her knees to her chest, she could just sit down. She had a cake of perfumed soap. Just a month previous, William Heath Davis, the dashing young merchant sailor, a favorite with all the Californians, had brought the “Euphemia” to Saucelito. Of course he gave a dinner on board for the Richardsons, he had a dozen fine handkerchiefs for Dona Maria Martinez, seven cakes of perfumed soup for Mariana. Seven diamonds would not have been so welcome. She smelt it with delight and lathered it freely over her slim glistening body, then, lifting the pails of cold water, rinsed it free.
The boat was at the landing when the girl stepped to the patio. She wore a dress of pale gold satin. Her skin had the same rich texture. Her black hair, caught with pearl rimmed combs, fell to her knees. Her eyes were like her father’s, the blue of lilacs, immense and shining. They were filled with excitement as she watched the festive throng now coming to the beach.
Vaqueros raced across the strand, leading horses which the guests would ride the short distance to the hacienda. She saw her father’s quick slender figure. With him were two Yankee officers, severely smart in their blue uniforms.
She had not time to wonder about them, for three astonishingly brilliant horsemen now dashed around the bend. That would be Ramon, Francisco and her brother Steve, They, too, saw the Americans. Ramon galloped to Mariana’s side and pointed, “Look querida! You will have fun enchanting the Gringoes.”
She looked up and found his face flushing, his eyes eagerly seeking hers. She laughed softly. ‘They are not so handsome. And I do not know if they are brave.” “Ah yes, querida, they are strong and brave.”
“But they could not conquer the white stallion. Could they do that, amigo mio!” He laughed and, sweeping off his hat, murmured, “May you think the same tomorrow, querida mia!”