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Title: The Children of Cupa
Author: Mannix, Mary E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



THE CHILDREN OF CUPA.



[Illustration: "_The bushes parted, Francisco was there, hearing,
seeing._"--_Page 126._]



                         THE CHILDREN OF CUPA.

                                  BY
                            MARY E. MANNIX,
                     _Author of "As True as Gold,"
                     "Pancha and Panchito," etc._

                    NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO:
                          BENZIGER BROTHERS,
                 _Printers to the Holy Apostolic See_.
                                 1905.



  COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY BENZIGER BROTHERS.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.                                   PAGE
  Summer Plans--The Cupeños                       7

  CHAPTER II.
  The Journey--Francisco                         18

  CHAPTER III.
  At the Spring                                  35

  CHAPTER IV.
  The Missionary                                 49

  CHAPTER V.
  At Church                                      61

  CHAPTER VI.
  Dionysio and Margarita                         73

  CHAPTER VII.
  The Pedlar                                     87

  CHAPTER VIII.
  Falsely Accused                               101

  CHAPTER IX.
  A Jaunt--The Valley of the Rattlesnakes       113

  CHAPTER X.
  The Almirantes                                127

  CHAPTER XI.
  The "Junta"                                   141

  CHAPTER XII.
  The Return                                    152



THE CHILDREN OF CUPA.



CHAPTER I.

SUMMER PLANS.--THE CUPEÑOS.


The mother had been very ill, and the question was, where shall we take
her so that she may get thoroughly well? It must be some place where
the family might accompany her. She had declared that she would not go
without papa and Nellie and Walter.

It was nearing the close of schooltime, and papa's yearly vacation was
at hand, so there would be no difficulty on that score. Some one had
suggested Santa Monica as affording a complete change of scene, but the
doctor tabooed that place and she herself did not care for it.

"She is already too near the sea," the man of medicine said. "She needs
entire change; she would only grow ill again and nervous amid the
clatter of hotel life and the crowds on the beach."

"But we might take a cottage," suggested Aunt Mary.

"Yes--I know those seaside cottages," said the doctor, "that is, those
which are built to rent for the season. A few boards thrown together,
and only a pretence made of papering the walls inside--draughts rushing
through the rooms continually and underneath the house as well. Why,
my dear sir, you can actually see the carpet rising in waves from the
floor. They are all erected on piles, you know. No seaside cottage for
our invalid--no, indeed."

"What do you say to the mountains, doctor?" asked Mr. Page.

"The very thing," was the reply. "But there are objections to be made
in that case also. Accommodations are not usually comfortable--the food
is always plentiful, but not always choice."

"I was thinking of camping," said Mr. Page. "I have a complete camping
outfit and at my call a man, Charlie Dorner, who is the prince of
cooks. He is, besides, a fine general utility man--can do anything."

"That would be the ideal; but," sighed the doctor, "I wish I could go
along."

"And so you can; or join us later."

"Well, we'll see about that. Just now we're talking of Mrs. Page. If
you have an outfit of your own you need not be at anybody's mercy. But
you must not choose too high a location, nor where it is likely to be
too warm, nor an utterly inaccessible place. By that I mean she must
not be too far from the railroad--or her doctor. What do you say to the
Springs? I have an idea that the air and the hot water together would
complete her cure."

"The air!" exclaimed Aunt Mary. "Why, it is only fourteen miles from
here; there can't be any difference in the atmosphere. Besides, those
springs are in a valley; you can't have seen them. The fogs are
dreadful in the early morning I have been told."

"Not at _my_ Springs," said the doctor with a smile. "I'm speaking
of Warner's Ranch, although I've stayed at the others and have seen
wondrous cures effected there, I assure you."

Aunt Mary had not been long in California, but she was fond of "reading
up," and she had been reading about Warner's Ranch.

"Do you mean the springs which belong, or were supposed to belong, to
the Indians, from whose possession they are now going to be taken?"

"Yes," replied the doctor; "and I think the whole proceeding is an
infamous outrage."

Nellie and Walter had been sitting quietly listening to their elders.
But at this point in the conversation Walter, who was thirteen,
exclaimed:

"Oh, papa, let us go there, won't you?

"Just think, Aunt Mary," he continued, "it is a regular Indian village,
and in the summer the Indians move out of their houses and rent them
to the white people. I knew a boy who lived in one, and he said it was
fine. Wouldn't it be grand making believe to be an Indian!"

"I sympathize with those poor creatures very much," said Aunt Mary. "I
think it is heartless to evict them from their homes; but I _don't_
believe I should care to occupy one of the houses. It might not be
clean, you know."

"Well, that's as may be," said the doctor. "I have known persons loud
in their praises of the place, and others whining about dirt and
discomfort. You would not be subject to anything of that kind. You
would have your large, clean, comfortable tents."

"Let's tell mother. Let's ask her if she would like to go," said
Nellie, speaking for the first time.

"Of course she'll like it; she's certain to like it," cried Walter,
springing to his feet. They were not long in ascending the stairs,
though they went quietly, having become accustomed to making as little
noise as possible during their mother's long and serious illness. Now
that she was so much better they had not renounced the habit, which
had become a sort of second nature to them.

"Come in," said a sweet, low voice as Nellie tapped on the door. In a
moment they were both kneeling beside the lounge where their mother lay.

"You don't feel _very_ bad this afternoon, mamma?" inquired Walter,
anxiously.

"Oh, no," she replied. "On the contrary, I am feeling particularly well
and strong to-day. But the doctor says I must lie down the greater part
of the time. I thought I heard his voice just now. Hasn't he gone yet?"

"No; that's why we came, mother," said Nellie. "They're discussing
things in the library. They think now they'll take you to Warner's Hot
Springs, and we want you to go there, we do, badly. Oh, it will be
great fun."

"Papa is talking of getting out the tents and the camping wagon and
taking Charlie Dorner along. Oh, it will be lots of fun. I hope you
like the plan."

"I am sure I shall like it," replied their mother. "I am very fond of
camping. Don't you remember the summer we spent at Broad Beach?"

"Yes, that was lots of fun," said Walter. "But that wasn't anything to
what this will be. Fancy, mother, an Indian village--a real Indian
one. And you can live in their houses if you want to--though Aunt Mary
says she doesn't believe they are very clean."

"We would have our tents," said Nellie. "Dr. Madden says he thinks the
water would do you a great deal of good, mother."

"I feel better already," said the mother, sitting up and smoothing back
her hair. "I want to start at once."

They all laughed, and presently the children were seated beside her,
each holding a hand, wondering when everything would be in readiness
for the start.

"We don't have to get any new clothes, do we?" inquired Nellie, to whom
the bugbear of a summer outfit was receding into the background.

"No; we shall wear our oldest things," replied the mother. "Still, we
shall not aim to make scarecrows of ourselves, my dear, as some people
really seem to do when they go camping."

The children laughed again. "As though you _could_ make a scarecrow
of yourself!" exclaimed Nellie, looking fondly at her fair, delicate
mother in her dainty white wrapper, and shoulder shawl of soft, scarlet
wool.

"But suppose they would put the Indians out while we are there; then
what would we do, mother?" asked Nellie. "I couldn't bear to be near
and see it," said the tender-hearted child. "I think it's dreadful,
don't you, mother?"

"Yes, it is," rejoined her mother. "Yet it does not seem possible to
avoid it."

"Tell us about it, mother, will you?" pleaded Walter. "There has been
much fuss over it in the papers. Why do the Indians have to go away
from this place where they have lived so long?"

Mrs. Page reflected for a moment before replying. Then she said:

"I can't remember all the details, and you would not be interested in
them if I could; but as nearly as I know the facts of the case I shall
try to relate them to you.

"Many years ago Col. Juan José Warner received a grant of immense
tracts of land from the Mexican government. On these lands, or part
of them, some tribes of Indians were then living. They and their
forefathers had lived there for many years. It was a provision of the
grants or patents given by the Mexican government that the 'mission
Indians' were never to be disturbed. In nearly all cases their rights
were respected. Do you understand, dear children?"

Walter nodded, but Nellie said: "Mamma, how was it that the _Mexican_
government granted lands to people in California?"

"Why, don't you know that California was once part of Mexico?" inquired
Walter, with a little air of superiority.

"I believe I used to, but maybe I have forgotten it," murmured Nellie,
quite discomfited, as she always was when her brother asserted his
better knowledge of history and current events.

"Well, mamma, what next?" inquired the boy. "We don't want to 'lose
the thread.' That's what our teacher says when the scholars' attention
seems to wander."

"After some time," resumed Mrs. Page, "this tract of land, known by the
name of Warner's Ranch, was sold to Governor Downey, who did not molest
the Indians. There were several tribes besides those who lived at the
Hot Springs. But later there was a lawsuit, and many endeavors were
made to eject them, on the ground that they had only occupied the land
_after_ it had been granted to Warner.

"This lawsuit has been going on for many years. Recently it has been
decided, very unjustly, most people think, that the Indians must go."

"But where are they to go?" asked Nellie, her round blue eyes opening
with every word. "Where _can_ they go?"

"The United States government will place them on some other
reservation," said Mrs. Page. "A commission has been appointed to
select one where the land is fertile and water plentiful. It will not
be very long now, I think, before some place will be decided upon. It
is a very good thing that every one on the commission is a friend of
the Indians, and would allow them to remain in their present home if
they could arrange it."

"Is Warner's Ranch a very large tract of land, mother?" asked Walter.

"Very large, my son."

"Why can't they let the Indians stay on their little bit of land, then?
They haven't a great deal, have they?"

"Not much, compared with the extent of the whole tract. However, the
owners of the ranch wish to derive profit from the springs, as the
Indians are doing, only they would erect wooden buildings and make many
improvements. They wish to make the springs a popular resort."

"I'd never go there if they did, never!" said Nellie. "How can the
government be so unjust as to put those Indians out, when they have
always lived there?"

"It seems that when the tract was originally sold the Indians should
have presented their claim to the portion they occupied. As they
did not do that, after a certain number of years their rights were
forfeited. That is the law."

"Why didn't they present their claims?" asked Walter.

"Simply, my son, I suppose, because they were ignorant of the
requirements of the law. They had lived there always; they could not
remember having heard of a time when their forefathers had not lived
there. They did not dream they would ever be disturbed. And so it came
to pass that when they were informed steps had been taken to eject them
they paid no attention to it."

"Why didn't they get a lawyer to attend to it for them?"

"After some time they did. There were able lawyers employed on both
sides. The suit has lasted for many years, has been taken from one
court to another, and now it has been finally decided that the Indians
must go. I have heard that many of them still refuse to believe it."

"I call it a beastly shame," said Walter. "Why don't they fight?"

"What could a couple of hundred warriors do against the United States
government?" replied Mrs. Page.

"I thought the Comanches and Apaches, and those Indian tribes liked to
fight just for the sake of fighting," said Nellie.

"That is probably true," replied Mrs. Page; "but our California
Indians are neither Comanches nor Apaches, my dear. They have always
been peaceful, and have been called the 'mission Indians' from the
time of the first establishment of the Spanish Franciscans at San
Diego. The Warner Ranch Indians are called _Cupeños_, from _Cupa_, the
name given to the hot springs. Comfortable and happy they were while
under the control of the mission Fathers; but since the time that the
missions were abolished and the priests scattered things have been very
different. That was after the Mexican War, about which you both know
something, I believe. Certainly Walter does."

"I'm very anxious to go, aren't you, mother?" asked Walter.

"Yes, if it has been decided that it will benefit me," said Mrs. Page.
"I should like to start to-morrow if I could."

"Here they come--papa, Aunt Mary and the doctor," said Nellie, as
footsteps were heard ascending the stairs; "I hope they haven't found
many objections."

Everybody was smiling as they entered, and the doctor said: "Mrs. Page,
no doubt the little ones have prepared you for our verdict. We have
decided to send you to the hot springs. The sooner you are ready to
start the better."



CHAPTER II.

THE JOURNEY.--FRANCISCO.


On a bright morning in early June, Charlie Dorner drove up to the
Pages' door with a large camping wagon, to which two strong, stout
mules were harnessed. The wagon was then laden with things brought from
the house in barrels, boxes, baskets, and bundles. One not familiar
with the capacity of California mules would have thought it impossible
for two animals to haul the tremendous load on the long climb, which
was to end sixty miles in the mountains, three thousand feet above the
level of the sea.

Charlie Holden, in a suit of corduroy, with high boots and leggings,
and a huge sombrero of Mexican make on his curly red head, excited the
admiration of Walter, who had never seen him before. The mules started
off without balking after one crack of Charlie's whip. The speed with
which they started was not great, but Mr. Page, who stood with the
children watching the departure, said they would be likely to keep the
same pace until their destination was reached on the afternoon of the
following day.

"I'd like awfully well to go along," said Walter. "I wish I had thought
of it before. Would you have let me go, papa?"

"No; I think it is better that we should all keep together," said Mr.
Page. "I am sure mother would not have considered it for a moment."

"I think it is nearly time to start, don't you, father?" inquired
Nellie, consulting a diminutive silver watch which her mother had given
her on her tenth birthday. "Why, it's almost _eight_ o'clock, and the
train goes at nine."

Mr. Page laughed. "The cab will not be here before half-past," he said;
"and even then we shall have more than ample time to reach the train."

Nellie sighed. "I think I'll go in and see if I can do anything for
mamma," she said. "This does seem such a dreadfully long morning."

"You were up at half-past five," said Mr. Page. "That is why it seems
so long. But we shall be off pretty soon, and then you will find time
flying. At least I hope so, for we have quite a journey before us."

When they were seated at last in the train in which they were to
make the first part of the trip, with the mother well wrapped in her
traveling cloak, the children amused themselves by looking out of
the car windows at the groves of lemons, oranges, and nuts extending
on both sides of the railroad. Thus an hour passed quickly, and the
station where they were to leave the train was reached.

"The mountains are beginning already," said Walter, as they stood
on the platform awaiting the arrival of the stage. It was indeed a
wild-looking spot. Sheer from the road high hills rose ruggedly,
clothed here and there with mesquite bushes and wild fern, now
beginning to wither through lack of rain.

"Yes, the mountains are beginning, as you say," remarked Mr. Page. "We
shall have ample opportunity to become acquainted with them to-day."

As he spoke a buggy, rather dilapidated in appearance, the horse driven
by a Mexican, came in sight. Mr. Page and his wife had arranged to drive
in this, thinking it would not be so fatiguing as riding in the stage.

"Good-morning, Juan," said Mr. Page.

"Good-morning, Señor," the man replied. "Not very pretty, this, says
Señor Smith, but comfortable, yes."

"Well, we care more for comfort than beauty just here and now,"
rejoined Mr. Page. "Mother," he continued, turning to his wife, "are
you ready to drive with me for the eight hours or so?"

"Oh, not so long, Señor," said the man. "In six you will be well at
Santa Isabel."

"We do not go so far to-night, I think," said Mr. Page. "However, that
will depend on circumstances."

Mrs. Page was ready. "Shall we start at once, Ralph?" she inquired. "Or
shall we wait and see the others off first?"

"We ought to go ahead of them," said the husband; "otherwise we shall
have the dust of the road in our eyes all the way. Those stage horses
make clouds of dust."

"Well, then, we had better go ahead. Let us wait, though, till the stage
arrives. I want to feel that they are coming just behind us," she said.

"Here it is now!" shouted Walter.

"My patience!" exclaimed Aunt Mary. "What a ramshackle affair it
is--nothing but a dilapidated covered wagon."

The driver, a thin-faced, dark-skinned young man with a strong nasal
accent, showed a set of brilliant teeth as he rejoined pleasantly:

"Mebbe it _looks_ ramshackle, miss; but you'll find it all right as a
carrier. There's lots of folks come up and down _oncet_ or _twicet_ a
week just for the pleasure of ridin' in this here stage."

With these words he threw the reins over the backs of the horses and,
stepping upon the platform, prepared to put in the freight and baggage
before seating the passengers. Sack after sack, box after box, package
after package was deposited in the immense "boot" at the back of the
vehicle; then the space under and between the seats was filled to its
utmost capacity.

"See here," said Mr. Page, who had been watching the transfer with some
concern, "where are you going to put your passengers? Or, rather, where
are they going to put their feet? Do you intend to have them sit Turk
fashion on the seats?"

The driver showed his brilliant teeth once more as he answered,
good-humoredly: "Plenty of room for passengers, mister. I understand
you and the lady are goin' in the buggy. There won't be no one in the
stage, 'ceptin' the other lady and the little boy and gal and myself.
You ought to see 'em sometimes, settin' on each other's laps."

"Oh, there's room enough in one way," said Mr. Page; "but they will
have no place to rest their feet. Why do you crowd the stage with
baggage and freight? Why don't you have an extra wagon?"

"Ha, ha!" laughed the driver, though not at all disrespectfully. "That
_would_ be a cost--to freighters.

"But," he continued, quite seriously, "this is a larger load of freight
and baggage than usual. There's going to be a party up at Julian
to-night, and there's a good many extras.

"If you'll step in now, ladies," he went on, turning politely to Aunt
Mary and Nellie, "you can have your choice of seats. The lady can
set in the back with the hull seat to herself, and she won't have to
sit Turk fashion, neither. The little gal can do the same, and when
you put a robe at your back--plenty of 'em here--you'll be like you
was reclinin' on a couch. Otherwise, I don't deny that if you sit up
straight you'll have your knees at your chin, for there won't be no
other place to put 'em, with the boxes and bags on the floor. The
little feller can set with me in front."

Walter sprang into the place allotted him.

"Hello!" he exclaimed. "_Our_ legs are not going to be cramped. You've
got all the baggage under the other seats behind there."

"That's the way it's got to be," said the driver gravely. "Got to have
my legs free to steer the ship. Holdin' them mules ain't always a joke."

"Oh, are they dangerous?" queried Aunt Mary in alarm, in the act of
gathering her skirts about her to enter the vehicle. Nellie was already
seated sidewise on her perch.

"Not a bit dangerous, ma'am," rejoined the driver. "Never been an
accident on this here line. But there could be, and there might be
without keerful drivers--we have 'em on this route----"

"And couldn't you, don't you think, dust off the seats?" asked Aunt
Mary, still hesitating, her skirts in her hands.

The boy here burst into a fit of uncontrollable mirth. "It's plain to
be seen this here's your first trip to the mountains, ma'am. Why, what
would be the use? Before we get to Witch Creek we'll be fairly eatin'
dust."

With a solemn shake of the head, but making no further remarks, Aunt
Mary now took her place. Giving her and Nellie each a heavy woolen
blanket to serve as cushions for their backs, the driver also prepared
to envelop them in linen robes, to preserve them as much as possible
from the dust they were to "eat" before nightfall.

"Oh, I can't have that thing around me," said Nellie, tossing it aside.
"I want to be able to move about. I'm not afraid of the dust."

Mrs. Page, who stood beside her husband watching the proceedings, was
about to remonstrate, but the husband said:

"Let her alone, Martha. The dust will not hurt her. The child is right."

The driver nodded his head in approbation and prepared to take his own
seat. "Here comes the mail," he said, as a short, squat man approached,
carrying a sack on his shoulder. "We'll be off in a jiffy now."

"There you are, Dingley!" the man called out as he flung the mail pouch
at Walter's feet.

"Come, mother," said Mr. Page, helping his wife into the buggy; "we
must get a start, or _we'll_ be in for the dust."

