Part 6 out of 9
But Baba did not like it. Except for the stimulus of Benito ahead,
he would have given Ramona trouble.
"There is only a little, rough like this, dear," called Alessandro, as
he leaped a fallen tree, and halted to see how Baba took it.
"Good!" he cried, as Baba jumped it like a deer. "Good! Majella!
We have got the two best horses in the country. You'll see they are
alike, when daylight comes. I have often wondered they were so
much alike. They would go together splendidly."
After a few rods of this steep climbing they came out on the top of
the canon's south wall, in a dense oak forest comparatively free
from underbrush. "Now," said Alessandro, "I can go from here to
San Diego by paths that no white man knows. We will be near
there before daylight."
Already the keen salt air of the ocean smote their faces. Ramona
drank it in with delight. "I taste salt in the air, Alessandro," she
"Yes, it is the sea," he said. "This canon leads straight to the sea. I
wish we could go by the shore, Majella. It is beautiful there. When
it is still, the waves come as gently to the land as if they were in
play; and you can ride along with your horse's feet in the water,
and the green cliffs almost over your head; and the air off the
water is like wine in one's head."
"Cannot we go there?" she said longingly. "Would it not be safe?"
"I dare not," he answered regretfully. "Not now, Majella; for on the
shore-way, at all times, there are people going and coming."
"Some other time, Alessandro, we can come, after we are married,
and there is no danger?" she asked.
"Yes, Majella," he replied; but as he spoke the words, he thought,
"Will a time ever come when there will be no danger?"
The shore of the Pacific Ocean for many miles north of San Diego
is a succession of rounding promontories, walling the mouths of
canons, down many of which small streams make to the sea. These
canons are green and rich at bottom, and filled with trees, chiefly
oak. Beginning as little more than rifts in the ground, they deepen
and widen, till at their mouths they have a beautiful crescent of
shining beach from an eighth to a quarter of a mile long, The one
which Alessandro hoped to reach before morning was not a dozen
miles from the old town of San Diego, and commanded a fine
view of the outer harbor. When he was last in it, he had found it a
nearly impenetrable thicket of young oak-trees. Here, he believed,
they could hide safely all day, and after nightfall ride into San
Diego, be married at the priest's house, and push on to San
Pasquale that same night. "All day, in that canon, Majella can look
at the sea," he thought; "but I will not tell her now, for it may be
the trees have been cut down, and we cannot be so close to the
It was near sunrise when they reached the place. The trees had not
been cut down. Their tops, seen from above, looked like a solid
bed of moss filling in the canon bottom. The sky and the sea were
both red. As Ramona looked down into this soft green pathway, it
seemed, leading out to the wide and sparkling sea, she thought
Alessandro had brought her into a fairy-land.
"What a beautiful world!" she cried; and riding up so close to
Benito that she could lay her hand on Alessandro's, she said
solemnly: "Do you not think we ought to be very happy,
Alessandro, in such a beautiful world as this? Do you think we
might sing our sunrise hymn here?"
Alessandro glanced around. They were alone on the breezy open; it
was not yet full dawn; great masses of crimson vapor were floating
upward from the hills behind San Diego. The light was still
burning in the light-house on the promontory walling the inner
harbor, but in a few moments more it would be day. "No, Majella,
not here." he said. "We must not stay. As soon as the sun rises, a
man or a horse may be seen on this upper coast-line as far as eye
can reach. We must be among the trees with all the speed we can
It was like a house with a high, thick roof of oak tree-tops, the
shelter they found. No sun penetrated it; a tiny trickle of water still
remained, and some grass along its rims was still green, spite of
the long drought,-- a scanty meal for Baba and Benito, but they ate
it with relish in each other's company.
"They like each other, those two," said Ramona, laughing, as she
watched them. "They will be friends."
"Ay," said Alessandro, also smiling. "Horses are friends, like men,
and can hate each other, like men, too. Benito would never see
Antonio's mare, the little yellow one, that he did not let fly his
heels at her; and she was as afraid, at sight of him, as a cat is at a
dog. Many a time I have laughed to see it."
"Know you the priest at San Diego?" asked Ramona.
"Not well," replied Alessandro. "He came seldom to Temecula
when I was there; but he is a friend of Indians. I know he came
with the men from San Diego at the time when there was fighting,
and the whites were in great terror; and they said, except for Father
Gaspara's words, there would not have been a white man left alive
in Pala. My father had sent all his people away before that fight
began. He knew it was coming, but he would have nothing to do
with it. He said the Indians were all crazy. It was no use. They
would only be killed themselves. That is the worst thing, my
Majella. The stupid Indians fight and kill, and then what can we
do? The white men think we are all the same. Father Gaspara has
never been to Pala, I heard, since that time. There goes there now
the San Juan Capistrano priest. He is a bad man. He takes money
from the starving poor."
