Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Gertrude Atherton > Text of Lukari's Story

A short story by Gertrude Atherton

Lukari's Story

Title:     Lukari's Story
Author: Gertrude Atherton [More Titles by Atherton]

"Ay, senor! So terreeblay thing! It is many years before--1837, I theenk, is the year; the Americanos no have come to take California; but I remember like it is yesterday.

"You see, I living with her--Dona Juana Ybarra her name is--ever since I am little girl, and she too. It is like this: the padres make me Christian in the mission, and her family take me to work in the house; I no living on the rancheria like the Indians who work outside. Bime by Dona Juana marrying and I go live with her. Bime by I marrying too, and she is comadre--godmother, you call, no?--to my little one, and steel I living with her, and in few years my husband and little one die and I love her children like they are my own, and her too; we grow old together.

"You never see the San Ysidro rancho? It is near to San Diego and have many, many leagues. Don Carlos Ybarra, the husband de my senora, is very reech and very brave and proud--too brave and proud, ay, yi! We have a beeg adobe house with more than twenty rooms, and a corridor for the front more than one hundred feets. Ou'side are plenty other houses where make all the things was need for eat and wear: all but the fine closes. They come from far,--from Boston and Mejico. All stand away from the hills and trees, right in the middle the valley, so can see the bad Indians when coming. Far off, a mile I theenk, is the rancheria; no can see from the house. No so far is the corral, where keeping the fine horses.

"Ay, we have plenty to eat and no much to do in those days. Don Carlos and Dona Juana are very devot the one to the other, so the family living very happy, and I am in the house like before and take care the little ones. Every night I braid my senora's long black hair and tuck her in bed like she is a baby. She no grow stout when she grow more old, like others, but always is muy elegante.

"Bime by the childrens grow up; and the two firs boys, Roldan and Enrique, marrying and living in San Diego. Then are left only the senor and the senora, one little boy, Carlos, and my two beautiful senoritas, Beatriz and Ester. Ay! How pretty they are. Dios de mi alma! Where they are now?

"Dona Beatriz is tall like the mother, and sway when she walk, like you see the tules in the little wind. She have the eyes very black and long, and look like she feel sleep till she get mad; then, Madre de Dios! they opa wide and look like she is on fire inside and go to burn you too. She have the skin very white, but I see it hot like the blood go to burst out. Once she get furioso cause one the vaqueros hurch her horse, and she wheep him till he yell like he is in purgatory and no have no one say mass and get him out. But she have the disposition very sweet, and after, she is sorry and make him a cake hersel; and we all loving her like she is a queen, and she can do it all whatte she want.

"Dona Ester have the eyes more brown and soft, and the disposition more mild, but very feerm, and she having her own way more often than Dona Beatriz. She no is so tall, but very gracerful too, and walk like she think she is tall. All the Spanish so dignify, no? She maka very kind with the Indians when they are seek, and all loving her, but no so much like Dona Beatriz.

"Both girls very industrioso, sewing and make the broidery; make beautiful closes to wear at the ball. Ay, the balls! No have balls like those in California now. Sometimes have one fifty miles away, but they no care; jump on the horse and go, dance till the sun wake up and no feel tire at all. Sometimes when is wedding, or rodeo, dance for one week, then ride home like nothing have happen. In the winter the family living in San Diego; have big house there and dance every night, horseback in day when no rain, and have so many races and games. Ay, yi! All the girls so pretty. No wear hats then; the reboso, no more, or the mantilla; fix it so gracerful; and the dresses so bright colours, sometimes with flowers all over; the skirt make very fule, and the waist have the point. And the closes de mens! Madre de Dios! The beautiful velvet and silk closes, broider by silver and gold! And the saddles so fine! But you think I never go to tell you the story.

"One summer we are more gay than ever. So many caballeros love my senoritas, but I think they never love any one, and never go to marry at all. For a month we have the house fule; meriendas--peek-neeks, you call, no? And races every day, dance in the night. Then all go to stay at another rancho; it is costumbre to visit the one to the other. I feel very sorry for two so handsome caballeros, who are more devot than any. They looking very sad when they go, and I am sure they propose and no was accep.

"In the evening it is very quiet, and I am sweep the corridor when I hear two horses gallop down the valley. I fix my hand--so--like the barrel de gun, and look, and I see, riding very hard, Don Carmelo Pelajo and Don Rafael Arguello. The firs, he loving Dona Beatriz, the other, he want Dona Ester. I go queeck and tell the girls, and Beatriz toss her head and look very scornfule, but Ester blushing and the eyes look very happy. The young mens come in in few minutes and are well treat by Don Carlos and Dona Juana, for like them very much and are glad si the girls marry with them.