"That's so," rejoined Dingley, "that's so. I'll give ye five minutes'
start to forge ahead."

Presently the brisk little buggy horse was trotting ahead, and as it
turned the first bend of the road the stage driver touched his mules.
Off they started.

Despite the dust which covered them from head to foot, even penetrating
the luncheon basket (which they opened about noon by the side of a
tiny, clear spring half hidden amid a grove of cottonwood trees), the
party enjoyed the ride very much. By the time they reached Witch Creek,
where they intended passing the night if Mrs. Page felt much fatigued,
she thought herself fully able to push on to Santa Isabel. From there
they would have to make an early start for the hot springs next morning.

Three miles and a half further on their journey ended for the day. They
had enjoyed every inch of it, yet were delighted to find themselves,
at the close of the day, in the long, white, one-story hotel, set
invitingly amid a grove of trees larger than any they had seen in
California. After an appetizing supper they retired to rest. Everybody
slept well, and seven o'clock found them ready for the road once more.

To the surprise of the children, who thought they were to make the
remainder of their journey in the company of their friend Dingley, they
learned that such was not the case. He had continued on his route up to
Julian. The way of our travelers lay in another direction. It was a
delight to step into the spring wagon awaiting them, to find themselves
speeding along the edge of the foot-hills, through the broad valley,
until, almost before they had become accustomed to their surroundings,
the driver, pointing to a speck in the distance, apparently at the very
base of a rugged mountain, announced: "There are the hot springs."

"How close to the mountain they are," said Walter.

"Not so close as they seem," was the reply. "They are seven miles
distant, but the atmosphere is so clear that they appear much nearer."

A sudden turn in the road now hid the village from view. As they wound
on and on it would reappear and disappear, always under some new aspect
of wild picturesqueness and beauty.

"You see that highest peak over there, just above the village?" said
the driver, pointing with his whip. "Well, that is the 'Eagle.' The two
other mountains nearest are called the 'Rabbit' and the 'Squaw.'"

"What lies behind that small mountain chain at whose foot the village
seems to nestle?" inquired Aunt Mary.

"The desert," replied the driver. "Those hills are all that separate
these lands from the dreariest wastes you ever saw."

Soon they came in sight of small, cultivated patches of land, whose
rich, black soil gave evidence of its fertility. Adobe houses, with
brush additions, could be seen everywhere. The sound of falling water
pleasantly greeted their ears.

"Is there a waterfall here?" asked Mrs. Page.

"No, ma'am," said the driver. "At least, not a natural waterfall. That
sound is made by the waste water from the bathhouses flowing into the
irrigation ditch, which is used by all these people in turn to irrigate
their lands."

Some one shouted "Hello!" and in a moment Charlie Dorner was seen
approaching. "Turn in this way, if you please," he said. "I've found a
splendid camping place--not too sunny, not too shady, not too close to
anybody, yet very near the baths."

Mrs. Page remained in the wagon, but the others were soon following
Charlie down a short incline leading to a miniature grove of
cottonwoods. A pair of pepper trees stood guard at the entrance. The
main tent--there were three--was arranged as a sitting-room. Here Mrs.
Page and Aunt Mary and Nellie were to sleep. During the day their bunks
were fastened to the sides of the tent and hidden by curtains. A large
rug covered the boarded floor. Board floors are somewhat of a luxury
among the Cupa folk, especially the campers.

A table covered by a dark red cloth stood in the middle. Comfortable
camp chairs were scattered all about. In one of the other tents Mr.
Page and Walter were to sleep, in another Charlie would take up his
quarters.

An abandoned brush-house in the rear, about fifteen feet square, had
been converted into a kitchen and dining-room, divided by an archway
made of pepper boughs. When Mrs. Page arrived she was shown to the tent
sitting-room. She pronounced it perfect.

The children, eager to explore the neighborhood, scarcely took time to
unpack their belongings before they asked to be allowed to go out for a
walk. Permission being given, their father said he would go along. "Oh,
yes, do come, papa," said Nellie. "You can show us everything."

"We are now on the outskirts of Cupa," he said merrily as, after
descending the declivity which led to their camping place, they stood
at the head of a street, or road, with houses straggling on either
side to the number of forty or fifty. In the distance could be seen
flourishing vineyards and green patches of land.

Here and there a man was lazily ploughing. To the left arose a great
cloud of steam ascending slowly into the air, where it was soon lost in
the clear blue.

"There are the springs," said Mr. Page. "Shall we go down?"

"Yes, yes, let us go!" cried both children. As they strolled along the
dusty street Walter observed that he saw only white people.

"Where are the Indians?" he inquired anxiously. "Have they gone so far
away from their homes that we can't see them at all?"

"Oh, no," replied the father. "On our return, if we take a short cut to
the right, we shall probably see a good many of them living in those
brush-houses."

And it so proved. After they had gone down to the springs, surveyed
the boiling pools bursting from the solid granite and taken a drink
from one of them, they returned by the back road, and found that every
brush-house they passed was inhabited by Indians, in various stages of
comfort or discomfort. These houses generally stood from fifty to a
hundred feet in the rear of the adobe dwelling, rented for the season
at a good price to the visitors in search of health or recreation.

The people manifested no curiosity at the appearance of the strangers;
even the Indian children were stolid and indifferent. Later the Pages
were to learn that the reserve could be broken when they came to look
upon the strangers as friends. Making a détour, the trio advanced toward
the church, which stood on a slight knoll overlooking the village.

Everything around it was bleak and lean, the plaster falling from the
walls both outside and inside. They tried to enter, but the door was
locked. Through the windows they could see the little altar adorned
with bright tissue-paper flowers. There appeared to be no one in the
vicinity, and Walter, in a spirit of mischief, picked up a stick from
the ground and touched the bell which hung in front of the door on two
heavy crossbeams, gnarled and worm-eaten.

"Walter, you should not have done that," said the father, as a single,
sharp, clear note resounded through the air.

"It is what they all do," said a boyish voice back of him. "It is a
beautiful sound, don't you think?"

"Where did you come from, my boy?" asked Mr. Page as the young stranger
advanced. He was about Walter's age, clad in blue overalls and flannel
shirt. The battered felt hat which served him as head covering was held
in his hand.

"I live there," he replied, pointing to a ruined adobe house at some
distance behind the church. "I live there with Mauricio. He is my
uncle. He is the priest."

"The priest!" exclaimed Mr. Page. "And living in such a place! Are you
not an Indian boy?" he continued, looking at the swarthy skin, black
eyes and raven hair. "Surely you are an Indian, and there are no Indian
priests, in this country, at least."

"He is not a real priest, my uncle," replied the boy. "But that is what
they call him--the Protestants, I mean. I told you that way just for
fun."

He was smiling broadly, showing his white teeth, and his eyes twinkled
merrily.

"How did you know we were Catholics?" inquired Mr. Page rather gravely,
not very well pleased at this facetiousness.

"I saw you kneel in front of the church, I saw you make the sign of the
cross; and I knew then that you did not come to make fun, as so many do."

"But why do _you_ make fun and tell us your uncle is a priest when he
is not one? Where is he now?"

"He is away at Palomas--at the sheep-shearing," said the boy. "I will
tell it to you what I mean. My uncle takes care for the church--the
Father comes not often here any more, and every Sunday my uncle
rings the bell, or sometimes I do, and the people come, and he says
the prayers aloud. And that is why the people who do not know about
Catholics call him the priest. We let them do; we don't care. They
don't know much--some of them."

"You speak English very well," said Walter.

"And why not?" answered the boy. "I have been to school six years at
Deming, at the Mission. Maybe I go back in the fall, I don't know."

"What is your name?" inquired Mr. Page.

"I am called Francisco Perez," was the reply. "I will fetch water for
you, or wood, or do anything that I can do, and I will not charge you
much. Oh, I can do many things, for I have been to the Mission to
school."

"Are there many boys here?" asked Walter.

"What kind of boys?" questioned Francisco. "White boys, or Indian?"

"Oh, any kind."

"Just now there are no white boys but you. Maybe some will come. And not
many Indians, either. Many are gone to Mesa Grande and around there,
picking berries and cherries, and then there will be the grape picking."

"Will you play with us sometimes and show us places?" continued Walter.

Francisco laughed. "I do not play much," he said, "and there are not
places to show. You see how it is," with a swing of his hand over the
valley. "But I will do what I can."

"We are camping down there," said Mr. Page, pointing to the three white
tents in the midst of the cottonwood grove.

"You have the best place. In a week you could not have got there, for
others are coming soon and would have taken it."

"Well, come down, Francisco, and we'll see what we can do," said Mr.
Page. "You look like a good boy, and Walter will want a companion.
Good-by for the present."

"_Adios_," said Francisco, retracing his steps to his ruined dwelling
and, the children noticed, not once looking back, though they followed
him with their eyes until he disappeared within the doorless opening to
his home. When they got back to camp Charlie was waiting with a dinner
of fried rabbit, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, and melons purchased from
the Indians that morning. As they sat in the brush dining-room, within
sound of the pleasant waterfall, around the well-spread table, all were
unanimous in declaring that the viands could not have been surpassed.



CHAPTER III.

AT THE SPRING.


"I suggest that we all take a little _siesta_," said Aunt Mary after
dinner. "We shall feel much better for the rest of the day if we do."

The children looked at each other. Siestas had not entered into their
plans at all.

"We don't have to, do we, mother?" asked Walter. "You know Nellie and I
never do such a dreadful thing at home."

"What do you purpose doing?" inquired their father.

"Oh, we didn't know," said Walter. "We thought of going down to the
springs again and watching the people bathe."

"They don't _bathe_ in the pools from which they drink, surely," said
Aunt Mary in disgust. "Don't tell me they do that, Walter."

"I thought there was another pool," said Walter. "I'm certain I heard
them say something about washing down there this morning."

"Oh, that man was speaking of the laundry where the women wash the
clothes," said Mr. Page. "He said it was quite interesting to watch
them."

"Bother!" said Walter. "I thought there was a pool for bathing, and
that we might paddle about in it, just as we used to do at Ti Juana.
But, anyhow, Nellie and I don't want to take any _siesta_, do we,
Nellie?"

His sister shook her head. "Just let's go out and ramble around," she
said. "We'll find something to amuse us."

"There is something already," said Mr. Page, as the clear note of a
bird broke upon the midday stillness. Soft and sweet it trilled, then
loud and shrill, then quivered down to a melancholy note, and again
gradually ascended, terminating in one long, beautiful, slowly-dying
tremolo.

"_What_ can that be?" cried Mrs. Page. "It seems almost like an angel's
song. I have never heard anything like it."

"It is only me--Francisco," said a boyish voice on the outside, while
a pair of bright eyes peered in between the interstices of the sylvan
dining-room.

"Come in, come in!" cried Walter, hurrying from his place. "I want
mother to see you."

"Mother," he continued, as the boy entered slowly, cap in hand, "this
is Francisco, our friend whom we met near the church this morning. Is
there anything he can do?"

Mrs. Page extended her slim white hand. The boy took it and said: "I
can work very well. I could fetch water."

"I do not believe there is anything you _could_ do," replied Mrs. Page.
"We have a man who does all we require. We shall not need any carrying
of water, I think. I see there are hydrants not far away."

"Oh, but that is not to drink--that water. It is not so _very_ good,"
said Francisco. "But farther up, about half a mile, or maybe a little
more, there is a beautiful spring. _That_ is nice and cold and good
to drink. Some carry it in buckets, but I would fetch it on a little
wagon, in a barrel. And I can give you another barrel in which to keep
it. Out there under the largest pepper tree it would be very good."

"Do you hear, Charlie?" asked Mr. Page. "Francisco tells us he can
bring very good drinking water. It will be an excellent plan, I think,
so let him do it."

"Yes," replied Charlie, appearing from the other end of the room. "I was
going to ask what we should do about drinking water. That which comes
through the pipe just above here is very warm. The hill being so bare is
always sunny. I've seen people bringing that other water right along."

Mr. Page turned to Francisco. "You have a horse, then?" he asked.

"Oh, yes; we have two horses. Shall I get my wagon? Will you like the
water? I can bring the barrel along for you."

"Very well; go and fetch it," said Mr. Page.

"Oh, father, may I go with him?" pleaded Walter.

"To the spring? Yes; if he is willing to take you," replied his father.

"Yes, I meant to ask. And the little girl maybe, too, if she will,"
said Francisco.

"Yes, papa; yes, mamma, let me go," Nellie begged.

"Very well," both replied, but Aunt Mary said:

"Don't you think it rather tomboyish, to use a mild word, to go about
that way with two boys?"

"One of them is her brother, Aunt Mary," hastily interjected Walter.
"Nellie has always played with boys."

"It won't harm the child a bit," said Mr. Page.

Francisco smiled and said:

"The horse is very slow. He cannot hurt. He is an old one, mine. Once
he was turned out to die, and I begged for him. So my uncle gave him.
And he helps earn me my living now. When you see him I think you will
laugh; but he is very good, as I said, my Rosinante."

"Where did you hear that name?" inquired Aunt Mary.

"A gentleman told me to call that name to my horse. He said there was a
story about it--in Spanish."

"Don Quixote," said Aunt Mary pleasantly. "Did you ever hear about it?"

"Only that the bones of a horse were once coming through the skin,"
replied Francisco. "And so it was with mine. But now he is not so bad.
I will go quickly and bring the cart."

Walter looked at his father.

"Yes, go along," said Mr. Page. "Nellie will wait until you come back."

"But about the money--I was forgetting," said Francisco. "Is it too
much for every barrel to pay twenty-five cents?"

"Not at all. It is quite reasonable," said Mr. Page.

"There will be perhaps two every week."

"That will be all right."

"Very good," said Francisco.

The two boys left the tent, beginning a lively race with each other at
once. Francisco soon outdistanced Walter, but magnanimously refusing
to presume on his superior skill, waited for him under an oak tree
which stood, beautiful and solitary, in the middle of the road.

"You are a fine runner, Francisco," said Walter, when he arrived.

"I was best at the Mission," the boy replied. "At the Fiestas we always
run, and, of the boys, Juan Palos and me--we most always get the prize."

"When do you have the Fiesta?"

"Oh, in October, on the third--the Feast of San Francisco. It is his
church, you see. But this year there will not be any, for the people
will need to save their money if they must go away to some other place."

"It is too bad that they have to go," said Walter.

"You think it is true, then? there is no hope? What thinks your father?"

"He says they will have to leave. But the government will find them
some other place."

"It will be hard," said the boy, "and it is not just. But, if it must
be, it must."

"I wish I could see a Fiesta. What do they have?"

"Oh, first Mass and Benediction; and the people are married, and the
children get baptized. Afterward they have games, and they dance.
Once, for three years the priest did not come, because they would not
give up the gambling."

"Do Indians gamble?" asked Walter, in surprise.

"Oh, yes, they do, and very much. They lose a great deal of money that
way. But from the whites they have learned it, I believe."

Walter did not know what reply to make to this assertion, doubtless
a true one. They walked at a quick pace till they reached the ruined
adobe, Francisco's home, behind which stood the wagon--three or four
long, unplaned boards set on four wheels. The horse was grazing some
distance away.

"I will catch Rosinante," said Francisco, taking an armful of hay from
a pile.

"If you are thirsty there is, inside, a clean cup, and there at the
other end, by the tree, an _otla_ with water."

Walter felt quite thirsty. Moreover, he was somewhat curious to see
the inside of a genuine Indian dwelling. It seemed very dark to him,
coming out of the hot, bright sunshine. There was a window facing
the door, but every pane of glass was gone. The sill was so wide as
to form a very comfortable seat. The thick walls and smooth earthen
floor made the place feel very cool. The room contained very little
furniture--two cots, one at either end; in the middle a table, with
clean plates, cups and saucers; also a couple of boxes and a pair of
broken chairs. The house was almost roofless, save for the withered
boughs which had been laid across the broad, irregular openings.
Nothing could have been more humble; yet everything was clean and
orderly.

Francisco came with Rosinante as Walter was replacing the cup.

"That is very good water," he said.

"The same as you will have to drink," replied Francisco. "See, here is
your barrel. I thought it better to take but one. I can change twice a
week. Now I will harness Rosinante."

This was soon done; the barrel was placed on the wagon and fastened
with a couple of thongs. Walter took his place beside Francisco, and
they rattled away, down the hill. Nellie was on the watch; when they
reached the tent Francisco and Walter got off and told her to take
their place, saying they would drive her up the hill, but that she
would have to walk down. "The full barrel of water is quite enough for
Rosinante, Francisco says," explained Walter. "Besides, if the thongs
that tie the barrel to the wagon should break, it might fall over on
you and kill you."

The whole family stood at the door of the large tent to see them off,
Nellie gaily waving her hand to them.

"Is there not some danger that they may fall into the boiling spring?"
asked Aunt Mary, anxiously, as they passed out of sight.

Aunt Mary was the widow of Mr. Page's uncle. He could not help smiling,
occasionally, at her causeless fears.

"I'm afraid you will not enjoy your trip unless you try to be less
fearful of accidents," he said. "They are not going in the direction of
the hot springs. However, they would not be injured if they did fall
in. They could clamber out at once. You must come down with me after a
while to see the springs."

"I think I shall wait until Martha is able to go," said Aunt Mary;
"perhaps to-morrow. If the odor when one is near is any worse, or even
as bad, as the whiffs we get of it here, I should not think people
could either drink the water or bathe in it."

"One gets to like it after a while," said Mr. Page. "I have heard that
after a sojourn here people can not bear to drink cold water for some
time."

"I am already longing for a cool drink," said his wife.

"The children will not be gone very long, I think," rejoined her
husband.

The trio were enjoying themselves very much at that moment.
Francisco was hailed by several persons with the reminder that their
water-barrels were almost empty, and to each demand he replied
courteously that he would attend to it. Turning off from the road, they
crossed the path which led to the pools, and were soon on a rough,
uneven highway, stony and bleak. A few moments brought them to a sharp
divide, which they skirted for some distance till they came to a place
where the steep sides were worn away by wagon wheels. On the other
side of this cañon everything was green and luxuriant, in remarkable
contrast to the ground they had just left. A well-worn trail wound in
and out among the trees, which grew closer together as they ascended
the verdant slope. A tiny stream, seemingly not broader than a silver
ribbon, trickled along to meet them.

"Now we are there," said Francisco, at length, pausing under the shade
of a magnificent oak tree.

"Isn't it lovely!" cried Nellie, springing from the wagon.

To the left, from a granite boulder, a living stream of water was
trickling, forming a miniature pool. Francisco, with great dexterity,
steered his wagon beneath the stream in such a position that the water
would flow into the upright barrel.

"Let us go now a little while the water is filling, and look about," he
said to the children. "It is very pretty here." And so it was.

They climbed up the bank, pushing the fragrant bushes aside, and came
suddenly upon a broad plateau of many acres, dotted at intervals with
splendid forest trees. In the distance the rugged, blue mountains
stretched along the horizon. All was radiant, still, and incomparably
lovely.

The children ran about for a time, then seated themselves under one of
the massive trees. Presently they heard a crashing noise in the bushes,
and a red head appeared. In a moment they saw that it belonged to a boy
about Walter's age, a most ungainly and unattractive-looking person.
His eyes were small and close together, his teeth uneven and protruding.

"Hello!" he cried as he saw Walter and Nellie; then, catching sight of
Francisco, he made a horrible face.

