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Idy
by [?]

I.

Senora Gonzales was leaning upon the corral gate in the shade of the pomegranates, looking out over the lake. The lake itself was not more placid than the senora’s face under her black rebozo. Perhaps a long life of leaning and gazing had given her those calm, slow-moving eyes, full of the wisdom of unfathomable ignorance. The landscape on the opposite shore was repeated in the water below, as if to save her the trouble of raising her heavily fringed lids. To the southward a line of wild geese gleamed snow-white, like the crest of a wave. Half a dozen dogs were asleep in the smoothly swept dooryard behind her, and a young Mexican, whose face was pitted by smallpox, like the marks of raindrops in dry sand, leaned against the gnarled trunk of a trellised grapevine, clasping his knees, and sending slow wreaths of smoke from his cigarette. The barley in the field behind the house was beginning to head, and every breath of wind stirred it in glistening waves. Beyond the field shone a yellow mist of wild mustard. The California spring, more languorous, even with its hint of moisture, than the cloudless summer, sent a thousand odors adrift upon the air. Even the smell of garlic hanging about the senora could not drown the scent of the orange-blooms, and as for Ricardo’s cigarette, surely no reasonable mortal could object to that. Ricardo himself would have questioned the sanity of any one who might have preferred the faint, musky fragrance of the alfilaria to the soothing odor of tobacco. He closed his eyes in placid unconsciousness of such vagaries of taste, and rocked himself rhythmically, as if he were a part of the earth, and felt its motion.

A wagon was creaking along the road behind the house, but it did not disturb him. There were always wagons now; Ricardo had grown used to them, and so had the senora, who did not even turn her head. These restless Americanos, who bought pieces of land that were not large enough to pasture a goat, and called them ranchos–caramba! what fools they were, always a-hurrying about!

The wagon had stopped. Well, it would be time enough to move when some one called. A dust-colored hound that slept at the corner of the house, stretched flat, as if moulded in relief from the soil upon which he lay, raised his head and pricked up one ear; then arose, as if reluctantly compelled to do the honors, and went slowly around the house.

“Of course they’ve got a dawg; forty of ’em, like enough!” It was a girl’s voice, pitched in a high, didactic key. “I guess I c’n make ’em understand, pappy; I’ll try, anyway.”

She came around the house, and confronted Ricardo, who took his cigarette from his mouth, and looked at her gravely without moving. The senora turned her head slowly, and glanced over her shoulder.

The girl smiled, displaying two rows of sound teeth shut tightly together.

“How do you do?” she said, raising her voice still higher, and advancing toward the senora with outstretched hand. “I suppose you’re Mrs. Gonsallies.”

The senora disentangled one arm slowly from her rebozo, and gave the newcomer a large, brown, cushiony hand.

“This is my fawther,” continued the girl, waving her left hand toward her companion; “sabby?”

The man stepped forward, and confronted the senora. She looked at him gravely, and shook her head. He was a small, heavily bearded man, with soft, bashful brown eyes, which fell shyly under the senora’s placid gaze.

“She don’t understand you, Idy,” he said helplessly.

The girl caught his hand, and squeezed it reassuringly. “Never mind, pappy,” she said, lowering her voice; “I’ll fetch her. Now, listen,” she went on, fixing her wide gray eyes on the senora, and speaking in a loud, measured voice. “I–am–Idy Starkweather. This–is–my–fawther. There! Now! Sabby?”

Evidently she considered failure to understand English a species of physical disability which might be overcome by strong concentration of the will.