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accounts of the Antiguos, "our ancestors," enlarging my vocabulary
of Indian words and forms, and sometimes singing over and over the
sweet minor songs of the Coahuias.

Columbia College, N. T.



109



• The Old California Yaquero.




^



BY FLORA HAINES LOUCHEAD.

LAD in short jacket and slashed trousers of velvet,
glittering with buttons of silver or gold, broidered
waistcoat, gay silken sash, steeple-crowned hat, soft
leather botas embroidered in fancy patterns ; with great silver
spurs, a silver-mounted bridle, a Spanish bit (framed in
silver) fretting the mouth of his untamed steed, silver-
mounted saddle of leather wrought by hand with many a
fantastic and beautiful device, on which he sat as never sat
king upon his throne — the California vaquero of the olden
time was a sight to rejoice the eye on fiesta days.

Yet those who saw him at his best beheld him when he
had discarded his festival trappings, and in more sober but
no less characteristic garb, demonstrated his superb horse-
manship, his wonderful agility, his splendid courage and
endurance at the rodeo. In those times great bands of wild
cattle, thousands upon thousands, roamed the valleys, and
twice a year vaqueros went out to round up the stock, brand
the young calves, and perchance " cutout "a certain number
of steers for slaughter. The world has never witnessed
horsemanship surpassing that of the California vaquero.
The cowboys of Arizona and New Mexico today perhaps
equal him in hardihood and skill ; but only one trained to
sit a horse from infancy can ride with the unconscious
grace, the matchless ease, of the Spanish-American. Fly-
ing like the whirlwind over the valleys, racing up and down the steep •
hillsides, plunging down crumbling barrancas, tearing through chap-
arral, wherever the maddened cattle sought to escape, there followed the
vaquero. There was reason for the armas or apron of leather or hide ;
there was reason for the chaparrejos or leggings of hide, reaching from
ankle to waist, never-failing adjuncts to his working costume. No cloth
ever woven in a loom could withstand the raking thorns of chaparral,
in these wildest of cross-country rides.

When the scattered herd was finally brought together (" bunched," in
the frontier parlance) the serious work of the rodeo began. Like flying
serpents the long reatas whirled through the air, settling, with unerring
precision, upon their appointed victims. The terrified animal would
make one fierce spring for freedom, the coil would tighten, horse and
rider moving with one impulse in opposite directions; the sturdy little
broncos brace themselves for the strain, the reatas pull taut, and the
ensnared animal falls.

The impression has [gone abroad that the California vaquero was a
man set apart for this especial work. In fact, every gentleman was pre-
sumed to be able to act as vaquero. It is of course true that every
wealthy old Don, in the days before the Gringo camejjiad upon his estate
Illustrated by Ed. Borein, a vaquero on the Jesus Maria Raiicho, Santa Barbara Co.

Of TBTK



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LAND OF SUNSHINE



men who were more capable than their fellows in this particular vocation.
But the company which set out was largely made up of volunteers, and
these volunteers came from the most aristocratic families. Gay young
cavaliers of the day, men who were counted well educated and
accomplished, by the acquirements and opportunities of the time, were
only too eager to put their physical prowess and equestrian skill to the
proof on such occasions. The California vaquero was no stupid, dull-
witted, uneducated peon, who worked under orders or for hire, but a
daring, ambitious fellow, who no doubt welcomed this rebound from
an aimless though delightful social life.

In work of this nature, where so much depends upon instant and
certain action, a rider's equipment becomes of paramount importance.



— Cott-, 7 a7fc&t!M.iAv—=




Hence it was that the vaquero's bridle and saddle, although fashioned
with the rude facilities of the day, serve still as models for the control
of a spirited horse, and to insure the ease and safety of a rider. The
so-called Spanish bit, in universal use by the Spanish-Californian, and
which has so often been denounced for its cruelty, has in reality often
saved the lives of rider and horse, and no native pony, bred to its use,
is happy without it. Like all good things, its use may be abused, but
employed as a severe check only in case of genuine emergency, and for
the most part left to rest loosely in the animal's mouth, the latter
receiving its direction by the touch of the reins on the neck, it is no
more uncomfortable than a heavy curved bar of steel sawing the mouth.
Indeed, the ingenious artificer strung large metallic beads along the
frame, and it was the olden custom to place in the hollow space in the



THE OLD CALIFORNIA VAQUERO.