The Indian boy looked at him calmly, but said nothing.

"Hello!" he repeated, throwing himself on the ground beside Walter.

"Hello!" responded Walter, coolly. He did not like the aspect of the
newcomer any more than he did his attitude toward Francisco.

"When did you get here?" inquired the red-haired boy, "and how long are
you going to stay?"

"We came this morning, and we may stay all summer," replied Walter.

The boy edged nearer him. Francisco got up and walked away, followed by
Nellie.

"Isn't he horrid?" she said when they got out of hearing-distance.

"Never mind. I will tell you after," said Francisco, "when he is gone.
I do not care what he will say about me. If you like, I will make you a
staff. It is easier to walk up and down these hills with one."

"I'd rather you would make one for mamma," said Nellie.

"I will make for her one, too."

"I will make for her one-two," said a mocking voice behind them. "You
can't speak English--you can't. Why don't you talk Indian?"

Francisco turned sharply around. Walter and the unwelcome visitor were
just behind them, Walter evidently bent on quitting him.

"If I talked Indian you could not understand me," said Francisco,
pausing squarely in front of the red-haired tormentor; "but if I knock
you down Indian, then perhaps you will understand."

"Oh, boys, don't fight," began Nellie, in alarm. "Papa will never let
us come out here again if you do. Please, boys."

"He dasn't fight. He's afraid. He had to promise he wouldn't. His
priest won't let him, he won't. He's an old Catholic, he is."

"So are we Catholics," cried Walter, pausing and setting his feet
squarely apart. "We _all_ are Catholics."

"Like that Indian?" scornfully inquired the other, pointing to
Francisco, who now came, with flashing eyes, closer to Walter.

"Yes, like that Indian," Walter replied, unabashed. "Who's meddling
with you? Get off here this minute, or I'll make you."

"Boys, boys," pleaded Nellie again, "please don't fight. Let him go."

"I've got as good a right here as any of you old Catholics," sneered
their antagonist; but it was noticeable that he gradually backed away
as he spoke.

Once more he made a repulsive face; then he began to sing, in a nasal
voice:

      "Indian, Indian, never die--
      Yellow skin and mean eye,
      Black----"

He did not finish the stanza. Francisco sprang forward, seized him
about the waist, and rolled him down the bank.

"There! Finish your song where no one can hear it but yourself," said
the Indian, calmly returning to his companions. Shouts of anger,
followed by whimpers of pain, came up from below.

"Oh, Francisco," exclaimed Nellie, "if you haven't hurt him very much,
I think I am glad."

"Hurt him!" echoed Walter. "That wouldn't hurt a fly--such an easy
setting-down as he got."

"I did not hurt him, and I would not. I was not so angry with him, as
that he makes me tired. I do not like to see him where I am. He might
have followed us for a long time else."

"But maybe he'll be waiting for us down there to fight," said Nellie.

"No, he will not," answered the Indian boy. "He is a coward. He will
go off home as quickly as he can. And then, maybe, some day when I am
passing where I can not see him, he will throw a stone. Oh, I know him
very well. What did he say to you, Walter, when we walked away?"

"He said: 'Do you play with _Indians_?'"

"And what did you say?"

"'Go away--no one asked you to come here,' I said. Then I got up and he
followed me."



CHAPTER IV.

THE MISSIONARY.


"Ah, the water overflows," said Francisco, as they once more came in
sight of the spring. He hurried down the bank, turned the horse round,
tightened the thongs holding the barrel so that it would stand firmly
on the wagon, and the boys began to retrace their steps.

As soon as they were on level ground again, Francisco, with the reins
in his hand, the other two walking beside him, pointed to a frame
dwelling a little removed from the others at the top of a little hill.

"You see that house?" he said. "It is where he lives--that boy. He
came last month, with his mother and sister. They tell that the lady is
a missionary from India. Have you heard of women doing like that?"

He looked earnestly at the two children, awaiting their reply.

"In the Protestant churches they do send women to far countries as
missionaries," rejoined Walter.

"That is funny," replied Francisco, reflectingly. "It may be well, if
they are savages in India; but here we do not want them, I think."

"Are they here to convert the Indians?" asked Nellie.

"For the good waters, they say--but maybe, too, for other things. Oh, I
tell you, we have plenty of such people in the summer. But they can not
hurt very much.

"One day I was going for water, just like now," he continued. "The
horse I could not find. After a while I saw this boy riding him
bareback, and I said to him: 'You ride pretty well, but it is my horse,
and I want him!' But he made one of his faces, and said he would not
get off, and called me a dirty Indian. Then I pulled him off, and he
struck me. After that I knocked him down, and my uncle came out from
the house and said it was wrong to do so--that it was never known that
the Indians quarreled with the whites at the Springs. So then I made my
excuse to the boy and promised I would not quarrel again; but my uncle
said to him that he must not take my horse again. And then he mocked my
uncle; and I was going to hit him, but my uncle held me, and he said:
'Go away, boy. You are not a good boy.'"

"And then what did he do?" asked Walter.

"He put out his tongue, and just as he did so a lady came from around
the corner by the church. She stopped and said: 'My son, that is not
polite. You must not let the savages teach you how to behave.'"

"I'm sure you got angry again then, didn't you?" said Walter.

"Well, I did, and my uncle a little, too. He spoke for me. He said we
were not savages, but Christian people. As he was speaking, that boy
had picked up a stone, and, sneaking behind my uncle, he hit him in the
back of the head. Once more I was going to fight with him, but my uncle
took my arm, and he said: 'Promise me you will not strike that boy,
either now or ever!' I promised, and we went away and left them. That
is all--except that sometimes, when he sees me, he tries very hard to
make me angry."

"He'd better not talk very much to me," said Walter. "I'm not afraid
of him. If I gave him one good lamming, I guess he'd stop."

"You must not _think_ of quarreling with him, Walter," said Nellie.

"I sha'n't, if he lets me alone," her brother replied. "But if he turns
out to be a nagger, I'll settle him, once and for all."

"Would you like to see the _Lavenderia_?" asked Francisco, as a company
of Indian women passed them with huge bundles thrown across their
shoulders.

"What is that?" Nellie inquired.

"What you call washing-house--laundry," replied the boy. "They are
going now to wash. All day long, from early, early morning, they come.
For so it must be. They have to wash the clothes, but all cannot do
it at once; so one week a few come in the early morning, and others
later; and the next week the late ones come first. But always, except
on Sunday, until night they are washing."

"Shall we leave the water here and go now?" asked Nellie.

"I think not," replied Francisco. "It is better first to leave the
water at your camp; then you can sit on the wagon again, and your
brother and I will walk beside."

"Let's hurry up, then," said Nellie. "I just love to watch those women
as they trot along. But why don't the men help them carry those heavy
bundles."

Francisco regarded her for a moment with astonishment.

"Carry clothes to the wash?" he said. "It is not men's work--that."

Nellie did not reply. She was not going to quarrel with Francisco.
But in her kind little heart she thought the noble Indian wanting in
chivalry to the weaker sex.

Everyone at the camp was glad to see them; they had been gone exactly
an hour and a half.

"You can't make an Indian hurry," Charlie had said when Mrs. Page began
to grow uneasy. "Nothing can happen to the young folk; the boy is all
right, and they're nothing but children."

Francisco led the horse to the back of the large tent, and with
Charlie's assistance placed the barrel under the pepper tree; a
gourd-dipper was produced from Charlie's countless stores, and everyone
had a drink of the delightful, cool water.

"If you will take a piece of cheese-cloth," said Francisco, "and,
running a string through, tie it around the top of the barrel, wetting
it always, it will keep cool the water, and the flies away."

"A very good idea, Francisco," said Aunt Mary, preparing to go in
search of the cheese-cloth, needle, and tape, at once.

"And now, if we may, I will take them to see the _Lavenderia_," said
the Indian boy. "They wish to look at the washing going on."

"I don't care so much for it, but Nellie does," said Walter.

"You do so--every bit as much as I do--Walter," rejoined Nellie. "Only
you think it's like a girl to go and see them washing."

"No; it isn't that," said Walter, when everybody had finished laughing.
"But maybe they won't like our looking at them."

"They are probably used to it by this time," said Mr. Page. "People
have been watching them for many years."

Up and down the hills they clattered briskly once more with the wagon,
Rosinante doing her best to make a record for speed, with Nellie behind
her. When they reached the top of the hill above the first spring, they
left the wagon and scrambled down the steep, rocky pathway. At some
little distance from the others, a separate pool for washing had been
roofed over very picturesquely. It reminded one of old pictures of
Hygeian temples. The sides were open, allowing the looker-on to see the
washerwomen, squatting on their heels, soaping the clothes or leaning
over the steaming water. Young and old, to the number of perhaps a
dozen, they worked and chattered, apparently altogether oblivious of
those who regarded them.

Flat granite slabs served them for washboards. Vigorously, indeed, did
they ply their arms. Some were rinsing, a few wringing out, and others
spreading the garments, white as snow, either on the ground or on the
straggling bushes in the vicinity.

"I could watch them forever," said Nellie, when Walter, having made a
little journey around the place with Francisco, told her he thought
they should be going campward. "I'm going to ask mamma to let me come
down here to-morrow and wash some napkins."

"Would they allow her to wash there?" asked Walter.

"Yes, if she would like; anyone can," said Francisco. "But always, I
think, the white people come about from ten to twelve in the morning."

"Oh, I wouldn't like that," said Nellie. "I want to go with the Indians
and wash."

"Maybe you can do that, too," said Francisco. "Some time, when my
cousin Leonidas is coming, I will ask that you may go along."

"You must not forget it, Francisco," said Nellie, reluctantly tearing
herself away.

"Hi! hi! Chrysantha!" called Francisco to an old woman who waved her
hand at them as they passed. Then he said something in Spanish. The
old woman spoke to her companions. They all laughed merrily, nodding
pleasantly to the children, and the old woman called out something
several times to Francisco.

"What do they mean? What is she saying?" asked Nellie, looking back at
them shyly.

"They are telling me you will be welcome to wash with them whenever you
wish," said the boy. "They like you."

Arrived at the tent, Nellie admitted that she was tired. But Walter
begged to be allowed to go back on the wagon with Francisco, who had
to fetch some eggs to a lady in the village and draw some more water
before evening.

Rosinante jogging leisurely along, they soon came in sight of the old
adobe. The figure of a woman standing in the rear of the church at once
attracted the attention of Francisco.

"It is the missionary lady!" he exclaimed. "It is the mother of
William. She has come to say something about what has happened. How I
wish she would stay away!"

The woman came forward to meet them. She was smiling; evidently she
had not yet had an interview with her hopeful son.

The boys exchanged glances. Francisco breathed more freely.

"I am pleased to see that you are in a better humor to-day," she said
sweetly. "And who is your companion?"

"My name is Walter Page," was the response. "I live in San Diego."

"Oh, do you? I have a dear friend there--the Reverend Mr. Binder.
At present he is not serving any church. Like myself, he has been a
missionary, and his health failed. Perhaps you have met him, my boy."

"I don't know any ministers," said Walter, rather brusquely. "We go to
the Catholic church."

The lady's face grew more stern. She looked from one boy to the other.

"You never go to Sunday-school, then," she said in regretful tones, but
as if stating an undeniable fact.

"I go every Sunday," said Walter.

"Does your priest allow it?"

"He teaches us," rejoined Walter.

"That must be something new--something entirely new."

Walter made no reply.

"It was my purpose, in coming here, to establish a Sunday-school,"
the missionary continued, true to her avocation. "I saw this boy and
marked him," pointing to Francisco. "He looked intelligent, as though
the others might follow his lead. But unfortunately he got into an
altercation with my son, and I have taken no further steps with him."

Walter looked down, embarrassed upon hearing himself addressed
personally. He hoped she was not going to ask him to be a leader. He
would in that case tell her something, he now thought.

"It is difficult, very difficult, to accomplish anything. The mothers
and fathers are indifferent, if not rude--the children the same."

Neither of the boys made a reply.

"The teacher tells me she has been here twelve years," went on the
missionary, after waiting in vain for a remark. Her voice now began to
lose its sweet accents and to savor of asperity.

"Twelve years--and she has not been able to make any impression--in a
Christian way. She thinks you are all very good, but you cling to your
old beliefs."

"And why not, please?" asked Francisco. "Why should we not keep to our
own faith? Why do they give us teachers who are not of our religion?
How many go there to that school?" pointing to the building, not far
away. "Maybe twenty out of seventy-five children. To the Mission go the
others, where they belong----"

"I think it is very cruel in the priests to insist on sending those
children nearly a hundred miles from their parents to the Mission,"
said William's mother, growing warmer with every word.

"And the Indians think it is _right_--_right_ to send them to the
Mission, where they will learn their religion," answered Francisco with
equal warmth. "The teacher is very good and kind, and the people are
grateful to her for all she does, but if she should stay here twelve
years longer, they will never give up what the Fathers have taught them."

"It is well, it is very well, my poor child," rejoined the missionary,
compassionately, "that all whom she does teach are not so high-tempered
as you are. What a time there would be in the school!"

"Why do you not leave us alone?" cried Francisco. "Do we trouble you?
Do we try to make Catholics of you who come to our home here? Why do
you not leave us alone?"

Walter was alarmed. He looked at his companion in surprise. The
missionary drew back.

"Do not become violent," she said. "In India the natives were at least
respectful. I wonder that your parents are not more careful of you than
they are," she went on, turning to Walter. "They should not allow you
to associate with such a rude person."

The boy's cheek flushed; he turned away without replying.

"Come, Francisco," he said in a low tone, pulling his companion by the
sleeve. "Come; let us go into the house."

"I do not wonder you should wish to go away, my boy. You are probably
ashamed of the conduct of your friend. I hope, at least, that you are."

"I am not ashamed," said Walter. "Neither of us is. We have no reason
to be ashamed."

"You have been badly brought up," continued their tormentor. "You have
been badly brought up--very badly."

They waited to hear no more, but walked quietly onward until they found
shelter within the crumbling doorway of the brown, smoky adobe.



CHAPTER V.

AT CHURCH.


True to his Indian nature, Francisco made no further allusion to the
episode with the missionary. After unharnessing Rosinante, he began
searching for eggs. When he and Walter had found a couple of dozen, he
placed them in an old tin pail and said:

"I will let the horse rest now for an hour, and then I must go to the
spring for a barrel of water again. But first, if you like to come with
me, I will take these eggs to the lady that lives in the doctor's house."

"Have you a doctor here?" asked Walter.

"Not now," Francisco hastened to say. "But once, for three years, we
had. There was also a woman they called a matron to teach our women to
sew and keep house. How funny that was--how funny! They would not give
us our own teachers--the Sisters, or some Catholics. They sent us a
teacher--who is kind, but who hates the Catholic religion--and another
man and woman, the doctor and matron, who had nothing at all to do to
earn their good salary of seventy-five dollars a month. It was _too_
plain--that fraud--my uncle said, and so they took them away. But
altogether they cost as much as would have kept _ten_ sisters in the
place."

They were passing the church now, and Walter said:

"See, Francisco, the window is open. It was not when my father and
Nellie and I came up this morning."

"You did not open it?" asked the Indian boy, setting down his pail.

"No, indeed," replied Walter. "We would not do such a thing."

"It is kept always shut--the church," said Francisco. "I must look in."

He leaned across the sill; then, after lightly vaulting over, he said:

"Who has done this?"

"What?" eagerly inquired Walter, following him.

Francisco pointed to the walls. At regular intervals, where the
stations are usually hung, colored scriptural prints had been placed,
each fastened with a large pin, as they were unframed. They were
scenes from the New Testament, in themselves rather pretty, and not
inappropriate as illustrations of texts of Scripture.

"They are pretty, but they are not suitable for the stations," said
Walter.

"I think it must be the missionary woman who has done this," said
Francisco. "I will not take them down. I will ask some older person to
do so. Perhaps my uncle will be home for Sunday. She did not do it for
good, I am sure."

"Perhaps she did, Francisco," said Walter. "We ought not to be too hard
on her."

"Maybe; but I know them. We shall see. Anyhow, it is not right for her
to come into the church by the window like a thief. She knew very well,
I think, that we would not want her to hang her pictures around."

Closing the window again, Francisco took up his pail of eggs. The boys
parted under the old oak, Walter fearing his father and mother would
not like him to remain away longer.

He learned that his mother had taken her first hot bath and was feeling
"quite well," she said. The older people were very much interested in
his recital of the encounter with the missionary, but reproved Walter
for having answered her as he had done.

"But, papa," he said, "I couldn't help it. I had to say something, and
I wasn't going to give in to her by acting as if we were wrong or that
I was ashamed of being a Catholic. You would not have wished me to do
that."

There was reason in his argument the elders admitted. His father added,
however, that it was always better to steer clear of such persons if
possible.

And so the day, so full of incident, closed. Supper was hardly over
before the tired children went to rest.

So day succeeded day in this primitive mountain village. The children
gradually became acquainted with the Indians, who were very kind to
them. Nellie now went regularly to the _Lavenderia_ with handkerchiefs
and napkins, and the Indian women willingly made a place for her.
They laughingly watched her attempts at washing, which was generally
accomplished for her by one or another of them in the end. The gold
medal of the Immaculate Conception, which she wore attached to a thin
chain around her neck, was the sign of a bond of kinship between them.

On Sunday morning at eight o'clock the sweet, pure tones of the
church-bell rang out upon the air, sounding singularly beautiful
through the clear, still atmosphere.

"There will not be Mass to-day, Walter?" inquired Mr. Page of his son,
whose intimacy with Francisco he thought warranted him well posted in
the affairs of the village.

"No, sir," was the reply. "If Mauricio, Francisco's uncle, has
returned, he will say the prayers, and if he hasn't, someone else will."

"We must go, at any rate," said his father. "It will be, I imagine,
both devotional and interesting to assist at the prayers."

Mrs. Page was unable to walk so far. Aunt Mary, glad of an excuse
for avoiding close proximity to the Indians, toward whom she had an
aversion which she could not conquer, decided to remain at home to keep
her company.

From all directions groups of Indians--the women and children cleanly,
if gaudily, attired--were wending their way to the church. The last
bell began to ring as they climbed the steep elevation on top of which
it stood. The people sat around the entrance; on the ground several
very old women were crouched, motionless and patient.

Francisco came from the inside and opened wide the door. The
congregation poured in--the men on one side, the women on the other.
Nearly all the latter had shawls over their heads, few being without
a tinge of red in their costumes. After Francisco had lighted two
candles on the altar, an old woman left her place and went forward,
kneeling on the steps of the little sanctuary. She recited the Rosary
in Spanish, the people responding in low but distinct and reverent
tones. After she had said one decade, she began another, reversing the
prayers, saying the "Holy Mary," first, the people answering with the
"Hail, Mary." The third decade was repeated in the usual manner, the
fourth like the second. At the fifth, instead of praying as before, she
lowered her voice to a sweet, monotonous chant.

"_Dios te salve, Maria_," she sang, and the others answered in the
same fashion, "_Santa Maria, Madre de Dios_," till the decade was
ended. It was all very strange and beautiful; the sweet voices of the
dark-skinned worshipers, deprived of their priests and teachers, coming
Sunday after Sunday thus to preserve and perpetuate the services of
their religion. Other prayers, also in Spanish, were said, and the old
woman returned to her place.

