The Hunter Cats of Connorloa
by Helen Jackson
BY HELEN JACKSON
AUTHOR OF LETTERS FROM A CAT, MAMMY TITTLEBACK AND HER FAMILY,
Once on a time, there lived in California a gentleman whose name was
Connor,Mr. George Connor. He was an orphan, and had no brothers and
only one sister. This sister was married to an Italian gentleman, one
of the chamberlains to the King of Italy. She might almost as well have
been dead, so far as her brother George's seeing her was concerned; for
he, poor gentleman, was much too ill to cross the ocean to visit her;
and her husband could not be spared from his duties as chamberlain to
the King, to come with her to America, and she would not leave him and
come alone. So at the time my story begins, it had been many years
since the brother and sister had met, and Mr. Connor had quite made up
his mind that he should never see her again in this world. He had had a
sorry time of it for a good many years. He had wandered all over the
world, trying to find a climate which would make him well. He had lived
in Egypt, in Ceylon, in Italy, in Japan, in the Sandwich Islands, in
the West India Islands. Every place that had ever been heard of as
being good for sick people, he had tried; for he had plenty of money,
and there was nothing to prevent his journeying wherever he liked. He
had a faithful black servant Jim, who went with him everywhere, and
took the best of care of him; but neither the money, nor the good
nursing, nor the sea air, nor the mountain air, nor the north, south,
east or west air, did him any good. He only tired himself out for
nothing, roaming from place to place; and was all the time lonely, and
sad too, not having any home. So at last he made up his mind that he
would roam no longer; that he would settle down, build himself a house,
and if he could not be well and strong and do all the things he liked
to, he would at least have a home, and have his books about him, and
have a good bed to sleep in, and good food to eat, and be comfortable
in all those ways in which no human being ever can be comfortable
outside of his own house.
He happened to be in California when he took this resolution. He had
been there for a winter; and on the whole had felt better there than he
had felt anywhere else. The California sunshine did him more good than
medicine: it is wonderful how the sun shines there! Then it was never
either very hot or very cold in the part of California where he was;
and that was a great advantage. He was in the southern part of the
State, only thirty miles from the sea-shore, in San Gabriel. You can
find this name San Gabriel on your atlas, if you look very carefully.
It is in small print, and on the Atlas it is not more than the width of
a pin from the water's edge; but it really is thirty miles,a good
day's ride, and a beautiful day's ride too, from the sea. San Gabriel
is a little village, only a dozen or two houses in it, and an old,
half-ruined church,a Catholic church, that was built there a hundred
years ago, when the country was first settled by the Spaniards. They
named all the places they settled, after saints; and the first thing
they did in every place was to build a church, and get the Indians to
come and be baptized, and learn to pray. They did not call their
settlements towns at first, only Missions; and they had at one time
twenty-one of these Missions on the California coast, all the way up
from San Diego to Monterey; and there were more than thirty thousand
Indians in them, all being taught to pray and to work, and some of them
to read and write. They were very good men, those first Spanish
missionaries in California. There are still alive some Indians who
recollect these times. They are very old, over a hundred years old; but
they remember well about these things.
Most of the principal California towns of which you have read in
your geographies were begun in this way. San Diego, Santa Barbara, San
Luis Obispo, San Rafael, San Francisco, Monterey, Los Angeles,all of
these were first settled by the missionaries, and by the soldiers and
officers of the army who came to protect the missionaries against the
savages. Los Angeles was named by them after the Virgin Mary. The
Spanish name was very long, Nuestra Señora Reina de Los
Angeles,that means, Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. Of course
this was quite too long to use every day; so it soon got cut down to
simply Los Angeles, or The Angels,a name which often amuses
travellers in Los Angeles to-day, because the people who live there are
not a bit more like angels than other people; and that, as we all know,
is very unlike indeed. Near Los Angeles is San Gabriel, only about
fifteen miles away. In the olden time, fifteen miles was not thought
any distance at all; people were neighbors who lived only fifteen miles
There are a great many interesting stories about the first
settlement of San Gabriel, and the habits and customs of the Indians
there. They were a very polite people to each other, and used to train
their children in some respects very carefully. If a child were sent to
bring water to an older person, and he tasted it on the way, he was
made to throw the water out and go and bring fresh water; when two
grown-up persons were talking together, if a child ran between them he
was told that he had done an uncivil thing, and would be punished if he
did it again. These are only specimens of their rules for polite
behavior. They seem to me as good as ours. These Indians were very fond
of flowers, of which the whole country is in the spring so full, it
looks in places like a garden bed; of these flowers they used to make
long garlands and wreaths, not only to wear on their heads, but to
reach way down to their feet. These they wore at festivals and
celebrations; and sometimes at these festivals they used to have what
they called song contests. Two of the best singers, or poets, would
be matched together, to see which could sing the better, or make the
better verses. That seems to me a more interesting kind of match than
the spelling matches we have in our villages. But there is nothing of
this sort to be seen in San Gabriel now, or indeed anywhere in
California. The Indians, most of them, have been driven away by the
white people who wanted their lands; year by year more and more white
people have come, and the Indians have been robbed of more and more of
their lands, and have died off by hundreds, until there are not many
[Illustration: INDIAN MAKING BOWLS.Page 19.]
Mr. Connor was much interested in learning all he could about them,
and collecting all he could of the curious stone bowls and pestles they
used to make, and of their baskets and lace work. He spent much of his
time riding about the country; and whenever he came to an Indian hut he
would stop and talk with them, and ask if they had any stone bowls or
baskets they would like to sell. The bowls especially were a great
curiosity. Nobody knew how long ago they had been made. When the
missionaries first came to the country, they found the Indians using
them; they had them of all sizes, from those so large that they are
almost more than a man can lift, down to tiny ones no bigger than a
tea-cup. But big and little, they were all made in the same way out of
solid stone, scooped out in the middle, by rubbing another stone round
and round on them. You would think it would have taken a lifetime to
make one; but they seem to have been plenty in the olden time. Even
yet, people who are searching for such curiosities sometimes find big
grave-mounds in which dozens of them are buried,buried side by side
with the people who used to eat out of them. There is nothing left of
the people but their skulls and a few bones; but the bowls will last as
long as the world stands.
* * * * *
Now I suppose you are beginning to wonder when I am coming to the
Hunter Cats! I am coming to them just the way Mr. Connor did,by
degrees. I want you to know about the place he lived in, and how he
used to amuse himself, before he decided to build his house; and then I
must tell you about the house, and then about the children that came to
live with him in it, and then about the Chinamen that came to do his
work, and about his orange-trees, and the gophers that gnawed the bark
off them, and the rabbits that burrowed under his vines. Oh! it will be
a good many pages yet before I can possibly get to the time when the
Hunter Cats come in. But I will tell it as fast as I can, for I dislike
long stories myself.
The village of San Gabriel is in a beautiful broad valley, running
east and west. The north wall of the valley is made by a range of
mountains, called the Sierra Madre; that is Spanish and means Mother
Mountains. They are grand mountains; their tops are almost solid
stone, all sharp and jagged, with more peaks and ridges, crowded in
together, than you could possibly count. At the bottom, they reach out
into the valley by long slopes, which in the olden time were covered
thick with trees and shrubs; but now, the greater part of these have
been cut down and cleared off, and the ground planted full of
orange-trees and grapevines. If you want to see how it looks to have
solid miles upon miles of orange orchards and vineyards together, you
must go to this San Gabriel Valley. There is no other such place in the
As Mr. Connor rode about, day after day, and looked at these
orchards and vineyards, he began to think he should like to have some
too. So he went up and down along the base of the mountains, looking
for a good place. At last he found one. It was strange nobody had
picked it out before. One reason was that it was so wild, and lay so
high up, that it would be a world of trouble, and cost a deal of money,
to make a road up to it and to clear the ground. But Mr. Connor did not
care for that. It was a sort of ridge of the mountains, and it was all
grown over thick with what is called in California chapparal. That is
not the name of any one particular shrub or tree; it means a mixture of
every sort and kind. You all know what mixed candy is! Well,
chapparal is mixed bushes and shrubs; mixed thick too! From a little
way off, it looks as smooth as moss; it is so tangled, and the bushes
have such strong and tough stems, you can't possibly get through it,
unless you cut a path before you with a hatchet; it is a solid thicket
all the way.
As Mr. Connor rode to and fro, in front of this green ridge, he
thought how well a house would look up there, with the splendid
mountain wall rising straight up behind it. And from the windows of
such a house, one could look off, not only over the whole valley, but
past the hills of its southern wall, clear and straight thirty miles to
the sea. In a clear day, the line of the water flashed and shone there
like a silver thread.
Mr. Connor used to sit on his horse by the half hour at a time
gazing at this hillside, and picturing the home he would like to make
there,a big square house with plenty of room in it, wide verandas on
all sides, and the slope in front of it one solid green orange orchard.
The longer he looked the surer he felt that this was the thing he
wanted to do.
The very day he decided, he bought the land; and in two days more he
had a big force of men hacking away at the chapparal, burning it,
digging up the tough, tangled roots; oh, what slow work it was! Just as
soon as a big enough place was cleared, he built a little house of
rough boards,only two rooms in it; and there he went to live, with
Now that he had once begun the making of his house, he could hardly
wait for it to be done; and he was never happy except when he was
overseeing the men, hurrying them and working himself. Many a tough old
bush he chopped down with his own hands, and tugged the root up; and he
grew stronger every day. This was a kind of medicine he had not tried
A great part of the bushes were manzanita. The roots and lower
stems of this shrub are bright red, and twisted almost into knots. They
make capital firewood; so Mr. Connor had them all piled up in a pile to
keep to burn in his big fireplaces; and you would have laughed to see
such a woodpile. It was almost as high as the house; and no two sticks
alike,all prongs and horns, and crooks and twists; they looked like
monster's back teeth.
