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
“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
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
“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
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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.'”
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
“I can teach her to read, and our women–some of them, can cook well
“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
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
“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
“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
“Naturally,” said Ramona, and they all laughed, at the expense of
“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,
“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
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
“Maybe they will not like,” said the old woman, “my voice is so
“Oh, but we will,” rejoined Walter. “We love the Indians, and we like
their songs.” The old woman murmured something in Spanish, still
“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
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.
“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,
When at morn we rise,
Watch us from the skies;
When at night we rest,
Fold us to thy breast,
Keep us in thy care,
Lead us to thy Son
When our days are done,
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
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
“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.