Francisco was about to extinguish the candles, when the door of the
sacristy opened, and a tall, finely-formed Indian, about fifty years of
age, issued forth. The boy stepped aside; the newcomer advanced to the
railing. His sharp eyes seemed to rest at once upon the pictures which
had been placed on the walls during the preceding week. He addressed
the people in Spanish; then, pointing to the pictures, asked in English:

"Who can tell the person who has hung those pictures around the walls
of the church?"

No one answered. The Indians, whispering among themselves, made various
gestures of disapproval.

"You will all see that although they are very good pictures," he
continued, "they are not for our church. We do not need them. We have
here already the Sacred Hearts of Our Lord and His Mother; a kind lady
would have given us also the stations, but for the removal which we
must soon make from this--our home."

Here those of his hearers who understood English--all the younger
people and many of the others--made sorrowful gestures. Some of them
uttered a peculiar wailing sound.

"It will be now our duty to find who has put those pictures where they
are, and give them back to the person who placed them."

Then, as if struck by a sudden thought, the Indian turned to Francisco.

"Have you loaned the key to someone this week?" he inquired.

"No, uncle," replied the boy, "I have not given it to anyone; but
somebody has come in through the window: one day I found it open." So
saying, he glanced toward the door where some white persons were seated.

At this point a woman arose and stepped about midway up the aisle.

"The missionary lady," whispered Walter to his father. "Now there will
be a fuss."

"I wish to state," said the woman, in tones that could be distinctly
heard all through the church, "I wish to state that _I_ placed those
_beautiful_ pictures where they are. I intended to offer them to the
person whom they call 'the priest,' hoping that he would hang them for
the benefit of the congregation, wherever he pleased. Hearing he was
absent, I took the liberty of entering, and pinning them above the
crosses, which _I_ consider superstitious emblems."

"Francisco," said the tall Indian, "remove from the wall those
pictures, and give them to the lady.

"Pedro," he continued, addressing a boy close by, "you take down on one
side, so that it will be quicker."

"But, my good man," began the missionary, "if you do not wish to let
them stay where they are, at least keep them and hang them where you
will."

"We thank you, madam, for your kindness," said the Indian, "but we do
not, as I said, need them. We have already our own."

Francisco and Pedro with lightning celerity had already removed
the unwelcome prints and were offering them to the would-be donor.
Reluctantly receiving them, she went slowly back to her seat, near the
door, followed by glances from the Indians which would have alarmed
Aunt Mary.

When the congregation dispersed, the members found the missionary
awaiting them at the threshold. She proffered them the pictures as they
came out, but the Indians rejected them. Some looked at her stolidly
and passed on as though they did not see her; others merely shook their
heads, but not one accepted a picture. Mr. Page, with his children, had
stopped near the entrance, wishing to speak to Francisco's uncle.

"Tell me, sir," said the "missionary lady," "why these people refuse
the prints I have offered them? They should, it seems to me, be very
grateful, instead of rejecting them in so surly a manner. I confess
they are a mystery to me."

"Probably they were not pleased with your methods," replied Mr. Page,
coldly. "You never see Catholics forcing their beliefs or customs on
Protestants in this manner."

"I forgot, sir, that you were likely to be one of them," replied the
amiable missionary, darting a glance of displeasure at Walter, who
stood beside his father. The incident ended her missionary labors in
the village of the Cupeños. Thenceforward she transferred her efforts
to other fields, farther from home. But the consequences were more
far-reaching than anyone could have foreseen.

Mr. Page waited until Francisco came out, followed by his uncle.

"This is my uncle," said the boy. "These are good Catholics," he
continued, pointing to the group.

The Indian extended his hand.

"I came to-day a little late," he said, "but not _too_ late, I think,
to make one more person see that we do not want their tracts or their
pictures or their preachings. They may do what they will, but we are
Catholics to the end--except, perhaps, some few who find later they
would have been better off to remain as they were. Did any of our
people take pictures?"

"Not one," said Mr. Page. "It was quite interesting to see how utterly
they ignored them."

"That is good," murmured Mauricio. "That finished it."

"I wanted to ask," said Mr. Page, while the children strolled slowly
away together, "why they say the Rosary in that way, reversing the
prayers at every other decade, and why they finish it in a chant. It is
very odd, but exceedingly beautiful."

"I believe they change the prayers as they do because in the beginning
the Fathers found it helped them in teaching the 'Hail, Mary,' and
'Holy Mary,' You see, when the Father said always the '_Dios te
salve_,' or, the 'Hail, Mary,' as you call it, the people did not learn
it so well as when they said it themselves. And for the chanting--that
was like a hymn at the end."

"I see," said Mr. Page. "And I think you did exactly as you should have
done with regard to that officious woman. I am glad to have my children
know your nephew. He is a good boy, and very bright. You ought to be
proud of him."

"So far he is very good," rejoined Mauricio. "He is also very smart for
one who has not been long at school. We have some land here; together
we make a living, with what we get from the visitors. One of those
houses over there belongs to me. In the summer I lease it; in the
winter we go back to it again. But this will end soon. There is no
more hope for us; we must go."

"It seems to be inevitable," said Mr. Page.

"It is sad for all of us, but worse for the old people. Some of them
will not believe it. Some of them say they will not go, but will lie
down and die on the roadside. It is very sad. Next week there is to be
a _Junta_. But what good will that do?"

"What do you mean by a _Junta_?" inquired Mr. Page, who was not
familiar with Spanish.

"A meeting of the Indians and the white men who have been appointed to
find another place for us. But I can not see what good it will do."

"Perhaps the Indians can then say what place they would prefer."

"That, they will never say, I am sure," said Mauricio. "They want no
home but this."

Three or four boys now appeared above the slope of the hill. William,
in the lead, had a gun in his hand.

"We've been driving rabbits," he said as they passed. "Some day we'll
have better luck--and it won't be long, either--driving the Indians
away from Warner's."

"You are a very rude boy," said Mr. Page.

"I'm not an old _Catholic_," sneered the urchin, filliping a small
stone directly at Mauricio, who made a step forward.

"We have a _cuartel_[A] here, youngster," he said. "For a long time
it has been empty; we are a peaceful people. But we can have unruly
persons put into that _cuartel_ if we wish. Be careful, youngster; be
careful."

The threat seemed to be effectual. The boys hurried down the hill.
Bidding Mauricio and Francisco good-day, Mr. Page and his children
walked slowly homeward.

[Footnote A: Jail.]



CHAPTER VI.

DIONYSIO AND MARGARITA.


The Pages had noticed a good-looking Indian boy, perhaps eighteen or
nineteen years of age, riding about on a fine horse. He wore a dark
blue uniform trimmed with red; his hat was of good Mexican straw;
he wore also a stiff white shirt-collar. This boy seemed to live on
horseback. He was always alone. Either he held aloof from the others,
or they did not care for his company.

"Who is that?" asked Walter of Francisco one morning as they were
arranging the water-barrel under the pepper tree.

Francisco looked around.

"Oh, that is Arturo, the son of Juan Pablo," he said.

"And who is Juan Pablo?"

"The rich man of Cupa," answered Francisco. "He owns many houses here.
He married the daughter of the old Captain."

"What Captain?"

"That is how we call the chief," said Francisco. "Juan Pablo is not a
Cupa Indian, but he has lived here since he was a child. Arturo is his
son."

"And that is why he is better dressed than the others, and goes riding
about by himself?"

"Oh, no. Formerly he was not deemed any better than others--nor was he
different. That is the uniform of Carlisle he wears. He goes to school
now at Carlisle."

"Do you mean Carlisle, Pennsylvania?" asked Mr. Page, who had been
listening to the conversation from where he sat reading under the
_ramada_.

"Yes; he was one of those who went to the schoolhouse on the hill. The
teacher thought he was a very smart boy, and she talked and talked
with his father to let him go to the Indian school at Carlisle. He
comes home during the vacation, and is too fine for the others. At
least, that is what they say. I have found him well enough. I think it
is the others who imagine he is different."

"What will he do when his schooldays are over?" inquired Mr. Page.

Francisco shrugged his shoulders.

"That I can not tell," he said. "There was Adriana. She, too, went to
Carlisle. She had only her mother. When she came back to Cupa she was
unhappy. She could not bear the life here after having bathtubs lined
with white porcelain at Carlisle."

Mr. Page laughed.

"Is that what she said?" he asked.

"Oh, yes; that and many other things. Two years she was at Carlisle
without coming back. Her mother was very poor--living in a brush-house
that summer, as always, renting her own adobe for the season that she
might have something for the winter. Adriana cried all the time. The
next year she did not come back, nor the next. When it was time for
school to be over, she wrote that she would stay in Philadelphia. Then
her mother died--of sorrow."

"And what became of Adriana?"

"Who can tell that? No one knows. She has not written."

"Are there any others?" asked Mr. Page.

"Well, there is Dionysio, who will fetch you the wood to-day. He can
tell you what he thinks of the Indian school at Carlisle."

Mr. Page had become interested, Walter and Nellie equally so. When the
wood arrived they found the driver of the wagon an intelligent-looking
youth about the age of Arturo, perhaps a little older.

"They tell me you have been a student at Carlisle," said Mr. Page after
he had paid him.

"Yes, sir. I spent four years there," replied the boy, very politely.

"Of what benefit has it been to you?" inquired Mr. Page.

"No benefit, that I can see," was the reply.

"Has it made you discontented?"

"At first--yes; but not now. I am satisfied."

"What do you do for your living?"

"What they all do."

"Laboring work, you mean?"

"Laboring work--harvesting, ploughing, grape picking--any thing that I
can do."

"What advantage, then, is your having been at Carlisle?"

"None. There they teach us many things, but seldom can an Indian get
work in the large cities. A white man is always given the first chance;
that is natural. I learned wood-carving. Perhaps if I went far away
and waited long I might have been able to work at my trade; but my old
grandfather and grandmother were alone here with my little sister. How
could I stay away from them? So here I am, and here I will stay. It is
my home; I like it best."

"It is well that you look at it in that way if it must be so. It
appears to me there are hundreds of thousands uselessly spent in the
Indian schools every year."

"That is very true," said the young man. "How much better to have them
on the reservations, where are all the people together, where all could
help each other and learn from each other. What a fertile soil is this,
for instance. How much could be done here! There are many places like
this. But now--it is a bad job, a very bad job."

"I agree with you," said Mr. Page. "It is a _very_ bad job."

"I tell you," said the boy, "there are three kinds of Indians who come
from those schools. One is ashamed of his people and will not live
with them any longer. There is not much for him to do anywhere, so he
rambles about from place to place. The whites despise him; for his own
people he has lost all his good heart. He dies after awhile, always a
sot and a thief. There is another kind of Indian. He is discontented
because he has been out in the world that does not want him. He comes
back and remains with his people; but what he has seen and done when
away makes him not content with his home. Always there is sorrow in
his heart while he lives. If they had not taken him away from his home
he would have remained content. Do I not say right--according to your
belief?"

"Yes," said Mr. Page, "you do."

"And there is still another kind--the lazy one who comes home and
sneers at everything, and yet is too lazy to go away and look for
something better. Pretty soon he gets lower than those at whom he
laughs and sneers. He lives on the labor of his women--his mother, a
sister, or wife, when he gets one--until he dies. You cannot change the
Indian; if you attempt it you spoil him."

Mr. Page was surprised at the extraordinary good sense of the young man.

"You have a wise head on your shoulders," he said. "I do not wonder
that with very good intentions, perhaps, they selected you for
Carlisle. At any rate, they have taught you to reason."

"To reason!" echoed Dionysio, with a flash of the eye and contemptuous
curl of the lip that betrayed the latent deep Indian nature. "The
Indian could reason long before he ever saw the face of the white
man--and can do it to-day better than his teachers. I am not very old,
but that much I have seen and I know."

"I believe you are right again," said Mr. Page. "I should like to talk
with you some other time."

"Thank you," said Dionysio. "It will also give me pleasure."

That evening the children took a walk with their father and mother in
search of eggs. They were directed to a dilapidated brush-house at
some distance from their camping place. It was said the eggs there
were particularly large and fresh. They could not find it at first
and went considerably out of their way. At length they came to the
place, the most forlorn-looking dwelling they had yet seen. It was
quite extensive, however, open on three sides, and with a hole in the
roof for ascending smoke from a bare fireplace. Two heaps of ragged
and dirty bed-clothing lay close to the smouldering coals. A little
farther away, almost out of sight, was a cot. An old man lay on one
heap of rags, an old woman crouched near the fire. A little girl, very
pretty but very dirty, with beautiful large brown eyes and long black
hair, sat near the old woman, still as a statue. They all seemed to be
asleep.

"Have you any eggs to sell?" asked Mr. Page.

The old woman rose from the ground. She was crippled, and appeared bent
nearly double. She called her husband, who with great labor also got up
from his heap of rags. The child, seeing the bucket in Walter's hand,
cried out in Spanish:

"_Huevos, huevos!_"[B] The old people screamed at each other in a
_patois_ of Spanish and Indian, principally the latter. Then the child,
in obedience to some words from the grandmother, asked, "How many?" "A
couple of dozen," was the reply. The little one disappeared into the
darkness in the rear of the dwelling, faintly illumined by the dying
fire.

She presently issued forth, carrying the eggs in her apron. She counted
them into the pail, and Mr. Page placed a quarter in her hand. The old
woman snatched it eagerly from the child and thrust it into a bag
which she took from her bosom. Nothing could have been more squalid or
uncomfortable than the hut, nothing more unlovely than the inhabitants
with the exception of the child, whose beauty and innocence neither
dirt nor squalor could destroy.

The old man began to busy himself with the fire, throwing some brush
upon it, while his wife produced a blackened coffee-pot from one corner
and put it on the coals. They gave no more attention to their visitors
than as if they did not exist.

"One would think they did not know we were here," said Walter.

"Probably they mean that we should go," suggested his father. "Now that
we have the eggs there is no excuse for our staying."

"I wish we could have that cute little thing to live with us," said
Nellie. "She is not so very dark. I would like her for a little
playmate, mamma."

"She is very attractive," said her mother. "What a pity she must live
in a hovel like this." They turned to go, when a young man entered from
the outside. It was Dionysio.

"Good-evening," he replied to Mr. Page's salutation. "Were you looking
for me?"

"No," replied Mr. Page, "we were not looking for you, but we are glad
to see you. We have been purchasing eggs from these old people. I am
told they have an excellent lot of fowls. Perhaps you are on the same
errand."

"I!" exclaimed the boy; "I live here--these are my grandfather and
grandmother--and my little sister," he added, as the child glided to
his side.

Mrs. Page regarded him sadly.

"You are thinking, madam," said the Indian boy, "that it is a poor
place--and so it is. But in the winter we are a little better off. Ours
is yonder adobe house. My grandparents are too old and my sister too
little to do much work. I must be away working whenever I can."

"What is your sister's name?" inquired Mrs. Page. "She is a lovely
child."

"She is called Margarita," said the boy. "She is fond of her brother."

"Mamma," whispered Nellie, "ask him to let her come and play with me."

Mrs. Page did not reply. The child was in her present condition not a
possible companion for her own.

Dionysio had heard the whisper, and instantly divining what was in the
mind of Mrs. Page, he said:

"You see that she is neglected; but what can I do? My grandmother is
very queer. She will not allow the little one to go to the school on
the hill because the teacher is not Catholic, and she will not send her
to the Mission for then Margarita will be away so far. She does not let
her from her side. What can I do?"

"That is true; you can do nothing," said Mrs. Page. "But perhaps some
day----"

"Yes, when they die--the old people, you mean," continued Dionysio in
the most matter-of-fact tone. "Then I shall send her to the Mission.
But while they live it must be as they say. I hope you will like the
eggs; we have them always very good."

He made way for them to pass, a courteous smile upon his lips, his
little sister clinging to his hand.

A few days after this, when Alfonsa, the old woman who had said prayers
in the church, and who had since undertaken to do the family washing,
came for the clothes she said:

"There has been a death in the night. The grandmother of Dionysio is
gone. She was eighty-five. But many have lived longer. The grandfather
is ninety."

"How good of that boy to be so kind and work so hard for them,"
remarked Mrs. Page.

"They are not so poor, maybe," rejoined Alfonsa. "With a vineyard and
a little ranch, and the old woman always with chickens and eggs--they
are not so poor, maybe."

"What will become of the little one?" inquired Mrs. Page.

"Who can tell? Some one will take her. Dionysio can stay with the old
man."

"Couldn't _we_ have her, mother?" asked Nellie. "She is so sweet."

"What would you do with her, child?" inquired Aunt Mary.

"Love her and have her for a little playmate," said Nellie.

"Well, well! Who ever heard the like!" exclaimed Aunt Mary.

"But she is _so_ sweet," repeated Nellie. "Let us have her, mother."

Alfonsa smiled at Nellie and went off with the clothes.

Nellie still persisted in her pleading. Mr. Page was reading within
hearing distance. He now looked up from his paper and said to his wife:

"Martha, since we came to California you have not had an orphan to care
for. Before that there were always one or two."

"Yes, that is so," agreed his wife. "Some one would die, or some waif
would come along and we would keep them till a home was provided."

"Suppose you take the little Indian," said her husband. "I am greatly
interested in the boy. He and I have a chat nearly every day. We might
be able to give _him_ some kind of a chance also. If I buy that ranch
up at Poway he could be of use there."

"What do you wish me to do--not to take the child into the family as
one of us, surely?"

"Oh, no, not exactly; but we could take her in now, and later send her
to the Mission, or perhaps to school in town. If she is anything like
her brother she will become a help to you some day."

Nellie listened with sparkling eyes.

"Yes, do, mamma; do, do!" she begged.

"Well, I am willing to try it," said the mother. "That is, if her
brother consents, and we can get her thoroughly washed and combed and
clothed before we bring her here. How is that to be done?"

"Alfonsa will do it," cried Nellie. "She has the _cleanest_ house,
mother--the _cleanest_--and you see how neat she looks."

"Well, we can ask her after we have seen Dionysio," said her mother.

It was trying for Nellie to wait until they laid the old woman away on
the hillside, where the Indians bury their dead.

Alfonsa was first approached with regard to the child. "Yes," she said,
she would take the little one gladly; "and scrub and comb her every
day for a week till she is clean enough to bring under the roof of the
good, kind lady."

"But will the brother give her to us?" asked Mrs. Page.

"If he is wise, he will," said Alfonsa. "And he has always been wise."

Dionysio was pleased. His eyes brightened when the subject was broached
to him.

"But she is not clean," he said. "I could not bring her to you as she
is."

The talk with Alfonsa was then repeated. Dionysio had no objection
to make, and Margarita herself was willing. A week of "quarantine,"
as Mr. Page humorously referred to it, and one morning Dionysio made
his appearance, leading his sister by the hand. She wore a clean blue
calico dress, and a red ribbon in her neatly braided hair. Her face was
radiant, and when Mrs. Page approached, she at once went forward and
placed one little brown hand in hers.

"I have never seen her do like that," said the boy. "She is so shy."

"I have come to live with you," said the child, gazing frankly around
the tent till her glance included every member of the family.