At last the house was done. It was a big, old-fashioned, square
house, with a wide hall running through the middle; on the east side
were the library and dining-room; on the west, the parlor and a big
billiard-room; upstairs were four large bedrooms; at the back of the
house, a kitchen. No servants were to sleep in the house. Mr. Connor
would have only Chinamen for servants; and they would sleep, with the
rest of his Chinamen laborers, in what he called the Chinese
quarter,a long, low wooden building still farther up on the hill.
Only Jim was to sleep in the house with Mr. Connor.
The Chinese quarter was a very comfortable house; and was presided
over by a fat old Chinaman, who had such a long queue that Jim called
him Long Tail. His name was See Whong Choo, which, Jim said, was
entirely too long to pronounce. There were twenty Chinamen on the
place; and a funny sight it was to see them all file out of a morning
to their work, every one with what looked like a great dinner-plate
upside down on his head for a hat, and his long, black hair braided in
a queue, not much bigger than a rat tail, hanging down his back.
People in California are so used to seeing Chinamen, that they do
not realize how droll they look to persons not accustomed to the sight.
Their yellow skins, their funny little black eyes, set so slanting
in their heads that you can't tell half the time whether they are
looking straight at you or not, their shiny shaved heads and pig-tails,
are all very queer. And when you first hear them talking together in
their own tongue, you think it must be cats trying to learn English; it
is a mixture of caterwaul and parrot, more disagreeable in sound than
any language I ever heard.
About a year after Mr. Connor had moved into his new house, he got a
letter, one night, which made him very unhappy. It told him that his
sister and her husband were dead; they had died, both of them in one
week, of a dreadful fever. Their two children had had the fever at the
same time, but they were getting well; and now, as there was nobody in
Italy to take care of them, the letter asked what should be done with
them. Would Mr. Connor come out himself, or would he send some one? The
Count and his wife had been only a few days ill, and the fever had made
them delirious from the first, so that no directions had been given to
any one about the children; and there the two poor little things were,
all alone with their nurse in their apartment in the King's palace.
They had had to live in the palace always, so that the Count could be
ready to attend on the King whenever he was wanted.
[Illustration: THE KING'S PALACE.Page 31.]
Giuseppe and Maria (those were their names) never liked living
there. The palace was much too grand, with its marble staircases, and
marble floored rooms, so huge and cold; and armed soldiers for
sentinels, standing at the corners and doors, to keep people from going
into rooms without permission, and to keep watch also, lest somebody
should get in and kill the King. The King was always afraid of being
killed; there were so many unhappy and discontented persons in Italy,
who did not want him to be King. Just think how frightful it must be to
know every day,morning, noon, and night,that there was danger of
somebody's coming stealthily into your room to kill you! Who would be a
king? It used to make the children afraid whenever they passed these
tall soldiers in armor, in the halls. They would hold tight to each
other's hands, and run as fast as they could, past them; and when they
got out in the open air, they were glad; most of all when their nurse
took them into the country, where they could run on the grass and pick
flowers. There they used often to see poor little hovels of houses,
with gardens, and a donkey and chickens in the yard, and children
playing; and they used to say they wished their father and mother were
poor, and lived in a house like that, and kept a donkey. And then the
nurse would tell them they were silly children; that it was a fine
thing to live in a palace, and have their father one of the King's
officers, and their mother one of the most beautiful of the Queen's
ladies; but you couldn't have made the children believe it. They hated
the palace, and everything about it, more and more every day of their
Giuseppe was ten, and Maria was seven. They were never called by
their real names: Giuseppe was called Jusy, and Maria was called Rea;
Jusy and Rea, nobody would ever have guessed from that, what their real
names were. Maria is pronounced Mahrea in Italy; so that was the
way she came to be called Rea for shortness. Jusy gave himself his
nickname when he was a baby, and it had always stuck to him ever since.
It was enough to make anybody's heart ache to see these two poor
little things, when they first got strong enough to totter about after
this fever; so weak they felt, they could hardly stand; and they cried
more than half the time, thinking about their papa and mamma, dead and
buried without their even being able to kiss them once for good-by. The
King himself felt so sorry for the little orphans, he came to speak to
them; and the kind Queen came almost every day, and sent them beautiful
toys, and good things to eat; but nothing comforted the children.
What do you suppose will become of us, Jusy? Rea often said; and
Jusy would reply,
I don't know, Rea. As soon as I'm a man, I can take care of you and
myself too, easy enough; and that won't be a great while. I shall ask
the King to let me be one of his officers like papa.
Oh, no! no! Jusy, Rea would reply. Don't! Don't let's live in
this horrid palace. Ask him to give you a little house in the country,
with a donkey; and I will cook the dinner. Caterina will teach me how.
Caterina was their nurse.
But there wouldn't be any money to pay Caterina, Jusy would say.
The King might give us enough for that, Jusy. He is so kind. I'm
sure he would, don't you think so? was Rea's answer to this
No, said Jusy, I don't think he would, unless I earned it. Papa
had to work for all the money he had.
It was a glad day for the children when the news came that their
uncle in America was going to send for them to come and live with him;
and that in three weeks the man who was to take them there would
arrive. This news came over by telegraph, on that wonderful telegraph
wire, down at the bottom of the ocean. Their kind Uncle George thought
he would not leave the children uncheered in their suspense and
loneliness one minute longer than he could help; so he sent the message
by telegraph; and the very day after this telegraphic message went, Jim
set out for Italy.
Jim had travelled so much with Mr. Connor that he was just the best
possible person to take charge of the children on their long journey.
He knew how to manage everything; and he could speak Italian and French
and German well enough to say all that was necessary in places where no
English was spoken. Moreover, Jim had been a servant in Mr. Connor's
father's house all his life; had taken care of Mr. Connor and his
sister when they were a little boy and girl together, just as Jusy and
Rea were now. He always called Mr. Connor Mr. George, and his sister
Miss Julia; and when he set out to go for the children he felt almost
as if he were going to the help and rescue of his own grandchildren.
Jusy and Rea did not feel that they were going to a stranger; for
they had heard about their Uncle George ever since they could remember;
and all about Jim too. Almost every year Mr. Connor used to send his
sister a new picture of himself; so the children knew very well how he
When the news came that they were to go to America and live with
him, they got out all of these pictures they could find, and ranged
them in a line on the mantelpiece in their parlor. There was a picture
of Jim too, as black as charcoal. At first, Rea had been afraid of
this; but Jusy thought it was splendid. Every morning the lonely little
creatures used to stand in front of this line of pictures and say,
Good-morning, Uncle George! Good-morning to you, Mr. Black Man! How
soon will you get here? We shall be very glad to see you.
It was over a month before he arrived. The children had been told
that he might be there in three weeks from the day the despatch came;
and as soon as the three weeks were ended, they began almost to hold
their breaths listening for him; they were hardly willing to stir out
of the palace for a walk, for fear he might come while they were away.
Rea watched at the windows, and Jusy watched at the doorway which led
into the corridor.
He might be afraid of the sentinel at the corner there, he said.
Caterina says there are no palaces in America.
Goody! interrupted Rea, I'm so glad.
And so perhaps he has never seen a man in armor like that; and I'd
better be at the door to run and meet him.
All their clothes were packed ready for the journey; and all the
things which had belonged to their mamma were packed up too, to go with
them. The huge rooms looked drearier than ever. The new chamberlain's
wife was impatient to get settled in the apartment herself, and kept
coming to look at it, and discussing, in the children's presence, where
she would put this or that piece of furniture, and how she would have
her pictures hung.
I think she is a very rude lady, said Jusy. The Queen said these
were our rooms so long as we stayed, just the same as if mamma were
here with us; and I think I see her coming in here that way if mamma
[Illustration: decorative panel]*
After all their precautions, Jusy and Rea were out when Jim arrived.
They had been to take a walk with Caterina; and when they came back, as
they passed the big sentinel at the outside gate, he nodded to them
pleasantly, and said,
He has come!the black signor from America. (Signor is Italian
[Illustration: JUSY AND REA. He has come!the black signor from
You see everybody in the palace, from the King down to the scullions
in the kitchen, was interested in the two fatherless and motherless
children, and glad to hear that Jim had arrived.
The very next day they set off. Jim was impatient to be back in
California again; there was nothing to wait for. Caterina was greatly
relieved to find that he did not wish her to go with him. The Queen had
said she must go, if the black signor wished it; and Caterina was
wretched with fright at the thought of the journey, and of the country
full of wild beasts and savages. Worse than Africa, a hundred times,
she said, from all I can hear. But her Majesty says I must go, if I am
needed. I'd rather die, but I see no way out of it.
When it came to bidding Rea good-by, however, she was almost ready
to beg to be allowed to go. The child cried and clung to her neck; and
Caterina cried and sobbed too.
But the wise Jim had provided himself with a powerful helper. He had
bought a little white spaniel, the tiniest creature that ever ran on
four legs; she was no more than a doll, in Rea's arms; her hair was
like white silk floss. She had a blue satin collar with a gilt clasp
and padlock; and on the padlock, in raised letters, was the name
Fairy. Jim had thought of this in New York, and bought the collar and
padlock there; and the dog he had bought only one hour before they were
to set out on their journey. She was in a beautiful little
flannel-lined basket; and when Rea clung to Caterina's neck crying and
sobbing, Jim stepped up to her and said,
Don't cry, missy; here's your little dog to take care of; she'll be
scared if she sees you cry.
Mine! Mine! That sweet doggie! cried Rea. She could not believe
her eyes. She stopped crying; and she hardly noticed when the Queen
herself kissed her in farewell, so absorbed was she in Fairy and the
blue satin collar. Oh, you are a very good black man, Signor Jim, she
cried. I never saw such a sweet doggie; I shall carry her in my own
arms all the way there.