"After supper I am turn down the bed in my senora's room when I hear somebody spik very low ou'side on the corridor. I kneel on the window-seat and look out, and there I see Don Rafael have his arms roun Dona Ester and kissing her and she no mine at all. I wonder how they get out there by themselfs, for the Spanish very streect with the girls and no 'low that. But the young peoples always very--how you say it?--smart, no? After while all go to bed, and I braid Dona Juana's hair and she tell me Ester go to marry Don Rafael, and she feel very happy and I no say one word. Then I go to Dona Beatriz's bedroom; always I fix her for the bed, too. Ester have other woman take care her, but Beatriz love me. She keeck me when she is little, and pull my hair, when I no give her the dulces; but I no mine, for she have the good heart and so sweet spression when she no is mad and always maka very kind with me. I comb her hair and I see she look very cross and I ask her why, and she say she hate mens, they are fools, and womens too. I ask her why she think that, and she say she no can be spect have reason for all whatte she think; and she throw her head aroun so I no can comb at all and keeck out her little foot.

"'You no go to marry with Don Carlos?' I asking.

"'No!' she say, and youbetcherlife her eyes flash. 'You think I marrying a singing, sighing, gambling, sleepy caballero? Si no can marry man I no marry at all. Madre de Dios!' (She spik beautiful; but I no spik good Eenglish, and you no ondrestan the Spanish.)

"'But all are very much like,' I say; 'and you no want die old maid, no?'

"'I no care!' and then she fling hersel roun on the chair and throw her arms roun me and cry and sob on my estomac. 'Ay, my Lukari!' she cry when she can spik,' I hate everybody! I am tire out to exista! I want to live! I am tire stay all alone! Oh, I want--I no know what I want! Life is terreeblay thing, macheppa!'

"I no know at all whatte she mean, for have plenty peoples all the time, and she never walk, so I no can think why she feel tire; but I kissing her and smoothe her hair, for I jus love her, and tell her no cry. Bime by she fine it some one she loving, and she is very young yet,--twenty, no more.

"'I no stay here any longer,' she say. 'I go to ask my father take me to Mejico, where can see something cept hills and trees and missions and forts, and where perhaps--ay, Dios de mi alma!' Then she jump up and take me by the shoulders and just throw me out the room and lock the door; but I no mine, for I am use to her.

"Bueno, I think I go for walk, and bime by I come to the rancheria, and while I am there I hear terreeblay thing from old Pepe. He say he hear for sure that the bad Indians--who was no make Christian by the padres and living very wild in the mountains--come killing all the white peoples on the ranchos. He say he know sure it is true, and tell me beg Don Carlos send to San Diego for the soldiers come take care us. I feel so fright I hardly can walk back to the house, and I no sleep that night. In the morning firs thing I telling Don Carlos, but he say is nonsense and no will lissen. He is very brave and no care for nothing; fight the Indians and killing them plenty times. The two caballeros go away after breakfas, and when they are gone I can see my senora alone, and I telling her. She feel very fright and beg Don Carlos send for the soldiers, but he no will. Ay, yi! Ester is fright too; but Beatriz laugh and say she like have some excite and killing the Indians hersel. After while old Pepe come up to the house and tell he hear 'gain, but Don Carlos no will ask him even where he hear, and tell him to go back to the rancheria where belong, and make the reatas; he is so old he no can make anything else.

"Bueno! The nex morning--bout nine o'clock--Don Carlos is at the corral with two vaqueros and I am in the keetchen with the cook and one Indian boy, call Franco. Never I like that boy. Something so sneak, and he steal the dulces plenty times and walk so soffit. I am help the cook--very good woman, but no have much sense--fry lard, when I hear terreeblay noise--horses gallop like they jump out the earth near the house, and many mens yell and scream and shout.

"I run to the window and whatte I see?--Indians, Indians, Indians, thick like black ants on hill, jus race for the house, yelling like the horses' backs been fule de pins; and Don Carlos and the two vaqueros run like they have wings for the kitchen door, so can get in and get the guns and fight from the windows. I know whatte they want, so I run to the door to throw wide, and whatte I see but that devil Franco lock it and stan in front. I jump on him so can scratch his eyes out, but he keeck me in the estomac and for few minutes I no know it nothing.

