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cut in the walls, let in light and air. On a shelf near one of these
windows stood the little Madonna, again wreathed with vines as in San

When Aunt Ri first saw the room, after it was thus arranged, she put
both arms akimbo, and stood in the doorway, her mouth wide open, her
eyes full of wonder. Finally her wonder framed itself in an ejaculation:
"Wall, I allow yer air fixed up!"

Aunt Ri, at her best estate, had never possessed a room which had
the expression of this poor little mud hut of Ramona's. She could not
understand it. The more she studied the place, the less she understood
it. On returning to the tent, she said to Jos: "It beats all ever I
see, the way thet Injun woman's got fixed up out er nothin'. It ain't no
more'n a hovel, a mud hovel, Jos, not much bigger'n this yer tent, fur
all three on 'em, an' the bed an' the stove an' everythin'; an' I vow,
Jos, she's fixed it so't looks jest like a parlor! It beats me, it does.
I'd jest like you to see it."

And when Jos saw it, and Jeff, they were as full of wonder as Aunt Ri
had been. Dimly they recognized the existence of a principle here which
had never entered into their life. They did not know it by name, and
it could not have been either taught, transferred, or explained to the
good-hearted wife and mother who had been so many years the affectionate
disorderly genius of their home. But they felt its charm; and when,
one day, after the return of Alessandro and Jeff from a particularly
successful hunt, the two families had sat down together to a supper
of Ramona's cooking, - stewed venison and artichokes, and frijoles with
chili, - their wonder was still greater.

"Ask her if this is Injun style of cooking, Jos," said Aunt Ri. "I never
thought nothin' o' beans; but these air good, 'n' no mistake!"

Ramona laughed. "No; it is Mexican," she said. "I learned to cook from
an old Mexican woman."

"Wall, I'd like the receipt on't; but I allow I shouldn't never git the
time to fuss with it," said Aunt Ri; "but I may's well git the rule,
naow I'm here."

Alessandro began to lose some of his gloom. He had earned money. He
had been lifted out of himself by kindly companionship; he saw Ramona
cheerful, the little one sunny; the sense of home, the strongest passion
Alessandro possessed, next to his love for Ramona, began again to awake
in him. He began to talk about building a house. He had found things in
the village better than he feared. It was but a poverty-stricken little
handful, to be sure; still, they were unmolested; the valley was large;
their stock ran free; the few white settlers, one at the upper end and
two or three on the south side, had manifested no disposition to crowd
the Indians; the Ravallo brothers were living on the estate still,
and there was protection in that, Alessandro thought. And Majella was
content. Majella had found friends. Something, not quite hope, but akin
to it, began to stir in Alessandro's heart. He would build a house;
Majella should no longer live in this mud hut. But to his surprise, when
he spoke of it, Ramona said no; they had all they needed, now. Was not
Alessandro comfortable? She was. It would be wise to wait longer before

Ramona knew many things that Alessandro did not. While he had been away
on his hunts, she had had speech with many a one he never saw. She had
gone to the store and post-office several times, to exchange baskets or
lace for flour, and she had heard talk there which disquieted her. She
did not believe that Saboba was safe. One day she had heard a man say,
"If there is a drought we shall have the devil to pay with our stock
before winter is over." "Yes," said another; "and look at those damned
Indians over there in Saboba, with water running all the time in their
village! It's a shame they should have that spring!"

Not for worlds would Ramona have told this to Alessandro. She kept it
locked in her own breast, but it rankled there like a ceaseless warning
and prophecy. When she reached home that day she went down to the spring
in the centre of the village, and stood a long time looking at the
bubbling water. It was indeed a priceless treasure; a long irrigating
ditch led from it down into the bottom, where lay the cultivated
fields, - many acres in wheat, barley, and vegetables. Alessandro himself
had fields there from which they would harvest all they needed for the
horses and their cow all winter, in case pasturage failed. If the whites
took away this water, Saboba would be ruined. However, as the spring
began in the very heart of the village, they could not take it without
destroying the village. "And the Ravallos would surely never let that be
done," thought Ramona. "While they live, it will not happen."

It was a sad day for Ramona and Alessandro when the kindly Hyers pulled
up their tent-stakes and left the valley. Their intended three months
had stretched into six, they had so enjoyed the climate, and the waters
had seemed to do such good to Jos. But, "We ain't rich folks, yer know,
not by a long ways, we ain't," said Aunt Ri; "an' we've got pretty nigh
down to where Jeff an' me's got to begin airnin' suthin'. Ef we kin git
settled 'n some o' these towns where there's carpenterin' to be done.
Jeff, he's a master hand to thet kind o' work, though yer mightn't
think it; 'n I kin airn right smart at weavin'; jest give me a good
carpet-loom, 'n I won't be beholden to nobody for vittles. I jest du
love weavin'. I donno how I've contented myself this hull year, or nigh
about a year, without a loom. Jeff, he sez to me once, sez he, 'Ri, do
yer think yer'd be contented in heaven without yer loom?' an' I was free
to say I didn't know's I should."

