"It isn't lunch-time," returned Mr. Sutherland. "We're expected to work now."
"Three or four of the men aren't working," said Willis.
"No," rejoined his father. "Several of the men lately have taken to catching crabs sometimes during work-hours."
"The men tie a rope to a big twine net, and bait it, and let it out into the bay. In a little while they haul it in again, and there are maybe half a dozen big crabs in the net. The men have made a sort of boiler out of an empty kerosene can with one end cut off. They attach a hose to the boiler of the engine and fill that can with hot water. The crabs cook in a short time and those men stop work to eat. It would be all right if the men cooked the crabs at noon, when we're allowed to lay off, but they stop in the fore-noon sometimes an hour, and again in the afternoon sometimes, and eat crabs. The foreman we have now allows it. He does it himself."
While Mr. Sutherland talked he was working. Several of the other men were working up on top of the wharf, as Willis could tell by the sounds, but the boy's thoughts were with those three or four other men who were idling. Were not those men employed to work as steadily as his father?
"It isn't fair for them to stop and you to have to keep on," objected Willis. "I should think those, men would be discharged."
"They may and they mayn't," said his father. "They are appointed by different Harbor Commissioners, and as long as the Commissioners don't know, I suppose the men will keep their places."
"One man told me you thought the State was looking at you every minute," said Willis.
"My boy," answered Mr. Sutherland, fitting a block into place, "it's true that I'm employed to work for the State, and I feel just as much that I must do honest work for the State as if I were working for some individual. But it isn't thought of the State that makes me faithful. A Christian ought to give an honest day's work. Some people don't seem to think cheating the State is as bad as cheating another person. But it is."
Willis climbed upon the wharf again. He saw when the men who had been eating crabs came back to work. He noticed they did not work very heartily.
"My father doesn't work that way," thought the boy.
"An honest day's work." The words followed Willis as he went away from the wharf. The next week Willis was going to begin work for a large dry-goods store.
"I'll do honest day's work, too," resolved Willis.
He did not put it into words, but he thought that the One who saw whether a man under the wharves did an honest day's work would see whether a boy working for a store did the same. Willis was trying to be a Christian.
Busy days Willis had after that. The large dry-goods store had many customers who often did not wish to carry bundles home. The store had two pretty, white-covered, small carts for the delivering of packages. Willis drove one cart and a boy named August drove the other.
One afternoon Willis, out delivering dry-goods, drove by the house where August lived, and saw the store's other cart standing there.
"August is home," thought Willis. Just then, August came out.
"Don't tell," called August, laughing.
Willis, hardly comprehending, drove on about his business.
That evening at store-closing time, both boys were back with their receipt books, signed by customers who had received their packages. The boys went out of the store together.
"Saw me coming out of our house today, didn't you?" said August to Willis.
"Don't you ever stop off half an hour or so, when you're on your rounds?"
"Why, no!" answered Willis. "What would they say at the store, if they knew?"
"They can't know," asserted August. "I often stop, that way. Yesterday I went to see my aunt. How can the store tell? They don't know just how long it will take to deliver all the parcels. Some folks live farther off than others. Who's going to know?"
Willis hesitated. He remembered that the thought of the men at the wharves had been: "Who would know?" Willis had never heard that anybody had lost his place at the wharves on account of dawdling. What if August never was found out? Was it right to steal an hour, or half an hour, of his employer's time?
"No," thought Willis. "I'm going to be honest."
Late one afternoon August came into the store. Willis was later still, because he had had more parcels to deliver. Both boys' receipt books showed the customers' signatures.
"There was a big fire up-town," said August secretly to Willis afterwards. "I stopped to see it before delivering my parcels. You just ought to have been there!"
"How long did you stay?" asked Willis, gravely.
"Oh, I don't know!" returned August. "Three-quarters of an hour, maybe. I delivered my parcels all right afterwards."
Willis did not tell anybody about August's actions.
"I wish he wouldn't tell me about them, either," thought Willis, uncomfortably.
That week August was discharged.
"I happened to be at the fire myself, and saw you," said one of the store's proprietors to August. "The next time you stop to see a fire, you will not have a chance to keep one of our delivery carts waiting an hour while you waste your employer's time watching the firemen. It didn't look well to see our firm's name on that white cart standing idle, just as if we hadn't many customers."
"And you were seen once," added the other proprietor, "with one of our carts standing beside an open block, while a ball game was being played there last week."
As Willis regretfully saw his companion turned away, there came back to him the scene in the semi-darkness under the wharf, when his father said, "A Christian ought to give an honest day's work." "And I will," he muttered.
Two white jaw-bones of a whale stood upright in the sunshine, their surfaces showing to a near observer numerous small indentations that caught the dust. The jaw-bones were relics from a little whaling station that had once been in business near the town. Even now whales occasionally wander from the great Pacific into the blue bay on which this old, partly Spanish, California town was situated.
