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 WHEN breakfast was over you could tell by the long, long shadow of the fig tree that it was
still very early in the morning. On sunny days Dona Teresa could tell the time almost
exactly by its shadow, but on rainy days she just had to guess, because there was no clock
in her little cabin.
It was lucky that it was so early, because there were so many things to be done. The Twins
and their mother were not the only busy people about, however, for there were two hundred
other peons beside Pancho who worked on the hacienda, and each one had a little cabin
where he lived with his family.
There were other vaqueros besides Pancho.
 There were ploughmen, and farmers, and
water-carriers, and servants for the great white house where Senor Fernandez lived with
his wife and pretty daughter Carmen. And there was the gatekeeper, Josť, whom the Twins
loved because he knew the most wonderful stories and was always willing to tell them.
There were field-workers, and wood-cutters, and even fishermen. The huts where they all
lived were huddled together like a little village, and the village, and the country for
miles and miles around, and the big house, and the little chapel beside it, and the
schoolhouse, and everything else on that great hacienda, belonged to Senor Fernandez.
It almost seemed as if the workers all belonged to Senor Fernandez, too, for they had to
do just what he told them to, and there was no other place for them to go and nothing else
for them to do if they had wanted ever so much to change.
 All the people, big and little, loved the fiesta of San Ramon. They thought the priest's
blessing would cause the hens to lay more eggs, and the cows to give more milk, and that
it would keep all the creatures well and strong.
Though it was a feast day, most of the men had gone away from their homes early, when
Pancho did; but the women and children in all the little cabins were busy as bees, getting
themselves and their animals ready to go in procession to the place where the priest was
to bless them.
As soon as breakfast was eaten, Dona Teresa said to Tonio: "Go now, my Tonio, and make
Tonto beautiful! His coatis rough and full of burs, and he will make a very poor figure to
show the priest unless you give him a good brushing. Only be careful of his hind legs. You
know Tonto is sometimes very wild with his hind legs. It is strange to me that his front
ones should be so much more tame, but it seems to be the nature of the poor creature."
 Tonio went to Tonto's shed and brought him out and tied him to a tree. Then he brushed his
coat and took out the burs, and braided the end of his tail, and even made a wreath of
green leaves and hung it over his left ear. And Tonto seemed to know that it
 was San Ramon's Day, for he never kicked at all, and brayed only once, whenTonio pulled a
very large bur out of his ear.
While Tonio was making Tonto beautiful, Tita swept the ground under the fig tree and
sprinkled it with water, and washed and put away the few dishes they had used.
Her mother was very busy meanwhile, grinding the corn for tortillas. You see, every single
meal they had tortillas. It was their bread, and their meat too, most of the time, so it
would never do to miss getting the corn ground, not even if it were the greatest feast day
of the whole year.
When Tita had finished putting things in order, her mother said to her, "Now, my pigeon,
see if you can't catch the little white hen, and the red rooster, and the turkey. The red
rooster crows so sweetly I shall miss him when he is put in. the pot, but he is not long
for this world! He is so greedy
 there's no satisfying him with food. He has no usefulness at all, except to wake us in the
"But the little white hen now! There is the useful one! She has already begun to lay. She
must surely go to the priest. And as for the turkey, he needs to go for the sake of his
temper! I hope the padrecito will lay a spell on him to stop his gobbling
from morning till night. It will be no grief to me when he is put on to boil."
The red rooster, the hen, and the turkey were all wandering round in the little patch of
garden behind the house, when Tita came out, rattling some corn in a dish.
The red rooster began to run the moment he heard corn rattle, and he called to the hens to
come too. He seemed to think they wouldn't know enough even to eat corn unless he advised
They swarmed around Tita's feet, pecking at each other and snatching greedily at each
kernel as it fell.
"You all need to go to the priest for your
 manners," Tita said to them severely. "You behave like the pigs."
She set the dish down on the ground, and when they all tried to get their heads into it at
once, she picked out the legs of the red rooster and seized them with one hand, and those
of the little white hen with the other, and before they could guess what in the world was
happening to them she had them safely in the house, where she tied them to the legs of the
When Tita went back after the turkey, she found him eating the very last kernels of corn
out of the dish. He had driven all the hens away and was having a very nice time by
himself. Tita made a grab for . his legs, but he was too quick for her. He flew up into
the fig tree and from there to the roof. Tita looked up at him anxiously.
"Don't you think you ought to get blessed?" she said. "Come down now, that's a good old
gobbler! Mother says
 your temper is so bad you must surely go to the priest, and how can I take you if you
won't come down?"
"Gobble," said the turkey, and stayed where he was.
 Tita was in despair. She threw a stick at him, but he only walked up the thatched roof
with his toes turned in, and sat down on the ridge-pole.