"Is it hard?" cried Ramona. "Could I learn to do it?" It was wonderful
what progress in understanding and speaking English Ramona had made in
these six months. She now understood nearly all that was said directly
to her, though she could not follow general and confused conversation.

"Wall, 'tis, an' 'tain't," said Aunt Ri. "I don't s'pose I'm much of a
jedge; fur I can't remember when I fust learned it. I know I set in
the loom to weave when my feet couldn't reach the floor; an' I don't
remember nothin' about fust learnin' to spool 'n' warp. I've tried to
teach lots of folks; an' sum learns quick, an' some don't never learn;
it's jest 's 't strikes 'em. I should think, naow, thet you wuz one o'
the kind could turn yer hands to anythin'. When we get settled in San
Bernardino, if yer'll come down thar, I'll teach yer all I know, 'n' be
glad ter. I donno's 't 's goin' to be much uv a place for carpet-weavin'
though, anywheres raound 'n this yer country; not but what thar's plenty
o' rags, but folks seems to be wearin' 'em; pooty gen'ral wear, I sh'd
say. I've seen more cloes on folks' backs hyar, thet wan't no more'n fit
for carpet-rags, than any place ever I struck. They're drefful sheftless
lot, these yere Mexicans; 'n' the Injuns is wuss. Naow when I say
Injuns, I don't never mean yeow, yer know thet. Yer ain't ever seemed to
me one mite like an Injun."

"Most of our people haven't had any chance," said Ramona. "You wouldn't
believe if I were to tell you what things have been done to them; how
they are robbed, and cheated, and turned out of their homes."

Then she told the story of Temecula, and of San Pasquale, in Spanish, to
Jos, who translated it with no loss in the telling. Aunt Ri was aghast;
she found no words to express her indignation.

"I don't bleeve the Guvvermunt knows anything about it." she said. "Why,
they take folks up, n'n penetentiarize 'em fur life, back 'n Tennessee,
fur things thet ain't so bad's thet! Somebody ought ter be sent ter tell
'em 't Washington what's goin' on hyar."

"I think it's the people in Washington that have done it," said Ramona,
sadly. "Is it not in Washington all the laws are made?"

"I bleeve so!" said Aunt Ri, "Ain't it, Jos? It's Congress ain't 't,
makes the laws?"

"I bleeve so." said Jos. "They make some, at any rate. I donno's they
make 'em all."

"It is all done by the American law," said Ramona, "all these things;
nobody can help himself; for if anybody goes against the law he has to
be killed or put in prison; that was what the sheriff told Alessandro,
at Temecula. He felt very sorry for the Temecula people, the sheriff
did; but he had to obey the law himself. Alessandro says there isn't any

Aunt Ri shook her head. She was not convinced. "I sh'll make a business
o' findin' out abaout this thing yit," she said. "I think yer hain't got
the rights on't yit. There's cheatin' somewhere!"

"It's all cheating." said Ramona; "but there isn't any help for it, Aunt
Ri. The Americans think it is no shame to cheat for money."

"I'm an Ummeriken!" cried Aunt Ri; "an' Jeff Hyer, and Jos! We're
Ummerikens! 'n' we wouldn't cheat nobody, not ef we knowed it, not
out er a doller. We're pore, an' I allus expect to be, but we're above
cheatin'; an' I tell you, naow, the Ummeriken people don't want any o'
this cheatin' done, naow! I'm going to ask Jeff haow 'tis. Why, it's a
burnin' shame to any country! So 'tis! I think something oughter be done
abaout it! I wouldn't mind goin' myself, ef thar wan't anybody else!"

A seed had been sown in Aunt Ri's mind which was not destined to die for
want of soil. She was hot with shame and anger, and full of impulse to
do something. "I ain't nobody," she said; "I know thet well enough, - I
ain't nobody nor nothin'; but I allow I've got suthin' to say abaout the
country I live in, 'n' the way things hed oughter be; or 't least Jeff
hez; 'n' thet's the same thing. I tell yer, Jos, I ain't goin' to rest,
nor ter give yeou 'n' yer father no rest nuther, till yeou find aout
what all this yere means she's been tellin' us."