"A priest!" ejaculated Ramona, horror-stricken.
"Ay! a priest!" replied Alessandro. "They are not all good, -- not
like Father Salvierderra."
"Oh, if we could but have gone to Father Salvierderra!" exclaimed
Alessandro looked distressed. "It would have been much more
danger, Majella," he said, "and I had no knowledge of work I could
His look made Ramona remorseful at once. How cruel to lay one
feather-weight of additional burden on this loving man. "Oh, this is
much better, really," she said. "I did not mean what I said. It is
only because I have always loved Father Salvierderra so. And the
Senora will tell him what is not true. Could we not send him a
"There is a Santa Inez Indian I know," replied Alessandro, "who
comes down with nets to sell, sometimes, to Temecula. I know not
if he goes to San Diego. If I could get speech with him, he would
go up from Santa Inez to Santa Barbara for me, I am sure; for once
he lay in my father's house, sick for many weeks, and I nursed him,
and since then he is always begging me to take a net from him,
whenever he comes. It is not two days from Santa Inez to Santa
"I wish it were the olden time now, Alessandro," sighed Ramona,
"when the men like Father Salvierderra had all the country. Then
there would be work for all, at the Missions. The Senora says the
Missions were like palaces, and that there were thousands of
Indians in every one of them; thousands and thousands, all
working so happy and peaceful."
"The Senora does not know all that happened at the Missions,"
replied Alessandro. "My father says that at some of them were
dreadful things, when bad men had power. Never any such things
at San Luis Rey. Father Peyri was like a father to all his Indians.
My father says that they would all of them lie down in a fire for
him, if he had commanded it. And when he went away, to leave
the country, when his heart was broken, and the Mission all ruined,
he had to fly by night, Majella, just as you and I have done; for if
the Indians had known it, they would have risen up to keep him.
There was a ship here in San Diego harbor, to sail for Mexico, and
the Father made up his mind to go in it; and it was over this same
road we have come, my Majella, that he rode, and by night; and
my father was the only one he trusted to know it. My father came
with him; they took the swiftest horses, and they rode all night, and
my father carried in front of him, on the horse, a box of the sacred
things of the altar, very heavy. And many a time my father has told
me the story, how they got to San Diego at daybreak, and the
Father was rowed out to the ship in a little boat; and not much
more than on board was he, my father standing like one dead on
the shore, watching, he loved him so, when, lo! he heard a great
crying, and shouting, and trampling of horses' feet, and there came
galloping down to the water's edge three hundred of the Indians
from San Luis Rey, who had found out that the Father had gone to
San Diego to take ship, and they had ridden all night on his track,
to fetch him back. And when my father pointed to the ship, and
told them he was already on board, they set up a cry fit to bring the
very sky down; and some of them flung themselves into the sea,
and swam out to the ship, and cried and begged to be taken on
board and go with him. And Father Peyri stood on the deck,
blessing them, and saying farewell, with the tears running on his
face; and one of the Indians -- how they never knew -- made shift
to climb up on the chains and ropes, and got into the ship itself;
and they let him stay, and he sailed away with the Father. And my
father said he was all his life sorry that he himself had not thought
to do the same thing; but he was like one dumb and deaf and with
no head, he was so unhappy at the Father's going."
"Was it here, in this very harbor?" asked Ramona, in breathless
interest, pointing out towards the blue water of which they could
see a broad belt framed by their leafy foreground arch of oak tops.
"Ay, just there he sailed,-- as that ship goes now," he exclaimed, as
a white-sailed schooner sailed swiftly by, going out to sea. "But the
ship lay at first inside the bar; you cannot see the inside harbor
from here. It is the most beautiful water I have ever seen, Majella.
The two high lands come out like two arms to hold it and keep it
safe, as if they loved it."
"But, Alessandro," continued Ramona, "were there really bad men
at the other Missions? Surely not the Franciscan Fathers?"
