List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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seated thorough-brace wagon, and drive over to Las Flores Canyon.
Pancho has hired a funny little pack mule; he says we shall need one
in going up the mountain, and that the boys can take him when they go
out shooting,--to carry the deer home, you know.'

'If I can bring Elsie down, as I hope, we must come by land,' said
Mrs. Howard.  'I thought we could take two days for the journey,
sleeping at the Burtons' ranch on the way.  The doctor says that if
she can get strength enough to bear the ride, the open-air life will
do her good, even if she does nothing but lie in the hammock.'

'And be waited upon by six willing slaves,' added Polly.

'And be fed on canned corned beef and tomato stew,' laughed Bell.

'Not a bit of it,' said Margery.  'Hop Yet is a splendid cook, if he
has anything to cook, and we'll feed her on broiled titbits of baby
venison, goat's milk, wild bees' honey, and cunning little mourning
doves, roasted on a spit.'

'Good gracious,' cried Bell, 'what angels' food! only I would as soon
devour a pet canary as a mourning dove.  But to think that I've been
trying to diet for a week in order to get intimate with suffering and
privation!  Polly came to stay with me one night, and we slept on the
floor, with only a blanket under us, and no pillow; it was perfectly
horrid.  Polly dreamed that her grandfather ate up her grandmother,
and I that Dicky stabbed the Jersey calf with a pickle-fork.'

'Horrors!' ejaculated Margery; 'that's a pleasant prospect for your
future bedfellows.  I hope the gophers won't make you nervous,
gnawing and scratching in the straw; I got used to them last summer.
But we really must go, darling,' and she stooped to kiss Elsie good-

'Well, I suppose you ought,' she answered.  'But remember you are to
start from this gate; Aunt Truth has promised me the fun of seeing
you out of sight.'

The girls went out at a side door, and joined the boys, who were
busily at work cleaning their guns on the broad western porch.

'How are you coming on?' questioned Polly.

'Oh, finely,' answered Jack, who always constituted himself chief
spokesman, unless driven from the rostrum by some one possessed of a
nimbler tongue.  'I only hope your feminine togs are in half as good

'We take no baggage to speak of,' said Bell, loftily.  'Papa has cut
us down to the very last notch, and says the law allows very few
pounds on this trip.'

'The less the better,' quoth Geoff, cheerily; 'then you'll have to
polish up your mental jewels.'

'Which you consider imitation, I suppose,' sniffed Polly.

'Perish the thought!' cried Jack.  'But, speaking of mental jewels,
you should see the arrangements Geoff has made for polishing his.  He
has actually stuck in six large volumes, any one of which would be a
remedy for sleeplessness.  What are you going to study, Miss Pol-y-
on-o-mous Oliver?'

'Now, Jack, let us decide at once whether you intend to be respectful
or not.  I don't propose to expose myself to your nonsense for two
months unless you make me good promises.'

'Why, that wasn't disrespectful.  It is my newest word, and it simply
means having many titles.  I'm sure you have more than most people.'

'Very well, then!  I'll overlook the irreverence this time, and
announce that I shall not take anything whatever to read, but simply
reflect upon what I know already.'

'That may last for the first week,' said Bell, slyly, 'but what will
you do afterward?'

'I'll reflect upon what you don't know,' retorted Polly.  'That will
easily occupy me two months.'

Fortunately, at the very moment this stinging remark was made, Phil
Noble dashed up to the front gate, flung his bridle over the
hitching-post, and lifted his hat from a very warm brow.

'Hail, chief of the commissary department!' cried Geoffrey, with mock
salute.  'Have you despatched the team?'

'Yes; everything is all right,' said Phil, breathlessly, delivering
himself of his information in spasmodic bursts of words.  'Such a lot
of work it was! here's the list.  Pancho will dump them on the ground
and let us settle them when we get there.  Such a load!  You should
have seen it!  Hardly room for him to sit up in front with the
Chinaman.  Just hear this,' and he drew a large document from what
Polly called 'a back-stairs pocket.'

'Forty cans corned beef, four guns, three Dutch cheeses, pickles,
fishing-tackle, flour, bacon, three bushels onions, crate of dishes,
Jack's banjo, potatoes, Short History of the English People, cooking
utensils, three hair pillows, box of ginger-snaps, four hammocks,
coffee, cartridges, sugar, Macaulay's Essays, Pond's extract, sixteen
hams, Bell's guitar, pop-corn, molasses, salt, St. Jacob's Oil,
Conquest of Mexico, sack of almonds, flea-powder, and smoked herring.
Whew!  I packed them all myself.'

'In precisely that order?' questioned Polly.