The two white jaw-bones now served the purpose of gate-posts, and stood some six feet high beside the front gate that opened into a garden where red hollyhocks rose higher than the humbled jaw-bones. Inside the gate, the front walk had long been paved with the vertebrae of whales, each vertebra being laid separately.
No one who had not seen such a walk would realize how well whales' vertebrae will answer for paving. Some of the old vertebrae had now sunk below the original level of the walk, so that the path by which a person went to the old adobe house beyond the red hollyhocks was somewhat uneven as to surface.
The long, low house was partly roofed with tiles, and the adobe walls of the dwelling were a yard thick, as any one might see who looked at the windowsills.
On one of these broad sills Isabelita leaned, her black eyes fixed on the bone gate-posts that she could see through the blossoming hollyhocks. There was a displeased expression on the young girl's face. She was watching for her brother Timoteo, who would soon come from school.
"He must go for the cow tonight," resolved Isabelita aloud in Spanish. "I will not go! I wish the Americans had never come to this town! In the old days, my father says, there were no cattle notices on the trees. My father did not have to go for cows every night!" And Isabelita frowned as she remembered the notices about letting cattle run loose upon the highway.
These Spanish—and—English notices were now nailed on pines here and there along the roads, and proved a source of inquiry to wandering Americans who saw the boards with their heading:
preceded by two inverted exclamation points and followed by two others in the upright position—that some Americans have perhaps been wont to think is the only attitude in which an exclamation point can stand, Americans not being accustomed to the ease with which an exclamation point can stand on its head, when used in Spanish literature.
But it was not only with cattle notices and Americans that Isabelita was offended this day. She was in a bad humor, and nothing suited her. Hence it was in no pleasant voice that she called to Timoteo, when he at last made his appearance between the bony gate-posts:
"Hombre bobo, thou must go for the cow tonight!"
Now, "hombre bobo" means much the same as our word "booby," therefore this was not a very soothing manner of beginning her information. To Isabelita's surprise, however, Timoteo answered only "Yes," and, coming in, put his one book carefully away, and then went forth for the cow, as he had been bidden. Isabelita stared after him. She had at least expected a quarrel.
Isabelita would have been more surprised still, if she could have seen what Timoteo did after reaching the place in the woods where the cow was tethered. He threw himself down; crushing the fragrant, small-leaved vines of "yerba buena" as he fell, and, hiding his face, Timoteo cried in a half-angry, half-hopeless tumult of feeling. The pink blossoming thistles nodded, and the cow looked wonderingly at the lad, but no one else saw or heard him. By and by he sat up.
"Teacher never like me any more," he told himself, his lips quivering. "Americanos tell her my father lazy, my mother no clean. And I try, I try!"
He choked down a sob. A new teacher had come to the public school, a sweet-faced, pleasant-toned young lady, whom Timoteo was ready to obey devotedly from the first time she smiled on the school. Timoteo did want to learn to be somebody! He looked with admiration on the Americans boys' clothes and on an especial blue necktie that Herbert Page wore. Timoteo wondered how it would seem to have a father who worked and who provided his family with plenty to wear. The lad Timoteo meant to be like one of the Americans when he grew up. He would work, instead of lounging about the streets all day, smoking "cigarros."
But alas! That day he had overheard some of the American boy scholars talking to the teacher about the Spanish ones.
"There's Timoteo," he overheard Herbert Page say. "You don't want to have him for your milk-man, Miss Montgomery! I don't believe they keep the milk pails any too clean at his house. Laziness and dirt go together in these Spanish houses!"
Poor Timoteo! He had hoped the teacher and her mother would take milk of him. Miss Montgomery had almost promised to, before this, and one customer for milk made such a difference in Timoteo's home finances!
"But now she never like me any more," Timoteo hopelessly forewarned himself, as he sat among the trees, his eyes yet red with crying. "And I try, I try! I have learned wash my hands clean, when I go school. And I try so hard learn read and write!"
Timoteo sighed heavily. He did not hate those American boys who looked so much nicer than he. He only had a sorrowful, hopeless feeling as he unfastened the cow and started homeward with her.
But when the cow lumbered in through the two white, strange gate-posts at home, she swerved aside a little, and Timoteo saw, standing under the tall red hollyhocks, his teacher, Miss Montgomery. She had a bright tin pail in her hand, and she wanted some milk.
Timoteo's eyes brightened.
"I go wash my hands clean, clean!" he cried, and, disappearing, came back a few minutes after, holding out his palms for Miss Montgomery's inspection.
She smiled, and gave him the pail.
"Poor little fellow!" she thought, as she watched him milking. "I'm afraid some of our American boys don't have charity enough for him."
Timoteo beamed with happiness as he returned the pail brimming with milk. He was Miss Montgomery's milkman regularly after that, and when, on Sundays, Miss Montgomery taught a Sunday-school class of boys, Timoteo always slipped in and listened, though the teacher wondered sometimes if the boy could understand.