"And you are welcome, my dear," said Aunt Mary, disarmed of her reserve
and prejudice, much to the surprise of everybody. She said afterward
that no one could have resisted such a charming face and manner. From
that moment her subjugation was complete, and Margarita attached
herself with equal affection to the kindly, if peculiar, old aunt. In
a few days the child had adapted herself to all the ways of her new
friends. Her amiable disposition and willingness to wait upon everybody
soon endeared her to all the family. Nellie petted and caressed her--it
did not seem to spoil her. She slept on a rug in the larger tent,
wrapped in a blanket, and curled up like a kitten. It was as though the
little orphan had always lived among them.

[Footnote B: Eggs.]



CHAPTER VII.

THE PEDLAR.


"Comalong! Alcomout!"

"Comalong! Alcomout!"

Loud and shrill came the nasal tones accompanied by the sharp ringing
of a little bell. The children rushed from the tent. It was just after
breakfast.

A square, black-covered wagon, with a very high seat, on which was
perched an odd-looking little man with grizled, curling hair, had
stopped outside.

"Oh, I thought it was an Indian!" exclaimed Walter. "You're not an
Indian, are you?"

"Think not," replied the little man, pleasantly but tersely. "I'm a
Portugee--a long time away from my own country. Why you think me an
Indian, young man?"

"That foreign language you speak," replied Walter. "I thought it was
Indian."

"'Foreign language?'" said the man, laughing merrily. "That's English."

"What was it?" asked Walter.

"Comalong--alcomout. I've said it so often I guess it don't sound just
right; but I'll do it better for you, so you can understand it. I'll
say it slow: Come--along--all--come--out. Do you know what it is now?"

"Oh, yes; that's easy enough," said Walter. "What have you got in your
wagon?"

"Everything--calico, muslin, flannel, shoes, stockings, shirts, pots,
pans, perfume, ribbons, laces--everything."

He had descended from his perch, and was opening the door of his wagon.
It was very neatly arranged inside. The various articles of merchandise
were placed separate and in order. With great good nature, the man
began exhibiting his wares.

"Here," he said, taking a couple of calico dresses from a box in which
they had been neatly folded, "here are two pretty frocks, if you have a
little girl. I'll sell 'em cheap. You see they're not the latest style,
so we can't very well dispose of them in this fashionable part of the
world."

"That's all right," said Aunt Mary. "We may not be so particular. We
have a little girl here whom they may fit. Come, 'Rita; let us see."

The child came at her bidding, looking eagerly into the pasteboard box.

"Ho, hello!" said the pedlar, in surprise. "What have we here? Isn't
this the little girl of the Barco's? Isn't this Dionysio's sister?"

"Yes," replied Walter. "She lives with us now. Her grandmother is dead."

"Are you going to keep her?"

"For a while at least," replied Aunt Mary.

"That is good--for her, very good," said the pedlar, slowly. Then he
added: "That child is a relation of my wife's."

"Is your wife an Indian?" asked Aunt Mary.

"Oh, yes; she is an Indian--and a very good Indian. Pretty, too, like
the little girl. I would have taken the child--Dionysio knows it."

"Have you no children of your own?" asked Aunt Mary.

"No; but we would be very good to this one. Perhaps you will not like
to keep her always."

"I can not say. For the present she remains with us."

'Rita had climbed up on the wagon wheel, and was pulling the boxes
about.

"She knows where to look for the candy," said the pedlar, producing a
box of gum-drops.

The two little dresses were purchased by Aunt Mary, as well as some
other small articles for the child's use. A pair of shoes and some
stockings were included.

"You will find it hard to get her to wear shoes," said the pedlar. "She
has never had a pair on her feet."

"I will try to get a pair that is quite large," said Aunt Mary. "She
must become used to them gradually, of course."

When all the purchases had been made, the pedlar said:

"I'll be around here again in a couple of days; if you need anything
else, you can get it. I camp up there above the springs."

"Do you sleep in your tent?" asked Walter.

"When it is cold I sleep in the wagon; when it is warm I have my cot.
See?"

Looking underneath the wagon they saw a cot strapped to the outer
floor. A number of cooking utensils hung from various hooks. There was
also a camp stove and portable oven--everything necessary for comfort.

"When I strike a place like this where there is a restaurant I don't
cook for myself, but often I am miles from a settlement when night
comes. Then I _must_ cook for myself or starve."

He prepared to depart, but before he went on his way he raised
Margarita in his arms and whispered something in her ear.

"No," replied the child, shaking her head.

"_Dulces?_"[C] he said, pointing to the box of candy.

"No," she said, "_muchas aqui_."[D]

Aunt Mary did not like his actions. "What did he say?" she inquired,
but Margarita had not yet sufficient knowledge of English to explain.

The new dresses were tried on; they fitted very well, and the child
was delighted. When Dionysio came they told him about the pedlar.

"I saw him just now," he said. "He was scolding me because I would
not give 'Rita to him. He says my grandmother promised, but I do not
believe it. If so, she did not know what she was saying. Anyhow, she
had not the right."

"He says you are cousins of his wife," said Mr. Page.

"Oh, yes; but what is that? All are cousins here. His wife is not a
good woman; she is drunk many times, though he is well enough himself.
He thinks if she had the child, his wife would be better, but I do not
believe it."

Margarita had been listening attentively. She went up to her brother,
put her hand in his and said in Spanish:

"Hernando told me he would give me pretty clothes if I would go home
with him, and I said the lady had given me some. He said I could every
day have candy, but I told him we had plenty here. I do not want to go
with Hernando."

"And you shall not go, Margarita," promised her brother. "You shall not
go."

All that day the pedlar's bell could be heard through the valley; the
children met him in their rambles several times, but he did not come
to their camp again.

The following morning, as they were preparing to go with Francisco for
water, he passed them.

"Are you going away for good now?" inquired Walter.

"Yes, until fall at least," said the pedlar. "I have sold nearly all my
things. I am off to San Jacinto for more."

His horses trotted off briskly, and the team was soon out of sight.
According to their usual custom the children remained some time at the
cold spring. Nellie and 'Rita strolled from place to place, looking for
"sour-grass"; the boys lay in the shade of one of the large trees.

"Ay! ay!" shouted Francisco, after they had been there quite a while.
"It is time."

"Ay! ay!" repeated a mocking voice. "It is time."

"That's William again," said Francisco. "We have not seen him for long,
but now he is here."

There was a crashing through the bushes, and the form of their enemy
appeared. He was whirling a dead rattlesnake on the point of a stick.
Much to their surprise, he neither paused nor sought to molest them.
Apparently he was in a hurry to get away.

They were greatly alarmed the next moment at sight of Nellie running
toward them. Her hat was off, her braids were unfastened, and she was
panting for breath.

"What is wrong? What is the matter?" cried Walter and Francisco
together.

"I can not find 'Rita," she replied, and burst into tears. "We were
looking for sour-grass, and she went a little distance off. All at once
that horrid boy came with a dead snake. He began to run after me. I ran
ever so far, and at last he stopped. I begged and begged him not to
throw it on me, and I cried. Then, when he went away, I called 'Rita
because I could not see her. She did not answer. I went back to the
place where she had been. She wasn't there. And I can't find her at
all."

"But you were not far?" inquired Francisco. "She could not get lost so
soon. Walter and I will find her in a minute. Sit there and rest."

The two boys were soon traversing the broad, grassy plateau. It was so
bare of trees that no one could possibly be roaming over it without
being seen. 'Rita was not there. Francisco called to her Indian
fashion, but his calls were not answered.

"Come up, Nellie," said Walter, at last, running down again to the edge
of the bank where they had left his sister. "Come and show us where
you last saw her. We can't find her nor make her hear."

The little girl was soon beside them.

"Just over there," she said, "not far from those bushes. She must have
gone into them and got lost. I ran in the other direction when William
came after me with the snake. Let's go down into the bushes and look
for her. What is there on the other side, Francisco?"

"All bushes, thicker and thicker till you come to the road," said the
Indian boy. "On the other side of the road there are more bushes, and
after them a broad meadow like this."

"She couldn't get through them," said Walter. "They are so very close
together and she is so timid--she would not try it."

Francisco inclined his head on one side and listened.

"Do you hear the horse's whinny?" he asked. "I have heard it three
times since we came up here."

"No," replied the brother and sister. They had not heard any such sound.

"I have a thought," said the Indian boy. "I will go quietly through the
bushes. There is no need for all of us. When I come back you may come
along if you like. Just a stick for the snakes, and then I go."

Seizing a branch that lay at the foot of a tree, Francisco started to
push his way through the thicket.

"Where do you suppose he has gone?" asked Nellie.

"Don't know," said Walter; "but Francisco is all right. He knows what
he's about."

After a little while the Indian boy reappeared looking elated.

"I did not make a mistake," he said. "It is Hernando who has taken
Margarita. There she sits on his lap by the wagon. He has stopped there
to water the horses. Come; I will show you."

"Do you think he means to steal her, Francisco? Oh, do you think he
wants to take her away?" asked Nellie, tearfully.

"That I cannot tell," said Francisco. "He will not dare, when he sees
us."

"How can we stop him? He can run off with his horses. Oh, how dreadful!
how dreadful!" said Nellie, all but crying.

"Now, sister, if you are going to cry, we'll have to leave you behind,"
said Walter, keen for an adventure. He stepped softly on tiptoe in the
tracks of Francisco as he had seen other boys do in pictures.

"But I won't stay behind," answered Nellie, stifling a sob. "Mamma
would not like it if you left me here."

"We will not leave you; come along," said Francisco, leading across the
meadow to another fringe of bushes. "Only be quiet," he continued, "so
we will not be seen." They skirted the thicket, going a long way round,
and after a time crossed the road and came out on a broad green expanse.

Two horses were feeding in the open; a wagon stood close by. The
pedlar, his back to the children, was smoking under a tree. Beside him,
contentedly munching candy from a box in her lap, sat Margarita.

"Ay! ay! 'Rita!" cried Francisco, coming suddenly upon them, "why did
you run away?"

The child looked at the pedlar, who was visibly perturbed. "I found her
over there alone," he explained to Francisco, "so I brought her here.
I would have taken her back in the wagon, though it would have lost me
time. I was going when I had finished my pipe."

The child looked at him in astonishment.

"And not to go to Veronica?" she asked.

"Why to Veronica? Of course not," he replied quickly.

"But you said----" began the child.

"It does not matter what he said," interrupted Francisco. "Come, now;
we must go home. I believe you are a rogue, Hernando," he continued
turning to the pedlar. "I believe you are a great rogue----"

Hernando laughed. "Well, if I am," he said, "I am not the only one in
the world. You cannot prove anything of that which you are thinking."

"If you were not guilty, Hernando," answered Francisco, "you would not
so quickly understand my meaning."

The man rose to his feet and busied himself with the ponies.

"Well, go now, and let that be all," he said. "Take along with you the
candy, Margarita."

Francisco lifted the child onto his shoulder. "I will carry you some,"
he said. "Did you want to go away from Nellie and Walter?" he asked in
Spanish.

"No, only till next week," she replied. "Hernando said that there in
his home were pretty dolls--oh, such pretty dolls that Veronica had for
me--and many bright rings. He said that Dionysio had told him to take
me there."

"But, 'Rita, do you not know that the other day Dionysio said you
should never go to Veronica."

"Yes; but perhaps to-day it was different, I thought."

"He would perhaps never have brought you back. You must promise not
again to go away with anybody."

"He carried me."

"Oh, well, I believe he meant to steal you. Veronica would have beaten
you, 'Rita."

"I am glad not to have gone with him," said the child. "Let me walk
now."

He set her down, and taking Nellie by the hand she clung to her all the
way home.

As they passed the cottage where the missionary resided they saw a
crowd near the door.

"It is what they call a prayer-meeting, I think," said the Indian boy.

"Not at this time of day," remarked Walter. "The missionary woman is
crying."

"Maybe William frightened her with the rattlesnake," said Francisco.

"But your uncle is there--I see him," said Nellie. "He is talking to
the men."

"Very well; but it is late now, and we must not stop," said Francisco.
"Perhaps she has been putting some pictures in the church again. My
uncle can get angry, too, sometimes."

"But he would not make a woman cry, would he, Francisco?" asked Nellie,
with some anxiety.

"No; I do not think he would make a woman cry. It is strange, a little,
that he is there; but he would be displeased if I should go over and
leave the water on the roadside. Your people will be wondering why we
are not back."

At the camp they had begun to feel uneasy. When everything had been
explained by the children, who now that Margarita was safe rather
enjoyed telling the experience, the elders were inclined to think
Hernando really intended to kidnap the child.

"That is what I think," said Francisco. "When he went away to-day
he was not thinking of it, maybe, but when he saw her from his high
seat in the wagon he thought he would take her home with him. He has
not much good sense, that fellow. If she had cried on the road he
would, maybe, have brought her back. Anyhow, there is not much harm
done--maybe good--for she will be careful now."

He was in the act of turning Rosinante homeward when he saw his uncle
approaching. The old man looked very much troubled.

"What is it?" asked the boy.

"Something very bad," was the reply. "Something very, very bad. I
do not believe it, Francisco, but the missionary woman has lost her
pocket-book, and they say that you have stolen it."

[Footnote C: Sweets.]

[Footnote D: "Plenty here."]



CHAPTER VIII.

FALSELY ACCUSED.


Francisco paled visibly under his swarthy skin. Then his face grew a
dark crimson.

"They think I have stolen it!" he exclaimed. "I have never been in the
house of that woman. No one can say that they have ever seen me there."

"So I told them. But there is someone there who saw you yesterday near
the _ramada_[E] next door," said Mauricio.

"What of that, uncle? Do I not go every other day with water to the
people who live there? And is not the water kept under the _ramada_?"

"Very true. But there is much loud talking down there. She threatens to
have you arrested."

"But you are the constable. You will not put me in the _cuartel_?"

"I must, if there is sworn out a warrant," replied Mauricio, sadly.

"Come, come," said Mr. Page, "it will not amount to that, I hope. Let
us go down at once to the house where the money was stolen and see
what they have to say--on what grounds, if any, they accuse you."

"That is the best thing to do," assented Mauricio. "It will show that
you are not afraid."

The children stood amazed, grieved, and silent. Their busy minds
imagined all sorts of dire possibilities for their friend Francisco.

Without a word Francisco followed the two older men, his head erect,
his eyes fearless and unashamed. People looked at them in passing,
nearly all in sympathy, for Francisco was a favorite with all the
visitors save the very few friends of the missionary woman. The crowd
had not diminished when they reached the house, and all eyes were
turned toward them.

"Where is the person who has lost a pocket-book," inquired Mr. Page,
looking from one to another.

"Inside," replied a man, a cripple whom Francisco had often assisted at
the baths. "She is quite hysterical. I hear it contained a large sum of
money. I'll never believe Francisco had anything to do with the theft."

Mr. Page did not reply. The boy gave his defender a grateful look
before passing into the house with the others.

The loser of the pocket-book sat in a rocking-chair, somewhat calmer
and more composed than she had been when Mauricio left her. The sight
of Francisco, however, seemed to bring on a renewal of her excitement
until Mr. Page said:

"Pray be quiet, madam, until we have learned something of the
particulars of this theft. I am here on behalf of this boy, whom, I am
told, you accuse of having taken your pocket-book. It is a very serious
accusation."

William, stationed back of his mother's chair, darted a triumphant
glance at the Indian boy. Francisco stood, cap in hand, silently
awaiting what the woman had to say. With a hysterical gulp, she began:

"I always keep my pocket-book with me, usually in my bosom. Yesterday,
while I was lying in the hammock, a pedlar came with some notions.
I bought from him a paper of pins. After paying him I put the
pocket-book under the pillow of the hammock. I distinctly remember
doing that. Afterward I dozed off, and upon awaking forgot all about
the pocket-book. Everybody was at the baths at the time, and I hurried
there so as to get my bath before dinner.

"When I came back, the Indian boy was just going off with his
water-wagon. I would have spoken to him, but he avoided me. I
attributed this to surliness at the time, but now I believe it was
because he was guilty and could not meet my eye."

Francisco was about to speak, but Mr. Page said: "Not yet, Francisco;
not yet. Is this all the evidence you have against the boy, madam?" he
continued.

"No, it is not," she rejoined. "I did not miss the pocket-book until
this morning. As soon as I _did_ miss it I went to the hammock. It was
not there. My neighbor first put it into my head that the boy might
have taken it."

"Please let me speak a word," now interrupted a kindly-looking,
gray-haired woman sitting near the missionary. "I am Mrs. Minkson's
nearest neighbor. We have the _ramada_ in common. I want everyone in
this room and in this village to understand, first and foremost, that
I had no idea of accusing Francisco when I said what I did. When Mrs.
Minkson came to me and told me she had lost her money, she also asked
me if I had seen anyone about the place yesterday. I told her no, only
Francisco just as I was coming up from my bath. I saw him stoop and
pick up a blanket from the ground and throw it on the hammock. He was
coming then with water for me. I saw him before he reached the _ramada_
and when he went away. I never meant that Mrs. Minkson should think he
had taken her pocket-book."

"May I speak now, Mr. Page?" Francisco asked.

"Yes; tell what took place while you were in the neighborhood," said
Mr. Page.

"Yesterday I came here with water about eleven o'clock," began the
boy. "There was no one around. I saw Mrs. Plummer coming up from the
bath-house. When I went by the hammock a blanket was lying on the
ground. So it wouldn't be trampled on by someone nor get wet from my
barrel, I picked it up and laid it at the foot of the hammock. I left
the water for Mrs. Plummer and went away. That is all I know."

A murmur arose from the crowd, whether of approbation or the contrary
could not well be determined. Mr. Page was too much concerned to notice
it. Francisco and his uncle also were preoccupied.

"I believe your story, Francisco," said Mr. Page. "I trust that
everyone here believes it. I can see nothing in what has been told to
warrant the accusation made."

"That isn't all," exclaimed William, from behind his mother's chair. "I
know something worse than that, I do."

"Out with it at once, my boy," said Mr. Page. "Let us hear everything
you know."

"Well, I didn't tell this before, but I saw Francisco last night with a
twenty-dollar gold-piece in his hand, standing in the restaurant."

"William," protested his mother, sharply, pushing him away from her,
"didn't I tell you that had nothing to do with it. There was no gold in
that pocket-book."

The crowd laughed, and William, nothing daunted, went on:

"I think it's mighty funny when an Indian like him can throw
twenty-dollar gold-pieces 'round."

Francisco looked at Mr. Page; that gentleman nodded.

"In order to clear the boy of any suspicion these ill-advised and
malicious remarks may have aroused in the minds of his hearers," he
said, "I will now state that I gave Francisco the gold-piece to have
changed for me at the restaurant."

A white boy in Francisco's position would have faced his opponent with
a triumphant smile; the Indian did not even look toward him. But he
glanced gratefully at Mr. Page, and the face of Mauricio grew less
grave and troubled than it had been.

"I should like to ask," said Mr. Page, once more turning to the
missionary, "whether you may not have been mistaken as to where you
placed your pocket-book? Have you looked everywhere about the house?"

"No, sir; I have _not_ been mistaken," she replied. "I remember
perfectly well having put it under the pillow. It is very easy to go
through this house. There is not even a closet in it. Where could it be
hidden?"

"Have you looked under the mattress?"

"No, sir; I have not. I never put money under a mattress."

"'Tis my belief, 'tis my belief," whispered a rheumatic old Irishman to
Mr. Page, "that the b'y yonder," pointing to William, "has got up some
thrick agin the Indian. He have a great spite agin him."

"You don't believe he has hidden the money, do you?" inquired Mr. Page.

