LA RIVER

The world was full of people. The census of 2010 gave eight billions  for the whole world—eight crab-shells, yes, eight billions. It was not  like to-day. Mankind knew a great deal more about getting food. And the  more food there was, the more people there were. In the year 1800, there  were one hundred and seventy millions in Europe alone. One hundred years  later--a grain of sand, Hoo-Hoo--one hundred years later, at 1900, there  were five hundred millions in Europe--five grains of sand, Hoo-Hoo, and  this one tooth. This shows how easy was the getting of food, and how men  increased. And in the year 2000 there were fifteen hundred millions  in Europe. And it was the same all over the rest of the world. Eight  crab-shells there, yes, eight billion people were alive on the earth  when the Scarlet Death began.

I was a young man when the Plague came -- twenty-seven years old; and I  lived on the other side of San Francisco Bay, in Berkeley. You remember  those great stone houses, Edwin, when we came down the hills from Contra  Costa? That was where I lived, in those stone houses. I was a professor  of English literature.

Much of this was over the heads of the boys, but they strove to  comprehend dimly this tale of the past.   "What was them stone houses for?" Hare-Lip queried.

"You remember when your dad taught you to swim?" The boy nodded.  "Well, in the University of California--;that is the name we had for  the houses--we taught young men and women how to think, just as I have  taught you now, by sand and pebbles and shells, to know how many people  lived in those days. There was very much to teach. The young men and  women we taught were called students. We had large rooms in which we  taught. I talked to them, forty or fifty at a time, just as I am talking  to you now. I told them about the books other men had written before  their time, and even, sometimes, in their time—"

"Was that all you did?--just talk, talk, talk?" Hoo-Hoo demanded. "Who  hunted your meat for you? and milked the goats? and caught the fish?"

Los Angeles, City of Water By JACQUES LESLIE DEC. 6, 2014