There were fair-haired American boys who looked down on Timoteo at school and who made him feel that a Spanish boy was an inferior. Sometimes Timoteo almost felt as if some of the Chinese boys, in the small fishing-village outside the town, were happier than he, for they did not seem to care to know anything but how to dry nets and dry fish. Herbert Page was one of the school boys who always felt superior to Timoteo. Timoteo did not wonder at it. He had a very humble opinion of himself, yet sometimes he wished Herbert would only look at him as he passed by. Herbert would not have spoken rudely to Timoteo. That, Herbert would have considered degrading. He simply ignored the Spanish boys of the school.
One Saturday morning, when Timoteo stood on the edge of the cliffs outside the town, he saw Herbert picking his way out over the long stretches of rocks to seaward; a basket on his arm and a stick in his hand.
"He go to get abalones, and think he can knock them off with a stick!" laughed Timoteo.
Herbert had not long lived in this vicinity, and he did not know the tenacity with which the large, oval-shaped shell, called abalone, or ear-shell, which is so well known and valued for its beautifully colored, irridescent lining, clings to the rock when the shell's inmate is living. At school, the day before, Timoteo had heard Herbert say that he intended going after abalones on Saturday.
"He no get any," prophesied Timoteo, gazing after Herbert's disappearing figure.
Timoteo himself was out abalone-hunting. This was one of the ways by which he occasionally earned a few cents, visitors to the town buying the large shells for curiosities. But Timoteo had with him a long iron spike with which he intended to urge the abalone-shells from the rocks.
The abalone has a large, very strong, white "foot" inside its long shell, and there is a row of holes in the shell itself. It is conjectured that the abalone perhaps exhausts the air under the shell, and so causes the shell to cling more tightly to the rock than ever, through atmospheric pressure. It is very difficult to take an abalone from its rocky home, unless the creature is surprised.
Timoteo, however, was acquainted with abalones, and made good use of his weapon. He clambered far out over the wet rocks for hours, finding abalones now and then, and waging war on these thick, rough ovals that clung so tightly to the rock, the beautiful colors of the abalone-shells entirely concealed. Timoteo saw nothing more of Herbert, during these hours of work.
Timoteo succeeded in getting three abalones, the last an especially large shell. He sat down on the rocks to rest, after the long struggle with this big abalone. The tide was rising. He would go home soon now.
While he sat there, it seemed to him that he heard the sound of outcries. At first he thought it was the gulls. Half in fun he shouted in reply. The distant cries seemed redoubled. Timoteo caught up his basket and long spike. He sprang to his feet.
"Where is it?" he thought, confused with the splash of waves and the toss of spray.
He listened. He sped, shouting, over the rocks in the direction from which the cries seemed to come. He stopped now and then to listen. Yes, it was a human voice that cried for help. It was not the gulls.
"Adonde?" (Where?) "Adonde?" shouted Timoteo, forgetting his English in his excitement.
The answering shouts grew more distinct. Timoteo climbed over the wet rocks till he found himself near a place where the sounds seemed to come from between two rocks. Timoteo saw a boy reach up part way between the two rocks. The boy could not crawl out. The hole between the rocks was not big enough.
"Timoteo!" screamed a voice, and Timoteo recognized Herbert.
"Say!" Herbert called, "run for help, won't you? I was out here abalone-hunting, and I guess one of these big rocks must have been poised just right to topple over. Anyhow, in climbing down here I managed to topple it. It didn't fall on me, but it fell against the other rocks so that there isn't room for me to crawl out of here! I can't make the rock budge, now. And the tide's coming! I thought I'd drown, away out here, alone. You can't do anything with that spike. It needs three or four men with levers. Run! The tide's up to my waist, now! There isn't room between these rocks to crawl out."
For one moment Timoteo stood still and looked at Herbert. Then the Spanish boy turned and flew over the rocks. Leaping from one slippery foothold to another, he rushed toward the cliffs, up the cliff road, on to the clusters of Chinese huts that made a little fishing-village by itself on the edge of the bay. Whatever Spanish or English vocabulary Timoteo used, he aroused two or three Chinamen to forsake their frames of drying fish and cease tossing over the other small fish that lay drying on the ground.
Seizing the long, heavy iron rods with which the Chinese were wont to go abalone-hunting, the three Celestials followed in Timoteo's wake toward the place where Herbert anxiously awaited rescue. There was much prying with the iron rods before the stone was finally tilted enough so that the drenched prisoner was released.
"My father pay you," gratefully promised Herbert to the Chinamen, who nodded and plodded cheerfully back toward their tiny fishing-village.
Herbert looked at Timoteo.
"I'm much obliged to you," said Herbert. "You were good to run for help."
But now that Timoteo had seen the success of his helpers, an abashed silence seemed to have overtaken him. He did not answer. The silence lasted till the two boys reached the cliffs. Herbert grew uneasy. His conscience accused him somewhat.
"Come to my house, Timoteo, and my father will give you something for helping me," promised Herbert uneasily, as the boys climbed the cliffs.
Timoteo shook his head, but he did not look up.
