Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2015 by Parker Sheaffer
If one were to make the train to California all in one stretch it would take a little more than a week, which was a great improvement over the old ways of crossing the western part of the continent. It was no longer necessary to join a wagon train or to sail for weeks around the cape of South America. The Pacific Railroad was a modern marvel. Lucas very much enjoyed seeing the landscape change as they rumbled along the rails. He was unaccustomed to luxury and so he didn't mind the discomfort of sitting for long hours on a hard seat while the carriage shook and bounced. Because he was not in a rush to get to the end of his trip, he took breaks when the trains changed. In Pittsburgh, Chicago and Denver he stopped and found a hotel for a few days so that he could learn a bit about each city. It was an exciting and new experience and he was surprised at the different flavor of each place.
Finally, on the trip from Denver to Oakland the train stopped at a Harvey House restaurant and Lucas was taking a much needed break when he noticed a handsome young man sitting at a table near him. The two of them exchanged looks a few times before the fellow came over and introduced himself.
"Hello. I'm Clive Welser. Mind if I sit with you for a bit?"
"Not at all, I'm Lucas Reagan," Lucas said with a smile.
Clive was twenty-three years old and very attractive. He had an athletic physique, deep blue eyes and golden hair. He was the most beautiful man Lucas had ever seen and the boy was so enraptured by Clive's smile that he forgot for a few moments to speak. Clive didn't notice his lapse because he was equally enamored by the angelic boy who sat across from him.
It was Lucas who recovered first and, blushing at his obvious interest, he began to explain why he was going to California. Clive, as he discovered, was also heading to San Francisco to manage his father's import business. Having graduated from Harvard, and after spending a year touring Europe, Clive was ready to settle down and help with the family enterprise. It was a first time trip for both of them and they were happy to find someone to talk with. Clive was pleased to find that Lucas knew Boston and that gave them much to discuss. As they talked, they grew increasingly comfortable with each other.
"It's odd that I haven't seen you on the train," Lucas said. "I have been on it since Denver."
"Well, I have a private car. It's my father's, of course. He insisted that I use it and, well, it's so much more pleasant than riding in one of the regular cars. I especially did not wish to sleep in one of those small bunks in the Pullman car. I don't think I could have slept a wink. Would you like to see it?"
"Yes. It sounds wonderful," Lucas said, still half dazed.
Back at the station, Clive led him to the rear of the train where his private car waited. Inside, Lucas had his first clue as to just how wealthy Clive's family was. The interior was opulent, with stained glass windows, velvet drapes, thick rugs and dark, polished wood.
"My word," gasped Lucas. "I didn't expect anything this beautiful. This is just wonderful."
"Not as wonderful as you, by half. Not as beautiful as you, Lucas," said Clive, drawing closer to the boy.
The two looked at each other and their lips slowly drew near, until they kissed. It was passionate and exciting and they were breathless when they broke apart.
"Stay here with me," Clive said, almost pleading.
"I will," said Lucas.
They sat together sipping a nice brandy and talking intimately.
"I hope I'm not too old for you," said Clive.
"I hope I'm not too young for you."
"I must confess that I am usually drawn to younger men and boys. I don't know why. I don't find beards and hairy chests exciting. The smooth, bare skin of boys is much more beautiful to me. A boy's features, soft and fresh, are much nicer than some grown man's bearded face. Do you find that disagreeable or strange?"
Lucas smiled and said, "Not at all. I like young men and yet I am mostly drawn to those who are more mature, so we make a fitting pair, don't you think?"
"Ah, Lucas, kiss me again."
By the time the train resumed its shaky course the two were undressing each other. Making love with Clive was a new and wonderful experience for Lucas. He had experienced romance with a boy and several older men, and his trysts with Trevor were usually hurried and furtive. But he had never made love with a young, vital and beautiful man like Clive.
In a few short days Clive and Lucas declared their love for each other and it was decided that when they arrived in San Francisco Lucas would come and stay with Clive in the house his father had arranged for him.
Lucas had never experienced domestic splendor on the level of Clive's house. It stood on Franklin Street, near the Nob Hill district, close to a park, and was the latest in Victorian luxury. While not as large as some of its neighbors, the house was amply large for the two of them, their cook and a housekeeper. Clive didn't like to have too many servants around because he had secrets that he didn't want his father to know about. They pretended that Lucas was a nephew and he had his own room. Although he slept with Clive every night, before going to bed, he made certain to muss the covers on his own bed so that it looked slept in. It wouldn't do for the housekeeper to suspect anything.