It was a hard journey; but the children enjoyed every minute of it.
The account of all they did and saw, and the good times they had with
the kind Jim, would make a long story by itself; but if I told it, we
should never get to the Hunter Cats; so I will not tell you anything
about the journey at all except that it took about six weeks, and that
they reached San Gabriel in the month of March, when everything was
green and beautiful, and the country as full of wild flowers as the
children had ever seen the country about Florence in Italy.
Mr. Connor had not been idle while Jim was away. After walking up
and down his house, with his thinking-cap on, for a few days, looking
into the rooms, and trying to contrive how it should be rearranged to
accommodate his new and unexpected family, he suddenly decided to build
on a small wing to the house. He might as well arrange it in the outset
as it would be pleasantest to have it when Jusy and Rea were a young
gentleman and a young lady, he thought. What might do for them very
well now, while they were little children, would not do at all when
they were grown up.
So, as I told you, Mr. Connor being a gentleman who never lost any
time in doing a thing he had once made up his mind to, set carpenters
at work immediately tearing out half of one side of his new house; and
in little over a month, there was almost another little house joined on
to it. There was a good big room for Rea's bedroom, and a small room
opening out of it, for her sitting-room; beyond this another room in
which her nurse could sleep, while she needed one, and after she grew
older, the governess who must come to teach her; and after she did not
need any governess, the room would be a pleasant thing to have for her
young friends who came to visit her. This kind uncle was planning for a
good many years ahead, in this wing to his house.
These rooms for Rea were in the second story. Beneath them were two
large rooms, one for Jusy, and one for Jim. A pretty stairway, with a
lattice-work wall, went up outside to Rea's room, and at the door of
her room spread out into a sort of loggia, or upstairs piazza, such as
Mr. Connor knew she had been used to in Italy. In another year this
stairway and loggia would be a bower of all sorts of vines, things grow
so fast in California.
* * * * *
And now we are really coming to the Cats. They had arrived before
the children did.
When the children got out of the cars at San Gabriel, there stood
their Uncle George on the platform waiting for them. Jusy spied him
first. There's Uncle George, he shouted, and ran towards him
shouting, Uncle George! Uncle George! Here we are.
Rea followed close behind, holding up Fairy. Look at my doggie that
Signor black Jim gave me, she cried, holding Fairy up as high as she
could reach; and in the next minute she herself, doggie and all, was
caught up in Uncle George's arms.
What makes you cry, Uncle George? she exclaimed; we thought you
would be very glad to see us!
So I am, you dear child, he said. I am only crying because I am
But Jusy knew better, and as soon as he could get a chance, he
whispered to Rea, I should have thought you would have known better
than to say anything to Uncle George about his having tears in his
eyes. It was because we reminded him so much of mamma, that he cried. I
saw the tears come in his eyes, the first minute he saw us, but I
wasn't going to say a word about it.
Poor little Rea felt badly enough to think she had not understood as
quickly as Jusy did; but the only thing she could think of to do was to
spring up in the seat of the wagon, and put her arms around her uncle's
neck, and kiss him over and over, saying, We are going to love you,
like,oh,like everything, Jusy and me! I love you better than my
But when she said this, the tears came into Mr. Connor's eyes again;
and Rea looked at Jusy in despair.
Keep quiet, Rea, whispered Jusy. He doesn't want us to talk just
yet, I guess; and Rea sat down again, and tried to comfort herself
with Fairy. But she could not keep her eyes from watching her uncle's
face. Her affectionate heart was grieved to see him look so sad,
instead of full of joy and gladness as she had thought it would be.
Finally she stole her hand into his and sat very still without
speaking, and that really did comfort Mr. Connor more than anything she
could have done. The truth was, Rea looked so much like her mother,
that it was almost more than Mr. Connor could bear when he first saw
her; and her voice also was like her mother's.
Jusy did not in the least resemble his mother; he was like his
father in every way,hair as black as black could be, and eyes almost
as black as the hair; a fiery, flashing sort of face Jusy had; and a
fiery, flashing sort of temper too, I am sorry to say. A good deal like
thunder-storms, Jusy's fits of anger were; but, if they were swift and
loud, like the thunder, they also were short-lived,cleared off
quickly,like thunder-storms, and showed blue sky afterward, and a
beautiful rainbow of sorrow for the hasty words or deeds.
Rea was fair, with blue eyes and yellow hair, and a temper sunny as
her face. In Italy there are so few people with blue eyes and fair
hair, that whenever Rea was seen in the street, everybody turned to
look at her, and asked who she was, and remembered her; and when she
came again, they said, Ecco! Ecco! (That is Italian for Look! Look!)
There is the little blue-eyed, golden-haired angel. Rea did not know
that the people said this, which was well, for it might have made her
It was six miles from the railway station to Mr. Connor's house. But
the house was in sight all the way; it was so high up on the
mountain-side that it showed plainly, and as it was painted white, you
could see it in all directions like a lighthouse. Mr. Connor liked to
be able to see it from all places when he was riding about the valley.
He said it looked friendly to him; as if it said, all the time, Here I
am, you can come home any minute you want to.
After they had driven about half way, Mr. Connor said,
Children, do you see that big square house up there on the
mountain? That is Connorloa.
Whose house is it, Uncle George? said Jusy.
Why, did you not hear? replied Mr. Connor. It is Connorloa.
The children looked still more puzzled.
Oh, laughed their uncle. Is it possible nobody has told you the
name of my house? I have called it Connorloa, from my own name, and
'loa,' which is the word in the Sandwich Islands for 'hill.' I suppose
I might have called it Connor Hill, but I thought 'loa' was prettier.
Oh, so do I, said Jusy. It is lovely. Connorloa, Connorloa, he
repeated. Doesn't it sound like some of the names in Italy, Rea? he
Prettier! said little Rea. No word in Italy, so pretty as
Connorloa; nor so nice as Uncle George.
You dear, loving little thing! cried Uncle George, throwing his
arms around her. You are for all the world your mother over again.
That's just what I've been saying to myself all the way home, Mr.
George, said Jim. It's seemed to me half the time as if it were Miss
Julia herself; but the boy is not much like you.
No, said Jusy proudly, throwing back his handsome head, and his
eyes flashing. I am always said to be exactly the portrait of my
father; and when I am a man, I am going back to Italy to live in the
King's palace, and wear my father's sword.
I sha'n't go, said Rea, nestling close to her uncle. I shall stay
in Connorloa with Uncle George. I hate palaces. Your house isn't a
palace, is it, Uncle George? It looks pretty big.
No, my dear; not by any means, replied Mr. Connor, laughing
heartily. But why do you hate palaces, my little Rea? Most people
think it would be the finest thing possible to live in a palace.
I don't, said Rea. I just hate them; the rooms are so big and so
cold; and the marble floors are so slip-py, I've had my knees all black
and blue tumbling down on them; and the stairs are worse yet; I used to
have to creep on them; and there is a soldier at every corner with a
gun and a sword to kill you, if you break any of the rules. I think a
palace is just like a prison!
Well done, my little Republican! cried Uncle George.
What is that? said Rea.
I know, said Jusy. It is a person that does not wish to have any
king. There were Republicans in Italy; very bad men. Papa said they
ought to be killed. Why do you call Rea by that name, Uncle George?
and Jusy straightened himself up like a soldier, and looked fierce.
Mr. Connor could hardly keep his face straight as he replied to
Jusy: My dear boy the word does not mean anything bad in America; we
are all Republicans here. You know we do not have any king. We do not
think that is the best way to take care of a country.
My papa thought it was the best way, haughtily answered Jusy. I
shall think always as papa did.
All right, my man, laughed Uncle George. Perhaps you will. You
can think and say what you like while you live in America, and nobody
will put you in prison for your thoughts or your words, as they might
if you lived in Italy.
It was near night when they reached the house. As they drove slowly
up the long hill, the Chinamen were just going, on the same road, to
their supper. When they heard the sound of the wheels, they stepped off
the road, and formed themselves into a line to let the carriage pass,
and to get a peep at the children. They all knew about their coming,
and were curious to see them.
[Illustration: The Chinamen were just going to their supper, and
they formed themselves into a line.PAGE 60.]
When Rea caught sight of them, she screamed aloud, and shook with
terror, and hid her face on her uncle's shoulder.
Are those the savages? she cried. Oh, don't let them kill Fairy;
and she nearly smothered the little dog, crowding her down out of sight
on the seat between herself and her uncle.
Jusy did not say a word, but he turned pale; he also thought these
must be the savages of which they had heard.
Mr. Connor could hardly speak for laughing. Who ever put such an
idea as that into your head? he cried. Those are men from China;
those are my workmen; they live at Connorloa all the time. They are
very good men; they would not hurt anybody. There are not any savages
Caterina said America was all full of savages, sobbed
Rea,savages and wild beasts, such as lions and wolves.
That girl was a fool, exclaimed Jim. It was a good thing, Mr.
George, you told me not to bring her over.
I should say so, replied Mr. Connor. The idea of her trying to
frighten these children in that way. It was abominable.
She did nothing of the kind, cried Jusy, his face very red. She
was talking to her cousin; and she thought we were asleep; and Rea and
I listened; and I told Rea it was good enough for us to get so
frightened because we had listened. But I did not believe it so much as
The Chinamen were all bowing and bending, and smiling in the
gladness of their hearts. Mr. Connor was a good master to them; and
they knew it would be to him great pleasure to have these little
children in the house.
While driving by he spoke to several of them by name, and they
replied. Jusy and Rea listened and looked.
What are their heads made of, Uncle George? whispered Rea. Will
they break if they hit them?
At first, Mr. Connor could not understand what she meant; then in a
moment he shouted with laughter.