center a small lump of salt, so that the untrained colt would learn to
rub his tongue against the bit and roll the little copper rings in his effort
to reach the delicate saline morsel. The habit, once formed, is persist-
ent, and the bronco's pretty custom of tossing his head and apparently
champing at the bit when standing, is merely an evidence of the power
of habit. The vaquero saddle is of necessity ponderous, to withstand
the strain that comes upon the reata, wound around the horn, when it
tightens upon the struggling steer. But they were not capable of pure
utilitarianism in any direction, those light-hearted, beauty-loving old
Californians ! Hence it is that the old saddles were frequently master-
pieces of ornamentation, exquisite devices being wrought by hand upon
the leather, the horn being fashioned into fantastic and artistic shapes,
while gold or silver mountings frequently contributed to the outward
splendor. In one well verified instance an old Don actually had his
saddle-tree constructed of gold. The mag-
nificence of these old saddles did not always
strictly comport with the estate of their
owners. I think it is Ross Browne,
the most charming narrator among
all California's host of early writers,
who alludes to the richly attired
horseman, with spirited steed, and <£
rich trappings, who often had not '.
the price of a single j; r — .-,'!/'**§
meal in his •'^'^'y-M^

pocket.*

Work of
this sort is
not calculat-
ed to develop
a considerate
spirit in man
toward beast.
Ten-year-old
boys found
anius e m ent
in stationing
the m s e 1 ves
outside of
corrals as the
wild cattle
rushed out,
escaping
from unused
restraint,
when by a

dextrous movement they ^
grasped fleeing steers by the




Why should he ? Meals did not need to be bought, in that patriarchal time.— Ed.



H2 LAND OF SUNSHINE.

tail, and spurring their horses forward flung the cattle literally tail over
head. To perform this feat adroitly, successfully, was the height of a
lad's ambition. Every other consideration was sacrificed to the one
accomplishment of skilful horsemanship.

With the intrusion of civilization and the growth of villages and cities,
the old-time vaquero is passing away. When the Americans, who now
have possession of all the land, give their great flower festivals in our
Southern California towns, they usually introduce upon their program
a field day of athletic sports, and one of their widely advertised features
is in true circus style :

" Breaking and riding of broncos which have never known bridle or
saddle. L,assooing and throwing of wild cattle ! By the celebrated old-
time vaqueros Romero, Vasquez, Dominguez, Garcia " — and the like.

A half dozen sad-looking elderly men ride into the arena. Two or
three of the number are clad in quaint costumes, a trifle moth-eaten, it
may be, and with tarnished buttons, taken from old inlaid chests, where
a few relics of the past have been preserved, in spite of woe and want
and the bribes of the curio seekers ; but they ride, for the most part, in
every day costumes, much the worse for age and wear. The stamped
leathers of their saddles are dark with age, and their mounts, well
trained although they be, have the same meagre, out-of-date look as
their masters. An untamed colt, from one of the mountain ranchos,
bursts into the ring, terrified at the sight of the circle of staring faces
and the shouts that greet him. There are a few graceful turns about
the cramped arena, reatas flash through the air, and the frightened beast
is snared and thrown. He is saddled and bridled. An old man springs
upon his back and keeps his seat as the animal plunges madly about the
arena, bucking with every leap ; spurs and lash are freely applied, and
after a few brisk rounds the rebellious spirit is curbed, and the animal
canters peaceably, to the accompaniment of mild applause. Other
unruly animals are driven into the ring and brought under subjection.
Lastly a handful of gold pieces is tossed upon the ground. The
vaqueros, riding at a slow gallop, and without any unseemly greed, lean
from the saddle and pick them up. They cannot refuse the coins, nor
cavil at the manner of their earning, for they sorely need them ; but I
suspect they agree beforehand to divide them equally, and this explains
the total absence of striving. Then they ride slowly from the ring,
without once bestowing a single look upon the spectators. This is the
tragic feature of our gay fiestas, could people but know it.

The skilled vaquero did not always confine his operations to horned
cattle. One aged man, Jose" Antonio Ruiz, tells an amusing tale of how
he started out on the Conejos Rancho, one morning sixty years ago, and
riding ahead of his companion came unexpectedly upon two grizzlies
taking a matutinal stroll. One was a monstrous fellow, and opened its
huge jaws with such a snarl that Ruiz concluded to let it pass unchal-
lenged ; but he cast his reata over the smaller bear and tightened the
noose about the animal's neck. Here arose a dilemma. He could not
dispatch the animal without leaving his horse, and thus giving the



THE OLD CALIFORNIA VAQUERO. "3

creature more or less leeway, when the chances would be about even for
beast and man in a hand-to-hand tussle. So he dragged the grizzly back
and forth, choking it until his companion finally came up and dispatched
the big game with his knife.

