Frank Leslie's Boys' and Girls' Weekly—October 16, 1880


WHEN the lightning express train from Virginia City, Nev., reached Reno, on a recent occasion, the baggage was at once transferred from the Virginia and Truckee RailroadCompany's cars to those of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, which stood on the track in front of Chamberlain's Hotel.

A wooden box, 16 inches high, 32 long and 22 wide, which had been checked to Reno, remained on the Virginia and Truckee car until the baggage had been loaded on the Central Pacific train, when the railroad hands returned, and no one appearing to claim the box, it was carelessly thrown on a truck and taken to the baggage-room of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company. There it was transferred to the care of A. J. Hartley, station baggage-master of the Central Pacific Railroad at Reno, who stood it up on end and rolled it out to the Central Pacific baggage-room, about one hundred feet away. There the box (which had been banged about in the way for which baggage-smashers are noted the world over) was thrown on the scales and its weight ascertained to be 132 pounds.

The box having been stood on end on the scales, it was rolled off carelessly into a corner, and the baggage-master turned to leave the room. As he did so, he heard a faint moan proceeding from the box. Thinking he must be mistaken, he listened for a moment and heard another moan. This led him to examine the box more closely than before. He saw two round holes about three-fourths of an inch in diameter on one side, and two similar holes at each end, while on another side, on which there were no holes, chips of wood about the fourth of an inch thick had been inserted, evidently to keep the cover from closing tight.

Upon ascertaining these facts, Mr. Hartley no longer doubted that the box contained a human being. Hartley at once opened the box, when he ascertained that the contents consisted of a very pretty young Chinese woman, in an insensible condition, in consequence of her having been stood on her head while the box was being banged about the depot. She had a blanket with her, which was spread on the floor, and she was put upon it, when the cool air soon revived her; but she refused to answer any questions.

The door of the baggage-room having been left open to admit fresh air, a Chinaman walked in. As soon as the woman set eyes on him, her face became wreathed in smiles, and she stepped forward as it to throw herself in is arms. The Chinaman, however, took a step backward and uttered a Chinese word, which was interpreted by those present as a warning. It was evident that the two understood each other, and attempts were made to engage them in conversation, but they met with no success.

Ah-Jack, the Chinese interpreter, was sent for, when the woman and man told him their story without restraint. The woman said she was not yet eighteen years old, and was brought from China about a year ago. A few months ago she came to Virginia City and became enamored of Ah-Kim, the young Celestial with her, who tried to purchase her freedom from the agent of the Sam Sing Company. The agent demanded $300 cash for the girl, however, and her lover being unable to pay that sum, she agreed that she should be boxed up and shipped in the manner detailed above, unknown to the Sam Sing Company's agent. Her destination was Auburn, Cal., where one of her uncles owns a small store, and the Chinaman wanted the box checked to that place, but the Virginia and Truckee employees refused to check beyond the end of their line, and when the train reached Reno, the lover was not sufficiently up in the customs of the road to have the box rechecked.

This explanation, which was made by Ah-Jack on behalf of Ah-Kim and Ah-Youm, the young woman, was deemed satisfactory, and the westbound overland train having arrived, they proceeded on their way to Auburn, in the smoking-car. A. Meekins, the baggage-master at the depot in Virginia City, says that the box was brought to the depot by two Chinamen just as the train was about to go. He put check No. 310 upon it, and handed it up to the train baggage-man, the Chinamen watching every move, and requesting the baggage-man to put it "Dis way, sabbe!"

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