Select the desired text size

Little tales of the desert.

by Ethel Twycross Foster

Start of Story

MOTHER was unused to the desert, so Father, having arranged his business so he could leave it with Big Ben, the foreman, decided to take a vacation and all were going over to Palm Springs for a few days. Now, Palm Springs is in California near the great Mountain of San Jacinto and it took a day and a half to get there. It was great fun for Mary and Jack to get into a sleeping car and go speeding along over the desert again. They recognized many of their old friends on the way, most of whom they knew nothing about the last time they rode on a train. Then it grew dark and they could no longer see out of the window. The next morning after breakfast the conductor opened the door and called out, "Palm Springs." They hurriedly gathered together their bags and suitcases and left the train. My! but wasn't it cold, and didn't the wind blow? Folks could hardly stand straight and the wind was blowing right off the snow-capped mountains that were all around the place, making it seem colder still. Mary was hurried into the stage and before they had gone a mile their faces were covered with sand blowing off the desert and you could never have told that their clothes had ever been clean.

Palm Springs itself was five miles from the station, but suddenly the wind stopped blowing and it was warm as summer, then pretty soon they heard dogs barking and rode right through an Indian village. Some of the squaws were making baskets, but most of them were out in the fields working just like men. Imagine Mamma doing work like that. It was interesting to see them, though, especially the little papooses being carried in a little box fastened to the mother's back. Just beyond was Palm Springs settlement itself, with lots of tents, several houses, a store and a hotel. They stopped at the hotel, and after dinner looked around the funny little store where they sold a little of everything while a phonograph ground out wheezy music. They visited the funny little cottages with their roofs and sides all covered with big palm leaves instead of boards. Then they went up to the hot springs.

There was a stream of water shooting up in the air part of the time, but generally just bubbling up a little higher than the pond itself, which was about six feet wide and ten feet long. It didn't look deep, but the man at the springs told them the center shaft was sometimes as big as a well and no one knew how deep. Father had been there before and he wanted to take Mary into the spring, so with Jack they hired bathing suits and went down. It was very funny. They thought, of course, it was going to be deep, but the bottom was hard sand, and the water just covered their ankles. Father took Mary in first, but the water did not become deeper, but all at once the sand gave way. Father said it was quick sand which somewhat frightened her, but he didn't seem scared so she tried not to be. They went down and down into the sand which seemed to tighten around them, when all at once, when Mary was up to her shoulders, the spring gave a gurgle and tossed them out into shallow water.

Mary was frightened, but the rest laughed at her, especially Jack, who was fourteen and thought he was almost a man. He said he could walk around in it all right--the old water could not toss him up like that. It was just bubbling over a little then, so he marched boldly in. But when he felt the warm watery sand hugging him tighter and tighter and sucking him down, he thought surely he was lost and wished he had not bragged. But just then the spring gurgled louder and a high stream shot up and in it was Cousin Jack, who landed safe and sound beside them. I can tell you he was a happy boy. They soon became accustomed to the idea and spent an hour of fun wading in and being gently but firmly tossed out. Then they went back to Dr. Murray's Hotel where Mother met them at the door. After a supper of fresh eggs, nice biscuits, strawberries and cream, they retired to their tent and when all were in bed Father rolled up the sides so they could look out at the stars and breathe the fresh, warm air softly blown to them by the gentle mountain breezes.


back to top
Back To Top
next page
Next Page
previous page
Previous Page