"I do, ye know," was the reply. "He's the divil's own limb--that same
youngster. And they both of them, mother and son, have a great spite
agin the Indians because they're Catholics. 'Tis a shame, sir, to have
that innocent crathur accused in this way."

"It is," agreed Mr. Page. "But no one who knows him will believe it.
Further, there is not the slightest evidence to support the woman's
accusation."

The old man looked at him quizzically. "You are a lawyer, I believe,
sir," he said.

"Yes, I am," replied Mr. Page.

"From your point of view you are right, sir," replied the old man
deliberately. "There's nothing agin him. _But--but_," he continued with
greater deliberation, laying his shriveled hand on Mr. Page's arm, "till
that b'y's cleared, till the pocket-book's found or the real thief's
caught--there always will be a suspicion agin him as long as he lives."

"I agree with you," said Mr. Page. "The matter is very unfortunate. But
we are powerless in the matter. We can do nothing."

The old man shook his head sadly, and was about to leave the house when
his glance rested on the edge of the throng near the door. His old eyes
brightened. Again laying his finger on Mr. Page's coat-sleeve, he said,
in a low voice:

"If I'm not mistaken here is someone who'll go to the root of the
matter without much more ado. _He'll_ put things through in a hurry.
_He'll_ find the pocket-book or the thief, or he'll know why."

Following the old man's glance, Mr. Page saw an Indian parting the
crowd. He was very tall and well-built, and his features were somewhat
rugged. An air of authority betokened him a person of some importance.

"It's the Captain," said the old man. "It's Cecilio, the head man of
them all. Wait, now, till ye hear him."

The Indian stepped to Mauricio's side.

"As I came through the village," he said, "I heard of the trouble."
Then they talked together in their own language. Presently Cecilio went
over to Mrs. Minkson.

"Madam," he said, politely in excellent English, "they say a
pocket-book has been lost here by you, and that you suspect this boy,
Francisco, to be the thief.

"I am the Captain of this village, and when we have sent away this
crowd of people, or, at least, made them stand on the outside, we will
search the house thoroughly."

"You have no right to search my house," said the missionary. "It has
been done already."

"I have a right, and I will use it," he said. "Will you go out, please,
my good friends, so that we may not be hindered?"

The people, complying with his request, slowly left the house.

"This is my good friend, Mr. Page," said Francisco. "May he not stay
with us here?"

"Yes; that is all right," said Cecilio. "It is better that we have a
witness."

"Or two," said the old Irishman, coming nearer to Mr. Page.

"Or two," repeated Cecilio, smilingly.

"Now, madam, will you kindly open these boxes and search through your
clothing?" requested the Captain.

"I tell you I will not do it," said Mrs. Minkson. "This is an outrage.
This is my house while I am in it, and you dare not order me to do
anything I do not choose."

"Very well, madam," calmly remarked the Indian; "then we look
ourselves."

"You are up to some trick," said the missionary. "The boy has probably
handed it to you, and you will pretend to find it. You shall _not_
search my house. Go out of here--go out!"

The two Indian men again conversed in low tones. Then Cecilio said:

"It is either that you look, or that we do. You will choose. They say
that you left it in the hammock. Will you go first to the hammock,
please?"

The woman saw determination in the eyes of the Captain. Very slowly she
walked to the door and stepped to the _ramada_, in front of which the
crowd still lingered. She lifted the pillow and was about to replace
it, protesting loudly, "This is a farce," when it fell to the ground,
the open end of the cover facing downward. Out of this end a brown
leather pocket-book rolled toward the feet of the spectators.

Quite a tumult of congratulation ensued. Francisco soon became the
centre of a sympathetic throng. Mrs. Minkson, very much discomfited,
was not one of them. On the contrary, she hurried into the house
without a word and closed the door.

Cecilio turned to the spectators and, laying his hand on the shoulder
of Francisco, said:

"My good friends, I see that you have not believed this boy a thief.
You have seen that the woman, instead of putting the pocket-book under
the pillow, placed it by accident _in_ the cover. Some of you who are
here know us very well. To others we are strangers. But it is just and
right that the strangers should learn what is very well known to all
who are our friends; and it is this:

"For more than twenty-five years the Hot Springs have been visited by
white people; we have thrown open to them our houses, and we have moved
out of them, going elsewhere to live; we have always kept away from
them, staying in our own dwellings and going our own ways. That no one
can deny. And in all those years, in this village where no door is ever
locked, never once has an Indian been known to enter a house where the
people were not--not once has anything been stolen by an Indian. That,
my friends, can be proved.

"Francisco, this boy here, is without father and mother, but he has
been always good, always faithful, always industrious, always honest.
And to-day he has not lost his good name. Soon we Indians must leave
our homes, soon we must be cast out of the place of our fathers; but,
at least, if it be God's will thus to chastise us, let it not be said
at the end what has never been said of us--that we are thieves or
robbers."

With a courteous wave of the hand, he passed through the crowd and
quickly remounted his horse, a fine animal, on which he sat like a
cavalier of old. As he rode away there arose a cheer from the crowd for
"Captain Cecilio."

The people--whites and Indians--gathered round Francisco, and nearly
everybody shook his hand. The boy received their good wishes quietly
but gratefully, with the natural dignity of his race. After many a
pause on the road he returned to the tent with Mr. Page and Mauricio.
The good news had preceded them, and the children shouted for joy;
Walter loudly expressed his belief that the whole thing had been a
plot devised by the missionary for the ruin of their friend. For this
he was immediately reproved by his parents for rash judgment and want
of charity, but subsided only after several reminders.

Francisco reported the next day that Mrs. Minkson had apologized to
him for her suspicions, which action showed her to be possessed of a
Christian spirit, even though mistaken zeal had carried her out of her
own province. The boy William remained implacable to the end.

[Footnote E: Porch angle of brushwood.]



CHAPTER IX.

A JAUNT.--THE VALLEY OF THE RATTLESNAKES.


Bleak and barren as is for the most part the immediate neighborhood of
the Springs, one need not ride very far to reach the cool shade of the
mountain woods.

One day, when Walter and Nellie were telling Francisco of the delicious
sugar-cane in their native State and lamenting that in California there
were no lilacs or "snowballs," the Indian boy said:

"But yes; in the garden of the teacher there are always lilacs in the
spring. From the woods the children brought them to her, young plants;
now they are trees, and they bloom very well indeed. She says they are
not so large or so sweet-swelling as those of her own home in the East,
but yet they will do, she says. And of snowball trees she has two."

"With bright green leaves and big, round flowers, like snowballs?"
asked Nellie.

"Yes, from a distance that is how they look. Now they have done
blooming, but in the spring they are fine. Wild roses we have in the
woods over yonder. There are spots full of them. Would you like to see?
And I will show you then the sugar tree."

"Let us ask papa to have a picnic. Can we come and go in one day,
Francisco?"

"Easily, if we start early enough," said Francisco.

The children lost no time in making their request. Everybody was
willing to do something to vary the monotony of life in Cupa. Very
early one morning a few days later the party, with Mauricio and
Francisco in charge, started for the woods.

Mr. Page was something of a naturalist, or, it might more properly be
said, a lover of nature in every beautiful form. When they had come
into the shadow of the woods he began to observe the various kinds
of shrubs, and was pleased to find a variety of "buckeye" native to
California. Presently they came upon a large cluster of bushes, growing
luxuriantly, the leaves of which very much resembled those of the
india-rubber tree.

"There," said Francisco, "is a tree the Americans call 'mahogany tree'
on account of its color, but the Indians name it _limonada_."

"What does that mean?" asked Mr. Page.

"The lemonade tree," said Mauricio. "The little fruits, or pods, have a
sour sweetness. We soak them in water, and they make a nice lemonade.
You will see our women and children gathering them when they are
getting ripe. They put them into sacks and carry them home. Then they
lay them in the sun to dry. It is a very nice drink. We have some at
our house. Some day, if you wish, Francisco will take you a quantity."

"Yes; we'd like to taste it," said Nellie. "Perhaps we might gather
some of the fruit and take it home."

"Of what need?" said the Indian boy. "There you have plenty lemons.
Here we have none--that is, unless we buy them."

"They are cheaper now than in the old days," said Mauricio. "Still,
many of our people like better the _limonada_ pods."

"Over there, in the cañon," said Francisco, "are the sugar trees. It
is not the time now for the fruit, but later in the autumn they will
gather it and dry it."

They followed a well-worn road along the course of a small stream which
trickled down the mountain-side--now disappearing, now shining like a
thread of silver, now crossing the path in front of them. All along the
road, marking its course in its curving deviations, grew the beautiful
wax myrtle, with its smooth, dark-green leaves and perfect, white
flowers.

As they plunged deeper into the woods, the rich, pungent odor of the
mountain sage grew more pronounced; they came upon wild bees flitting
from flower to flower. Clumps of wild-rose trees, drooping with blooms,
offered a generous hospitality to the industrious gatherers of honey.
However, the little wayfarers undoubtedly preferred the aromatic white
and black sage.

The foliage grew more and more dense; soon the trees on either side
arched over their heads; the bed of the stream was now perfectly dry.
Just at the bend of a broad cañon they came upon more bushes, in some
places as high as trees and with a crown of dense, pale foliage at
their top.

"What are these?" inquired Mr. Page. "Some are like dwarfs, others are
giants, and their trunks and stocks seem to have been twisted by some
convulsion of nature."

"That is the manganita--the Christmas berry of California," said
Francisco.

"Ah, I see," remarked Mr. Page. "When we first came, don't you
remember, mother, it reminded us of the eastern holly."

"Yes," said his wife, "and it made me very homesick to see it."

"It is always beautiful, the manganita," said Mauricio. "About
December, when it is warm in the sheltered cañons though there may be
snow in the mountains, the manganita puts forth pretty, small white
bells."

"Sometimes they are a little pink," said Francisco, "and then they are
prettier. When they fall the shrub seems to grow stronger, and the new
shoots come forth scarlet and crimson. They look beautiful with the
green of the older leaves."

"Again in the fall the fruit ripens," said Mauricio, "and near to
Christmas, when the berries are a bright red, you begin to see the
wagons loaded with the Christmas greens coming down the mountain roads
and going into the city. Oh, I have often taken down a load; it makes
money for us."

"That manganita is the finest thing we know," said Francisco. "Deep in
the ground are the roots; they make good fuel. We burn them, and some
sell them in town. You have, maybe, burned the manganita roots, Mr.
Page?"

"No, we have not," was the reply; "but if you ever fetch us down a good
load in the fall, Francisco, we will burn them this winter."

"Very well; it shall be done," said the boy. "I shall be glad to do so."

"It must be nearly lunch-time," ventured Nellie. "I feel pretty hungry."

Her father looked at his watch. "It is only eleven," he said, "but we
had breakfast early. There does not seem to be any level ground just
here. Shall we come to some after a while, Mauricio?"

"Soon," replied the Indian. "Wait a while and you will see. There will
be water, good water, and we can make coffee."

The ascent had grown very steep; the horses tugged slowly but willingly
upward. Suddenly they seemed to be at the top of the mountain. The
slope on the other side, becoming very gradual, led into a broad,
green, pleasant valley fringed by luxuriant foliage.

"How beautiful!" was the general exclamation.

"It seems like an enchanted valley," said Aunt Mary. "If you will
observe, it forms an almost perfect circle. That lovely fringe of
green surrounding it--the foot-hills just above--and those magnificent
mountains in the background--it does indeed make one think of an
enchanted valley."

"Once it _was encantado_,"[F] rejoined Mauricio.

"What is it called? Has it any name?" asked Walter.

The Indians smiled and looked at each other.

"You will not be frightened if I tell you?" asked Mauricio. "The danger
is past--nothing can hurt you. The spell is long since broken."

"Oh, tell us!" cried Nellie. "We won't be frightened."

"It is called '_El Valle de los Cascabeles_'--'The Valley of the
Rattlesnakes.'"

"Ugh!" exclaimed Nellie. "Are there rattlesnakes down there?"

"Not any more, I think; perhaps never any there," answered Mauricio.
"But there is a story."

"A story? Oh, do tell it to us," cried the children.

"You see, as we come nearer," replied the Indian, "that in the centre
is a large, round spot where nothing is growing--no grass, no bush, no
tree."

It was true. In strange contrast to the fresh verdure all around, this
single, bald, unlovely spot, black as though fire had burned it, stood
forth.

"Once, very long ago," said Mauricio, "there lived a tribe of Indians
in those mountains over there where the Volcan smokes. They came every
year here to this valley for their _fiesta_--all the tribe. Once they
were at war with some others who dwelt beyond the Volcan, near to the
peaks of the Cuyamaca. Then it happened that the son of the chief of
the Volcans was wounded and captured in a fight, and they took him to
the camp of the Cuyamacas, and there he was tended by the women.

"Then, when he was well and able to go again back to his own people,
he vowed that he would have for his wife the daughter of the chief
of the Cuyamacas, the fairest of her tribe, and that there should be
peace forever between the Cuyamacas and the Volcans. Now, the chief
of the Cuyamacas was very, very old, and he was not unwilling that
peace should be before he died. Not so the chief of the Volcans. He
called down all the wrath of the great spirit on his son, and the young
man, angered at his father, swore that he would disobey him and join
the side of the enemy against him. 'The great good spirit will desert
thee,' said his father. 'Thou and thy posterity shall be accursed.'

"'Then I call upon the spirit of evil to aid me,' said the rash young
brave, and bursting away from his father he betook himself to this
valley. When he reached it he saw in the middle of the broad space a
large, flat stone which before had not been in the valley. And a voice
said in his ear: 'Lift up the stone.' But he said: 'I can not; it is
twenty times broader, and many times heavier than I.' 'Lift up the
stone,' said the voice again.

"Then he obeyed, and there came forth a legion of rattlesnakes,
scattering in every direction; but they touched him not. He slept, and
in the morning returned to the camp of the Cuyamacas and married the
daughter of the chief. But the people did not trust him, and his wife
taunted him with his ingratitude to his parents. He bowed his head and
went forth once more. In the bitterness of his grief he wandered to the
valley, and there he saw lying dead around the ashes of a camp-fire
many braves and squaws and papooses of his tribe. His father and mother
were there, and his sisters and his fellow-braves. All about them were
the cascabeles darting to and fro, and then he knew that the evil
spirit had done this thing because he had called upon him for aid.

"So he lay down in the centre of the valley, where the stone had
been, and he cried out: 'I renounce you, O Spirit of Evil! Be it done
unto me, O Spirit of Good, as it has been done unto my people.' Then
there came a great fire out of the earth beneath him, and even to his
bones he was destroyed. But perhaps he was thus purified from his
sin. Since that time this place has been known as the 'Valley of the
Rattlesnakes.' Where the young chief was burned no blade of grass has
since grown."

"A very interesting story," said Mr. Page.

"But who told of it if they were all dead?" queried Walter, a little
skeptical.

Mauricio shrugged his shoulders. "That I can not say," he replied. "It
was an old story long before my grandfather was born."

"And what became of the rattlesnakes? Are any of their descendants
living among those bushes?" asked Mrs. Page.

"If they are," said Aunt Mary, "I think we ought to camp somewhere
else for lunch and rest."

"We shall not be near the bushes," said Mauricio, "and there is no
other place near where we can stop to eat."

"You will never see a snake in an open place like this," said
Francisco. "There is no danger."

"We will stop now," said Mr. Page. They were at the edge of the
circular green basin, and Mauricio pulled up the horses. The party left
the wagon, glad to stretch their limbs after so long a ride. A couch of
robes and blankets was made for Mrs. Page under a tree. Aunt Mary sat
down beside her, and the others busied themselves in spreading out the
lunch.

"Come; I will show you a pretty sight," said Francisco to the children,
taking a tin pail from the wagon. They followed him to the bushes, in
the midst of which stood a large sycamore tree, the only one to be
seen. Putting aside its luxuriant boughs, the Indian boy disclosed a
sparkling spring tumbling down from the rocks above.

"This it is which makes the valley so green," he said, "and the bushes
to grow everywhere." The water was icy cold. "It is an iron spring,"
continued Francisco, "and good for many diseases. Many persons camp in
this section. There are pretty little spots all around."

"See that rock above the spring?" asked Nellie, pointing to the spot.
"It looks like an armchair with a flat back and a broad seat. It must
be lovely to sit up there and listen to the trickle, trickle of the
water over the pebbles."

"I never thought of that," said Francisco. "Many times as I have been
here, I have never thought of that. But so it is."

When they returned with the water Aunt Mary made the coffee, and
luncheon was ready. Afterward Mr. Page and Mauricio walked up and down,
discussing the coming eviction of the Indians; Mrs. Page and Aunt Mary
were resting; Francisco and Walter were cutting twigs for whistles.

For some time Nellie wandered about alone till finally her steps turned
in the direction of the iron spring. She had a strong desire to sit in
the natural armchair she had discovered. It was just like what a girl
in a story-book would do, she thought.

For some moments she stood watching the clear, sparkling water falling
over the stones; then, stepping across the little stream she climbed
up on the other side and seated herself on the broad rock, her feet
resting on the turfy grass beneath. It was very pleasant to sit in
that shady nook, to watch the sunlight filter through the green leaves
of the sycamore, and listen to the singing of the tiny waterfall.

Nellie was tired; she had been up since dawn. Pulling off her
sun-bonnet, she leaned her head against the flat, cool stone that
formed the back of the comfortable seat.

"Whiz--whiz--whiz!" went something close behind her. Leaning back, she
tried to locate the sound. "It is like a corn-crake," she thought. "But
I never heard anything _just_ like it. Can it be a bird?"

"Whiz--whiz!" she heard again, but now the sound receded and presently
ceased.

"I wonder if it could have been a big grasshopper," thought the child,
once more resuming her restful position. In a moment she was fast
asleep.

"Nellie! Nellie!" called her father; but she did not hear him.

"Nellie! Nellie!" repeated Walter a few moments later.

The child slept on, while the golden light still trickled through the
leaves, and the silvery water sang its one, unchanging song. Something
that had crawled away, something Nellie had mercifully not seen!--long,
lithe, slender, sinuous, horrible, with slimy skin and loathsome head
and glittering eyes--began slowly to return, creeping toward the child
in the sylvan chair.

She did not awake, for the crawling thing made no perceptible sound.
The bushes parted. Francisco was there, hearing, seeing, and in an
instant, leaping the stream, springing to her side.

In a moment she was in his arms, wide-awake and frightened; but the
creeping creature the Indian boy had seen with its head erect and fangs
exposed had vanished in the bushes, despoiled of its prey. Another
instant, and they all had surrounded the little girl. Alarmed by
Walter's shriek, for he also had seen the snake, they had run to the
spot.

When everyone had grown calm again, they looked about for Francisco.
While they were wondering where he had gone and why, the boy came
crashing through the brushwood, carrying upon a stout stick a
rattlesnake more than six feet long.

[Footnote F: Enchanted.]



CHAPTER X.

THE ALMIRANTES.


When Nellie saw the reptile she grew white from fear and aversion.

"Oh, take it away! take it away!" she cried. "I can't bear to look at
it."

Francisco flung it into the bushes.

"Some would stuff it and keep it," he said. "And some make belts of it.
But you shall never see it again, my good little Nellie, if you do not
wish." Later he told Walter that he would get the snake again, hide it
in the wagon when the child was not looking, and sell it to someone at
the Springs. It was unusually large and venomous, and loud were the
thanks Francisco received on all sides for the rescue.