"See here, Timoteo," burst out Herbert, stopping on top of the cliffs, "what's the matter? Do you hate me?"
Timoteo glanced up slowly. His dark eyes were full of appeal.
"You no talk to teacher any more about me?" he besought. "You no tell her my father lazy, we no-'count folks?"
Timoteo's voice shook. He hurried on: "I like teacher. I try be clean. I wash my hands, my face, all time. I do ver' good to the teacher. But my mother differ from your mother. Your mother give you nice clean shirt and clothes. My mother too poor. I try learn, read, spell. I grow like American boy."
It was the appeal of a soul that looked from Timoteo's eyes. Herbert flushed.
"Why, you poor fellow, of course you try!" he answered heartily. "I—I'm sorry if I've ever said anything to the teacher that made you feel badly, Timoteo. I won't do it again, and the other boys sha'n't, either! The teacher knows how hard you try. She said the other day that you were a good boy. Come on up to our house. Won't you?"
But Timoteo smiled, and shook his head, and went away on the long road that led toward home. The heart of the Spanish boy was very happy. He had done good to his enemy, and that enemy was turned into a friend. And the teacher had said that Timoteo was a good boy! She knew how hard he tried!
Timoteo sang for joy as he ran.
"I will learn! I will learn! I shall be like los Americanos!" he sang, and then he remembered how he had been tempted for one instant not to help Herbert. Timoteo shivered at the remembered temptation. He sang again for very joy at having been helped to forgive his enemy.
In the pines Timoteo stopped, and looked upward through the swaying treetops.
"A Dios sea gloria por Jesu-Christo," he murmured reverently. ("To God be glory through Jesus Christ.")
THE VICTORY OF QUANG PO
Jo bent down and slipped under the barbed wire fence that separated the field back of the Chinese fishing-village from the other fields that stretched away to the houses of the California seaside resort under the pines. The wind blew pleasantly in from the sparkling bay.
A large number of frames for drying fish stretched away to the back part of the Chinese field. A great net fifty feet long was spread out on the ground to dry. Jo looked at the wooden sinkers that were fastened along one side of the net and smiled. "They're all on again," he thought.
A line of flounders stretched above the narrow, crooked street of the fishing-village. The flounders looked like queer clothes hung to dry on a clothes-line. There were crates of small fish, packed so that they stood on their heads. Underneath a table of drying fish lay a dead gopher.
Red placards spotted the houses. On the roof of one hut a little paper windmill was turning in the breeze. Back of one hut was a bit of garden inclosed with a fence of branches and containing much mustard. Chinese were washing fish. Shells were exposed for sale, since at any hour visitors from the American settlement might come to traverse the Chinese village, and visitors often bought shells.
Even now, as Jo passed through the street, an old Chinaman beckoned to the lad, and with much mystery unrolled a piece of brown paper and showed a pearl that had come into his possession and that he wished to sell.
Young Chinese girls, with red or yellow-capped babies strapped on their backs, packed or spread the fish. Some little Chinese boys were arranging dried squids in boats drawn up on the shore. On one boat was a kind of wooden crane, holding a hanging pan. There were some burnt sticks in the pan, and the whole contrivance was evidently an arrangement whereby a fire could be made in the boat when it was out at sea.
Jo stepped into one deserted hut, and found it to be a kitchen. An oil can was over some ashes, and there were some queer, big kettles near. In another place were Chinese children eating their breakfast. One child had a Chinese cup, out of which she ate with chop-sticks.
Jo sat down on the edge of the village, and watched three women who were setting off in a boat, intending to row out into the surf to get kelp. Small fish lay drying all over the rocks by the sea-beach near Jo, and a Chinaman was lifting up the fish, and letting them drop again by the handful, while the wind blew away the straw or grass that had become mixed with the fish while drying. Then the fish were spread upon matting to dry further.
"Ho'lah!" the Chinaman said to Jo.
"Ho'lah!" responded Jo, and the conversation ceased.
For a few minutes Jo watched two or three Chinese boys who were lying on the beach, sifting the white sand through their fingers, hunting for the small, white "rice shells," that American people often buy.
Presently, Jo pulled a sketch-book out of his pocket, and began to draw the collection of queer huts that composed the Chinese village. By and by the Chinaman who had been tossing fish, Quang Po, sat down on the rocks. He looked at Jo for a time, and then came and glanced over Jo's shoulder, smiling. The Chinamen of the village were used to having artists come and plant their easels here and there on the rocks or at the entrance of the narrow street, and draw the village on their canvas. At such times, a small group of Chinamen usually gathered about each artist, and made in their own tongue comments on the drawing. No artist knew the nature of the criticisms made in his very ears.
Jo smiled over his own drawing, as Quang Po inspected it.
"Wha' fo' you do that?" inquired Quang Po, mustering his English.
"This drawing?" questioned Jo. "Oh, you see, my cousin is an artist on one of the city papers. He's older than I am, and he earns a good deal of money. I'm going to learn to make pictures for papers, too. Some day I'll have as good a position as my cousin has."