Santa Barbara county possesses one pure and undegenerate survival of
the old-time vaquero, in the person of Ramon Ortega, who has retreated
before the encroachments of civilization, and today, in dignity and
solitary independence, lives the life he loves, in the fastnesses of the
San Rafael range. Ramon Ortega is the man who has lassooed no less
than half a dozen grizzlies, his own approved method of dealing with
this ferocious beast. He dwells in one of the wildest localities known



'4



land of Sunshine



within the State — a last stronghold of the grizzly bear, and where
mountain lions and coyotes are as common as dogs in the populous
valley below. The great condor builds its nests in the cliffs of the San
Rafael, and you may travel for a day and a night along the trails and
see no print of a white man's foot. Ramon Ortega is an old man, but
big and stalwart, and the best guide in all this wild mountain region,
although he has never been known to compromise his dignity by speak-
ing a word of English. When the young Englishmen who have
squatted on cattle ranges in the vicinity find their herds getting inex-
tricably mixed, they usually send for old Ramon, who forthwith
organizes a band of expert horsemen of his own race and himself takes
the field with them, never leaving until the missing cattle have been
found and rounded up and parted upon their several reservations. But
if he ever accepts compensation for such service, it is through some
third party.

In Santa Barbara the braiding or weaving of the reata is by no means
a lost art. Several old Mexicans earn a precarious living by means of
this ingenious handiwork. Indeed, their annual output far exceeds the
consumption of the market, in spite of the demands of aspiring young
tenderfeet from beyond the Rockies, who do not consider that they are
properly equipped to ride down State street without immense tapaderos
of stamped leather, clanking spurs and a reata coiled below their saddle
horn.

These reata-makers are for the most part aged men with a look of
true gentility in their grave faces, and present a pathetic sight as they
stroll along the curb, courteously calling
the attention of strangers to their wares.
These work for the most part in the privacy
of their homes, but in the bare patio of one
shabby cottage on Chapala street the entire
process of reata manufacture may be ob-
served. A fat, one-legged Mexican of mid-
dle age may be seen, sometimes cutting the
narrow strips from the hide in an endless
ribbon, following round and round the
margin in a spiral curve, until the center is
reached. Then he
fastens the long
strands to a fence
post, and deftly ma-
nipulates the
bobbins on
which they
are wound.
The reata often
extends the
entire length
5-^X^-X f the door-
yard before
the end is
reached.

Santa Barbaia, Cal.



-~4gT




U5




As Told by Themselves.

BY LILLIAN CORBETT BARNES.

i|OW, John Carter was trying to write a story. Some-
times he wrote without trying, and other times he
tried without writing, but now he was both making
a consciously laborious effort and meeting with
consciously mediocre success. He would have got-
ten on better, or so he fancied, had it not been for
a curious gray vapor, a kind of fog, that kept per-
petually rising between him and his people. It
enveloped them like smoke, their voices reached him through atmos-
phere almost too dense for sound. He scarcely heard what they said or
saw how they looked. The thing roused in him an impotent anger.
They were his people, his brain-folk — his very goods and chattels, if you
come to that — and yet they were in some way escaping from his con-
trol and retreating into the vast of space. The tawny hair of the girl
floated and drifted round her, weaving her softly into part and parcel
with the shadows ; the murderer's face darkened into an indistinct blot ;
the victim, regardless of his death-wound, crawled slowly off into the
engulfing mist ; the child called to the hairless dog, and the hairless
dog bounded away at the voice of the child along paths John Carter
could not follow. He pushed aside his paper and leaned back in his
chair. Plainly he was in no condition to work, and he gave it up. His
eyes wandered over the adobe walls of his carpetless room and rested on
the bright wood-fire dancing on the andirons in the deep fire-place, and
he heard the wash of the rain against the window. The flicker of the
fire-light mingled with the beat of the rain in a pleasant, monotonous
harmony of light and sound. Imperceptibly it lulled him into oblivion
of all tilings save itself, and with wide-open eyes he sat like one asleep,
when, on a sudden, he was roused into attention by a whispering and a
rustling — a stir and a movement — behind him. From the confusion of
light noises one sound became distinct — the sound of footsteps drawing
near. Small unwashed hands rested on his arm, and "Lift me up,
Senor," said the story-child.