Clive had an education in business as well as years of practical experience from his father, and he was happy to manage Lucas' financial affairs. He was pleased that Lucas had stock in the railroad and soon had him also buying into several growing businesses for a quick return on his investment. Then he made sure that he diversified some of his funds into solid areas such as agriculture, shipping, and real estate so that he would never have to worry about fluctuations in the economy. This was to prove to be invaluable advice in later years and Lucas was soon on his way to becoming a wealthy man in his own right.
The usual problems arose because of his apparent age and Clive, of course, had no idea about the secret that Lucas kept locked away. Clive believed, like everyone else, that Lucas was only fourteen, so he took on the role of guardian and was able to sign any papers necessary to further Lucas's interests.
San Francisco was the ninth largest city in the United States and the boys found it very exciting. Money had brought a great prosperity to the city and that money funded libraries, churches, parks, and schools. There were restaurants and hotels everywhere and, while they enjoyed eating out, Lucas and Clive preferred to stay at home together. They took many walks to the park and carriage rides through the better parts of town. Having no taste for prostitution, gambling or opium, they tended to avoid the Chinatown district.
When Clive was at work, which was most of the time, Lucas kept busy by shopping for books for the library and by reading those books. He was determined to educate himself so that he would never be an embarrassment to his partner. Clive suggested that he go to school, a suggestion that made Lucas laugh.
"I'm too far ahead of the other boys who I would be placed with in a regular school. I don't need that. What I do need is a university, but how would it look for a young boy to sit among those grown scholars? I would be out of place. No, it's best that I learn here at home. Perhaps I can hire some tutors though, to help direct my studies," Lucas told him.
Clive's feelings for his young lover were all mixed up. He truly loved the boy but he felt some shame at the difference in their ages. He hoped that he wasn't taking advantage of Lucas' innocence and lack of experience. He also adored the boy's mind. Sometimes Lucas positively amazed Clive with his knowledge of literature and science, especially to be so young, and to have come from a rural background, as he said he had. At times Lucas could seem quite sophisticated and other times he was as playful and capricious as a child. Clive believed him to be a beautiful genius.
Of course, Clive would never be able to let the world know the true nature of their relationship until Lucas had grown into an adult, but he could be patient for a few more years. In that, Clive was due to be disappointed.
Lucas was able to, at times, forget about his past and pretend that he was just a normal boy. He and Clive sometimes played games, went riding in the countryside or to the theater and they laughed and enjoyed their lives.
Clive took him to down to the wharfs at Mission Creek and showed him a ship that was bringing in cargoes of tea, spices, and chinaware from the Far East for his father's warehouse.
"Those two smaller ships there are ours. They bring in lumber from farther north. This city is in constant need of lumber so my father bought a sawmill a few years ago. He knew that San Francisco would continue to grow."
Lucas observed, "I haven't seen schooners quite like that. It looks to have a shallow draft, probably for crossing coastal bars, and there are no topsails. I wonder why?"
"How in the world do you know all of that?" Clive asked.
"Oh, I've been around," Lucas said with a laugh and tried to look mysterious. "I'm surprised at how many ships are loaded with hay."
"Oh, hay and feed are a lucrative business. You wouldn't believe how many tons are consumed in this city. Well, you've seen how many horses there are. I would estimate that over three hundred tons of hay and feed go out of here every day."
"Yes, I would believe it. I just never thought about what it took to feed them," said Lucas, thoughtfully.
Friends and business contacts of Clive's came to visit their house on occasion, but Lucas made very few appearances at those times. It wouldn't do for people to become too familiar with him. It would only lead to the eventual and inevitable questions about his age. The few who did meet him were told that Lucas was a young cousin whom Clive had taken on as a ward. If anyone suspected otherwise, nothing was said.
The two kept their love for each other a secret of course, because despite the new relaxing of societal attitudes toward same sex relationships, championed by Walt Whitman and others, the two of them knew they would meet with strong disapproval for their inter-generational love. The funny thing, Lucas often thought, was that the generations were actually reversed of what they seemed. He, himself, was almost old enough to be Clive's father.
Sometimes too there were problems when various females set their sights on Clive as a potential husband. Lucas usually found Clive's evasions humorous as he tried to elude those determined young ladies. It led to some tangled and complicated situations that would have made good source material for a farce, or one of Mr. Wilde's comedies of errors, such as the one they saw at the theater when Mr. Wilde visited the city. Of course, Lucas knew that someday Clive would probably succumb to the pressure of his family and society and he would marry one of those women, but he didn't wish to dwell on those unhappy thoughts. It was enough that they were happy right then.
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