Chinamen have their heads shorn of all hair, except one little lock
at the top; this is braided in a tight braid, like a whiplash, and
hangs down their backs, sometimes almost to the very ground. The longer
this queer little braid is, the prouder the Chinaman feels. All the
rest of his head is bare and shining smooth. They looked to Rea like
the heads of porcelain baby dolls she had had; and that those would
break, she knew by sad experience.
How pleased Rea and Jusy were with their beautiful rooms, and with
everything in their Uncle George's house, there are no words to tell.
They would have been very unreasonable and ungrateful children, if they
had not been; for Mr. Connor had not forgotten one thing which could
add to their comfort or happiness: books, toys, everything he could
think of, or anybody could suggest to him, he had bought. And when he
led little Rea into her bedroom, there stood a sweet-faced young
Mexican girl, to be her nurse.
Anita, he said, here is your young lady.
I am very glad to see you, señorita, said the girl, coming forward
to take off Rea's hat; on which Rea exclaimed,
Why, she is Italian! That is what Caterina called me. And Caterina
had a sister whose name was Anita. How did you get over here?
I was born here, señorita, replied the girl.
It is not quite the same word, Rea, said Mr. Connor, though it
sounds so much like it. It was 'signorita' you were called in Italy;
and it is 'señorita' that Anita here calls you. That is Spanish; and
Anita speaks much more Spanish than English. That is one reason I took
her. I want you to learn to speak in Spanish.
Then we shall speak four languages, said Jusy proudly,Italian,
French, and English and Spanish. Our papa spoke eleven. That was one
reason he was so useful to the King. Nobody could come from any foreign
country that papa could not talk to. My papa said the more languages a
man spoke, the more he could do in the world. I shall learn all the
American languages before I go back to Italy. Are there as many as
nine, Uncle George?
Yes, a good many more, replied Uncle George. Pretty nearly a
language for every State, I should say. But the fewer you learn of them
the better. If you will speak good English and Spanish, that is all you
will need here.
Shall we not learn the language of the signors from China? asked
At which Jim, who had followed, and was standing in the background,
looking on with delight, almost went into convulsions of laughter, and
went out and told the Chinamen in the kitchen that Miss Rea wished to
learn to speak Chinese at once. So they thought she must be a very nice
little girl, and were all ready to be her warm friends.
The next morning, as Rea was dressing, she heard a great
caterwauling and miaowing. Fairy, who was asleep on the foot of her
bed, sprang up and began to bark furiously; all the while, however,
looking as if she were frightened half to death. Never before had Fairy
heard so many cats' voices at once.
Rea ran to the open window; before she reached it, she heard Jusy
calling to her from below,
Rea! Rea! Are you up? Come out and see the cats.
Jusy had been up ever since light, roaming over the whole place: the
stables, the Chinamen's quarters, the tool-house, the kitchen, the
woodpile; there was nothing he had not seen; and he was in a state of
such delight he could not walk straight or steadily; he went on the run
and with a hop, skip, and jump from each thing to the next.
Hurry, Rea! he screamed. Do hurry. Never mind your hair. Come
down. They'll be done!
Still the miaowing and caterwauling continued.
Oh, hurry, hurry, Anita, said Rea. Please let me go down; I'll
come up to have my hair done afterwards. What is it, Anita? Is it
really cats? Are there a thousand?
Anita laughed. No, señorita, she said. Only seventeen! And you
will see them every morning just the same. They always make this noise.
They are being fed; and there is only a very little meat for so many.
Jim keeps them hungry all the time, so they will hunt better.
Hunt! cried Rea.
Yes, said Anita. That is what we keep them for, to hunt the
gophers and rabbits and moles. They are clearing them out fast. Jim
says by another spring there won't be a gopher on the place.
[Illustration: THE CHINAMAN, AH FOO, FEEDING THE CATSPage 70.]
Before she had finished speaking, Rea was downstairs and out on the
east veranda. At the kitchen door stood a Chinaman, throwing bits of
meat to the scrambling seventeen cats,black, white, tortoise-shell,
gray, maltese, yellow, every color, size, shape of cat that was ever
seen. And they were plunging and leaping and racing about so, that it
looked like twice as many cats as there really were, and as if every
cat had a dozen tails. Sfz! Sfz! Sputter! Scratch, spp, spt! Growl,
growl, miaow, miaow, they went, till, between the noise and the flying
around, it was a bedlam.
Jusy had laughed till the tears ran out of his eyes; and Ah Foo
(that was the Chinaman's name) was laughing almost as hard, just to see
Jusy laugh. The cats were an old story to Ah Foo; he had got over
laughing at them long ago.
Ah Foo was the cook's brother. While Jim had been away, Ah Foo had
waited at table, and done all the housework except the cooking. The
cook's name was Wang Hi. He was old; but Ah Foo was young, not more
than twenty. He did not like to work in the house, and he was glad Jim
had got home, so he could go to working out of doors again. He was very
glad, too, to see the children; and he had spoken so pleasantly to
Jusy, that in one minute Jusy had lost all his fear of Chinamen.
When Rea saw Ah Foo, she hung back, and was afraid to go nearer.
Oh, come on! come on! shouted Jusy. Don't be afraid! He is just
like Jim, only a different color. They have men of all kinds of colors
here in America. They are just like other people, all but the color.
Come on, Rea. Don't be silly. You can't half see from there!
But Rea was afraid. She would not come farther than the last pillar
of the veranda. I can see very well here, she said; and there she
stood clinging to the pillar. She was half afraid of the cats, too,
besides being very much afraid of the Chinaman.
The cats' breakfast was nearly over. In fact, they had had their
usual allowance before Rea came down; but Ah Foo had gone on throwing
out meat for Rea to see the scrambling. Presently he threw the last
piece, and set the empty plate up on a shelf by the kitchen door. The
cats knew very well by this sign that breakfast was over; after the
plate was set on that shelf, they never had a mouthful more of meat;
and it was droll to see the change that came over all of them as soon
as they saw this done. In less than a second, they changed from fierce,
fighting, clawing, scratching, snatching, miaowing, spitting, growling
cats, into quiet, peaceful cats, some sitting down licking their paws,
or washing their faces, and some lying out full-length on the ground
and rolling; some walking off in a leisurely and dignified manner, as
if they had had all they wanted, and wouldn't thank anybody for another
bit of meat, if they could have it as well as not. This was almost as
funny as the first part of it.
After Ah Foo had set the plate in its place on the shelf, he turned
to go into the kitchen to help about the breakfast; but just as he had
put his hand on the door-handle, there came a terrible shriek from Rea,
a fierce sputter from one of the cats, and a faint bark of a dog, all
at once; and Ah Foo, looking around, sprang just in time to rescue
Fairy from the jaws of Skipper, one of the biggest and fiercest of the
Poor little Fairy, missing her mistress, had trotted downstairs; and
smelling on the floor wherever Rea had set her feet, had followed her
tracks, and had reached the veranda just in time to be spied by
Skipper, who arched his back, set his tail up straight and stiff as a
poker, and, making one bound from the ground to the middle of the
veranda floor, clutched Fairy with teeth and claws, and would have made
an end of her in less than one minute if Ah Foo had not been there. But
Ah Foo could move almost as quickly as a cat; and it was not a quarter
of a second after Fairy gave her piteous cry, when she was safe and
sound in her mistress's arms, and Ah Foo had Skipper by the scruff of
his neck, and was holding him high up, boxing his ears, right and left,
with blows so hard they rang.
Cat heap wicked, he said. You killee missy's dog, I killee you!
and he flung Skipper with all his might and main through the air.
Rea screamed, Oh, don't! She did not want to see the cat killed,
even if he had flown at Fairy. It will kill him, she cried.
Ah Foo laughed. Heap hard killee cat, he said. Cat get nine time
life good; and as he spoke, Skipper, after whirling through the air in
several somersaults, came down on his feet all right, and slunk off
into the woodpile.
I tellee you, said Ah Foo, chuckling.
Thatee isee heapee goodee manee, cried Jusy. I havee learnee
talkee oneee language already!
A roar of laughter came from the dining-room window. There stood
Uncle George, holding his sides.
Bravo, Jusy! he exclaimed. You have begun on pigeon English, have
you, for the first of your nine languages?
Isn't that Chinese? said Jusy, much crestfallen.
Oh, no! said Uncle George, not by any manner of means. It is only
the Chinese way of talking English. It is called pigeon English. But
come in to breakfast now, and I will tell you all about my cats,my
hunting cats, I call them. They are just as good as a pack of hunting
dogs; and better, for they do not need anybody to go with them.
How pleasant the breakfast-table looked!a large square table set
with gay china, pretty flowers in the middle, nice broiled chicken and
fried potatoes, and baked apples and cream; and Jusy's and Rea's bright
faces, one on Mr. Connor's left hand, the other on his right.
As Jim moved about the table and waited on them, he thought to
himself, Now, if this doesn't make Mr. George well, it will be because
he can't be cured.
Jim had found the big house so lonely, with nobody in it except Mr.
Connor and the two Chinese servants, he would have been glad to see
almost anything in the shape of a human being,man, woman, or
child,come there to live. How much more, then, these two beautiful
and merry children!
Jusy and Rea thought they had never in all their lives tasted
anything so good as the broiled chicken and the baked apples.
Heapee goodee cookee, Uncle George! said Jusy. He was so tickled
with the Chinaman's way of talking, he wanted to keep doing it.
Tooee muchee putee onee letter e, Master Jusy, said Uncle George.
After you have listened to their talk a little longer, you will see
that they do not add the 'ee' to every word. It is hard to imitate them
Jusy was crestfallen. He thought he had learned a new language in
half an hour, and he was proud of it. But no new language was ever
learned without more trouble and hard work than that; not even pigeon
[Illustration: decorative panel]*
[Illustration: decorative panel]*
It had come about by chance, Mr. Connor's keeping this pack of
hunting cats. He had been greatly troubled by gophers and rabbits: the
gophers killed his trees by gnawing their roots; the rabbits burrowed
under his vines, ate the tender young leaves, and gnawed the stems.