Quang Po looked puzzled. He did not understand. He always thought American pictures strange. They were not made as Chinese pictures were.
But Quang Po knew that once he had thought other American things strange, too. Some Americans believed in teaching Chinese girls wonderful stories and words from a wonderful Book. When Quang Po's niece had been taught first by such an American, great was Quang's wrath. To increase his indignation, another thing happened. He had burnt incense at the stone in the middle of the fishing-village, in order to find out what day would be most lucky to go fishing, and had found that according to the stone the twenty-second day of the month would be the most lucky day. He had therefore gone fishing on the twenty-second, and he had come back sulky, having caught almost nothing. Then Quang Po's niece had actually laughed at the ill-fortune of her uncle, and had openly expressed her unbelief in the village stone! Quang Po had been very angry for many days, but there came a time when Quang Po's niece induced him to go with her to the little mission school on the hill-side, and there Quang Po heard that for which his soul thirsted. He saw the picture of the Crucified. He understood the story, and he, like his niece, lost faith in the village stone and in the incense-shelves. Quang Po yielded his will and his life to Christ, and the Christian religion seemed strange to him no longer.
So, when this Chinaman handed back the drawing to Jo, Quang Po smiled and said the kindest thing he could think of, although the drawing did not accord with his Chinese ideas of art.
"You draw like Melican," said Quang Po, winding his queue about his head, and preparing to return to work.
Jo felt somewhat ashamed. He wished that he and the other boys had not cut the sinkers off Quang Po's big net. Perhaps Quang Po did not know that Jo had taken part in that mischief, but the thought of it made Jo uncomfortable. So did the remembrance that he and the other boys had slyly at night cut the line that held the flounders high in air above the village street. The flounders now were safely stretched aloft again, but the last time Jo remembered seeing them they were lying in the dust. Jo was not an ill-natured lad, but he had not objected to helping do the mischief. And now Quang Po had spoken kindly of Jo's drawing! Jo winced a little. He was rather proud of his ability as an artist, himself. He turned his attention, to the flaming yellow pair of trousers worn by a small Chinese boy among the numerous Chinese children in the street below. The brilliant color made the little fellow most conspicuous as he toddled here and there. In watching him, Jo tried to forget his own self-reproach.
So far did he succeed in forgetting it that, that evening, when Louis Rouse, one of the other boys whose parents were staying at the resort during the summer vacation, proposed going over to the Chinese village, Jo did not object, though he knew that the purpose of going was to have some "fun," as Louis called it.
"Was the line of flounders up?" asked Louis gleefully, as the boys went over the fields in the dusk. "Let's cut it again! And, say, let's just tip over one of those frames for drying fish in the field back of the village. We can do it carefully, so they won't hear."
Chuckling softly and speaking in whispers only, the boys crept about the fishing-village and did the mischief planned. They pretended that the Chinese village was a fort of enemies, and the boys were a band of soldiers reconnoitering in the dark. They became quite excited over the idea. Doing mischief seemed so much more glorious than it would if they had allowed themselves to think that they were really American boys doing a contemptible thing to quiet, peaceable people.
Just as the boys had quietly tipped over one of the fish-frames, letting the partially dried fish slide to the ground, there were shouts in the dark of the Chinese village.
"The enemy's coming, boys!" whispered Louis, and the lads rushed for the fence.
Some boys caught their feet in the big, spread-out net, and fell, and rolled over, shaking with laughter. Others stuck between the barbed wires of the fence, but all were outside, running across the fields, before the Chinese had sallied out toward their frames. Some distance from the fishing village, the boys dropped breathless behind the large rocks near the sea, and laughed softly together. Jo laughed with the others, though he said, "I sha'n't dare go near the village for a week, till my hand gets well. The barbed wire gave me some pretty deep scratches on the back of one hand, and the Chinamen might guess how I got the marks."
"I've got one on my forehead, I guess," answered Louis, laughing. "It feels so, anyway, and I guess it's bleeding."
The boys went home. Jo was silent on the way.
"I'm tired, laughing so much," he explained to the rest.
He could not help remembering how kind Quang Po's voice had sounded when he said, "You draw like Melican."
During the next week Jo stayed away from the fishing village. The scratches on his hand and on his cheek were all too plainly visible. He occupied his vacation-time in rambling in other places besides the Chinese village.
One morning, in his rambles, he went to what had once been an old adobe dwelling. It was on a hill, quite a distance outside the town, and was not often visited by any one. The old adobe had long ago lost its tile roof, some of the walls had fallen, its former Spanish inhabitants had long since disappeared, and quick-motioned, small lizards now and then ran over the thick, ruined walls that stood, dark and crumbling, against the light-brown of the wild oats on the hill.
Jo climbed on top of one of the higher adobe walls. It still retained its Spanish thickness, being about five feet through, although crumbling at the sides and somewhat uncertain as to uprightness.
"Must have taken a lot of clay to make it," thought Jo.
