List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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scolding, when the last words of the song were frozen on his lips by
the sound of a smothered sob, in place of the saucy retort he hoped
to provoke.  The unexpected sob frightened him more than any fusilade
of hot words, and he stole away in the darkness more crestfallen than
he had been for many a year.

Mrs. Winship, more troubled than ever, pulled apart the canvas
curtains, and stood in the opening, silently.  The sight of the
forlorn little figure, huddled together on the straw bed, touched her
heart, and, when Polly started up with an eloquent cry and flew into
her extended arms, she granted willing forgiveness, and the history
of the afternoon was sobbed out upon her motherly shoulder.

The next morning Mrs. Winship announced that Polly was better, sent
breakfast to her tent, and by skilful generalship drove everybody
away from the camp but Elsie, who brought Polly to the sitting-room,
made her comfortable on the lounge, and, administering much good
advice to Margery and Bell concerning topics to be avoided, admitted
them one by one into her presence, so that she gradually regained her
self-control.  And at the dinner-table a very pale Polly was present
again, with such a white face and heavy eyes that no one could doubt
there had been a headache, while two people, at least, knew that
there had been a heartache as well.  The next day's mail carried the
following letter to Laura Burton:

CAMP CHAPARRAL, August 16, 188-.

My dear Laura,--As I told you when you were leaving, I cannot well
say how sorry I am that anything should have occurred to mar your
pleasant remembrance of your stay with us.  That your dear mother's
daughter should have been treated with discourtesy while she was my
guest was very disagreeable to me; but I have learned that you were
yourself somewhat to blame in the affair, and therefore you should
have borne the harsh treatment you received with considerable
patience, and perhaps have kept it quite to yourself.  ('That little
cat told her, after all,' said Laura, when she read this.  'I didn't
think she was that kind.')  Polly would never have confessed the
cause of the quarrel, because she knew nothing could justify her
language; but Elsie was lying in the hammock behind the tent and
overheard the remark which so roused Polly's anger.  You were not
aware, of course, how sore a spot you touched upon, or you could
never have spoken as you did, though I well know that you were both
too angry to reflect.  Polly is a peculiarly proud and high-spirited
girl--proud, I confess, to a fault; but she comes, on her mother's
side, from a long line of people who have had much to be proud of in
the way of unblemished honesty, nobility, fine attainments, and
splendid achievements.  Of her father's honourable services to his
country, and his sad and untimely death, you may have heard; but you
may not know that Mrs. Oliver's misfortunes have been very many and
very bitter, and that the only possibility of supporting and
educating Polly lies at present in her taking boarders, for her
health will not admit just now of her living anywhere save in
Southern California.  I fail to see why this is not thoroughly
praiseworthy and respectable; but if you do not consider it quite an
elegant occupation, I can only say that Mrs. Oliver presides over the
table at which her 'boarders' sit with a high-bred dignity and grace
of manner that the highest lady in the land might imitate; and that,
when health and circumstances permit her to diminish the distance
between herself and the great world, she and her daughter Polly, by
reason of their birth and their culture, will find doors swinging
wide to admit them where you and I would find it difficult to enter.
Polly apologises sincerely for her rudeness, and will write you to
that effect, as of course she does not know of this letter.

Sincerely your friend,



'The time before the fire they sat,
And shortened the delay by pleasing chat.'

The August days had slipped away one after another, and September was
at hand.  There was no perceptible change of weather to mark the
advent of the new month.  The hills were a little browner, the dust a
little deeper, the fleas a little nimbler, and the water in the brook
a trifle lower, but otherwise Dame Nature did not concern herself
with the change of seasons, inasmuch as she had no old dresses to get
rid of, and no new ones to put on for a long time yet; indeed, she is
never very fashionable in this locality, and wears very much the same
garments throughout the year.

Elsie seemed almost as strong as any of the other girls now, and
could enter with zest into all their amusements.  The appetite of a
young bear, the sound, dreamless sleep of a baby, and the constant
breathing in of the pure, life-giving air had made her a new
creature.  Mrs. Howard and Jack felt, day by day, that a burden of
dread was being lifted from their hearts; and Mrs. Howard especially
felt that she loved every rock and tree in the canyon.

