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|Transcribers note. |
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|To assist readers, some illustration tags have had descriptions |
|added. These have been marked with an asterisk. |
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|Only 'The Hunter Cats of Connorloa', is transcribed in this e-text.|















[Illustration: CONNORLOA.]






(_H. H._),






_Copyright_, 1884,

[Illustration: Decorative panel]*





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 Seņora 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 apart.

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 left.

[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.

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