“A horned toad is just as beautiful as a butterfly,” said Mr. Snodgrass gravely. “The only difference is, people don’t appreciate the toad. I do, and, some day, I hope to write a history of that creature. I have my notes ready for the first volume, which will be a sort of introduction.”
“How many volumes do you expect to write?” asked Mr. Seabury, curiously.
“Twelve,” replied the scientist calmly. “Even then I will have to omit much that is of interest. But I hope, in twelve, large books, to be able to convey some idea of horned toads, as well as some information about the other species.”
“Twelve volumes! I should hope so!” murmured Mr. Seabury.
By this time the travelers were at the bungalow. It was a well-arranged affair, quite large, and set in the midst of a beautiful garden, with rambling paths, and shady bowers, while the whole place was enclosed by a mud or adobe wall. All around the bungalow was a wide veranda, and in the center courtyard was a small fountain, with a jet of water spurting up from the middle of a large shell.
“Isn’t this fine!” exclaimed Jerry, and the other boys agreed it was.
“Yes, we like ‘The Next Day’ very much,” said Nellie. “It was my idea to call it that. From the very moment we arrived, and wanted something done, about the only answer we could get was ‘to-morrow,’ ‘Mananna’ or ‘the next day,’ so I decided that would be a good name for the bungalow.”
“Indeed it is,” declared the professor. “But you have a most delightful place, and I should like to spend many ‘next days’ here. I hope your health is better, Mr. Seabury?”
“Considerably so, sir. I find the air here agrees with my nerves and rheumatism much better than in Florida. I have hopes of entirely recovering. But let us go inside, I think luncheon is ready.”
It was and, in the cool dining-room, within sound of the tinkling fountain, they ate a hearty meal, Bob demonstrating in his usual fashion that he was quite hungry.
The girls took turns in explaining their experiences since coming to California. The bungalow, which they rented, was on the outskirts of the village of San Felicity, which was part of what had once been an old Mexican town. It was located on the shores of a secluded bay, and the bungalow was about ten minutes’ walk from the water.
“Do you think there are any horned toads around here?” asked the professor, when the meal was finished, and they had gone out on the veranda.
“I don’t know, I’m sure,” replied Mr. Seabury. “I’ll ask Ponto, he knows everything there is to be known about this place. Ponto! I say, Ponto!”
“Yais, sah, I’se comin’ sah!” and from somewhere in the depths of the garden the voice sounded. A moment later the colored man appeared, trying to hide a broad yawn.
“Ponto, do you know— well, I declare, if you haven’t been asleep again!”