"Weren't you afraid, my boy?" asked Aunt Mary, placing her hand on
Francisco's arm.

"No, I was not afraid," said the boy. "Often I have killed a
rattlesnake before."

"But were you not fearful that it would spring at you, or on Nellie, if
you made a noise? Or that it might fix its eyes upon you and hold you
there?"

"No, no; it is not true that they can do that," said Francisco,
"unless, perhaps, with birds, who are so very little that they stand
still with fear. The snakes run away when they hear a noise; they are
afraid of noise and of men."

"There is probably a nest of snakes in the bushes," said Mr. Page.

"I think so," replied Francisco. "Shall we look?"

"No, no--not for us," said Mrs. Page. "Let us get as far away from
here as we can, as soon as we can. The thought of the danger the child
escaped makes me nervous and afraid."

"Strange that you did not hear it in the bushes," said Francisco.

"I did," responded Nellie. "I am sure I did. It went 'whiz--whiz,' like
a corn-crake or a grasshopper, or those funny little windmills you take
in your hand and whirl around, mamma. Why, it made me feel sleepy to
listen to it; I know it made me go to sleep----"

"That was the rattle," said Francisco.

Mauricio was already putting the horses into the wagon, and in a few
moments they were leaving the beautiful green valley behind, although
they did not retrace the route they had taken that morning.

Mauricio, wishing to show them the source of the iron spring, suggested
that they make a circuit, which would bring them eventually to the road.
All agreed. When they came opposite the bare spot where the immolation
of the Indian was supposed to have taken place Walter asked:

"What became of the huge stone under which the snakes were hidden,
Mauricio?"

"I do not know," replied the Indian; "I have never heard. Maybe it
crumbled to pieces after awhile, or maybe it disappeared as suddenly as
it came."

"I went over there this morning, or, rather, Francisco and I did," said
Walter, "and we believe, at least I do, that there is nothing peculiar
about the spot at all. You can see there have been a great many fires
there--that is why nothing grows."

"No Indian would make a fire there," said Francisco.

"Wouldn't you?" queried Mr. Page.

"No, I would not," said the boy. "I would be afraid."

"I would just love to try it," said Walter. "If we were going to stay
longer I would."

"And then maybe you would be burned up, like the bad brave of long
ago," said Mauricio, laughing.

"Well, we've had one experience to-day; that is enough, Walter,"
said his mother. "I am not afraid anything might happen, but do not
think I would allow you to go against all the traditions of the
place. The legend is undoubtedly obscure, but _something_ must have
happened there. We have had evidence enough to-day that there are some
rattlesnakes about and that the valley deserves its name. I do not
think I can ever look at a rattlesnake's skin again."

When they left the valley the road wound up a long, moderately steep
ascent overlooking another valley similar to the one they had just
left, but much smaller.

"One might truly call this a hidden nook," remarked Mr. Page.

"And that is what they call it," said Mauricio, '_El Valle
Escondido_'--the hidden valley. "Over there at the edge of the brush is
a camp."

When they came nearer they met several Indian children with long,
slender reeds in their hands.

"They have gathered them by the stream, and they are taking them to be
softened," explained Mauricio. "It is of those that they make baskets."

"The famous Indian baskets?" inquired Aunt Mary.

"Yes," replied Mauricio. "There under that tent is a woman weaving one,
and just across sits a man making a mat."

They now saw that they were in the midst of a genuine Indian camp.

"Do those people belong to Cupa?" asked Mr. Page of Mauricio.

"No," he replied; "they are the Volcans--they live up there behind the
mountains, but come here in the summer to get the reeds. Always at this
season you will find them here. They come and go."

Under hastily erected brushwood dwellings quite a number of persons,
mostly women, were seated. They accosted Mauricio and Francisco in
their own tongue. "They ask if we will stay a little," said Mauricio,
turning to Mr. Page.

Mrs. Page and Aunt Mary both expressing themselves as much interested,
the party alighted and walked about the camp. A large portion of the
luncheon had been left. This Mauricio distributed among the Indians,
after Mr. Page had inquired whether they would accept it. They did not
seem so intelligent as the Cupa Indians and looked much poorer. This,
Francisco explained, was because they had not had so much intercourse
with the white people.

The process of basket-weaving appeared to be slow. The material was
soaking in earthern jars, one long strand at a time being woven in
and out, apparently without design. However, this is not the case.
Wonderfully beautiful shapes these baskets assume under the skilful
hands of the weaver.

The rug-maker, a man past ninety, with bent shoulders and white hair,
smilingly held up his work for examination. It was of coarser material
than that of the baskets and the work went much faster.

"He has all he can do, old Feliciano," said Mauricio. "His son is
blind. He cannot work, and his grandson, with whom he lives, has lost
the use of his limbs. There are two little girls and a boy, and the
mother is dead. With the work of his hands that old man supports _four_
generations. He is teaching it now to his granddaughters, but he tells
me that they do not care much to learn it."

"Will he sell us a mat?" asked Mrs. Page.

"Yes, if he has one there. They are nearly always sold before they are
finished. The people at the Springs buy them, and now the stores are
selling them. They wear very well."

Feliciano had two or three mats on hand. Mrs. Page bought them all.

"Come and see this primitive cooking-stove," said Mr. Page, who had
been passing from one tent to another.

A little removed from the rest a brush-shed, open on every side, was
being used as a kitchen. A large hole in the roof gave egress to the
smoke. A circular wall of round, flat stones about a foot in height had
been erected; within this wall the fire had been made. A huge black
pot containing an appetizing stew was steaming on the embers. In front
of it, in an upright pan, a rabbit was roasting. A woman was peeling
potatoes, another cutting green tomatoes and mixing them with mango
peppers.

"All _that_ goes into the pot," said Francisco. "Don't you like the
smell?"

"Will everybody eat out of that pot?" inquired Aunt Mary, to whom this
primitive method did not strongly appeal.

"No one will eat out of it but the dogs--what is left," laughed
Francisco. "There are dishes and plates and knives and forks in every
house. But everybody will have some of it, for each has helped to
provide the food. To-day one does the cooking, or two, or three, and
to-morrow others."

After smiling adieux from the Indians the party resumed its journey.
On the opposite side of the hill they came to another camp, much more
attractive in appearance than that of the Volcans.

"These are some of the Santa Isabel Indians," said Mauricio. "They live
in the valleys hereabout, but farther back among the mountains. There
was once a church for them, and a very good one, of adobe--now nothing
but the walls remain. But they are going to build another. The priest
comes once a year."

"Do they have Mass then?" asked Mrs. Page.

"Oh, yes," replied Mauricio. "They have it in the brush-house over
there. Did you not see the bells when you came?"

"No; we did not notice them," said Mr. Page.

"They are always photographed by visitors," remarked Francisco. "They
came from old Spain. They are the finest toned in California; there is
much gold and silver in them."

"We shall have to look at them on our way home," said Aunt Mary. "I am
greatly interested in such things."

"They are more than two hundred years old," said Mauricio. "The Volcans
and Santa Isabels are very proud of them."

And now once more they were at the top of the ascent overlooking a
valley much smaller than either of the others. Behind this rose an
almost perpendicular hill covered with an undergrowth of various kinds
of bushes.

Two snow-white tents were pitched at its base. In front of one of them
a young girl lay reading in a hammock. At her feet a boy was making
a bow and arrow. In the door of the tent an old lady, with a white,
fleecy shawl thrown over her shoulders and a lace scarf over her
snow-white hair, was knitting.

"They are the Almirantes," said Francisco in a whisper to Miss Nellie
and Walter. "They come every year to the Iron Spring."

Respectfully saluting the old lady, who arose at their approach, the
party was about to pass on when, coming forward, she said, "How do you
do, Mauricio and Francisco? And how is Cecilio?"

"All are well, Señora," was the reply.

"And you are from the Springs--driving for the day?" she continued,
courteously addressing Mrs. Page. Being answered in the affirmative,
she said:

"I am the Señora Almirante; I live with my grandchildren at the ranch
not far from San Diego. We come to this place every year for the last
five--no, four years. I find it does me a great deal of good."

Mr. Page then introduced himself and his family.

"Oh, can it be that you are the friends of the Gordons, our neighbors,
of whom we have heard them speak so often? Father Gregorio told me also
that you had been living in California, and had now decided to remain
here."

"Yes, indeed," replied Mrs. Page, "the Gordons are old friends. We were
disappointed on coming out to learn that they had gone East again."

"Well, it is only for a time, you know," said the Señora. "It is only
to settle some business, and then they will return."

"Ramona," she continued, addressing the young lady in the hammock,
"come here to be made acquainted with some friends of the Gordons. And
you also, Alejandro," to the boy.

They came forward, the girl tall, dark and slender, with a crown of
magnificent jet-black hair wound round and round her small head; the
boy, several years younger than his sister, but very much resembling
her in feature.

"Any friends of the Gordons we are very glad to know," said Ramona
Almirante in response to the kindly greetings of Mr. and Mrs. Page.
"What a pity you are not camping here with us at the Spring. It is so
pleasant."

Walter and Alejandro were by this time conversing like old friends.
But the day was wearing on. Mauricio reminded them that there was
considerable traveling to be done before sundown, and they were
compelled to say good-by. In the few moments' intercourse they had
had the Pages were charmed with the Señora and her grandchildren.
She promised to call at their home in the city in October, when she
expected to make her usual yearly trip.

"Will you not come to the Springs for a day before returning to town?"
asked Mrs. Page. "We could manage to entertain you pleasantly, and even
put you up for the night."

A slight change passed over the Señora's countenance.

"I thank you very much," she replied. "I do not go there--I do not like
the place; but we shall soon meet again. With friends of the Gordons we
_must_ be friends."

"What charming persons," remarked Aunt Mary as they drove on. "If all
the old Spanish families were like this one, I do not wonder that poets
and story-writers lament their passing away."

"Many are like them," rejoined Mauricio. "The Señora has done much good
in her time. Once they were a very rich family."

"How very dark the girl and boy are," said Mrs. Page.

"The boy, mother--the boy looks like Francisco. Don't you think so,
Mauricio?" asked Walter.

"I have never thought of it," the Indian replied. Francisco said
nothing.

They had not gone far when they met two Indians, a man and a woman,
both considerably advanced in years, carrying bundles of fagots on
their shoulders.

"Ay, ay!" called Mauricio. "_Como estan ustedes, Concilio Valeriano?_"

The couple halted.

"Ay, ay, Mauricio! We did not know you. We are not so young as we once
were," the old man said. "We do not see so well."

"But you are strong and well still," rejoined Mauricio. "We have been
at the camp. We have seen the Señora. These ladies and gentlemen I have
been giving a ride to-day."

"Well, well," said the old woman; "and is this not Francisco?"

"Yes," said the boy; "am I grown tall?"

"Yes, yes, and handsome, too!" exclaimed the old woman. "We are glad to
have seen you. How is Cecilio, and Maria, and Juan Diego?"

"All are well," replied Mauricio. "_Adios._"

"_Adios!_" rejoined the pair and, bowing politely to the occupants of
the wagon, they passed on.

"They are the servants of the Señora," said Mauricio, when they had
resumed their way. "They have lived many, many years with her. They are
related to us, both husband and wife."

The moon had risen when they reached the camp. Charlie was awaiting
them with a good dinner. Mrs. Page insisted that Mauricio and Francisco
partake.

When the rest of the family had retired Mr. Page, not feeling sleepy,
went out for a walk and a smoke.

Near the springs he met the stage-driver, about to fill a pail with hot
water. After having told him of their drive and the meeting with the
Almirantes, Mr. Page said:

"They seem to be very fine people."

"They are--what is left of them," rejoined old Chadwick. "Forty year
I've known them. The old Señora is as proud as Lucifer. Captain, I can
tell you that, nice as she is. She's never got over that mistake of her
son--never will; though she's a mother to both them children."

"What mistake was that?" inquired Mr. Page.

"Why, didn't you notice how dark them two are? Didn't Mauricio tell
you nothing about them?"

"No, he did not."

"Why, they're part Indian. Couldn't you see it? Notice how fair the
Señora is beside them."

"Yes, but we never surmised that they had Indian blood," said Mr. Page.

"Well, they have, sir, good and strong. Their mother is a full-blooded
Indian, living on the Mesa Grande--married again to a good
fellow--Indian--up there. She's a cousin to Mauricio and Francisco.
Lots of their relations living round here. That's why the Señora never
comes to Warner's. I don't blame her--it's a bitter pill."

"It must have gone hard with her," said Mr. Page.

"It did. Yet she took that girl when she was a baby, and has raised
her ever since. They do say she never knew she was part Indian until
four or five years ago. The old lady took the boy then--he was at the
mission school. Now she sends him up to Santa Clara. They're fine
children--the image of their father, both of them. Miss Ramona, she's a
perfect lady if there ever was one."

The next day Mr. Page said to Mauricio:

"Chadwick told me the story of the Almirante children last night. I
know now why it is that Francisco looks like the boy."

"Yes?" replied Mauricio. "Chadwick talks too much, I think. Still,
everybody knows it. But it would not have been for either Francisco
or myself to have been the first to tell of that which has caused the
Señora so much unhappiness."

Which Mr. Page considered, and justly, another admirable trait in the
Indian whom he had already learned to admire and respect.



CHAPTER XI.

THE "JUNTA."


The Pages had been six weeks at the Hot Springs. The invalid, quite
recovered, was able to join them in all their expeditions. The children
had enjoyed every waking moment of their stay, and the sleeping moments
also, it might be said, if one should judge of that by the soundness of
their repose.

"Our vacation is nearly over," said Mr. Page one morning, looking up
from a letter he had been reading.

"Oh, papa," cried Walter and his sister, "do we have to go home soon?"

"Pretty soon," was the reply. "This letter calls me home. Mr. Dillon
has business in Arizona, and wants to start not later than the first of
September."

Mr. Dillon was Mr. Page's partner. He had already postponed his
departure beyond the time originally set. Mr. Page did not feel that he
could ask him to do so again, and the elder members of the party were
beginning to feel that home would be welcome.

Not so the children. Rugged with health, bubbling over with happiness,
and almost as brown as the young Indians, they deplored the necessity
of leaving a spot with which they had become thoroughly familiar, and
whose strange, peculiar people they had learned to know and love. The
Indians are slow to make friends among the whites, but their confidence
once given, they do not soon withdraw it. Walter and Nellie had long
since been initiated into the mysteries of herb gathering, fruit
drying, blanket and basket weaving, rug making and beef jerking. They
could talk quite intelligently on all these subjects.

That which interested them most, appealing strongly to their tender
sympathies, was the subject of the removal of the Indians from the
Springs.

"They talk of it everywhere we go," said the boy to his father one
evening. "They are always asking us if we think perhaps the government
will let them stay, papa, and what _you_ think of it.

"We always tell them that it isn't the government that is putting them
out, but they can't understand that. They say if the government can buy
them or give them another home they might just as well let them stay. I
think it is dreadful, dreadful for the people to drive them away."

"Yes, it is both sad and unjust, it seems to me," said their father;
"but such has been the fate of the Indian ever since the white man
landed on these shores. It has always been 'move on, move on'----"

"Till there isn't any more land to move to," interrupted Walter.

"There is going to be a _Junta_ to-morrow or the day after," said
Nellie. "The commissioners are coming to talk to them."

"A good many of them think they won't have to go, because Mr. Lummis is
coming, papa," said Walter.

"That will not make any difference in one way," said their father,
"though it may in another. Mr. Lummis is a true friend of the Indians.
He will exert all his efforts to have them removed to a desirable
place, where there will be plenty of water, fertile soil, and every
other favorable condition."

"I heard a man say the other day to Captain Blacktooth that the Indians
had not been here more than twenty-five years."

"And what did Cecilio answer?"

"He said, pointing to the graveyard: 'Look at our graves on the
hillside. Some of those crosses crumble like ashes. Touch one, it falls
to pieces in your hand. And yet there are crosses there fifty years old
that have not begun to crumble or fall.'"

"What did the man say to that argument?"

"He said wood rotted very fast in this country."

"Which is not true," rejoined Mr. Page.

"Then Cecilio said, in the most scornful way: 'You can read in the
reports of the lawsuit that one of the white commanders wrote more than
fifty years ago that the Indians at Warner's Ranch were made to work by
flogging them. Now you flog us no longer, but you do as bad, or worse.
That was before I was born, yet you say we were not here twenty-five
years back. You would better study the case first before you say such
things.'"

"Then Cecilio went away," said Nellie, "and the man said he would like
to flog _him_--Cecilio."

"It was funny about Francisco, then, papa," said Walter. "He was coming
with a big bucket of water, and he stumbled over that man's foot and
spilled a lot."

"Was the man angry?" asked his father, with a smile.

"Oh, very!"

"And Francisco?"

"He said, 'Oh, excuse me,' and went on. When I told him he was not
always so awkward as that, he laughed and said: 'Sometimes I am
awkward, Walter. Sometimes I have been, and perhaps I will be again,'
And he never smiled, papa--just walked along with his eyes on the
ground. I am sure he did it purposely."

"Yes, I think he did," said Mr. Page.

"But you don't think it was any harm, do you?" inquired Nellie.

"No, I don't," was the reply.

"I'd have emptied the whole bucket on his head if I had been an
Indian," said Walter. "Those people are too patient."

"And so you would be, my son, if you had been hunted for five hundred
years as they have been," said Mr. Page.

Early the next morning there was an unusual stir in the village. The
Indians had donned their best clothes, and a general air of expectation
pervaded everything. All eyes seemed to turn in the direction of the
Cold Spring, from which it was expected the visitors would arrive. At
last a carriage was seen approaching, and all the natives were out
to meet it. After luncheon in the restaurant the people followed the
commissioners to the schoolhouse, where Mr. Charles Lummis explained
the case to them as clearly as it was possible to do. They listened in
respectful silence, and then went slowly and silently away.

The next morning they reassembled.

"Have you thought about what was said yesterday?" asked one of the
commissioners.

"Yes," came in a low murmur from the crowd.

"And what have you to say?"

"That we wish to stay here in our homes," answered Captain Cecilio.

"But that is impossible. You have been told that it cannot be. This
land does not belong to you any more. The law has so decided it."

"If once it was ours, why not still? We have not sold it. We have not
given it away; we have not left it. Why, then, is it not our own?"

"That has already been explained. You allowed the time to pass without
presenting your claim until it was too late."

"But we did not know, and our old men did not know," cried Cecilio in a
loud voice.

"The law takes no account of that."

"It is not just; we do not understand the law."

"Nor we, at all times. But it has been decided, and it cannot be
changed. Think now of the outside country that you know, and make up
your minds where you wish to go. The government will do what it is best
for you."

"Let us go to the Great Father in Washington and plead with him--I and
some of my people," requested Cecilio.

"It cannot be. It would be useless. There is only one thing to be done."

"And that thing we shall never do of our own free will," cried Cecilio,
flinging out his arms and shaking his black locks in the face of the
speaker.

Then began a loud talk in the Cupeño language, for in this emergency
the Spanish failed them. The white men waited quietly until the tumult
had subsided, knowing that it was best to let them give vent to their
feelings so long repressed. At length a fine-looking young woman
stepped forward and, without the least embarrassment, offered to
translate the answers of her people into the Spanish tongue.[G]

"We thank you for coming here to speak with us," she said, as
courteously as any lady in the land.

