"I only mean that they are under my charge," he said. "I don't mean that they belong to me in any way."
"Wall, I allow not," retorted Aunt Ri, "enny more 'n I dew. They air airnin' their livin', sech 's 'tis, ef yer kin call it a livin'. I've been 'mongst 'em, naow, they hyar last tew weeks, 'n' I allow I've had my eyes opened ter some things. What's thet docter er yourn, him thet they call the Agency doctor,-- what's he got ter do?"
"To attend to the Indians of this Agency when they are sick," replied the Agent, promptly.
"Wall, thet's what I heern; thet's what yeow sed afore, 'n' thet's why Alessandro, the Injun thet wuz murdered,-- thet's why he put his name down 'n yeour books, though 't went agin him orful ter do it. He wuz high-spereted, 'n' 'd allers took keer er hisself; but he'd ben druv out er fust one place 'n' then another, tell he'd got clar down, 'n' pore; 'n' he jest begged thet doctor er yourn to go to see his little gal, 'n' the docter wouldn't; 'n' more'n thet, he laughed at him fur askin.' 'N' they set the little thing on the hoss ter bring her here, 'n' she died afore they'd come a mile with her; 'n' 't wuz thet, on top er all the rest druv Alessandro crazy. He never hed none er them wandrin' spells till arter thet. Naow I allow thet wa'n't right eh thet docter. I wouldn't hev no sech docter's thet raound my Agency, ef I wuz yeow. Pr'aps yer never heered uv thet. I told Ramony I didn't bleeve yer knowed it, or ye'd hev made him go."
"No, Aunt Ri," said the Agent; "I could not have done that; he is only required to doctor such Indians as come here."
"I allow, then, thar ain't any gret use en hevin' him at all," said Aunt Ri; "'pears like thar ain't more'n a harndful uv Injuns raound here. I expect he gits well paid?" and she paused for an answer. None came. The Agent did not feel himself obliged to reveal to Aunt Ri what salary the Government paid the San Bernardino doctor for sending haphazard prescriptions to Indians he never saw.
After a pause Aunt Ri resumed: "Ef it ain't enny offence ter yeow, I allow I'd like ter know jest what 'tis yeow air here ter dew fur these Injuns. I've got my feelin's considdable stirred up, bein' among 'em 'n' knowing this hyar one, thet's ben murdered. Hev ye got enny power to giv' 'em ennything,-- food or sech? They air powerful pore, most on 'em."
"I have had a little fund for buying supplies for them in times of special suffering;" replied the Agent, "a very little; and the Department has appropriated some money for wagons and ploughs; not enough, however, to supply every village; you see these Indians are in the main self-supporting."