But sharper and closer anxieties than any connected with rights to lands
and homes were pressing upon Alessandro and Ramona. All summer the baby
had been slowly drooping; so slowly that it was each day possible for
Ramona to deceive herself, thinking that there had been since yesterday
no loss, perhaps a little gain; but looking back from the autumn to the
spring, and now from the winter to the autumn, there was no doubt that
she had been steadily going down. From the day of that terrible chill
in the snow-storm, she had never been quite well, Ramona thought. Before
that, she was strong, always strong, always beautiful and merry, Now her
pinched little face was sad to see, and sometimes for hours she made a
feeble wailing cry without any apparent cause. All the simple remedies
that Aunt Ri had known, had failed to touch her disease; in fact,
Aunt Ri from the first had been baffled in her own mind by the child's
symptoms. Day after day Alessandro knelt by the cradle, his hands
clasped, his face set. Hour after hour, night and day, indoors and out,
he bore her in his arms, trying to give her relief. Prayer after prayer
to the Virgin, to the saints, Ramona had said; and candles by the dozen,
though money was now scant, she had burned before the Madonna; all in
vain. At last she implored Alessandro to go to San Bernardino and see a
doctor. "Find Aunt Ri," she said; "she will go with you, with Jos, and
talk to him; she can make him understand. Tell Aunt Ri she seems just as
she did when they were here, only weaker and thinner."

Alessandro found Aunt Ri in a sort of shanty on the outskirts of San
Bernardino. "Not to rights yit," she said, - as if she ever would be.
Jeff had found work; and Jos, too, had been able to do a little on
pleasant days. He had made a loom and put up a loom-house for his
mother, - a floor just large enough to hold the loom, rough walls, and
a roof; one small square window, - that was all; but if Aunt Ri had
been presented with a palace, she would not have been so well pleased.
Already she had woven a rag carpet for herself, was at work on one for
a neighbor, and had promised as many more as she could do before spring;
the news of the arrival of a rag-carpet weaver having gone with despatch
all through the lower walks of San Bernardino life. "I wouldn't hev
bleeved they hed so many rags besides what they're wearin'," said Aunt
Ri, as sack after sack appeared at her door. Already, too, Aunt Ri
had gathered up the threads of the village life; in her friendly,
impressionable way she had come into relation with scores of people, and
knew who was who, and what was what, and why, among them all, far better
than many an old resident of the town.

When she saw Benito galloping up to her door, she sprang down from
her high stool at the loom, and ran bareheaded to the gate, and before
Alessandro had dismounted, cried: "Ye're jest the man I wanted; I've
been tryin' to 'range it so's we could go down 'n' see yer, but Jeff
couldn't leave the job he's got; an' I'm druv nigh abaout off my feet,
'n' I donno when we'd hev fetched it. How's all? Why didn't yer come in
ther wagon 'n' fetch 'em 'long? I've got heaps ter tell yer. I allowed
yer hadn't got the rights o' all them things. The Guvvermunt ain't on
the side o' the thieves, as yer said. I knowed they couldn't be,' an'
they've jest sent out a man a purpose to look after things fur yer, - to
take keer o' the Injuns 'n' nothin' else. That's what he's here fur. He
come last month; he's a reel nice man. I seen him 'n' talked with him a
spell, last week; I'm gwine to make his wife a rag carpet. 'N' there's
a doctor, too, to 'tend ter yer when ye're sick, 'n' the Guvvermunt pays
him; yer don't hev to pay nothin'; 'n' I tell yeow, thet's a heap o'
savin', to git yer docterin' fur nuthin'!"

Aunt Ri was out of breath. Alessandro had not understood half she said.
He looked about helplessly for Jos. Jos was away. In his broken English
he tried to explain what Ramona had wished her to do.

"Doctor! Thet's jest what I'm tellin' yer! There is one here's paid by
the Guvvermunt to 'tend to the Injuns thet's sick. I'll go 'n' show yer
ter his house. I kin tell him jest how the baby is. P'r'aps he'll drive
down 'n' see her!"

Ah! if he would! What would Majella say, should she see him enter the
door bringing a doctor!

Luckily Jos returned in time to go with them to the doctor's house as
interpreter. Alessandro was bewildered. He could not understand this new
phase of affairs, Could it be true? As they walked along, he listened
with trembling, half-incredulous hope to Jos's interpretation of Aunt
Ri's voluble narrative.

The doctor was in his office. To Aunt Ri's statement of Alessandro's
errand he listened indifferently, and then said, "Is he an Agency

"A what?" exclaimed Aunt Ri.