It was a charming morning, and Polly was seated at the dining-room
table, deep in the preparation of a lesson in reading and
pronunciation for Hop Yet.  Her forehead was creased with many
wrinkles of thought, and she bit the end of her lead-pencil as if she
were engaged in solving some difficult problem; but, if that were so,
why did the dimples chase each other in and out of her cheeks in such
a suspicious fashion?  She was a very gentle, a very sedate Polly,
these latter days, and not only astonished her friends, but surprised
herself, by her good behaviour, her elegant reserve of manner, her
patience with Jack, and her abject devotion to Dicky.

'I'm afraid it won't last,' she sighed to herself occasionally.  'I'm
almost too good.  That's always the way with me--I must either be so
bad that everybody is discouraged, or else so good that I frighten
them.  Now I catch Bell and Elsie exchanging glances every day, as
much as to say, "Poor Polly, she will never hold out at this rate; do
you notice that nothing ruffles her--that she is simply angelic?"  As
if I couldn't be angelic for a fortnight!  Why I have often done it
for four weeks at a stretch!'

Margery was in the habit of giving Hop Yet an English lesson every
other day, as he had been very loath to leave his evening school in
Santa Barbara and bury himself in a canyon, away from all educational
influences; but she had deserted her post for once and gone to ride
with Elsie, so that Polly had taken her place and was evolving an
exercise that Hop Yet would remember to the latest day of his life.
It looked simple enough:-

1.  The grass is dry.
2.  The fruit is ripe.
3:  The chaparral is green.
4.  The new road is all right.
5.  The bay-'rum' tree is fresh and pretty.

But as no Chinaman can pronounce the letter 'r,' it was laboriously
rendered thus, when the unhappy time of the lesson came:

1.  The-glass-is-dly.
2.  The-fluit-is-lipe.
3.  The-chap-lal-is-gleen.
4.  The-new-load-is-all-light-ee.
5.  The bay-lum-tlee-is-flesh-and-plitty.

Finally, when she attempted to introduce the sentence, 'Around the
rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal ran,' Hop Yet rose hurriedly,
remarking, 'All lightee; I go no more school jus' now.  I lun get

Bell came running down the path just then, and linking her arm in
Polly's said, 'Papa has the nicest plan.  You know the boys are so
disappointed that Colonel Jackson didn't ask them over to that rodeo
at his cattle ranch--though a summer rodeo is only to sort out fat
cattle to sell, and it is not very exciting; but papa promised to
tell them all about the old-fashioned kind some night, and he has
just remembered that to-morrow is Admission Day, September 9, so he
proposes a real celebration round the camp-fire to amuse Elsie.  She
doesn't know anything about California even as it is now, and none of
us know what it was in the old days.  Don't you think it will be

'Perfectly splendid!'

'And papa wants us each to contribute something.'

'A picnic!--but I don't know anything.'

'That's just what I'm coming to.  I have such a bright idea.  He said
that we might look in any of his books, but Geoff and Jack are at
them already, and I'd like a surprise.  Now Juan Capistrano, an old
vaquero of Colonel Jackson's, is over here.  He is a wonderful rider;
papa says that he could ride on a comet, if he could get a chance to
mount.  It was he who told the boys that the rodeo was over.  Now I
propose that we go and interview Pancho and Juan, and get them to
tell us some old California stories.  They are both as stupid as they
can be, but they must have had some adventures, I suppose, somewhere,
sometime.  I'll translate and write the things down, for my part, and
you and Margery can tell them.'

'Lovely!  Oh, if we can only get an exciting grizzly story, so that

Every one's blood upon end it will stand,
And the hair run cold in their veins!

And was Dr. Paul out here when California was admitted into the
Union--1850, wasn't it?'

'Of course; why, my child, he was one of the delegates called by
General Riley, the military governor, to meet in convention at
Monterey and make a State constitution.  That was September, too--the
first day of September 1849.  He went back to the East some time
afterwards, and stayed ten or fifteen years; but he was a real
pioneer and "forty-niner" all the same.

The next night, September 9th, was so cool that the camp-fire was
more than ordinarily delightful; accordingly they piled on more wood
than usual, and prepared for a grand blaze.  It was always built
directly in front of the sitting-room tent, so that Mrs. Howard and
Mrs. Winship could sit there if they liked; but the young people
preferred to lie lazily on their cushions and saddles under the oak-
tree, a little distance from the blaze.  The clear, red firelight
danced and flickered, and the sparks rose into the sombre darkness
fantastically, while the ruddy glow made the great oak an enchanted
palace, into whose hollow dome they never tired of gazing.  When the
light streamed highest, the bronze green of the foliage was turned
into crimson, and, as it died now and then, the stars winked brightly
through the thousand tiny windows formed by the interlacing branches.