Carter stared at him. Yes, it was he, sure enough ! There were the
solemn black eyes peering from the shock of sun-colored hair, there
was the torn jacket and the rag of crimson sash. Wondering, John
Carter bent down and lifted the tiny chap upon his knee.

" You got us all wrong, Senor," said the child. " My name is Juan
Flores, and my dog — here Queno ! Queno ! " — the hairless dog crept
from behind Carter's chair and licked his master's hand — " wasn't like
you said, either. He didn't bark at the big man, he was afraid. He
knew what was in the big man's heart. Dogs know" — Juan Flores
stopped in terror and hid his face on Carter's breast. A great blond
hulk of a man came slowly crawling over the floor, his clothes drip-
ping blood from the wound in his back. Heavily he raised himself
into the armchair by the fire and stared in gloomy resentment at the
story-teller.



"6 LAND OF SUNSHINE

" Well, and how do you like me come alive? " he said with a sullen
laugh. " Think maybe I deserved to be knifed, eh, ? But you needn't
make me out no worse'n I was. I'd reason for what I did, reason
enough — you got it blamed wrong."

' ' Eet ees true, eet was not quite right, " added a more courteous voice —
Carter started and looked up to see the murderer leaning indolently in
the shadow against the chimney-piece — "but Senor Carter could not
know. Eet was not his fault. We must tell him."

"We must tell him," whispered the girl. Last of them all she had
stolen noiselessly in and now sat crouched on the floor in front of the
fire, between the murderer and the victim. She had buried her head
in her arms,, and her tawny hair fell round her like a veil.

"I learned Spanish from Ramon," went on the child, sitting up
again and pointing atjthe murderer. " Tell that. He gave Queno to
me, and 'he gave us peppers to play with, all red and strung together.
Sometimes Queno wore them round his neck, and sometimes I wore
them around mine. Ramon gave me everything I wanted, and he let
me keep store, too. I was keeping store when the big man came " —
he broke off with a shudder and hid his face again against John Carter.
"Tell that, too," he gasped.

" Yes," broke in the victim fiercely, "tell that, too ! and I tell you his
name is no more Wun Flores than mine is Sam Hill. Its John Korasky —
same's mine. He's my son, and he knew it well enough till that damned
Flores stole him and Pheny away from me and finished up his little
game by runnin' a knife through my back — tell that, too."

" Why have you got to tell it?" cried the girl, suddenly lifting her
head and throwing back her hair, "Why do you want to tell our story ? "

John Carter flushed, " I did not know it was your stor}*, or anybody's
story. I only made it up. I am sorry," he replied.

" But it was our story," persisted the girl. " All the Dead knew it.
They kept coming and telling us, and we heard your brain thinking it
ourselves. And you were thinking it wrong."

" We will tell the Senor how eet really was," said the murderer with
that slow precision one uses in an acquired language. A flash of fire-
light illumined his face, and Carter saw that it possessed the rounded
and beautiful contour of a child.

" Meester Korasky and I looked for gold. He came to the camp with
hees wife and hees child. I came alone. The camp was in the mount-
ains — far away, as the Senor said. We worked together — Meester Kor-
ask3' and I. He did sometimes drink, and" — the Mexican hesitated
with a fine courtesy.

" And got fighting crazy — fetch it out ! " from Korasky.

"And — as he say" — the other waved his hand slightly and went on,
" and one day he go away. He had been — as he say. He say he go San
Bernardino."

"And he went to hell instead " — Korasky broke in again — "Found
himself mewed up for three blank years for nothin' he remembered
doin' when he'd come to himself. But I sent word to the camp — sent



AS TOLD BY THEMSELVES. 117

it to this very Flores fellow. We'd been sort o' pardners, and I natu-
rally reckoned on him for help, 'd he give it ? Not he. He let me go
under like a dog. I kept the score against him— at first — and then, well.
I fgot to thinkin' about Pheny and Johnny — thinkin' how maybe I
hadn't used them just right — and I says to myself I'd let all by-gones
be by-gones and just clear out and find my girl and my kid when the
three years was up " —

"Tell about those three years!" interrupted the girl passionately.
■"Tell about them. Nobody beat us, Juan and me — yes, I changed his
name to Juan, I wanted him to be all Mexican — like Ramon, I wanted
to forget we'd ever been anything else, I hated our yellow hair. And I
learned how to sing and how to dance " — she laughed out with a glow
of retrospect that ended in a sob, " and Ramon was good, Ramon was
always good."