Just then a little lizard, that had been sunning itself in a niche in the adobe wall, started, disturbed by Jo's proximity, and ran swiftly over to another part of the wall. Jo was anxious to see where the creature went. The boy jumped over a broken place in the wall, and walked on its top, regardless of the fact that the adobe was trembling.
"Guess it's gone where I can't see it," said Jo to himself. "This is a nice sunny place for a lizard. I—"
Jo had stepped a little too far. There was a sudden trembling of the wall. Jo caught at the adobe, which came away in handfuls, and he fell with a large portion of the old wall.
The next thing he knew, he was lying, choked with dust, on what was once the floor of the old Spanish dwelling. He was overtopped by a heavy pile of debris, from under which he struggled in vain to extricate himself. He had one free hand, with which, when he found that other exertions did not avail, he tried to dig himself out; but the more he dug, the more the great pile of adobe above him slid down on his face, till he was in such imminent danger of being smothered that he was forced to desist.
It was almost all he could do to breathe with such a weight upon him, but after a few moments' rest he tried to shout for help. His shouts were not very loud, and soon he had to stop. He lay breathing heavily and looking up at the pile of dull earth.
"I wish," he panted, "I hadn't—come here."
He fervently hoped that some sight-seer like himself might be attracted to the old, out-of-the-way adobe, for Jo was now convinced that it was impossible for him to set himself free. He tried again and again, but always with the same result of semi-suffocation under the sliding debris.
The forenoon passed away. The sun, mounting higher, shone over the dilapidated walls, and fell full on Jo's face. He shielded his eyes with his free hand. The sun beat heavily on his head. Sometimes he thought he heard a rustle in the wild oats, and he cried out for help, but he afterward concluded the sound had been made by the wind or by some lizard.
Gradually the shade began to lengthen in the adobe. Jo looked wistfully at the shadow of the wall as it stretched a little farther toward him, and he sighed with relief when at length the sun that had made his head so hot was guarded from his face by the shadow that reached him. He had lain here a number of hours, and now, as he began to think about evening, he wondered what his father and mother would do when he did not come home. If they had not worried about him during the day, they would be alarmed at night.
"There are some coyotes around the neighborhood," thought Jo.
He knew that a number of poultry-yards had suffered from coyotes. Jo did not suppose that a coyote would usually attack a person. Chickens, lambs, young pigs, were a coyote's prey, but in Jo's present situation he did not care to be visited by a coyote.
"I could throw clods at him," thought Jo. "I hope that would scare him away."
As the sun sank, Jo shouted repeatedly, till his breath was gone. He hoped that some laborer might take his homeward way across the unfrequented hill. But the prospect of such relief seemed very slight, so unused was this place to visitors. Jo saw a wild bird fly far overhead in the glow of the evening sky. The bird could go home, but he could not. He could only wait—how long?
After a while, there was the sound of clumsy feet that jolted by the adobe. Jo heard.
"Come here!" he cried with all his strength. "Come here! Come here!"
The clumsy feet stopped. There was a creaking sound, as of baskets swung to the ground. A face peered through a break in the wall, and Quang Po climbed into the adobe.
"Ho'lah!" he said.
"Ho'lah!" faintly responded Jo.
Quang Po wasted no more words, but set to work. He had not much to dig with, save his tough, yellow hands and a stick, but after nearly an hour's exertion, he released Jo.
"You' bones bloke?" asked Quang anxiously.
"No," responded Jo, wincing. "My arm hurts, but I guess it's only a sprain."
"Me cally fish to lady," explained Quang. "Me go closs hill to lady's house. Hear you holler."
Jo tried to stand, but found himself dizzy and faint, and Quang Po, leaving his baskets, went home with the lad.
Next day, Quang Po, going his rounds, was carrying his fish-baskets past Jo's house. Jo, sitting on the steps, his arm in a bandage, made a sign to Quang to stop.
"My mother wants to buy some fish of you," Jo said.
The fish were bought, and Quang was thanked by Jo's mother for helping her boy. Quang went back to his baskets again, but Jo followed.
"Quang Po," he said, choking a little, "you very good to me."
Quang Po smiled.
"Quang," confessed Jo, "I helped the other boys cut the sinkers from your big net, once."
"Me sabe," (understand) he answered, "me sabe long time ago."
"I helped the other boys cut the line that held up your flounders," faltered Jo. "I helped tip over the fish-frame."
Quang Po nodded.
"Me t'ink so," he said.
"What for you good to me?" demanded Jo.
"Me Clistian," responded Quang Po with gravity, as if that one word explained everything. "Clistian must do lite."
Jo looked at him. Quang lifted his heavy baskets on his pole.
"Goo' by," he said.
"Say—Quang Po," burst out Jo, "I'm sorry! I won't bother you any more! I won't let the other boys do it, either! I can stop it."
Quang Po smiled.
"Me glad you solly," he said. "We be good flends, now." And he trotted away, the heavy baskets creaking.
Jo looked after him.
"And I thought you were the heathen!" he whispered.