'In precisely that order, Miss Oliver,' returned Phil, urbanely.
'Any one who feels that said packing might be improved upon has only
to mount the fleet Arabian yonder' (the animal alluded to seized this
moment to stand on three legs, hang his head, and look dejected),
'and, giving him the rein, speed o'er the trackless plain which leads
to San Miguel, o'ertake the team, and re-pack the contents according
to her own satisfaction.'

'No butter, nor eggs, nor fresh vegetables?' asked Margery.  'We
shall starve!'

'Not at all,' quoth Jack.  'Polly will gracefully dispose a horse-
blanket about her shoulders, to shield her from the chill dews of the
early morn, mount the pack mule exactly at cock-crow everyday, and
ride to a neighbouring ranch where there are tons of the aforesaid
articles awaiting our consumption.'

'Can you see me doing it, girls?  Does it seem entirely natural?'
asked Polly, with great gravity.

'Now hear my report as chairman of the committee of arrangements,'
said Geoffrey Strong, seating himself with dignity on a barrel of
nails.  'The tents, ropes, tool-boxes, bed-sacks, blankets,
furniture, etc., all went down on Monday's steamer, and I have a
telegram from Larry's Landing saying that they arrived in good order,
and that a Mexican gentleman who owns a mammoth wood-cart will take
them up to-morrow when we go ourselves.  The procession will move at
one P.M., wind and weather permitting, in the following order:-

'1.  Chief Noble on his gallant broncho.

'2.  Commander Strong on his ditto, ditto.

'3.  Main conveyance or triumphal chariot, driven by Aide-de-Camp
John Howard, and carrying Dr. and Mrs. Winship, our most worshipful
and benignant host and hostess; Master Dick Winship, the heir-
apparent; three other young persons not worth mentioning; and four
cans of best leaf lard, which I omitted to put with the other

'4.  Wood-cart containing baggage, driven by Senor Don Manuel Felipe
Hilario Noriega from Dead Wood Gulch.

'5.  One small tan terrier.'

'Oh, Geoff, Geoff, pray do stop! it's too much!' cried the girls in a
fit of laughter.

'Hurrah!' shouted Jack, tossing his hat into a tall eucalyptus-tree
in his excitement, 'Tent life for ever!'

'Good-bye, ye pomps and vanities!' chanted Bell, kissing her hand in
imaginary farewell.  'Verily the noisy city shall know us no more,
for we depart for the green forests.'

'And the city will not be as noisy WHEN you depart,' murmured Jack,
with an impudence that luckily passed unnoticed.

'If Elsie could only come too!' sighed Polly.

Wednesday morning dawned as bright and beautiful as all mornings are
wont to dawn in Southern California.  A light mist hung over the old
adobe mission church, through which, with its snow-white towers and
cold, clear-cut lines, it rose like a frozen fairy castle.  Bell
opened her sleepy eyes with the very earliest birds, and running to
the little oval window, framed with white-rose vines, looked out at
the new day just creeping up into the world.

'Oh dear and beautiful home of mine, how charming, how charming you
are!  I wonder if you are not really Paradise!' she said, dreamily;
and the marvel is that the rising sun did not stop a moment in sheer
surprise at the sight of this radiant morning vision; for the oval
window opening to the east was a pretty frame, with its outline
marked by the dewy rose-vine covered with hundreds of pure, half-
opened buds and swaying tendrils, and she stood there in it, a fair
image of the morning in her innocent white gown.  Her luminous eyes
still mirrored the shadowy visions of dreamland, mingled with dancing
lights of hope and joyful anticipation; while on her fresh cheeks,
which had not yet lost the roundness of childhood, there glowed, as
in the eastern skies, the faint pink blush of the morning.

The town is yet asleep, and in truth it is never apt to be fairly
wide awake.  The air is soft and balmy; the lovely Pacific, a
quivering, sparkling sheet of blue and grey and green flecked with
white foam, stretches far out until it is lost in the rosy sky; and
the mountains, all purple and pink and faint crimson and grey, stand
like sentinels along the shore.  The scent of the roses, violets, and
mignonette mingled with the cloying fragrance of the datura is heavy
in the still air.  The bending, willowy pepper-trees show myriad
bunches of yellow blossoms, crimson seed-berries, and fresh green
leaves, whose surface, not rain-washed for months, is as full of
colour as ever.  The palm-trees rise without a branch, tall, slender,
and graceful, from the warmly generous earth, and spread at last, as
if tired of their straightness, into beautiful crowns of fans, which
sway toward each other with every breath of air.  Innumerable
butterflies and humming-birds, in the hot, dazzling sunshine of
noonday, will be hovering over the beds of sweet purple heliotrope
and finding their way into the hearts of the passion-flowers, but as
yet not the faintest whirr of wings can be heard.  Looking eastward
or westward, you see either brown foot-hills, or, a little later on,
emerald slopes whose vines hang heavy with the half-ripened grapes.