Just then Tita looked down the river path, and there was Tonio coming with the goat! At
least he was trying to, but the goat didn't seem to care any more about being blessed than
the turkey did. She was standing with her four feet braced, pulling back with all her
might, while Tonio pulled forward on the lasso which was looped over her horns.
Tonio looked very angry. He called to Tita, "Come here and help me with this fool of a
goat! I believe the devil himself has got into her! She has acted just like this all the
way from the pasture!"
Tita ran down the path and got behind the goat. She pushed and Tonio pulled, and by and by
they got her as far as the fig tree. Then they tied her to a branch, and while Dona Teresa
milked her, the Twins went after the turkey again.
 Tonio had practiced lassoing bushes and stumps and pigs and chickens and even Tita
herself, ever since he could remember, and you may be sure no turkey could get the best of
him. He stood down in the yard and whirled his lasso in great circles round his head, and
then all of a sudden the loop flew into the air and dropped right over the turkey on the
ridge-pole, and tightened around his legs!
If he hadn't had wings the turkey certainly would have tumbled off the roof. As it was, he
spread his wings and flopped down, and Tita took him into the cabin and tied him to the
third leg of the table. There he made himself very disagreeable to the little white hen,
and gobbled angrily at the red rooster, and even pecked at Tita herself when she came
"There!" sighed Dona Teresa, when the turkey was safely tied; "at last we have them all
together. Now we will make them all gay."
She went to the chest which held all their
 precious things, took out three rolls of tissue paper, and held them up for the Twins to
see. One was green, one was white, and one was red.
"Look," said she. "These are all Mexican animals, so I thought it would be nice for them
to wear the Mexican colors. Come, my angels, and I will show you how to make wreaths and
streamers and fringes and flowers for them to wear. Our creatures must not shame us by
looking shabby and dull in the procession. They shall be as gay as the best of them."
For a long time they all three worked, and when they had made enough decorations for all
the animals, Dona Teresa brought out another surprise. It was some gilt paint and a brush!
She let Tonio gild the goat's horns and hoofs, and Tita gilded the legs and feet of the
little white hen.
While she was doing it, the red rooster stuck his bill into the dish and swallowed two
great big bites of gold paint on his own account! Dona Teresa saw him do it.
 "If he isn't trying to gild himself on the inside!" she cried. "Did you ever see such
sinful pride!" And then she made him swallow a large piece of red pepper because she was
afraid the paint would disagree with him.
The red rooster seemed depressed for a long time after that; but whether it was because of
the paint, or the pepper, or being so awfully dressed up, I cannot say. His bill was
gilded because he had dipped it in the gold paint, so they gilded his legs to match. Then
they tied a white tissue-paper wreath with long streamers around his neck.
 They tied a red one on the little white hen. They tried to decorate the turkey, too, but
he was in no mood for it, and gobbled and pecked at them so savagely that Dona Teresa had
to tie up his head in a rag!
They stuck some red tissue-paper flowers in Tonto's wreath, and tied red tissue-paper
streamers to the goat's horns. They put a green ruff around the cat's neck, and a red one
on the dog; but the dog ran at once to the river and waded in and got it all wet, and the
color ran out and dyed his coat, and the ruff fell off, before they were even ready to
At last a gong sounded from the big house.
The gong was the signal for the procession to start, and the moment they heard it, the
people began pouring out of their cabins, and getting their animals together to drive
toward the place where the blessing was to be.
 Dona Teresa and Tita threw their rebozos over their heads, and Tonio put on
his sombrero. Then Dona Teresa untied the turkey's legs and took him in her arms; and
though his head was still tied in the cloth, he gobbled like everything.
Tita took the little white hen on one arm, and her kitten on the other, and Tonio led the
donkey, with Jasmin following behind.
They were all ready to start, when Dona Teresa cried out, "Upon my soul! We nearly forgot
the goat! Surely she's needing a blessing as much as the worst of them."
She hurried back to the fig tree and untied the goat with one hand, because she was still
carrying the turkey with the other. When the goat felt herself free, she gave a great jump
and nearly jerked the rope out of Dona Teresa's hand; then she went galloping toward the
gate so fast that poor Dona Teresa was all out of breath keeping up with her.
"Bless my soul, but that goat goes
 gayly!" she panted, as she joined the Twins at the gate. "If I led her about much I should
have no chance to get fat."
Already there were crowds of people and animals going by. It was a wonderful procession.
There were horses and cows all gayly decorated with garlands and colored streamers. There
were donkeys and pigs
 and guinea-fowls and cats and dogs and birds in cages, and so many other creatures that it
looked very much like the procession of animals going into Noah's ark.