"Does he belong to the Agency? Is his name on the Agency books?"

"No," said she; "he never heern uv any Agency till I wuz tellin' him,
jest naow. We knoo him, him 'n' her, over 'n San Jacinto. He lives in
Saboba. He's never been to San Bernardino sence the Agent come aout."

"Well, is he going to put his name down on the books?" said the doctor,
impatiently. "You ought to have taken him to the Agent first."

"Ain't you the Guvvermunt doctor for all Injuns?" asked Aunt Ri,
wrathfully. "Thet's what I heerd."

"Well, my good woman, you hear a great deal, I expect, that isn't true;"
and the doctor laughed coarsely but not ill-naturedly, Alessandro all
the time studying his face with the scrutiny of one awaiting life and
death; "I am the Agency physician, and I suppose all the Indians will
sooner or later come in and report themselves to the Agent; you'd better
take this man over there. What does he want now?"

Aunt Ri began to explain the baby's case. Cutting her short, the doctor
said, "Yes, yes, I understand. I'll give him something that will
help her;" and going into an inner room, he brought out a bottle of
dark-colored liquid, wrote a few lines of prescription, and handed it to
Alessandro, saying, "That will do her good, I guess."

"Thanks, Senor, thanks," said Alessandro.

The doctor stared. "That's the first Indian's said 'Thank you' in this
office," he said. "You tell the Agent you've brought him a rara avis."

"What's that, Jos?" said Aunt Ri, as they went out.

"Donno!" said Jos. "I don't like thet man, anyhow, mammy. He's no good."

Alessandro looked at the bottle of medicine like one in a dream. Would
it make the baby well? Had it indeed been given to him by that great
Government in Washington? Was he to be protected now? Could this man,
who had been sent out to take care of Indians, get back his San Pasquale
farm for him? Alessandro's brain was in a whirl.

From the doctor's office they went to the Agent's house. Here, Aunt Ri
felt herself more at home.

"I've brought ye thet Injun I wuz tellin' ye uv," she said, with a wave
of her hand toward Alessandro. "We've ben ter ther doctor's to git some
metcen fur his baby. She's reel sick, I'm afeerd."

The Agent sat down at his desk, opened a large ledger, saying as he did
so, "The man's never been here before, has he?"

"No," said Aunt Ri.

"What is his name?"

Jos gave it, and the Agent began to write it in the book. "Stop him."
cried Alessandro, agitatedly to Jos. "Don't let him write, till I know
what he puts my name in his book for!"

"Wait," said Jos. "He doesn't want you to write his name in that book.
He wants to know what it's put there for."

Wheeling his chair with a look of suppressed impatience, yet trying
to speak kindly, the Agent said: "There's no making these Indians
understand anything. They seem to think if I have their names in my
book, it gives me some power over them."

"Wall, don't it?" said the direct-minded Aunt Ri. "Hain't yer got any
power over 'em? If yer hain't got it over them, who have yer got it
over? What yer goin' to do for 'em?"

The Agent laughed in spite of himself. "Well, Aunt Ri," - she was already
"Aunt Ri" to the Agent's boys, - "that's just the trouble with this
Agency. It is very different from what it would be if I had all my
Indians on a reservation."

Alessandro understood the words "my Indians." He had heard them before.

"What does he mean by his Indians, Jos?" he asked fiercely. "I will not
have my name in his book if it makes me his."

When Jos reluctantly interpreted this, the Agent lost his temper.
"That's all the use there is trying to do anything with them! Let him
go, then, if he doesn't want any help from the Government!"

"Oh, no, no." cried Aunt Ri. "Yeow jest explain it to Jos, an' he'll
make him understand."

Alessandro's face had darkened. All this seemed to him exceedingly
suspicious. Could it be possible that Aunt Ri and Jos, the first whites
except Mr. Hartsel he had ever trusted, were deceiving him? No; that was
impossible. But they themselves might be deceived. That they were simple
and ignorant, Alessandro well knew. "Let us go!" he said. "I do not wish
to sign any paper."

"Naow don't be a fool, will yeow? Yeow ain't signin' a thing!" said Aunt
Ri. "Jos, yeow tell him I say there ain't anythin' a bindin' him, hevin'
his name 'n' thet book, It's only so the Agent kin know what Injuns
wants help, 'n' where they air. Ain't thet so?" she added, turning to
the Agent. "Tell him he can't hev the Agency doctor, ef he ain't on the
Agency books."

Not have the doctor? Give up this precious medicine which might save his
baby's life? No! he could not do that. Majella would say, let the name
be written, rather than that.