'Well,' said the doctor, bringing his Chinese lounging-chair into the
circle, and lighting his pipe so as to be thoroughly happy and
comfortable, 'will you banish distinctions of age and allow me to sit
among you this evening?'

'Certainly,' Margery said; 'that's the very point of the celebration.
This is Admission Day, you know, and why shouldn't we admit you?'

'True; and having put myself into a holiday humour by dining off
Pancho's dish of guisado (I suppose to-night of all nights we must
call beef and onion stew by its local name), I will proceed to
business, and we will talk about California.  By the way, I shall
only conduct the exercises, for I feel rather embarrassed by the fact
that I've never killed, or been killed by, a bear, never been bitten
by a tarantula, poisoned by a rattlesnake, assaulted by a stage-
robber, nor anything of that sort.  You have all read my story of
crossing the plains.  I even did that in a comparatively easy and
unheroic fashion.  I only wish, my dear girls and boys, that we had
with us some one of the brave and energetic men and women who made
that terrible journey at the risk of their lives.  The history of the
California Crusaders, the thirty thousand or more emigrants who
crossed the plains in '48, more than equals the great military
expeditions of the Middle Ages, in magnitude, peril, and adventure.
Some went by way of Santa Fe and along the hills of the Gila; others,
starting from Red River, traversed the Great Stake Desert and went
from El Paso del Norte to Sonora; others went through Mexico, and,
after spending over a hundred days at sea, ran into San Diego and
gave up their vessels; others landed exhausted with their seven
months' passage round the Horn; and some reached the spot on foot
after walking the whole length of the California peninsula.'

'What privations they must have suffered!' said Mrs. Howard.  'I
never quite realised it.'

'Why, the amount of suffering that was endured in those mountain
passes and deserts can never be told in words.  Those who went by the
Great Desert west of the Colorado found a stretch of burning salt
plains, of shifting hills of sand, with bones of animals and men
scattered along the trails; of terrible and ghastly odours rising in
the hot air from the bodies of hundreds of mules, and human creatures
too, that lay half-buried in the glaring white sand.  A terrible
journey indeed; but if any State in the Union could be fair enough,
fertile enough, and rich enough to repay such a lavish expenditure of
energy and suffering, California certainly was and is the one.  Now
who can tell us something of the name "California"?  You, Geoffrey?'

'Geoffrey has crammed!' exclaimed Bell, maliciously.  'I believe he's
been reading up all day and told papa what question to ask him!'

'I'll pass it on to you if you like,' laughed Geoffrey.

'No--you'd never get another that you could answer!  Go on!'

'In 1534, one Hernando de Grijalva was sent by Hernando Cortez to
discover something or other, and it was probably he who then saw the
peninsula of California; but a quarter of a century before this a
romance called Esplandian had appeared in Spain, narrating the
adventures of an Amazonian queen who brought allies from "the right
hand of the Indies" to assist the infidels in their attack upon
Constantinople--by the way I forgot to say that she was a pagan.
This queen of the Amazons was called Calafia, and her kingdom, rich
in gold and precious stones, was named California.  The writer of the
romance derived this name, perhaps, from Calif, a successor of
Mohammed.  He says:  "Know that on the right hand of the Indies there
is an island named California, very close to the Terrestial Paradise,
and it was peopled by black women without any man among them, for
they lived in the fashion of the Amazonia.  They were of strong and
hardy bodies, of ardent courage, and of great force.  Their island
was the strongest in all the world, with its steep cliffs and rocky
shore.  Their arms were all of gold, and so was the harness of the
wild beasts which they tamed and rode.  For in the whole island there
was no metal but gold.  They lived in caves wrought out of the rocks
with much labour, and they had many ships with which they sailed out
to other countries to obtain booty."  Cortez and Grijalva believed
that they were near the coast of Asia, for they had no conception of
the size of the world nor of the vastness of the Pacific Ocean; and
as the newly-discovered land corresponded with the country described
in the romance, they named the peninsula California.'

'My book,' said Philip, 'declared that the derivation of the name was
very uncertain, and that it was first bestowed on one of the coast
bays by Bernal Diaz.'

'Now, Philip!' exclaimed Margery, 'do you suppose we are going to

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