Jim had tried every device,traps of all kinds and all the poisons
he could hear of. He had also tried drowning the poor little gophers
out by pouring water down their holes. But, spite of all he could do,
the whole hill was alive with them. It had been wild ground so long,
and covered so thick with bushes, that it had been like a nice house
built on purpose for all small wild animals to live in.
I suppose there must have been miles of gophers' underground
tunnels, leading from hole to hole. They popped their heads up, and you
saw them scampering away wherever you went; and in the early morning it
was very funny to see the rabbits jumping and leaping to get off out of
sight when they heard people stirring. They were of a beautiful gray
color, with a short bushy tail, white at the end. On account of this
white tip to their tails, they are called cotton-tails.
When Mr. Connor first moved up on the hill, Jim used to shoot a
cottontail almost every day, and some days he shot two. The rabbits,
however, are shyer than the gophers; when they find out that they get
shot as soon as they are seen, and that these men who shoot them have
built houses and mean to stay, they will gradually desert their burrows
and move away to new homes.
But the gopher is not so afraid. He lives down in the ground, and
can work in the dark as well as in the light; and he likes roots just
as well as he likes the stems above ground; so as long as he stays in
his cellar houses, he is hard to reach.
The gopher is a pretty little creature, with a striped back,almost
as pretty as a chipmonk. It seems a great pity to have to kill them all
off; but there is no help for it; fruit-trees and gophers cannot live
in the same place.
Soon after Mr. Connor moved into his new house, he had a present of
a big cat from the Mexican woman who sold him milk.
She said to Jim one day, Have you got a cat in your house yet?
No, said Jim. Mr. George does not like cats.
No matter, said she, you have got to have one. The gophers and
squirrels in this country are a great deal worse than rats and mice.
They'll come right into your kitchen and cellar, if your back is turned
a minute, and eat you out of house and home. I'll give you a splendid
cat. She's a good hunter. I've got more cats than I know what to do
So she presented Jim with a fine, big black and white cat; and Jim
named the cat Mexican, because a Mexican woman gave her to him.
The first thing Mexican did, after getting herself established in
her new home in the woodpile, was to have a litter of kittens, six of
them. The next thing she did, as soon as they got big enough to eat
meat, was to go out hunting for food for them; and one day, as Mr.
Connor was riding up the hill, he saw her running into the woodpile,
with a big fat gopher in her mouth.
Ha! thought Mr. Connor to himself. There's an idea! If one cat
will kill one gopher in a day, twenty cats would kill twenty gophers in
a day! I'll get twenty cats, and keep them just to hunt gophers.
They'll clear the place out quicker than poison, or traps, or
Jim, he called, as soon as he entered the house,Jim, I've got
an idea. I saw Mexican just now carrying a dead gopher to her kittens.
Does she kill many?
Oh, yes, sir, replied Jim. Before she got her kittens I used to
see her with them every day. But she does not go out so often now.
Good mother! said Mr. Connor. Stays at home with her family, does
Yes, sir, laughed Jim; except when she needs to go out to get
food for them.
You may set about making a collection of cats, Jim, at once, said
Mr. Connor. I'd like twenty.
Jim stared. I thought you didn't like cats, Mr. George, he
exclaimed. I was afraid to bring Mexican home, for fear you wouldn't
like having her about.
No more do I, replied Mr. Connor. But I do not dislike them so
much as I dislike gophers. And don't you see, if we have twenty, and
they all hunt gophers as well as she does, we'll soon have the place
We'd have to feed them, sir, said Jim. So many's that, they'd
never make all their living off gophers.
Well, we'll feed them once a day, just a little, so as not to let
them starve. But we must keep them hungry, or else they won't hunt.
Very well, sir, said Jim. I will set about it at once.
Beg or buy them, laughed Mr. Connor. I'll pay for them, if I
can't get them any other way. There is room in the woodpile for fifty
Jim did not much like the idea of having such an army of cats about;
but he went faithfully to work; and in a few weeks he had seventeen.
One morning, when they were all gathered together to be fed, he called
Mr. Connor to look at them.
Do you think there are enough, sir? he said.
Goodness! Jim, cried Mr. Connor, what did you get so many for? We
shall be overrun.
Jim laughed. I'm three short yet, sir, of the number you ordered,
he said. There are only seventeen in that batch.
Only seventeen! You are joking, Jim, cried Mr. Connor; and he
tried to count; but the cats were in such a scrambling mass, he could
not count them.
I give it up, Jim, he said at last. But are there really only
That's all, sir, and it takes quite a lot of meat to give them all
a bite of a morning. I think here are enough to begin with, unless you
have set your heart, sir, on having twenty. Mexican has got six
kittens, you know, and they will be big enough to hunt before long.
That will make twenty-three.
Plenty! plenty! said Mr. Connor. Don't get another one. And,
Jim, he added, wouldn't it be better to feed them at night? Then they
will be hungry the next morning.
I tried that, sir, said Jim, but they didn't seem so lively. I
don't give them any more than just enough to whet their appetites. At
first they sat round the door begging for more, half the morning, and I
had to stone them away; now they understand it. In a few minutes,
they'll all be off; and you won't see much of any of them till
to-morrow morning. They are all on hand then, as regular as the sun
Where do they sleep? said Mr. Connor.
In the woodpile, every blessed cat of them, replied Jim. And
there are squirrels living in there too. It is just a kind of cage,
that woodpile, with its crooks and turns. I saw a squirrel going up,
up, in it the other day; I thought he'd make his way out to the top; I
thought the cats would have cleaned them all out before this time, but
they haven't; I saw one there only yesterday.
Jim had counted too soon on Mexican's kittens. Five of them came to
a sad end. Their mother carried to them, one day, a gopher which she
found lying dead in the road. Poor cat-mother! I suppose she thought to
herself when she saw it lying there, Oh, how lucky! I sha'n't have to
sit and wait and watch for a gopher this morning. Here is one all
ready, dead! But that gopher had died of poison which had been put
down his hole; and as soon as the little kittens ate it, they were all
taken dreadfully ill, and all but one died. Either he hadn't had so
much of the gopher as the rest had, or else he was stronger; he
lingered along in misery for a month, as thin, wretched-looking a
little beast as ever was seen; then he began to pick up his flesh, and
finally got to be as strong a cat as there was in the whole pack.
He was most curiously marked: in addition to the black and white of
his mother's skin, he had gray and yellow mottled in all over him. Jim
thought it looked as if his skin had been painted, so he named him
Jim had names for all the best cats; there were ten that were named.
The other seven, Jim called the rabble; but of the ten he had named,
Jim grew to be very proud. He thought they were remarkable cats.
First there was Mexican, the original first-comer in the colony.
Then there was Big Tom, and another Tom called China Tom, because he
would stay all the time he could with the Chinamen. He was dark-gray,
with black stripes on him.
Next in size and beauty was a huge black cat, called Snowball. He
was given to Mr. Connor by a miner's wife, who lived in a cabin high up
on the mountain. She said she would let him have the cat on the
condition that he would continue to call him Snowball, as she had done.
She named him Snowball, she said, to make herself laugh every time she
called him, he being black as coal; and there was so little to laugh at
where she lived, she liked a joke whenever she could contrive one.
Then there was Skipper, the one who nearly ate up Fairy that first
morning; he also was as black as coal, and fierce as a wolf; all the
cats were more or less afraid of him. Jim named him Skipper, because he
used to race about in trees like a squirrel. Way up to the very top of
the biggest sycamore trees in the cañon back of the house, Skipper
would go, and leap from one bough to another. He was especially fond of
birds, and in this way he caught many. He thought birds were much
better eating than gophers.
Mexican, Big Tom, China Tom, Snowball, Skipper, and Fresco,these
are six of the names; the other four were not remarkable; they did not
mean anything in especial; only to distinguish their owners from the
rest, who had no names at all.
Oh, yes; I am forgetting the drollest of all: that was Humbug. Jim
gave her that name because she was so artful and sly about getting more
than her share of the meat. She would watch for the biggest pieces, and
pounce on them right under some other cat's nose, and almost always
succeed in getting them. So Jim named her Humbug, which was a very good
name; for she always pretended to be quieter and stiller than the rest,
as if she were not in any great hurry about her breakfast; and then she
whisked in, and got the biggest pieces, and twice as much as any other
The other names were Jenny, Capitan, and Growler. That made the ten.
In a very few days after Jusy and Rea arrived, they knew all these
cats' names as well as Jim did; and they were never tired of watching
them at their morning meal, or while they were prowling, looking, and
waiting for gophers and rabbits.
For a long time, Rea carried Fairy tight in her arms whenever there
was a cat in sight; but after a while, the cats all came to know Fairy
so well that they took no notice of her, and it was safe to put her on
the ground and let her run along. But Rea kept close to her, and never
forgot her for a single minute.
There were many strange things which these cats did, besides hunting
the gophers. They used also to hunt snakes. In one of the rocky ravines
near the house there were large snakes of a beautiful golden-brown
color. On warm days these used to crawl out, and lie sunning themselves
on the rocks. Woe to any such snake, if one of the cats caught sight of
him! Big Tom had a special knack at killing them. He would make a
bound, and come down with his fore claws firm planted in the middle of
the snake's back; then he would take it in his teeth, and shake it,
flapping its head against the stones every time, till it was more dead
than alive. You would not have thought that so big a snake could have
been so helpless in the claws of a cat.