"Perhaps not the Fathers themselves, but the men under them. It
was too much power, Majella. When my father has told me how it
was, it has seemed to me I should not have liked to be as he was. It
is not right that one man should have so much power. There was
one at the San Gabriel Mission; he was an Indian. He had been set
over the rest; and when a whole band of them ran away one time,
and went back into the mountains, he went after them; and he
brought back a piece of each man's ear; the pieces were strung on a
string; and he laughed, and said that was to know them by again,--
by their clipped ears. An old woman, a Gabrieleno, who came over
to Temecula, told me she saw that. She lived at the Mission
herself. The Indians did not all want to come to the Missions;
some of them preferred to stay in the woods, and live as they
always had lived; and I think they had a right to do that if they
preferred, Majella. It was stupid of them to stay and be like beasts,
and not know anything; but do you not think they had the right?"
"It is the command to preach the gospel to every creature," replied
the pious Ramona. "That is what Father Salvierderra said was the
reason the Franciscans came here. I think they ought to have made
the Indians listen. But that was dreadful about the ears,
Alessandro. Do you believe it?"
"The old woman laughed when she told it," he answered. "She said
it was a joke; so I think it was true. I know I would have killed the
man who tried to crop my ears that way."
"Did you ever tell that to Father Salvierderra?" asked Ramona.
"No, Majella. It would not be polite," said Alessandro.
"Well, I don't believe it," replied Ramona, in a relieved tone. "I
don't believe any Franciscan ever could have permitted such
The great red light in the light-house tower had again blazed out,
and had been some time burning before Alessandro thought it
prudent to resume their journey. The road on which they must go
into old San Diego, where Father Gaspara lived, was the public
road from San Diego to San Luis Rey, and they were almost sure
to meet travellers on it.
But their fleet horses bore them so well, that it was not late when
they reached the town. Father Gaspara's house was at the end of a
long, low adobe building, which had served no mean purpose in
the old Presidio days, but was now fallen into decay; and all its
rooms except those occupied by the Father, had been long
uninhabited. On the opposite side of the way, in a neglected,
weedy open, stood his chapel,-- a poverty-stricken little place, its
walls imperfectly whitewashed, decorated by a few coarse pictures
and by broken sconces of looking-glass, rescued in their
dilapidated condition from the Mission buildings, now gone utterly
to ruin. In these had been put handle-holders of common tin, in
which a few cheap candles dimly lighted the room. Everything
about it was in unison with the atmosphere of the place,-- the most
profoundly melancholy in all Southern California. Here was the
spot where that grand old Franciscan, Padre Junipero Serra, began
his work, full of the devout and ardent purpose to reclaim the
wilderness and its peoples to his country and his Church; on this
very beach he went up and down for those first terrible weeks,
nursing the sick, praying with the dying, and burying the dead,
from the pestilence-stricken Mexican ships lying in the harbor.
Here he baptized his first Indian converts, and founded his first
Mission. And the only traces now remaining of his heroic labors
and hard-won successes were a pile of crumbling ruins, a few old
olive-trees and palms; in less than another century even these
would be gone; returned into the keeping of that mother, the earth,
who puts no head-stones at the sacredest of her graves.
Father Gaspara had been for many years at San Diego. Although
not a Franciscan, having, indeed, no especial love for the order, he
had been from the first deeply impressed by the holy associations
of the place. He had a nature at once fiery and poetic; there were
but three things he could have been,-- a soldier, a poet, or a priest.
Circumstances had made him a priest; and the fire and the poetry
which would have wielded the sword or kindled the verse, had he
found himself set either to fight or to sing, had all gathered into
added force in his priestly vocation. The look of a soldier he had
never quite lost,-- neither the look nor the tread; and his flashing
dark eyes, heavy black hair and beard, and quick elastic step,
seemed sometimes strangely out of harmony with his priest's
gown. And it was the sensitive soul of the poet in him which had
made him withdraw within himself more and more, year after year,
as he found himself comparatively powerless to do anything for
the hundreds of Indians that he would fain have seen gathered once
more, as of old, into the keeping of the Church. He had made
frequent visits to them in their shifting refuges, following up
family after family, band after band, that he knew; he had written
bootless letter after letter to the Government officials of one sort
and another, at Washington. He had made equally bootless efforts
to win some justice, some protection for them, from officials
nearer home; he had endeavored to stir the Church itself to greater
efficiency in their behalf. Finally, weary, disheartened, and
indignant with that intense, suppressed indignation which the
poetic temperament alone can feel, he had ceased,-- had said, "It is
of no use; I will speak no word; I am done; I can bear no more!"
