It was a sad day for Ramona and Alessandro when the kindly Hyers pulled up their tent-stakes and left the valley. Their intended three months had stretched into six, they had so enjoyed the climate, and the waters had seemed to do such good to Jos. But, "We ain't rich folks, yer know, not by a long ways, we ain't," said Aunt Ri; "an' we've got pretty nigh down to where Jeff an' me's got to begin airnin' suthin'. Ef we kin git settled 'n some o' these towns where there's carpenterin' to be done. Jeff, he's a master hand to thet kind o' work, though yer mightn't think it; 'n I kin airn right smart at weavin'; jest give me a good carpet-loom, 'n I won't be beholden to nobody for vittles. I jest du love weavin'. I donno how I've contented myself this hull year, or nigh about a year, without a loom. Jeff, he sez to me once, sez he, 'Ri, do yer think yer'd be contented in heaven without yer loom?' an' I was free to say I didn't know's I should."
"Is it hard?" cried Ramona. "Could I learn to do it?" It was wonderful what progress in understanding and speaking English Ramona had made in these six months. She now understood nearly all that was said directly to her, though she could not follow general and confused conversation.
"Wall, 'tis, an' 'tain't," said Aunt Ri. "I don't s'pose I'm much of a jedge; fur I can't remember when I fust learned it. I know I set in the loom to weave when my feet couldn't reach the floor; an' I don't remember nothin' about fust learnin' to spool 'n' warp. I've tried to teach lots of folks; an' sum learns quick, an' some don't never learn; it's jest 's 't strikes 'em. I should think, naow, thet you wuz one o' the kind could turn yer hands to anythin'. When we get settled in San Bernardino, if yer'll come down thar, I'll teach yer all I know, 'n' be glad ter. I donno's 't 's goin' to be much uv a place for carpet-weavin' though, anywheres raound 'n this yer country; not but what thar's plenty o' rags, but folks seems to be wearin' 'em; pooty gen'ral wear, I sh'd say. I've seen more cloes on folks' backs hyar, thet wan't no more'n fit for carpet-rags, than any place ever I struck. They're drefful sheftless lot, these yere Mexicans; 'n' the Injuns is wuss. Naow when I say Injuns, I don't never mean yeow, yer know thet. Yer ain't ever seemed to me one mite like an Injun."
"Most of our people haven't had any chance," said Ramona. "You wouldn't believe if I were to tell you what things have been done to them; how they are robbed, and cheated, and turned out of their homes."
Then she told the story of Temecula, and of San Pasquale, in Spanish, to Jos, who translated it with no loss in the telling. Aunt Ri was aghast; she found no words to express her indignation.
"I don't bleeve the Guvvermunt knows anything about it." she said. "Why, they take folks up, n'n penetentiarize 'em fur life, back 'n Tennessee, fur things thet ain't so bad's thet! Somebody ought ter be sent ter tell 'em 't Washington what's goin' on hyar."
"I think it's the people in Washington that have done it," said Ramona, sadly. "Is it not in Washington all the laws are made?"
"I bleeve so!" said Aunt Ri, "Ain't it, Jos? It's Congress ain't 't, makes the laws?"