Another thing the cats did, which gave the men much amusement, was,
that when they had killed rabbits they carried the bodies into the
mules' stables. Mules are terribly frightened at the smell of a dead
rabbit. Whenever this happened, a great braying and crying and stamping
would be heard in the stables; and on running to see what was the
matter, there would be found Big Tom or Skipper, sitting down calm and
happy by the side of a dead rabbit, which he had carried in, and for
some reason or other best known to himself had deposited in plain sight
of the mules. Why they chose to carry dead rabbits there, unless it was
that they enjoyed seeing the mules so frightened, there seemed no
explaining. They never took dead gophers up there, or snakes; only the
rabbits. Once a mule was so frightened that he plunged till he broke
his halter, got free, and ran off down the hill; and the men had a big
chase before they overtook him.
But the queerest thing of all that happened, was that the cats
adopted a skunk; or else it was the skunk that adopted the cats; I
don't know which would be the proper way of stating it; but at any rate
the skunk joined the family, lived with them in the woodpile, came with
them every morning to be fed, and went off with them hunting gophers
every day. It must have been there some time before Jim noticed it, for
when he first saw it, it was already on the most familiar and friendly
terms with all the cats. It was a pretty little black and white
creature, and looked a good deal like one of Mexican's kittens.
Finally it became altogether too friendly: Jim found it in the
kitchen cellar one day; and a day or two after that, it actually walked
into the house. Mr. Connor was sitting in his library writing. He heard
a soft, furry foot patting on the floor, and thought it was Fairy.
Presently he looked up; and, to his horror, there was the cunning
little black and white skunk in the doorway, looking around and
sniffing curiously at everything, like a cat. Mr. Connor held his
breath and did not dare stir, for fear the creature should take it into
its head that he was an enemy. Seeing everything so still, the skunk
walked in, walked around both library and dining-room, taking minute
observations of everything by means of its nose. Then it softly patted
out again, across the hall, and out of the front door, down the veranda
It had seemed an age to Mr. Connor; he could hardly help laughing
too, as he sat there in his chair, to think how helpless he, a grown-up
man, felt before a creature no bigger than that,a little thing whose
neck he could wring with one hand; and yet he no more dared to touch
it, or try to drive it out, than if it had been a roaring lion. As soon
as it was fairly out of the way, Mr. Connor went in search of Jim.
Jim, said he, that skunk you were telling me about, that the cats
had adopted, seems to be thinking of adopting me; he spent some time in
the library with me this morning, looking me over; and I am afraid he
liked me and the place much too well. I should like to have him killed.
Can you manage it?
Yes, sir, laughed Jim. I was thinking I'd have to kill him. I
caught him in the cellar a day or two since, and I thought he was
getting to feel too much at home. I'll fix him.
So the next morning Jim took a particularly nice and tempting piece
of meat, covered it with poison, and just as the cats' breakfast was
finished, and the cats slowly dispersing, he threw this tidbit directly
at the little skunk. He swallowed it greedily, and before noon he was
Jim could not help being sorry when he saw him stretched out stiff
near his home in the woodpile. He was a pert little rascal; said Jim.
I did kind o' hate to kill him; but he should have stayed with his own
folks, if he wanted to be let alone. It's too dangerous having skunks
In less than a year's time, there was not a rabbit to be seen on Mr.
Connor's grounds, and only now and then a gopher, the hunter cats had
done their work so thoroughly.
But there was one other enemy that Mr. Connor would have to be rid
of, before he could have any great success with his fruit orchards. You
will be horrified to hear the name of this enemy. It was the linnet.
Yes, the merry, chirping, confiding little linnets, with their pretty
red heads and bright eyes, they also were enemies, and must be killed.
They were too fond of apricots and peaches and pears and raspberries,
and all other nice fruits.
If birds only had sense enough, when they want a breakfast or dinner
of fruit, to make it off one, or even two,eat the peach or the pear
or whatever it might be all up, as we do,they might be tolerated in
orchards; nobody would grudge a bird one peach or cherry. But that
isn't their way. They like to hop about in the tree, and take a nip out
of first one, then another, and then another, till half the fruit on
the tree has been bitten into and spoiled. In this way, they ruin
bushels of fruit every season.
I wonder if we could not teach the cats to hunt linnets, Jim, said
Mr. Connor one morning. It was at the breakfast-table.
O Uncle George! the dear sweet little linnets! exclaimed Rea,
ready to cry.
Yes, my dear sweet little girl, said Uncle George. The dear sweet
little linnets will not leave us a single whole peach or apricot or
cherry to eat.
No! said Jusy, they're a perfect nuisance. They've pecked at
every apricot on the trees already.
I don't care, said Rea. Why can't they have some? I'd just as
soon eat after a linnet as not. Their little bills must be all clean
and sweet. Don't have them killed, Uncle George.
No danger but that there will be enough left, dear, said Uncle
George. However many we shoot, there will be enough left. I believe we
might kill a thousand to-day and not know the difference.
The cats had already done a good deal at hunting linnets on their
own account, in a clandestine and irregular manner. They were fond of
linnet flesh, and were only too glad to have the assistance of an
able-bodied man with a gun.
When they first comprehended Jim's plan,that he would go along
with his gun, and they should scare the linnets out of the trees, wait
for the shot, watch to see where the birds fell, and then run and pick
them up,it was droll to see how clever they became in carrying it
out. Retriever dogs could not have done better. The trouble was, that
Jim could shoot birds faster than the cats could eat them; and no cat
would stir from his bird till it was eaten up, sometimes feathers and
all; and after he had had three or four, he didn't care about any more
that day. To tell the truth, after the first few days, they seemed a
little tired of the linnet diet, and did not work with so much
enthusiasm. But at first it was droll, indeed, to see their excitement.
As soon as Jim appeared with his gun, every cat in sight would come
scampering; and it would not be many minutes before the rest of the
bandhowever they might have been scattered,would somehow or other
get wind of what was going on, and there would be the whole seventeen
in a pack at Jim's heels, all keeping a sharp lookout on the trees;
then, as soon as a cat saw a linnet, he would make for the tree,
sometimes crouch under the tree, sometimes run up it; in either case
the linnet was pretty sure to fly out: pop, would go Jim's rifle; down
would come the linnet; helter-skelter would go the cats to the spot
where it fell; and in a minute more, there would be nothing to be seen
of that linnet, except a few feathers and a drop or two of blood on the
[Illustration: JIM AND THE CATS HUNTING LINNETS.Page 111.]
Jusy liked to go with Jim on these hunting expeditions. But Rea
would never go. She used to sit sorrowfully at home, and listen for the
gunshots; and at every shot she heard, she would exclaim to Anita, Oh,
dear! Oh, dear! There's another dear little linnet dead. I think Jusy
is a cruel, cruel boy! I wouldn't see them shot for anything, and I
don't like the cats any more.
But, said Anita, my little señorita did not mind having the
gophers killed. It does not hurt the linnets half so much to be shot
dead in one second, as it does the gophers to be caught in the cats'
claws, and torn to pieces sometimes while they are yet alive. The
shot-gun kills in a second.
I don't care, said Rea. It seems different; the linnets are so
That is not a reason for pitying them any more, said Anita
gravely. You did not find those old Indians you saw yesterday pretty.
On the contrary, they were frightful to look at; yet you pitied them so
much that you shed tears.
Oh, yes! cried Rea, I should think I did; and, Anita, I dreamed
about them all night long. I am going to ask Uncle George to build a
little house for them up in the cañon. There is plenty of room there he
does not want; and then nobody could drive them out of that place as
long as they live; and I could carry them their dinner every day. Don't
you think he will?
Bless your kind little heart! said Anita. That would be asking a
great deal of your Uncle George, but he is so kind, perhaps he will. If
somebody does not take compassion on the poor things, they will starve,
that is certain.
I shall ask him the minute he comes in, said Rea. I am going down
on the piazza now to watch for him. And taking Fairy in her arms, Rea
hurried downstairs, went out on the veranda, and, climbing up into the
hammock, was sound asleep in ten minutes.
She was waked up by feeling herself violently swung from side to
side, and opening her eyes, saw Jusy standing by her side, his face
flushed with the heat, his eyes sparkling.
O Rea! he said. We have had a splendid hunt! What do you think!
Jim has shot twenty linnets in this one morning! and that Skipper, he's
eaten five of them! He's as good as a regular hunting dog.
Where's Uncle George? asked Rea sleepily, rubbing her eyes. I
want Uncle George! I don't want you to tell me anything about the cats'
eating the linnets. I hate them! They're cruel!
'Tisn't cruel either! retorted Jusy. They've got to be killed.
All people that have orchards have to kill birds.
I won't, when I have an orchard, said Rea.
Then you won't have any orchard. That will be all, said Jusy. At
least, you won't have any fruit orchard. You'll have just a tree
Well, a tree orchard is good enough for anybody, replied Rea half
crossly. She was not yet quite wide awake. There is plenty of fruit in
stores, to buy. We could buy our fruit.
Are you talking in your sleep, Rea? cried Jusy, looking hard at
her. I do believe you are! What ails you? The men that have the fruit
to sell, had to kill all the linnets and things, just the same way, or
else they wouldn't have had any fruit. Can't you see?
No, Rea could not see; and what was more, she did not want to see;
and as the proverb says, There are none so blind as those who won't
Don't talk any more about it, Jusy, she said. Do you think Uncle
George would build a little house up the cañon for poor old Ysidro?
Who! exclaimed Jusy.
Oh, you cruel boy! cried Rea. You don't think of anything but
killing linnets, and such cruel things; I think you are real wicked.
Don't you know those poor old Indians we saw yesterday?the ones that
are going to be turned out of their house, down in San Gabriel by the
church. I have been thinking about them ever since; and I dreamed last
night that Uncle George built them a house. I'm going to ask him to.