and settling down into the routine of his parochial duties to the
little Mexican and Irish congregation of his charge in San Diego,
he had abandoned all effort to do more for the Indians than visit
their chief settlements once or twice a year, to administer the
sacraments. When fresh outrages were brought to his notice, he
paced his room, plucked fiercely at his black beard, with
ejaculations, it is to be feared, savoring more of the camp than the
altar; but he made no effort to do anything. Lighting his pipe, he
would sit down on the old bench in his tile-paved veranda, and
smoke by the hour, gazing out on the placid water of the deserted
harbor, brooding, ever brooding, over the wrongs he could not
A few paces off from his door stood the just begun walls of a fine
brick church, which it had been the dream and pride of his heart to
see builded, and full of worshippers. This, too, had failed. With
San Diego's repeatedly vanishing hopes and dreams of prosperity
had gone this hope and dream of Father Gaspara's. It looked, now,
as if it would be indeed a waste of money to build a costly church
on this site. Sentiment, however sacred and loving towards the
dead, must yield to the demands of the living. To build a church on
the ground where Father Junipero first trod and labored, would be
a work to which no Catholic could be indifferent; but there were
other and more pressing claims to be met first. This was right. Yet
the sight of these silent walls, only a few feet high, was a sore one
to Father Gaspara,-- a daily cross, which he did not find grow
lighter as he paced up and down his veranda, year in and year out,
in the balmy winter and cool summer of that magic climate.
"Majella, the chapel is lighted; but that is good!" exclaimed
Alessandro, as they rode into the silent plaza. "Father Gaspara
must be there;" and jumping off his horse, he peered in at the
uncurtained window. "A marriage, Majella, -- a marriage!" he
cried, hastily returning. "This, too, is good fortune. We need not to
When the sacristan whispered to Father Gaspara that an Indian
couple had just come in, wishing to be married, the Father
frowned. His supper was waiting; he had been out all day, over at
the old Mission olive-orchard, where he had not found things to his
mind; the Indian man and wife whom he hired to take care of the
few acres the Church yet owned there had been neglecting the
Church lands and trees, to look after their own. The Father was
vexed, tired, and hungry, and the expression with which he
regarded Alessandro and Ramona, as they came towards him, was
one of the least prepossessing of which his dark face was capable.
Ramona, who had never knelt to any priest save the gentle Father
Salvierderra, and who had supposed that all priests must look, at
least, friendly, was shocked at the sight of the impatient visage
confronting her. But, as his first glance fell on Ramona, Father
Gaspara's expression changed.
"What is all this!" he thought; and as quick as he thought it, he
exclaimed, in a severe tone, looking at Ramona, "Woman, are you
"Yes, Father," answered Ramona, gently. "My mother was an
"Ah! half-breed!" thought Father Gaspara. "It is strange how
sometimes one of the types will conquer, and sometimes another!
But this is no common creature;" and it was with a look of new
interest and sympathy on his face that he proceeded with the
ceremony,-- the other couple, a middle-aged Irishman, with his
more than middle-aged bride, standing quietly by, and looking on
with a vague sort of wonder in their ugly, impassive faces, as if it
struck them oddly that Indians should marry.
The book of the marriage-records was kept in Father Gaspara's
own rooms, locked up and hidden even from his old housekeeper.
He had had bitter reason to take this precaution. It had been for
more than one man's interest to cut leaves out of this old record,
which dated back to 1769, and had many pages written full in the
hand of Father Junipero himself.
As they came out of the chapel, Father Gaspara leading the way,
the Irish couple shambling along shamefacedly apart from each
other, Alessandro, still holding Ramona's hand in his, said, "Will
you ride, dear? It is but a step."
"No, thanks, dear Alessandro, I would rather walk," she replied;
and Alessandro slipping the bridles of the two horses over his left
arm, they walked on. Father Gaspara heard the question and
answer, and was still more puzzled.
"He speaks as a gentleman speaks to a lady," he mused. "What
does it mean? Who are they?"
Father Gaspara was a well-born man, and in his home in Spain had
been used to associations far superior to any which he had known
in his Californian life, A gentle courtesy of tone and speech, such
as that with which Alessandro had addressed Ramona, was not
often heard in his parish. When they entered his house, he again
regarded them both attentively. Ramona wore on her head the
usual black shawl of the Mexican women. There was nothing
distinctive, to the Father's eye, in her figure or face. In the dim
light of the one candle,-- Father Gaspara allowed himself no
luxuries,-- the exquisite coloring of her skin and the deep blue of
her eyes were not to be seen. Alessandro's tall figure and dignified
bearing were not uncommon. The Father had seen many as
fine-looking Indian men. But his voice was remarkable, and he
spoke better Spanish than was wont to be heard from Indians.