THE NEW IGLOO.
The sky was lowering. The small storm-"igloo," or round-topped snow house, was full of Eskimo dogs that had crowded in to shelter themselves from the bitter wind. This small igloo was built in front of the door of a bigger round igloo in which an Eskimo family lived. The dogs' small igloo was built where it was, to keep the wind and the cold from coming in at the family's igloo door.
Over the snowy ground a boy, clad in a reindeer coat, came running. His brown cheeks were flushed, and his black eyes were bright with excitement. His lips curved and parted over his white teeth as he chuckled happily to himself about something. He rushed to the very low door of his home, dropped down on his hands and knees, put some slender thing between his teeth, pulled the hood of the reindeer coat up over his head so as to keep the snow from slipping down the back of his neck, and then scrambled quickly through the low opening, pushing aside the dogs, till he reached the interior of the larger igloo. Then the boy jumped up and snatched the thing he had held in his mouth.
"Oh, see, see!" he cried, holding up his treasure. "See what the teacher gave me!"
What he held was the half of a lead pencil, a rarity to him, given to him now as a prize at school.
"And see!" cried the excited lad once more.
He pulled from his reindeer coat a piece of paper. The paper was part of his prize, too. He made some rude marks on the paper with his pencil, and held them where they were visible by the light of the small stone lamp, shaped like a huge clam shell, and burning with walrus oil. The lad's face was illumined with enthusiasm. Never before had he owned such treasures. To think they were his own! He had earned them by good behavior, and diligent, though extremely slow, attempts at learning. A sarcastic laugh came from one side of the platform of snow, that was built around the whole circular interior of the igloo. On the platform lounged the lad's brother, Tanana. "You went without your breakfast yesterday, and ran to school, and now you come back with those things!" laughed Tanana. "You are a dog of the teacher's team, Anvik! He can drive you."
Anvik's black eyes snapped.
"He does not drive me!" cried the boy. "He teaches me to want to learn! I have gone to school many days. I want to learn, to learn! I can make A and B. See!"
He pushed his paper with its awkwardly formed letters farther into the lamp's light. The edge of the precious paper took fire, and with a cry of alarm, Anvik smothered his paper in the snow.
His brother laughed again.
"To-morrow will be another day," he said. "Why should anybody learn for to-morrow?"
But the mother of the two lads stretched out her hand, and took the paper, and looked at the straggling marks. The fat baby, that she carried in the hood of her reindeer suit, crowed over her shoulder at the piece of paper, and Anvik forgot to be angry. He put his pencil in his mother's hand. She looked curiously at the strange new thing.
"You make A, too, mother," urged the boy; and, putting his hand on his mother's, he tried to show her how to make the strange marks.
His mother did little more than touch the paper with the pencil. She smiled at the tiny dark line she had made, and gave back the pencil and paper to the boy. She was proud of him, proud that the strange white man should have thought her boy good enough to give him such queer things. Anvik saw her pride, and felt comforted.
"To-morrow will be another day," murmured Tanana from his lounging place. "The teacher is wrong. He makes that loud sound when school begins. The wise man says the teacher must not make that sound any more, for it will prevent our people from catching foxes and seals."
"It is the school-bell," answered Anvik, knowing that the Eskimo sorcerer had gone to the teacher but a few days previous, to prophesy evil concerning the ringing of the bell. "The foxes and the seals care not for it. Go to school with me, Tanana, to-morrow. The teacher wants you."
Tanana did not answer. He drew a bottle from out of his skin suit and drank. Anvik looked at his mother. The odor of the liquor spread through the small round house. Anvik had not noticed the odor when he came in, being then too excited over his prize to have room in his head for any other idea. But now he felt a great sadness of soul. Tanana and their father were both beginning to learn to drink. The sailors who came to the shore had liquor with them sometimes, and traded it to the natives.
The teacher at school had told the boys never to touch the sailors' liquor. The teacher said it would steal the boys' souls. Anvik did not understand that very well, but he knew liquor made Tanana and their father cross and lazy, and the laziness kept them poor, and the mother was sad.
Anvik lay long awake that night, on the raised platform of snow in the igloo, and thought.
"My teacher said he heard that at one Eskimo village a canoe came with whisky and the Eskimos pounded on a drum all night, and shouted," thought the lad. "When the morning came, the people were ashamed to look in the face of their teacher. My teacher said I must pray the dear Lord Christ to save Tanana and my father from drinking."
And Anvik prayed in the dark igloo.
The next day came, and Anvik went again to school, but Tanana and the father went off to look at the ice-traps wherein Eskimos catch any stray wolves or foxes.
When Anvik came back at night to the igloo, he met his father and Tanana rejoicing over a bear cub that they had killed. They were bringing it home with them, and were laughing, and shouting, and singing, not so much from joy as from drinking together from the bottle that Tanana had procured.
"We have a bear cub, a bear cub!" shouted Tanana in maudlin tones to his brother. "See how strong the hot water we drink makes us! We come home with a bear cub! Hot water, let us drink hot water!"