And hark!  A silvery note strikes on the dewy stillness.  It is the
mission bell ringing for morning mass; and if you look yonder you may
see the Franciscan friars going to prayers, with their loose grey
gowns, their girdle of rope, their sandaled feet, and their jingling
rosaries; and perhaps a Spanish senorita, with her trailing dress,
and black shawl loosely thrown over her head, from out the folds of
which her two dark eyes burn like gleaming fires.  A solitary Mexican
gallops by, with gayly decorated saddle and heavily laden saddle-bags
hanging from it; perhaps he is taking home provisions to his wife and
dark-eyed babies who live up in a little dimple of the mountain side,
almost hidden from sight by the olive-trees.  And then a patient,
hardy little mustang lopes along the street, bearing on his back
three laughing boys, one behind the other, on a morning ride into
town from the mesa.

The mist had floated away from the old mission now, the sun has
climbed a little higher, and Bell has come away from the window in a
gentle mood.

'Oh, Polly, I don't see how anybody can be wicked in such a
beautiful, beautiful world.'

'Humph!' said Polly, dipping her curly head deep into the water-bowl,
and coming up looking like a little drowned kitten.  'When you want
to be hateful, you don't stop to think whether you're looking at a
cactus or a rosebush, do you?'

'Very true,' sighed Bell, quite silenced by this practical
illustration.  'Now I'll try the effect of the landscape on my temper
by dressing Dicky, while he dances about the room and plays with his
tan terrier.'

But it happened that Dicky was on his very best behaviour, and stood
as still as a signpost while being dressed.  It is true he ate a
couple of matches and tumbled down-stairs twice before breakfast, so
that after that hurried meal Bell tied him to one of the verandah
posts, that he might not commit any act vicious enough to keep them
at home.  As he had a huge pocket full of apricots he was in perfect
good-humour, not taking his confinement at all to heart, inasmuch as
it commanded a full view of the scene of action.  His amiability was
further increased, moreover, by the possession of a bright new
policeman's whistle, which was carefully tied to his button-hole by a
neat little silk cord, and which his fond parents intended that he
should blow if he chanced to fall into danger during his rambles
about the camp.  We might as well state here, however, that this
precaution proved fruitless, for he blew it at all times and seasons;
and everybody became so hardened to its melodious shriek that they
paid no attention to it whatever,--history, or fable, thus again
repeating itself.

Mr. and Mrs. Noble had driven Margery and Phil into town from the
fruit ranch, and were waiting to see the party off.

Mrs. Oliver was to live in the Winship house during the absence of
the family, and was aiding them to do those numberless little things
that are always found undone at the last moment.  She had given her
impetuous daughter a dozen fond embraces, smothering in each a gentle
warning, and stood now with Mrs. Winship at the gate, watching the
three girls, who had gone on to bid Elsie good-bye.

'I hope Pauline won't give you any trouble,' she said.  'She is so
apt to be too impulsive and thoughtless.'

'I shall enjoy her,' said sweet Aunt Truth, with that bright, cordial
smile of hers that was like a blessing.  'She has a very loving
heart, and is easily led.  How pretty the girls look, and how
different they are!  Polly is like a thistledown or a firefly,
Margery like one of our home Mayflowers, and I can't help thinking my
Bell like a sunbeam.'

The girls did look very pretty; for their mothers had fashioned their
camping-dresses with much care and taste, taking great pains to make
them picturesque and appropriate to their summer life 'under the
greenwood tree.'

Over a plain full skirt of heavy crimson serge Bell wore a hunting
jacket and drapery of dark leaf-green, like a bit of forest against a
sunset.  Her hair, which fell in a waving mass of burnished
brightness to her waist, was caught by a silver arrow, and crowned by
a wide soft hat of crimson felt encircled with a bird's breast.

Margery wore a soft grey flannel, the colour of a dove's throat,
adorned with rows upon rows of silver braid and sparkling silver
buttons; while her big grey hat had nothing but a silver cord and
tassel tied round it in Spanish fashion.

Polly was all in sailor blue, with a distractingly natty little
double-breasted coat and great white rolling collar.  Her hat swung
in her hand, as usual, showing her boyish head of sunny auburn curls,
and she carried on a neat chatelaine a silver cup and little clasp-
knife, as was the custom in the party.

'It's very difficult,' Polly often exclaimed, 'to get a dress that
will tone down your hair and a hat that will tone up your nose, when
the first is red and the last a snub!  My nose is the root of all
evil; it makes people think I'm saucy before I say a word; and as for
my hair, they think I must be peppery, no matter if I were really as

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