The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter
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However, neither case alters the conceptual basis of Anglo-Australian property law sufficiently to accord equal recognition to indigenous property rights. Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation. Legal History eJournal. Subscribe to this free journal for more curated articles on this topic.
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Don Mariano and his two sons lifted their hats, bowed slightly, turned their horses' heads and moved off. They heard all that was said and looked disappointed. They evidently had counted upon Darrell to help them to fight the rightful owner.
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What I said was that if the Don's title is decided to be right and legal, I shall not contest it. Why should I, if the land is his? I came here to take up government land, believing his title was rejected. He says it is not. The fact of his going on with his building ought to have been sufficient proof to the other settlers that he had cast his lot with them.
But it was not. It was not stated to be necessary that the occupant should have a good title. All that was required seemed to be that he should claim to be an occupant of land, no matter who was the owner.
Before this law came out, Don Mariano had already had a great deal of trouble with the squatters, who kept killing his cattle by the hundred head at times. After this law passed, he had the additional annoyance of having to pay money for the release of cattle taken up by occupants who would not fence their ten-acre crops.
Thus, the alternative was, that if cattle were not taken up, he was sure to find them shot dead by some invisible hand. This was, of course, ruinous to Don Mariano, as well as to all owners of cattle ranchos where settlers had seen fit to locate homesteads. Now any one man, by planting one acre of grain to attract cattle to it, could make useless thousands of acres around it of excellent grazing, because it became necessary to drive cattle away from the vicinity of these unfenced fields.
In view of all this, and seeing that the new law would confirm the right to plant fields without fencing, and take up cattle, horses or any other animals found therein, Don Mariano thought he would call together all the settlers in his rancho, and make some proposition to them that would be fair to everybody, and by which he would save his cattle from getting killed or captured when he must ransom them all the time. He told his idea to Mr.
Mechlin, who thought it was a good plan, and volunteered to see some of the settlers with whom he was acquainted, thinking that these could see others, and in this manner a meeting be arranged. He started in the morning on his errand, and in the evening Don Mariano called to learn the result. Mechlin, whose very fine nervous organization ill-fitted him for the rough contact of Gasbangs. If it had not been that I saw Darrell, I would have been utterly discouraged. And I suspect he would not have been half so polite and considerate but for the influence of his son, who has just arrived.
He made his father promise to go with him to see the settlers in person, and arrange for you to meet them; he will report to me in the evening the result of their embassy. Clarence kept his word to Mr. Mechlin, and immediately after breakfast he had his buggy and horses a fine turnout he had brought from San Francisco at the door.
Darrell smiled, and good-naturedly took his seat beside his son, saying it would be best to begin by seeing Gasbang and Mathews. Fortunately they met these men, who were driving to see him, to ask his opinion about agreeing to meet Don Mariano. Darrell promptly told them that he thought no one of the settlers should refuse a request so easy to grant. He certainly can't coerce anybody.
Here we are on what he believes to be his land, and we don't think it is.
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Well, what of that? We'll see Hager and Miller, and the other fellows in that valley. But we think Mr. Clarence will do better with Hancock, Pittikin and Hughes. There is no harm for you there. Your idea of a squatter is not flattering. As for Mathews, I am sure he is a cut-throat by instinct. You can have more effect on them than Gasbang or Mathews. And now stop. I'll drop here; you needn't go out of your way.
I'll walk home. I want to see this piece of land near by.
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It has not been located. I might put a claim there for Everett and another for Webster. Clarence sighed, and silently drove on. He had passed by the Pittikin and Hughes farms the day he arrived, as his father had taken him to see how nicely the settlers were doing in Southern California; all expecting their prosperity to increase by the building of the railroad.
Clarence saw the two houses and began to feel like a mariner of old between Scylla and Charybdis. There might be a troop of ugly old girls in each house.
If he could only see some men out in the fields. But the fields looked deserted. Where could the men be—this being no Sunday nor Fourth of July, that they should leave off work? On looking about for some human being to guide him, he saw in the distance, under a clump of dark trees, several wagons, and horses unhitched, standing harnessed near them. He was about to turn to the left, to take the road between two fields, when he heard voices, shouting loudly.
He supposed they were calling some one. The shouts were followed by a man on horseback galloping towards him.
Clarence stopped and waited. The rider was no other than Mr.
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Pittikin, who came in person to invite him to join their picnic, in honor of his daughter's wedding. The opportunity to see the men together would be excellent, but the girls would be there, too, thought Clarence, not over pleased. There ain't many there. Only our two families—Hughes and mine, and neighbor Hancock's and a few friends. Indeed, we will feel slighted if you don't join us. We will feel you think us too humble a class for you to associate with.
If I thought so, I would not hesitate to present myself before the ladies in this dress. We'll make all the allowance you want. But you see, this is my daughter Fanny's birthday and her wedding day.