Now by "hot water" Tanana meant of course the liquor in his bottle, and when Anvik saw the young bear and the condition his father and brother were in, the lad immediately became very anxious, for the Eskimos are usually very careful not to kill a young bear without having first killed its mother. It is considered a very rash thing to kill the cub first, and when men who are pressed by hunger do it, they are obliged to exercise the strictest precaution lest they should be attacked by the mother-bear, for she will surely follow on the track of the men.
So the Eskimos usually go in a straight line for about five or six miles, and then suddenly turn off at a right angle, so that the mother-bear, as she presses eagerly forward, may overrun the hunters' track and lose her way. The men go on a distance, and then turn as before.
After doing this several times, the men dare to go home, but even there weapons are placed ready for use by the bedside, and outside the house sledges are put up right, for the bear is always suspicious of the erect sledge, and she will knock it dawn before she will attack the igloo. The knocking down of the sledge makes a noise that gives warning to the family.
But when Anvik saw the condition that his father and brother were in, he was greatly frightened, for he did not believe that the liquor had left enough sense in their minds so that they had remembered to turn off in the homeward journey, and, if they had come home without covering their track, there could be no doubt that the mother bear would come to attack the igloo that very night.
But it would do no good to say anything to Tanana and his father. They were far too much under the influence of what they had been drinking. Anvik told his mother his suspicions.
"We will set up the sledge outside the igloo," said his mother, trembling.
"I will have my harpoon ready," answered Anvik bravely. "Do not fear, mother. Perhaps the bear will not come."
They put two harpoons and a spear beside the raised platform of snow in the igloo, after the father and older son were stupidly sleeping.
Then came an anxious time of waiting. The stone lamp's light grew more and more dim to Anvik's drowsy eyes, as he, too, lay on one side of the circular platform. Nothing disturbed his father and brother in their heavy, liquor-made sleep. Anvik's eyes closed at last, even while he was determined to keep awake. His mother, tired with scraping and pounding skins, nestled her chubby baby in her neck, and dropped asleep; too, after long watching. The igloo was quiet, except for the heavy breathing.
A terrible noise arose outdoors. Anvik started into consciousness. There was an uproar of dogs, awakened by the destroying of their small igloo. The sledge fell. The family igloo seemed to shake throughout the entire circle of hard snow blocks. The dome-shaped hut quaked under the attack of some foe.
"Father! Father, wake up!" screamed Anvik, springing to his feet. "The bear! The bear has come! Father! Tanana!"
He rushed to their side and shook them, but he could not rouse them.
"Wake up! Wake up!" screamed Anvik.
His mother caught one harpoon. Anvik seized another. The great paws were digging into the igloo! The dogs had attacked the bear, but she fought them off, killing some with the powerful blows of her claws.
"Be ready, Anvik!" warned his mother.
The side of the igloo gave way! A dreadful struggle followed. There was a chorus of barks and growls and screams. The bear fought desperately. The struggle and the falling snow partially wakened the father and son, but they were stupidly useless. The dogs attacked the bear's back. Anvik, watching his chance while the bear was repelling the dogs, drove a harpoon into the animal. The bear savagely thrust at the lad, but the dogs leaped up and Anvik's mother drove her harpoon into the enemy. As well as he could in the darkness, Anvik chose his opportunity, and as he had seen older Eskimos do, skillfully avoided the attacks the bear strove to make upon him, till at last he managed to drive the sharp spear to the animal's heart.
All was over at last. The shrieks, the growls ceased, and the dead bear lay among the ruins of the igloo.
The next day Anvik stayed away from school to help build a new igloo. His father and Tanana did not talk much, from the time when they laid the blocks of extremely hard snow in a circle till the time when the inwardly-slanting snow walls had risen to the topmost horizontal block that joined the walls. But, once during the building, when the three workers had taken great flat shovels, made of strips of bone lashed together, and were throwing loose snow against the sides of the new igloo to protect its future inhabitants from the cold, the father stopped, and turning to Tanana said:
"My heart is ashamed! The hot water made us forget to hide the way to the igloo, and when the bear came to kill my wife and children, the hot water made us sleep. My heart is ashamed."
And Tanana, keenly humiliated that his younger brother and not himself had killed the bear, answered, "My heart is ashamed, also."
"The hot water bottle shall not come to my mouth again," resolved the father, with determination.
And Tanana promised the same. The bottle had been broken in the scuffle, but Tanana knew his father's and his own promise included any other bottle of liquor.
"You shall go to the teacher's school with Anvik," decided the father. "The teacher speaks well when he tells the boys that the hot water will steal their souls. If Anvik had drank it, we should all have been killed."
Anvik jumped up from chinking a crack between two snow blocks. He remembered his prayer, and he laughed aloud now with joy for the answer.
"The new igloo is better than the old!" he cried. "The hot water will never go in at the door of our new igloo!"
And in his heart the boy added, "May the dear Lord Christ come into our new home!"