I bet you anything he won't, then, said Jusy. The horrid old
beggars! He wouldn't have such looking things round!
Rea was wide awake now. She fixed her lovely blue eyes on Jusy's
face with a look which made him ashamed. Jusy, she said, I can't
help it if you are older than I am; I must say, I think you are cruel.
You like to kill linnets; and now you won't be sorry for these poor old
Indians, just because they are dirty and horrid-looking. You'd look
just as bad yourself, if your skin was black, and you were a hundred
years old, and hadn't got a penny in the world. You are real
hard-hearted, Jusy, I do think you are! and the tears came into Rea's
What is all this? said Uncle George, coming up the steps. Not
quarrelling, my little people!
Oh, no! no! cried both the children eagerly.
I never quarrel with Rea, added Jusy proudly. I hope I am old
enough to know better than that.
I'm only two years the youngest, said Rea, in a mortified tone. I
think I am old enough to be quarrelled with; and I do think you're
This made Uncle George smile. Look out! he said. You will be in a
quarrel yet, if you are not careful. What is it, Rea?
While Rea was collecting her thoughts to reply, Jusy took the words
out of her mouth.
She thinks I am cruel, because I said I didn't believe you would
build a house for Indians up in your cañon.
It was not that! cried Rea. You are real mean, Jusy!
And so I think, myself, he was. He had done just the thing which is
so often done in this world,one of the unfairest and most provoking
of things; he had told the truth in such a way as to give a wrong
impression, which is not so very far different, in my opinion, from
telling a lie.
A home for Indians up in the cañon! exclaimed Uncle George,
drawing Rea to him, and seating her on his knee. Did my little
tender-hearted Rea want me to do that? It would take a very big house,
girlie, for all the poor Indians around here; and Uncle George looked
lovingly at Rea, and kissed her hair, as she nestled her head into his
neck. Just like her mother, he thought. She would have turned every
house into an asylum if she could.
Oh, not for all the Indians, Uncle George, said Rea, encouraged by
his kind smile,I am not such a fool as Jusy thinks,only for those
two old ones that are going to be turned out of their home they've
always lived in. You know the ones I mean.
Ah, yes,old Ysidro and his wife. Well, Rea, I had already thought
of that myself. So you were not so much ahead of me.
There! exclaimed Rea triumphantly, turning to Jusy. What do you
Jusy did not know exactly what to say, he was so astonished; and as
he saw Jim and the cats coming up the road at that minute, he gladly
took the opportunity to spring down from the veranda and run to meet
[Illustration: decorative panel]*
The story of old Ysidro was indeed a sad one; and I think, with Rea,
that any one must be hard-hearted, who did not pity him. He was a very
old Indian; nobody knew how old; but he looked as if he must be a
hundred at least. Ever since he could remember, he had lived in a
little house in San Gabriel. The missionaries who first settled San
Gabriel had given a small piece of land to his father, and on it his
father had built this little house of rough bricks made of mud. Here
Ysidro was born, and here he had always lived. His father and mother
had been dead a long time. His brothers and sisters had all died or
gone away to live in some other place.
When he was a young man, he had married a girl named Carmena. She
was still living, almost as old as he; all their children had either
died, or married and gone away, and the two old people lived alone
together in the little mud house.
They were very poor; but they managed to earn just enough to keep
from starving. There was a little land around the house,not more than
an acre; but it was as much as the old man could cultivate. He raised a
few vegetables, chiefly beans, and kept some hens.
Carmena had done fine washing for the San Gabriel people as long as
her strength held out; but she had not been able for some years to do
that. All she could do now was to embroider and make lace. She had to
stay in bed most of the time, for she had the rheumatism in her legs
and feet so she could but just hobble about; but there she sat day
after day, propped up in her bed, sewing. It was lucky that the
rheumatism had not gone into her hands, for the money she earned by
making lace was the chief part of their living.
Sometimes Ysidro earned a little by days' works in the fields or
gardens; but he was so old, people did not want him if they could get
anybody else, and nobody would pay him more than half wages.
When he could not get anything else to do, he made mats to sell. He
made them out of the stems of a plant called yucca; but he had to go a
long way to get these plants. It was slow, tedious work making the
mats, and the store-keepers gave him only seventy-five cents apiece for
them; so it was very little he could earn in that way.
Was not this a wretched life? Yet they seemed always cheerful, and
they were as much attached to this poor little mud hovel as any of you
can be to your own beautiful homes.
Would you think any one could have the heart to turn those two poor
old people out of their home? It would not seem as if a human being
could be found who would do such a thing. But there was. He was a
lawyer; I could tell you his true name, but I will not. He had a great
deal to do with all sorts of records and law papers, about land and
titles and all such things.
There has always been trouble about the ownership of land in
California, because first it belonged to Spain, and then it belonged to
Mexico; and then we fought with Mexico, and Mexico gave it to us. So
you can easily see that where lands are passed along in that way,
through so many hands, it might often be hard to tell to whom they
Of course this poor old Ysidro did not know anything about papers.
He could not read or write. The missionaries gave the land to his
father more than a hundred years ago, and his father gave it to him,
and that was all Ysidro knew about it.
Well, this lawyer was rummaging among papers and titles and maps of
estates in San Gabriel, and he found out that there was this little bit
of land near the church, which had been overlooked by everybody, and to
which nobody had any written title. He went over and looked at it, and
found Ysidro's house on it; and Ysidro told him he had always lived
there; but the lawyer did not care for that.
Land is worth a great deal of money now in San Gabriel. This little
place of Ysidro's was worth a good many hundred dollars; and this
lawyer was determined to have it. So he went to work in ways I cannot
explain to you, for I do not understand them myself; and you could not
understand them even if I could write them out exactly: but it was all
done according to law; and the lawyer got it decided by the courts and
the judges in San Francisco that this bit of land was his.
When this was all done, he had not quite boldness enough to come
forward himself, and turn the poor old Indians out. Even he had some
sense of shame; so he slyly sold the land to a man who did not know
anything about the Indians being there.
You see how cunning this was of him! When it came to the Indians
being turned out, and the land taken by the new owner, this lawyer's
name would not need to come out in the matter at all. But it did come
out; so that a few people knew what a mean, cruel thing he had done.
Just for the sake of the price of an acre of land, to turn two aged
helpless people out of house and home to starve! Do you think those
dollars will ever do that man any good as long as he lives? No, not if
they had been a million.
Well, Mr. Connor was one of the persons who had found out about
this; and he had at first thought he would help Ysidro fight, in the
courts, to keep his place; but he found there would be no use in that.
The lawyer had been cunning enough to make sure he was safe, before he
went on to steal the old Indian's farm. The law was on his side. Ysidro
did not really own the land, according to law, though he had lived on
it all his life, and it had been given to his father by the
missionaries, almost a hundred years ago.
Does it not seem strange that the law could do such a thing as that?
When the boys who read this story grow up to be men, I hope they will
do away with these bad laws, and make better ones.
The way Rea had found out about old Ysidro was this: when Jim went
to the post-office for the mail, in the mornings, he used generally to
take Anita and Rea in the wagon with him, and leave them at Anita's
mother's while he drove on to the post-office, which was a mile
Rea liked this very much. Anita's mother had a big blue and green
parrot, that could talk in both Spanish and English; and Rea was never
tired of listening to her. She always carried her sugar; and she used
to cock her head on one side, and call out, Señorita! señorita! Polly
likes sugar! sugar! sugar! as soon as she saw Rea coming in at the
door. It was the only parrot Rea had ever seen, and it seemed to her
the most wonderful creature in the world.
Ysidro's house was next to Anita's mother's; and Rea often saw the
old man at work in his garden, or sitting on his door-step knitting
lace, with needles as fine as pins.
One day Anita took her into the house to see Carmena, who was
sitting in bed at work on her embroidery. When Carmena heard that Rea
was Mr. Connor's niece, she insisted upon giving her a beautiful piece
of lace which she had made. Anita did not wish to take it, but old
You must take it. Mr. Connor has given us much money, and there was
never anything I could do for him. Now if his little señorita will take
this, it will be a pleasure.
So Rea carried the lace home, and showed it to her Uncle George, and
he said she might keep it; and it was only a few weeks after this that
when Anita and Rea went down to San Gabriel, one day, they found the
old couple in great distress, the news having come that they were going
to be turned out of their house.
And it was the night after this visit that Rea dreamed about the
poor old creatures all night, and the very next morning that she asked
her Uncle George if he would not build them a house in his cañon.
After lunch, Mr. Connor said to Rea,
I am going to drive this afternoon, Rea. Would you like to come
His eyes twinkled as he said it, and Rea cried out,
Oh! oh! It is to see Ysidro and Carmena, I am sure!
Yes, said her uncle; I am going down to tell them you are going
to build them a house.
Uncle George, will you really, truly, do it? said Rea. I think
you are the kindest man in all the world! and she ran for her hat, and
was down on the veranda waiting, long before the horses were ready.
They found old Ysidro sitting on the ground, leaning against the
wall of his house. He had his face covered up with both hands, his
elbows leaning on his knees.
Oh, look at him! He is crying, Uncle George, said Rea.
No, dear, replied Mr. Connor. He is not crying. Indian men very
rarely cry. He is feeling all the worse that he will not let himself
cry, but shuts the tears all back.
Yes, that is lots worse, said Rea.
How do you know, pet? laughingly said her uncle. Did you ever try
I've tried to try it, said Rea, and it felt so much worse, I
It was not easy at first to make old Ysidro understand what Mr.
Connor meant. He could not believe that anybody would give him a house
and home for nothing. He thought Mr. Connor wanted to get him to come
and work; and, being an honest old fellow, he was afraid Mr. Connor did
not know how little strength he had; so he said,
Señor Connor, I am very old; I am sick too. I am not worth hiring
Bless you! said Mr. Connor. I don't want you to work any more
than you do now. I am only offering you a place to live in. If you are
strong enough to do a day's work, now and then, I shall pay you for it,
just as I would pay anybody else.
