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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
“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
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
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.
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.”
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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
“I!” exclaimed the boy; “I live here–these are my grandfather and
grandmother–and my little sister,” he added, as the child glided to
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“But she is not clean,” he said. “I could not bring her to you as she
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.