Dona Josefa, who lived in a hut near the river, was driving two ducks and two white
geese,—only she had dyed the geese a bright purple,—and Josť's wife had
painted stripes of red clear around her pig. She was having a dreadful time keeping the
pig in the road, for all the little boys, and all the little dogs—and there were a
great many of both—frisked and gamboled around the procession and got in the way,
and made such a noise that it is no wonder the creatures were distracted and tried to run
It was not a very great distance to the large corrals back of the big house where the
people were to meet, and as they drew near the grounds Tonio and Tita could see Pancho
dashing about on Pinto after stray
 cows, and other cowboys rounding up the calves and putting them in a corral by themselves.
The bulls were already safely shut away in another inclosure, and all the open space
around the corrals was filled with horses, and donkeys, and sheep, and goats, and dogs,
and cats, and fowls of all kinds, all dressed in such gay colors and making such a medley
of sounds that the Fourth of July, fire-crackers and all, would have seemed
 like Sunday afternoon beside the celebration of San Ramon's Day in Mexico.
Senor Fernandez, looking very grand in his black velvet suit and big sombrero, sat on his
fine horse and watched the scene. Beside him, on their own horses, were Dona Paula, his
wife, and pretty Carmen, their daughter.
The servants of the big house were grouped around them, and all the rest of the people
passed back and forth among the animals, trying to make them keep still and behave
themselves until the priest should appear.
It was not long before the priest came out of his house, with a small boy beside him
carrying a basin of holy water.
Dona Teresa and all the people knelt on the ground when they saw him coming. The priest
walked among them chanting a prayer and sprinkling drops of holy water over the animals
and over the people too. Of course the people behaved very well, but I am sorry to have to
tell you that when he
 felt the drops of water fall on the rag that his head was tied up in, the turkey gobbled
just exactly as if it were Tita—or Dona Teresa—instead of the priest!
And the cat stuck up her tail and arched her back, in a most impolite way. Perhaps that
was not to be wondered at, because we all know that cats can never bear water, not even
But when Tonto, who should have known better, and who was used to being out in the rain
even, stuck his nose up in the air and let out a "hee-haw, hee-haw" that set every other
donkey in the crowd hee-hawing too, Dona Teresa felt as if she should die of
Only the red rooster, the little white hen, the goat, and the Twins behaved as if they had
had any bringing up at all! However, the priest didn't seem to mind it. He went in and out
among the people, sprinkling the water and chanting his prayer until the basin was empty.
Then he pronounced the blessing.
 When he had finished, the people drove their creatures back to their homes, or to the
Pancho came riding along and took Tita and the white hen up on Pinto's back with him.
Tonio rode Tonto and carried the rooster. Tita had to put the cat down to get up on the
horse, and when Tonio's dog saw her he barked at her, and she ran just as fast as she
could and got to the cabin and up on the roof out of reach.
Dona Teresa walked along with Dona Josefa, and talked with her about her rheumatism and
about how badly the animals behaved, and how handsome Dona Josefa's purple geese were,
until she turned in at their own gate.
When she was in their own yard once more, she set the turkey down and untied his head.
Tonio let the rooster go, and Tita set the little white hen free, and they all three ran
under Tonto's shed as if they were afraid
 they might get blessed again if they stayed where they could easily be caught. And they
never came out until they had torn the tissue paper all to pieces and left it lying on the
Tonio got the goat back to pasture by
 walking in front of her, holding a carrot just out of reach, and Pancho took Pinto and the
donkey down to the river for a drink, while Tita and her mother went into the cabin to get
the second breakfast ready. When people get up so very early they need two breakfasts.
Dona Teresa was just patting the meal into cakes with her hands and cooking them over the
brasero, when Pancho came in the cabin door with dreadful red streams running down his
head and face and over his white cotton clothes!
When Dona Teresa saw him, she screamed and flew to his side. "What is it, my Pancho?" she
cried. "You are hurt—you are killed, my angel! Oh, what has happened?"
She asked so many questions and poured out so many words that Pancho couldn't get one in
edgewise; so he just took off his hat, and there was the dish of chile sauce and tortillas
broken all to bits, and the chile sauce spilled all over his face and clothes!
 "It was that foolish Tonto that did it," he said, when he could say anything at all. "I
was just putting him back in his shed when he cried, 'Hee-haw,' and let fly with both
hind feet at once and one of them just grazed my head, and broke the dish."
Dona Teresa sat down heavily with her hand on her heart. "If anything had happened to you,
my rose, my angel," she said, "I should have died of sorrow! Tonto is indeed a very
careless beast. It would seem as if the padrecito's blessing might have put more sense
into him. It must be the will of God that there should be a great deal of foolishness in
the world, but without doubt donkeys and goats have more than their share."
Just then she smelled the tortillas burning and ran back to attend to them, while Pancho
washed himself at the trough, and mopped the chile sauce off his clothes.
In a little while the Twins and their father and mother were all sitting about on
 the stones under the fig tree, eating their second breakfast. And when they had all had
every bit they could hold, it was almost noon.