"Let him write the name, then," said Alessandro, doggedly; but he went
out of the room feeling as if he had put a chain around his neck.


THE medicine did the baby no good. In fact, it did her harm. She was too
feeble for violent remedies. In a week, Alessandro appeared again at the
Agency doctor's door. This time he had come with a request which to
his mind seemed not unreasonable. He had brought Baba for the doctor to
ride. Could the doctor then refuse to go to Saboba? Baba would carry
him there in three hours, and it would be like a cradle all the way.
Alessandro's name was in the Agency books. It was for this he had
written it, - for this and nothing else, - to save the baby's life. Having
thus enrolled himself as one of the Agency Indians, he had a claim on
this the Agency doctor. And that his application might be all in due
form, he took with him the Agency interpreter. He had had a misgiving,
before, that Aunt Ri's kindly volubility had not been well timed. Not
one unnecessary word, was Alessandro's motto.

To say that the Agency doctor was astonished at being requested to ride
thirty miles to prescribe for an ailing Indian baby, would be a mild
statement of the doctor's emotion. He could hardly keep from laughing,
when it was made clear to him that this was what the Indian father

"Good Lord!" he said, turning to a crony who chanced to be lounging in
the office. "Listen to that beggar, will you? I wonder what he thinks
the Government pays me a year for doctoring Indians!"

Alessandro listened so closely it attracted the doctor's attention. "Do
you understand English?" he asked sharply.

"A very little, Senor," replied Alessandro.

The doctor would be more careful in his speech, then. But he made it
most emphatically clear that the thing Alessandro had asked was not
only out of the question, but preposterous. Alessandro pleaded. For the
child's sake he could do it. The horse was at the door; there was no
such horse in San Bernardino County; he went like the wind, and one
would not know he was in motion, it was so easy. Would not the doctor
come down and look at the horse? Then he would see what it would be like
to ride him.

"Oh, I've seen plenty of your Indian ponies," said the doctor. "I know
they can run."

Alessandro lingered. He could not give up this last hope. The tears came
into his eyes. "It is our only child, Senor," he said. "It will take you
but six hours in all. My wife counts the moments till you come! If the
child dies, she will die."

"No! no!" The doctor was weary of being importuned. "Tell the man it
is impossible! I'd soon have my hands full, if I began to go about the
country this way. They'd be sending for me down to Agua Caliente next,
and bringing up their ponies to carry me."

"He will not go?" asked Alessandro.

The interpreter shook his head. "He cannot," he said.

Without a word Alessandro left the room. Presently he returned. "Ask him
if he will come for money?" he said. "I have gold at home. I will pay
him, what the white men pay him."

"Tell him no man of any color could pay me for going sixty miles!" said
the doctor.

And Alessandro departed again, walking so slowly, however, that he heard
the coarse laugh, and the words, "Gold! Looked like it, didn't he?"
which followed his departure from the room.

When Ramona saw him returning alone, she wrung her hands. Her heart
seemed breaking. The baby had lain in a sort of stupor since noon;
she was plainly worse, and Ramona had been going from the door to the
cradle, from the cradle to the door, for an hour, looking each moment
for the hoped-for aid. It had not once crossed her mind that the doctor
would not come. She had accepted in much fuller faith than Alessandro
the account of the appointment by the Government of these two men to
look after the Indians' interests. What else could their coming mean,
except that, at last, the Indians were to have justice? She thought,
in her simplicity, that the doctor must have died, since Alessandro was
riding home alone.

"He would not come!" said Alessandro, as he threw himself off his horse,

"Would not!" cried Ramona. "Would not! Did you not say the Government
had sent him to be the doctor for Indians?"

"That was what they said," he replied. "You see it is a lie, like the
rest! But I offered him gold, and he would not come then. The child must
die, Majella!"

"She shall not die!" cried Ramona. "We will carry her to him!" The
thought struck them both as an inspiration. Why had they not thought of
it before? "You can fasten the cradle on Baba's back, and he will go so
gently, she will think it is but play; and I will walk by her side, or
you, all the way!" she continued. "And we can sleep at Aunt Ri's house.
Oh, why, why did we not do it before? Early in the morning we will

All through the night they sat watching the little creature. If they had
ever seen death, they would have known that there was no hope for the
child. But how should Ramona and Alessandro know?

The sun rose bright and warm. Before it was up, the cradle was ready,
ingeniously strapped on Baba's back. When the baby was placed in it, she
smiled. "The first smile she has given for days," cried Ramona. "Oh, the
air itself will do good to her! Let me walk by her first! Come, Baba!

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