Ysidro gazed earnestly in Mr. Connor's face, while he said this; he
gazed as if he were trying to read his very thoughts. Then he looked up
to the sky, and he said,
Señor, Ysidro has no words. He cannot speak. Will you come into the
house and tell Carmena? She will not believe if I tell it.
So Mr. Connor and Rea went into the house, and there sat Carmena in
bed, trying to sew; but the tears were running out of her eyes. When
she saw Mr. Connor and Rea coming in at the door, she threw up her
hands and burst out into loud crying.
O señor! señor! she said. They drive us out of our house. Can you
help us? Can you speak for us to the wicked man?
Ysidro went up to the bed and took hold of her hand, and, pointing
with his other hand to Mr. Connor, said,
He comes from God,the señor. He will help us!
Can we stay? cried Carmena.
Here Rea began to cry.
Don't cry, Rea, said Mr. Connor. That will make her feel worse.
Rea gulped down her sobs, enough to say,
But she doesn't want to come into the cañon! All she wants is to
stay here! She won't be glad of the new house.
Yes, she will, by and by, whispered Mr. Connor. Stop crying,
that's my good Rea.
But Rea could not. She stood close to the bed, looking into old
Carmena's distressed face; and the tears would come, spite of all her
When Carmena finally understood that not even Mr. Connor, with all
his good will and all his money, could save them from leaving their
home, she cried again as hard as at first; and Ysidro felt ashamed of
her, for he was afraid Mr. Connor would think her ungrateful. But Mr.
Connor understood it very well.
I have lived only two years in my house, he said to Rea, and I
would not change it for one twice as good that anybody could offer me.
Think how any one must feel about a house he has lived in all his
But it is a horrible little house, Uncle George, said Rea,the
dirtiest hovel I ever saw. It is worse than they are in Italy.
I do not believe that makes much difference, dear, said Uncle
George. It is their home, all the same, as if it were large and nice.
It is that one loves.
Just as Mr. Connor and Rea came out of the house, who should come
riding by, but the very man that had caused all this unhappiness,the
lawyer who had taken Ysidro's land! He was with the man to whom he had
sold it. They were riding up and down in the valley, looking over all
their possessions, and planning what big vineyards and orchards they
would plant and how much money they would make.
When this man saw Mr. Connor, he turned as red as a turkey-cock's
throat. He knew very well what Mr. Connor thought of him; but he bowed
Mr. Connor returned his bow, but with such a stern and scornful look
on his face, that Rea exclaimed,
What is the matter, Uncle George? What makes you look so?
That man is a bad man, dear, he replied; and has the kind of
badness I most despise. But he did not tell her that he was the man
who was responsible for the Indians being driven out of their home. He
thought it better for Rea not to know it.
Are there different sorts of badness,some badnesses worse than
others? asked Rea.
I don't know whether one kind is really any worse than another,
said Mr. Connor. But there are some kinds which seem to me twice as
bad as others; and meanness and cruelty to helpless creatures seem to
me the very worst of all.
To me too! said Rea. Like turning out poor Ysidro.
Yes, said Mr. Connor. That is just one of the sort I mean.
Just before they reached the beginning of the lands of Connorloa,
they crossed the grounds of a Mr. Finch, who had a pretty house and
large orange orchards. Mr. Finch had one son, Harry, about Jusy's age,
and the two boys were great cronies.
As Mr. Connor turned the horses' heads into these grounds, he saw
Jusy and Harry under the trees in the distance.
Why, there is Jusy, he said.
Yes, said Rea. Harry came for him before lunch. He said he had
something to show him.
As soon as Jusy caught sight of the carriage, he came running
towards it, crying,
Oh, Uncle George, stop! Rea! come! I've found Snowball! Come, see
Snowball had been missing for nearly a month, and nobody could
imagine what had become of him. They finally came to the conclusion
that he must have got killed in some way.
Mr. Connor stopped the horses; and Rea jumped out and ran after
Jusy, and Mr. Connor followed. They found the boys watching excitedly,
one at each end of a little bridge over the ditch, through which the
water was brought down for irrigating Mr. Finch's orchards. Harry's
dogs were there too, one at each end of the bridge, barking, yelping,
watching as excitedly as the boys. But no Snowball.
Where is he? cried Rea.
In under there, exclaimed Jusy. He's got a rabbit in there; he'll
be out presently.
Sure enough, there he was, plainly to be heard, scuffling and
spitting under the bridge.
The poor little rabbit ran first to one end of the bridge, then to
the other, trying to get out; but at each end he found a dog, barking
to drive him back.
Presently Snowball appeared with the dead rabbit in his teeth.
Dropping it on the ground, he looked up at the dogs, as much as to say,
There! Can't I hunt rabbits as well as you do? Then they all three,
the two dogs and he, fell to eating the rabbit in the friendliest
Don't you think! cried Jusy. He's been hunting this way, with
these dogs, all this time. You see they are so big they can't get in
under the bridge, and he can; so they drive the rabbits in under there,
and he goes in and gets them. Isn't he smart? Harry first saw him doing
it two weeks ago, he says. He didn't know it was our cat, and he
wondered whose it could be. But Snowball and the dogs are great
friends. They go together all the time; and wherever he is, if he hears
them bark, he knows they've started up something, and he comes flying!
I think it is just splendid!
Poor little thing! said Rea, looking at the fast-disappearing
Why, you eat them yourself! shouted Jusy. You said it was as good
as chicken, the other day. It isn't any worse for cats and dogs to eat
them, than it is for us; is it, Uncle George?
I think Jusy has the best of the argument this time, pet, said
Uncle George, looking fondly at Jusy.
Girls are always that way, said Harry politely. My sisters are
just so. They can't bear to see anything killed.
After this day, Rea spent most of her time in the cañon, watching
the men at work on Ysidro's house.
The cañon was a wild place; it was a sort of split in the rocky
sides of the mountain; at the top it was not much more than two
precipices joined together, with just room enough for a brook to come
down. You can see in the picture where it was, though it looks there
like little more than a groove in the rocks. But it was really so big
in some places that huge sycamore trees grew in it, and there were
little spaces of good earth, where Mr. Connor had planted orchards.
It was near these, at the mouth of the cañon, that he put Ysidro's
house. It was built out of mud bricks, called adobe, as near as
possible like Ysidro's old house,two small rooms, and a thatched roof
made of reeds, which grew in a swamp.
But Mr. Connor did not call it Ysidro's house. He called it Rea's
house; and the men called it the señorita's house. It was to be her
own, Mr. Connor said,her own to give as a present to Ysidro and
When the day came for them to move in, Jim went down with the big
wagon, and a bed in the bottom, to bring old Carmena up. There was
plenty of room in the wagon, besides, for the few little bits of
furniture they had.
Mr. Connor and Jusy and Rea were at the house waiting, when they
came. The cook had made a good supper of meat and potato, and Rea had
put it on the table, all ready for them.
When they lifted Carmena out of the wagon, she held, tight clutched
in her hand, a small basket filled with earth; she seemed hardly
willing to let go of it for a moment.
What is that? said Jusy.
A few handfuls of the earth that was ours, replied Ysidro. We
have brought it with us, to keep it always. The man who has our home
will not miss it.
The tears came into Mr. Connor's eyes, and he turned away.
Rea did not understand. She looked puzzled; so did Jusy.
Jim explained. The Indian women often do that, he said. When they
have to move away from a home they love they carry a little of the
earth with them; sometimes they put it in a little bag, and wear it
hanging on their necks; sometimes they put it under their heads at
Yes, said Carmena, who had listened to what Jim said. One can
sleep better on the earth that one loves.
I say, Rea! cried Jusy. It is a shame they had to come away!
I told you so, Jusy, said Rea gently. But you didn't seem to care
Well, I do now! he cried. I didn't think how bad they'd feel. Now
if it were in Italy, I'd go and tell the King all about it. Who is
there to tell here? he continued, turning to his Uncle George. Who is
there here, to tell about such things? There must be somebody.
Mr. Connor smiled sadly. The trouble is, there are too many, he
Who is above all the rest? persisted Jusy. Isn't there somebody
at the top, as our King is in Italy?
Yes, there is one above all the rest, replied Mr. Connor. We call
him the President.
Well, why don't you write and tell him about Ysidro? said Jusy. I
wish I could see him, I'd tell him. It's a shame!
Even the President could not help this, Jusy, said Mr. Connor.
The law was against poor Ysidro; there was no help; and there are
thousands and thousands of Indians in just the same condition he is.
Doesn't the President make the laws? said Jusy.
No, said Mr. Connor. Congress makes the laws.
Oh, said Jusy, like our Parliament.
Yes, said Mr. Connor.
Jusy said no more; but he thought of little else all the afternoon;
and at bedtime he said to Rea,
Rea, I am real sorry I didn't care about those old Indians at
first, when you did. But I'm going to be good to them now, and help
them all I can; and I have made up my mind that when I am a man I shall
not go to Italy, as I said I would, to be an officer for the King. I
shall stay here, and be an officer for the American President, instead;
and I shall tell him about Ysidro, and about all the rest of the
* * * * *
There is nothing more to be told about the Hunter Cats. By degrees
they disappeared: some of them went to live at other houses in the San
Gabriel Valley; some of them ran off and lived a wild life in the
cañons; and some of them, I am afraid, must have died for want of food.
Rea was glad when they were all gone; but Jusy missed the fun of
seeing them hunt gophers and linnets.
Perhaps, some day, I shall write another story, and tell you more
about Jusy and Rea, and how they tried to help the Indians.
[Illustration: MATS MADE BY YSIDRO.Page 126.]