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Little tales of the desert.
by Ethel Twycross Foster
Start of Story
Part 6 A VISIT TO PALM SPRINGS
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
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
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
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.