Mausard-Collier En*. Co. Drawn by Gardner Symout,

"We were married before a priest, Senor," said Flores gravely.
"They told me Meester Korasky was dead. I rode, I looked, but I
could not find him. Then I too said, 'He is dead, we will go away.'
And we came here. What else was there to do ? We did not know,
Josefa was not to blame. She did not know."

" No," growled Korasky, " I ain't throwin' no blame on the girl. But
Flores knew. He lies when he says he didn't. He's an Indian"—
Flores' fingers closed round the handle of his knife, but Korasky went
on without regarding it—" After their fine three years I got out, tracked
them down, and found the Indian keepin' a fruit stand. He'd turned
the front of his house into a fruit stand and was doin' business free as
you please with my wife for pard'ner and the kid to take in the cash. I
didn't go near them at first — just hung around and waited. One day I
see the Indian go out, and I went in and made a bluff of buyin' an
orange of the kid, just to see if he'd know me. 'Johnny,' says I, ' how's
oranges ? ' ' My name ain't Johnny,' says he, ' its Wun — Wun Flores.'



n8. LAND OF SUNSHINE.

His not knowin' me sort of stirred me up from the start, but his callin r
himself Wun Flores made me mad clean through, and when he up and
said the Indian was his father — I broke loose and made for him — stum-
bled against a sort of overgrown rat in the dark — the place was dark a&
hell — and the thing set up a howl, and I just naturally kicked it. ' My
father'll kill you for that,' sings out the kid. ' Your father '11 kill you
for somethin' else ' says I, and the next thing I knew he was lyin' in a
heap on the floor, and there was Pheny standin' in the door lookin' like
a wildcat ready to spring. And when I saw how I'd done for the kid,
and it was all over— the chance of gittin' Phenj' back, it just come over
me quick to end it up for the three of us. I was blood-mad, I tell you.
I don't know what I did — picked up a brick, I guess, and started — I
didn't get far. The Indian stabbed me in the back."

" There was no other thing to do, Sefior, there was not time to get ta
the man's face," said the Mexican, quietly. " Eet could not be helped.
I have killed other men, and you may ask whether to their faces or not.
They were all fair, those other fights. But this gave no time."

"And that's the story," said Korasky sulkily. "My bein' in San
Quentin had nothin' to do with it, anyhow the thing that put me there
hadn't, and don't you forgit it. And I didn't come to and say any
blamed nonsense like you said. He did for me short and quick."

" Sefior Carter understands the story ? " Ramon Flores spoke with a
grace that was almost indifference.

Carter bowed gravely, and for a moment there was silence in the
room. The child had fallen asleep on the story-teller's shoulder, and
the hairless dog slumbered at his feet. His eyes turned towards the
girl. He leaned forward and asked " And Josefa ? "

She raised her head, pushed back her hair, and gazed straight out with
the look of an animal brought to bay at last. Korasky glanced down at
her with half-surly tenderness, and Ramon Flores drew a step nearer
through the shadows.

" I suppose maybe it's better to tell the truth," she said desperately.
"I've got to anyhow. John Korasky's message came to me, not to-
Ramon. I knew he was in prison, — I, not Ramon. I never told. I
was glad to get free of him. He beat me and Johnny— Juan, I mean.
Ramon sang with his guitar, the songs kept going through my head, I
couldn't sleep. I wanted him. I was glad when he loved me. I let
him look for John Korasky. He looked in the wrong direction, but I
never told. I said Korasky was dead, I said it where Ramon would hear
it, and he believed " — with a terrified crj- she sprang forward and clung
to Carter's knees. He leapt to his feet, the child still clasped in one
arm, uncertain whether with the other to ward off Korasky's trembling
fingers or Flores' naked dirk. The one man's face was purple with
fury, but mastered by his death-wound, he strove in vain to lift himself
from his chair. The other's eyes were fixed on him, and Carter saw
that it was not against Josefa that the knife was drawn, but in her de-
fense. But this Josefa herself did not see; she still clung to Carter's
knees and cried brokenly, " I've told it all now — before God, all of it,
all that matters — but make them forgive — oh, please make them forgive



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