"We thank you for coming here to talk with us in a way we can
understand. It is the first time any one has done so. They have said,
'You must go, you must go,' but they have not told us, assembled
together, _why_ we must go. Some of our old people have never believed
it till now, and some of us will not yet believe that it can happen.

"You ask us to think what place we like next best to this place, where
we always have lived. You see that graveyard out there? There are our
fathers and our grandfathers. You see that Eagle-nest Mountain, and
that Rabbit-hole Mountain? When God made them he gave us this place. We
have always been here; we do not care for any other place. It may be
good, but it is not ours. We have always lived here, we would rather
die here. Our fathers did; we cannot leave them. Our children were
born here--how can we go away? If you give us the best place in the
world it is not so good for us as this. The Captain he say his people
cannot go anywhere else; they cannot live anywhere else. Here they
always live; their people always live here. There is no other place.
This is our home. We ask you to get it for us. The Indians always here.
We stay here. Everybody knows this is Indian land. These Hot Springs
always Indian. We cannot live anywhere else. We were born here, and our
fathers are buried here. We do not think of any place after this. We
want this place and not any other place."

"But if the government cannot buy this place for you, then what would
you like next best?"

"There is no other place for us. We do not want you to buy any other
place. If you will not buy this place we will go into the mountains
like quail and die there, the old people and the women and children.
Let the government be glad and proud. It can kill us. We do not fight;
we do what it says. If we cannot live here we want to go into those
mountains and die. We do not want any other home."

It was useless to parley with the poor Cupeños. That they would receive
the value and more than the value of their houses, that they would
be given material to build other and better dwellings, that soil as
fertile and water as abundant would be found for them, that they would
be provided with new agricultural tools, that they would be transported
free of charge to their new home--none of these things availed. To each
and every argument they made the same reply:

"We want no other place, we want no new houses, or lands, or tools for
farming. This is our home, here let us stay. Or, if you will not, let
us go into the mountains and die."

It was very pathetic. Not only Walter and Nellie, but their father
also, wiped away more than one sympathetic tear as, standing on the
edge of the crowd, they listened to that soulful cry, nearly as old as
the world:

"Here is our home, here let us stay. Die we can and will, but give up
our homes we cannot."

The commissioners, unable to make any impression upon the Indians, soon
departed, all of them deeply affected by the proceedings.

They had now nothing to do but continue their search for available
lands, fearing it might yet come to pass that the Indians would have to
be ejected by force from their homes.

In groups of two or three, the men together, the women and children
following, but all composed, all silent, they went to their several
dwellings. It had been a sorrowful day in Cupa; every hope raised by
the expectation of meeting the commissioners had been dashed to the
ground. Mr. Page and the children walked silently back to the camp,
longing to exchange words of sympathy with these humble friends, yet
respecting their silent grief too deeply to intrude upon it.

"Children, you will never forget this day," said their father. "Let it,
then, always be a lesson to you, though it is not likely either of you
will be called upon to decide the destiny of any nation, or part of a
nation, however small. From his point of view, the present owner of
Warner's Ranch has a perfect, undeniable right to occupy these lands,
and so he has in the eyes of the law. He is not an unkindly man, I am
told, nor is he a poor man. Yet it would seem that now he has neglected
a grand opportunity for doing a generous action and gaining not only
the gratitude of these poor people, but the admiration and respect of
the whole country.

"However, it seems he cannot find it in his heart to allot them their
beloved nine hundred acres out of his broad possessions, numbering
thirty thousand. It has been said truly by the wisest lips that ever
spoke: 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.'"

[Footnote G: Charles F. Lummis, in "Out West."]



CHAPTER XII.

THE RETURN.


On the morning after the _Junta_ Dionysio returned from the large ranch
where he had been helping the harvesters. Or, rather, he returned on the
evening of that day, but came down to the Pages' camp in the morning.

Margarita, in her pretty red dress and new shoes and stockings, came
to meet him, with many childish expressions of joy. He took her in his
arms, fondled her cheek against his, and said in Spanish:

"_Querida_, you love your brother?"

"_Si_," replied the child. "Dionysio knows it well."

"And you love also the white people who have been so kind to you?"

"_Si_, very much," was the reply.

"And would you be willing, _Querida_, to go far away with them to stay?"

"Will you come, too?" asked the child.

Dionysio shook his head and looked at her steadfastly.

"Not to see you any more?"

Again he shook his head.

"Then I shall not go. Where my Dionysio stays there will I stay. You
will not send me away."

"No, my sweet one, I shall not send you away."

He put her down and sought Mr. Page, who was smoking back of the tent.
After they had exchanged a few remarks he said:

"Last night I had a long talk with Cecilio. He thinks it is not well
that I give my little sister to the white people. And Cecilio knows.
Good and kind you will be to her, I am sure; but if you die, and your
wife--then what? And even before that? If you keep her like one of
yourselves, no other white people will do so--then where is she? Thrown
on the world like so many have been--a stranger to her people, not
wanted by the others--what is to become of her then? And even if I am
living she will have forgotten me. Is it not right what I say?"

"Yes, in some respects it is," answered Mr. Page. "But we were speaking
of the child last night, Dionysio--my wife and aunt and myself. My
aunt has formed quite an affection for the little one, and proposed
that she should take her back to the East, educate her, and have her
for a companion."

"Your aunt is no longer young," replied Dionysio.

"No, she is not young."

"And when she dies, what then?"

"You may be sure the child would be well provided for."

"That may be true. But it is the same thing. She would still be alone."

"You have the right to decide, Dionysio," said Mr. Page. "She belongs
to you. What would you do with her? Would you send her to the Mission
until she is grown?"

"Then she would not care for me, maybe. No; I think not the Mission."

"But she would learn to read, then, and to sew, and to cook, and to be
neat."

"I can teach her to read, and our women--some of them, can cook well
and sew."

"But you do not mean that you and she will live alone together? You are
away so often--how could you manage it?"

A smile appeared on the stolid face of the Indian, and a little
shamefacedly he replied:

"You have been good to the child, Mr. Page, and to me. I will tell
you: On the ranch where I have been working there is an Indian family
in charge. The owners do not live there much. These Indians are good
people, and know well how to keep house. The girl was for a time at the
Mission. That is where I will take my little sister."

A light burst upon Mr. Page.

"Oh," he said laughingly. "You are going to be married, Dionysio?"

"Yes, sir," replied the Indian, also laughing. "I am going to marry
Victoria. It is all settled. I can have work there as long as I wish."

"Then you do well to keep your sister," said Mr. Page. "And I
congratulate you, Dionysio; you deserve a good wife."

And so it was that the little Indian girl who had so endeared herself
to the family was left behind when they departed from the village. Aunt
Mary was sorely disappointed. She had made many plans for the future of
the child; but on reflection she, too, saw that Dionysio's plan was the
most proper and natural. But never did a small daughter of Cupa have a
neater or more attractive outfit than that which arrived from town as
soon as possible after the Pages returned.

At last the morning came for their departure. It seemed as though all
the women and children in the place had assembled to bid them good-by.

Alfonsa, almost hidden under pots, pans, kettles, blankets and clothing
which they had given her, followed the wagon to the beginning of the
diverging road. Mauricio was absent, but Francisco rode beside them as
far as the top of the mesa land which looked down upon the village.
There was regret in every heart as they made their adieux, but they
hoped to see him again, for he had promised to bring them a load of
wood for the winter.

They did not forget to look out for the bells of Santa Isabel. When
near the end of the first stage of the homeward journey they saw them
in the distance. The framework, gnarled and blackened by age, looked
like a gibbet against the sky. When they came nearer Charlie asked
Walter if he did not want to get down and ring the bells.

"What would the Indians think?" asked Walter. "Might they not imagine
they were being called for something?"

"That's so," was the reply. "I did not mean to ring them, exactly, but
to strike them. They have such a beautiful, clear tone. I have a fine
hickory stick here; do you want it?"

"Yes," replied Walter; "give it to me."

He left the wagon and, going up to the bells, gave each a sharp, quick
stroke on the side. The sound reverberated again and again, filling all
the valley with its clear, musical tone.

"That is not how," said a voice beside him, and an Indian boy about
his own age suddenly appeared as though from the earth. He had been
sleeping, however, in the shadow of the bells, and the sound had
awakened him.

Taking the stick from Walter's hand, he touched them one after another,
but softly and slowly. How different were the echoing sounds from those
which Walter had evoked!

"You know how to do it," said Mr. Page, handing him a quarter.

"It is in my family," said the boy gravely. "My grandfather, he ring
them, and my father, and now I."

"Ah, I see," said Walter. "They are the finest bells I ever heard."

"I think they are the best in the world," said the boy, still with the
hickory stick in his hand as they drove away. Charlie had forgotten to
ask him for it, and probably he was not averse to keeping such a good
defence against snakes and reptiles.

As they proceeded across the valley they could still hear at intervals
the soft, delicious notes played upon the ancient bells of his people
by him of the third generation of bell-ringers of the fast diminishing,
poverty-stricken but still devout Santa Isabels.

They stopped at Ramona for the night, and noon next day found them
nearing home. Charlie was about to turn into a delightful woodland
copse for luncheon when two ladies on horseback were seen approaching.
Mr. Page at once recognized the Almirantes. The recognition was mutual.
The Señora and the granddaughter came to the wagon and shook hands
cordially with the occupants.

"Now you are only a mile and a half from my home," she said. "I beg
that you will come and take dinner and pass the night with us."

At first they demurred, the party was so large, but the Señora was
insistent.

"Come and see an old Spanish ranch house," she said. "You will possibly
never see another. Come, I beg of you; all that we have is yours."

Ramona, the granddaughter, joined her entreaties to those of the
Señora, and the Pages at last consented. The ladies rode ahead to give
notice of their coming, and when the party reached the ranch everything
was found in readiness as though for long-expected guests. Two neatly
furnished bedrooms, each large enough for a salon, were placed at
their disposal, with plenty of water and fresh towels, very welcome
after the long and dusty morning ride. Afterward, while waiting for
dinner to be served, they sat in the long, covered porch, extending
all around the large _patio_. There beautiful plants and flowers were
growing, and several parrots hung in gilded cages.

When dinner was over the Señora took the elder ladies to show them her
laces. Mr. Page rambled in the gardens and fields. The children, with
Ramona and her brother, gathered at the edge of the ruined fountain,
watching the toads that hopped over the rank moss.

"The Gordons are coming back soon," said Alejandro. "Then we shall have
fine times again."

"But you will be at school," said his sister; "you will not be here."

"In vacation I will," he replied. "I wish I did not have to go back to
school. I like it when I am there, but I would rather stay at home."

"What are you going to be when you are a man?" asked Walter. "A lawyer
or a doctor?"

"Neither," said Alejandro. "I am going to stay here and be a rancher. I
mean to plant the finest fruits, and put in nuts, and do everything in
the best possible way."

"That is so," laughed Ramona. "He is like that. He will be a rancher,
as he calls it. And my grandmother will be pleased."

"Say, Alejandro," said Walter, who had been attentively regarding the
boy; "you won't be mad if I tell you something, will you?"

The brother and sister looked at each other and smiled.

"You are going to say I have very dark skin, or something like that,"
said Alejandro. "So many people do who do not know us."

"No, not that," replied Walter. "But it was this--you look so much like
Francisco, an Indian boy we liked so much at the Hot Springs, only you
are not so dark."

"Francisco Perez?" asked Alejandro. "So I ought--he is my cousin."

"Your _cousin_!" exclaimed Walter and Nellie.

"Yes, he is our cousin," repeated Alejandro, stoutly. "He and
Mauricio--and Cecilio--and many others at Warner's. Our mother is an
Indian."

"Oh, I am sorry," said Walter, fearing he had made a mistake. "I would
not have said anything----"

"And why not?" interrupted the other boy. "We are not ashamed of it,
Ramona nor I. Our mother is a good woman. Our father was the son of my
grandmother."

"Naturally," said Ramona, and they all laughed, at the expense of
Alejandro.

"I am not sure that I would have told you," said Alejandro, "only I
knew that you did not despise the poor Indians as some do----"

"Despise them!" exclaimed Nellie. "We like them, and we love Francisco."

Ramona gave the child's hand an affectionate little squeeze. Nellie
looked up at her and said:

"You are so sweet. I wish we had known you all summer. And your hair
is so lovely." Ramona was wearing it in one long, heavy braid. Nothing
could have been more simple or becoming.

"We will be friends, then," she rejoined, playfully. "We have so few.
My grandmother does not know the Americans well, but the Gordons she
likes a great deal. And now that they are coming home and are your
friends, we shall be all friends together."

"That will be nice," said Nellie. "I hope mamma will let me come and
stay with you sometimes----"

"I don't call that nice," remarked Walter, "inviting yourself to a
visit when you are hardly acquainted."

"Don't tease her," said Ramona. "She means well, and she shall come and
stay with me."

"You can't help asking her now," said Walter, looking very glum. "I
never knew her to be so impolite and bold before."

"But Walter," said Nellie, "I meant for Ramona--may I call you
Ramona?--to come and visit us, too. We are going to be great friends."

"Bold?" chuckled Alejandro, with a smile. "That makes me think of
something. When I first went to Santa Clara I did not know English as
well as I do now, although I had been at the Mission."

"With the Indians?" inquired Walter, thoughtlessly.

"With the Indians--yes," said Alejandro. "And why not? My mother put me
there; it was a good place, and I liked the Sisters very much."

Walter looked mystified. Ramona hastened to explain. "When he was
little," she said, "Alejandro did not live with us. I have been with my
grandmother since my father died. Alejandro was a little baby then. Our
mother sent him, when he was old enough, to the Mission."

"And then my sister found me," added the boy. "But for her I should
never have come here or known my grandmother."

"Well, that is too long a story," said Ramona. "Maybe some other time
you will hear it, but not now. What were you going to say before,
'Jandro?"

"About 'bold,'" replied her brother. "When I first went up there some
English words were strange to me. Or, rather, I did not understand
their different meanings. One day a big boy, a new one, too, said he
did not like bold girls. 'I like every one to be bold,' I said. 'Girls
are horrid when they are bold,' said he. 'Sometimes they have to be,'
I said. 'Suppose a mountain lion should come, and a girl would have to
save herself from him, and would shoot, though afraid--then she would
be bold.' Oh, how he laughed; and he said, 'You mean brave, don't you?'
And then he told me the difference."

"If you like Indians maybe you would be pleased to hear some Indian
songs," said Ramona.

"We would," replied Nellie. "There was a little baby up at the Springs,
and its father used to put it to sleep in the afternoons by swinging it
in a hammock. He sang in the queerest way. His song was pretty, too;
but whenever he saw that we were listening he would stop."

"Come, then, to Concelio in the kitchen--she will sing for you," said
Alejandro.

They followed their young host, Nellie holding fast to Ramona's hand.
Concelio was shelling peas.

"You must sing for these friends of ours, Concelio," said Alejandro.
"Shall I get your guitar, Ramona? It sounds so much prettier with the
guitar."

"Maybe they will not like," said the old woman, "my voice is so
cracked."

"Oh, but we will," rejoined Walter. "We love the Indians, and we like
their songs." The old woman murmured something in Spanish, still
smiling, however.

"What did she say?" whispered Nellie to Ramona.

"She said you were strange white people if you loved the Indians, but
that she believed you were speaking the truth and would sing for you."

Alejandro returned with the guitar. Concelio seated herself on the
doorstep with the group around her.

"This is putting the baby to sleep," said Concelio, beginning to sing
in her own tongue, the while she touched a few minor chords of the
guitar:

          [H]Alo-o-o-o-o-o-o-a!
      Swinging in the trees,
      Swinging with the breeze,
        Baby, go to sleep.
      Away, you naughty flies,
      Don't sting my baby's eyes.
        She must sleep--sleep.
          Alo-o-o-o-o-o-o-a!

"That tune would put anybody to sleep," said Nellie; "but it is pretty."

"Here is another," said the old woman. "It goes much quicker."

      Amonda was a thief,
      And she stole a piece of beef.

      But the beef was very tough--
      Soon old woman had enough.

      Butcher Amonda sees,
      Laughs at her behind the trees.

      Laughs because the stolen beef
      Was too tough for wicked thief.

"Now one more, Concelio," said Ramona; "that little hymn."

Changing the expression of her face at once to one of the deepest
devotion, the Indian woman sang:

      O Maria, O Maria,
      Save us from our foes,
      From the heat and snows;
      Save us while we sing
      From every evil thing,
              O Maria!

      When at morn we rise,
      Watch us from the skies;
      When at night we rest,
      Fold us to thy breast,
              O Maria!

      Keep us in thy care,
      Always, everywhere;
      Lead us to thy Son
      When our days are done,
              O Maria!

There was something very pathetic and beautiful in the refrain of this
song. While Concelio was singing the elders came to listen. They would
fain have heard more but, laughingly shaking her head, Concelio ran
away and hid in her own room until they were gone.

The Señora would not permit her visitors to leave till next morning.
When at last they tore themselves away it was with the understanding
that Ramona and her brother should visit the Pages for a couple of days
before school began.

The friendship thus formed still continues, and is shared with that of
the Gordons, who have returned to California.

Francisco, true to his promise, came in October with a large load
of wood, and several sacks of walnuts which he had gathered for the
children.

He told them there had been another _Junta_, the people still
persisting that they did not wish to leave their homes. "At last," he
said, "the white men grew angry, and said some Indians must come with
them and help choose, since they knew best what they would like. 'Will
you come Captain Cecilio?' said one.

"'No, I will not,' said Cecilio. 'First I will die.'

"'That is wrong,' said the man. 'You will be sorry in the end, for you
will have to go, and you will give a bad example to your people.'

"'My people may do as they please,' said Cecilio. 'I give them no
counsel. I tell them nothing. Whosoever wishes to go along with you,
he may; but not I.' And Captain Cecilio walked away, oh, very, very
sorrowful."

"And who went?" asked Mr. Page.

"My uncle, Mauricio, Ambrosio and Velasquez. They did not want to go;
but someone must go. Soon they will choose, and it may be that once
more we shall be permitted to harvest our crops at Cupa--but for the
last time, Señor, for the last time."

       *       *       *       *       *

And so it came to pass. Once again, and only once, were the harvests
gathered; once more was heard the sound of the primitive flail in
the granaries of Cupa. Then its children were bidden to make ready
their goods and chattels, their horses and cattle, their women folk,
their little ones and their dogs, weeping and wailing as they went
reluctantly forth from their dismantled homes. Some among them there
were--these the very old--who escaped to the mountains, and who were
never heard of again.

In the end no resistance was made. The Indians obeyed the mandates of
the stronger race like the sullen but not insubordinate children they
are. And as wagon after wagon from the deserted village reached the
summit of the hill, giving the last view of the vapory cloud rising
from the _Agua Caliente_ of their fathers and their fathers' fathers,
each paused upon its onward course, and the occupants looked back upon
the home they were leaving forever. Then, folding their garments about
them and bowing their heads in voiceless sorrow, the children of Cupa,
lonely and broken-hearted, passed into exile.

[Footnote H: A free translation.]


  PRINTED BY BENZIGER BROTHERS, NEW YORK.



Transcriber's Note

  Footnotes have been placed at end of their respective chapter.

  Obvious punctuation and spelling errors have been repaired.





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