"When I opa my eyes, the room is fule de Indians, and in the iron the house I hear my senora and Dona Ester scream, scream, scream. I crawl up by the window-seat and look out, and there--ay, Madre de Dios!--see on the groun my senor dead, stuck fule de arrows; and the vaqueros, too, of course. That maka me crazy and I run among the Indians, hitting them with my fists, to my senora and my senoritas. Jus as I run into the sala they go to killing my senora, but I snatch the knife and fall down on my knees and beg and cry they no hurcha her, and bime by they say all right. But--santa Dios!--whatte you think they do it? They tear all the closes offa her till she is naked like my ban, and drive her out the house with the reatas. They no letting me follow and I look out the window and see her reel like she is drunk down the valley and scream, scream!--Ay, Dios!

"Ester, she faint and no know it nothing. Beatriz, she have kill one Indian with her pistol, but they take way from her, and she stan look like the dead woman with eyes that have been in hell, in front the chief, who looka her very hard. He is very fine look, that chief, so tall and strong, like he can kill by sweep his arm roun, and he have fierce black eyes and no bad nose for Indian, with nostrils that jump. His mouth no is cruel like mos the bad Indians, nor the forehead so low. He wear the crown de feathers, and botas, and scrape de goaskin; the others no wear much at all. In a minute he pick up Beatriz and fling her over his shoulder like she is the dead deer, and he tell other do the same by Ester, and he stalk out and ride away hard. The others set fire everything, then ride after him. They no care for me and I stand there shriek after my senoritas and the beautiful housses burn up.

"Then I think de my senora and I run after the way she going. Bime by I find her in a wheat field, kissing and hugging little Carlos, who go out early and no meet the Indians; and he no ondrestan what is the matter and dance up and down he is so fright. I tell him run fas to San Diego and tell Don Roldan and Don Enrique whatte have happen, and he run like he is glad to get away. Then I take off my closes and put them on my senora and drag her along, and, bime by, we coming to a little house, and a good woman give me some closes and in the night we coming to San Diego. Ay! but was excite, everybody. Carlos been there two or three hours before, and Don Roldan and Don Enrique go with the soldiers to the hills. Everybody do it all whatte they can for my poor senora, but she no want to speak by anybody, and go shut hersel up in a room in Don Enrique's house and jus moan and I sit ou'side the door and moan too.

"Of course, I no am with the soldiers, but many times I hear all and I tell you.

"The Indians have good start, and the white peoples no even see them, but they fine the trail and follow hard. Bime by they coming to the mountains. You ever been in the mountains back de San Diego? No the hills, but the mountains. Ay! So bare and rofe and sharp, and the canons so narrow and the trails so steep! No is safe to go in at all, for the Indians can hide on the rocks, and jus shoot the white peoples down one at the time, si they like it, when climb the gorges. The soldiers say they no go in, for it is the duty de them to living and protec California from the Americanos; but Don Enrique and Don Roldan say they go, and they ride right in and no one ever spect see them any more. It is night, so they have good chancacum to look and no be seen si Indians no watch.

"Bime by they meet one Indian, who belong to the tribe they want, and 'fore he can shoot they point the pistol and tell him he mus show them where are the girls. He say he taking them, and on the way he telling them the chief and nother chief make the girls their wives. This make them wild, and they tie up the horses so can climb more fast. But it is no till late the nex morning when they come sudden out of a gorge and look right into a place, very flat like a plaza, where is the pueblo de the Indians they want. For moment no one see them, and they see the girls--Dios de mi alma! Have been big feast, I theenk, and right where are all the things no been clear away, Ester, she lie on the groun on the face, and cry and sob and shake. But Beatriz, she stan very straight in the middle, 'fore the door the big wigwam, and never look more hansome. She never take her eyes off the chief who taking her away, and no look discontent at all. Then the Indians see the brothers and yell and run to get the bows and arrows. Don Enrique and Don Roldan fire the pistols, but after all they have to run, for no can do it nothing. They get out live but have arrows in them. And that is the las we ever hear de my senoritas. Many time plenty white peoples watch the mountains and sometimes go in, but no can find nothing and always are wound.

"And my poor senora! For whole year she jus sit in one room and cry so loud all the peoples in San Diego hear her. No can do it nothing with her. Ay, she love the husband so, and the two beautiful girls! Then she die, and I am glad. Much better die than suffer like that. And Don Rafael and Don Carmelo? Oh, they marrying other girls, course."

[The end]
Gertrude Atherton's short story: Lukari's Story