"Where are you from?" said the Father, as he held his pen poised in
hand, ready to write their names in the old raw-hide-bound book.
"Temecula, Father," replied Alessandro.
Father Gaspara dropped his pen. "The village the Americans drove
out the other day?" he cried.
Father Gaspara sprang from his chair, took refuge from his
excitement, as usual, in pacing the floor. "Go! go! I'm done with
you! It's all over," he said fiercely to the Irish bride and groom,
who had given him their names and their fee, but were still
hanging about irresolute, not knowing if all were ended or not. "A
burning shame! The most dastardly thing I have seen yet in this
land forsaken of God!" cried the Father. "I saw the particulars of it
in the San Diego paper yesterday." Then, coming to a halt in front
of Alessandro, he exclaimed: "The paper said that the Indians were
compelled to pay all the costs of the suit; that the sheriff took their
cattle to do it. Was that true?"
"Yes, Father," replied Alessandro.
The Father strode up and down again, plucking at his beard. "What
are you going to do?" he said. "Where have you all gone? There
were two hundred in your village the last time I was there."
"Some have gone over into Pachanga," replied Alessandro, "some
to San Pasquale, and the rest to San Bernardino."
"Body of Jesus! man! But you take it with philosophy!" stormed
Alessandro did not understand the word "philosophy," but he knew
what the Father meant. "Yes, Father," he said doggedly. "It is now
twenty-one days ago. I was not so at first. There is nothing to be
Ramona held tight to Alessandro's hand. She was afraid of this
fierce, black-bearded priest, who dashed back and forth, pouring
out angry invectives.
"The United States Government will suffer for it!" he continued.
"It is a Government of thieves and robbers! God will punish them.
You will see; they will be visited with a curse,-- a curse in their
borders; their sons and their daughters shall be desolate! But why
do I prate in these vain words? My son, tell me your names again;"
and he seated himself once more at the table where the ancient
marriage-record lay open.
After writing Alessandro's name, he turned to Ramona. "And the
woman's?" he said.
Alessandro looked at Ramona. In the chapel he had said simply,
"Majella." What name should he give more?
Without a second's hesitation, Ramona answered, "Majella.
Majella Phail is my name."
She pronounced the word "Phail," slowly. It was new to her. She
had never seen it written; as it lingered on her lips, the Father, to
whom also it was a new word, misunderstood it, took it to be in
two syllables, and so wrote it.
The last step was taken in the disappearance of Ramona. How
should any one, searching in after years, find any trace of Ramona
Ortegna, in the woman married under the name of "Majella
"No, no! Put up your money, son," said Father Gaspara, as
Alessandro began to undo the knots of the handkerchief in which
his gold was tied. "Put up your money. I'll take no money from a
Temecula Indian. I would the Church had money to give you.
Where are you going now?"
"To San Pasquale, Father."
"Ah! San Pasquale! The head man there has the old pueblo paper,"
said Father Gaspara. "He was showing it to me the other day. That
will, it may be, save you there. But do not trust to it, son. Buy
yourself a piece of land as the white man buys his. Trust to
Alessandro looked anxiously in the Father's face. "How is that,
Father?" he said. "I do not know."
"Well, their rules be thick as the crabs here on the beach," replied
Father Gaspara; "and, faith, they appear to me to be backwards of
motion also, like the crabs: but the lawyers understand. When you
have picked out your land, and have the money, come to me, and I
will go with you and see that you are not cheated in the buying, so
far as I can tell; but I myself am at my wit's ends with their
devices. Farewell, son! Farewell, daughter!" he said, rising from
his chair. Hunger was again getting the better of sympathy in
Father Gaspara, and as he sat down to his long-deferred supper, the
Indian couple faded from his mind; but after supper was over, as
he sat smoking his pipe on the veranda, they returned again, and
lingered in his thoughts,-- lingered strangely, it seemed to him; he
could not shake off the impression that there was something
unusual about the woman. "I shall hear of them again, some day,"
he thought. And he thought rightly.
AFTER leaving Father Gaspara's door, Alessandro and Ramona
rode slowly through the now deserted plaza, and turned northward,
on the river road, leaving the old Presidio walls on their right. The
river was low, and they forded it without difficulty.
"I have seen this river so high that there was no fording it for many
days," said Alessandro; "but that was in spring."
"Then it is well we came not at that time," said Ramona, "All the
times have fallen out well for us, Alessandro,-- the dark nights, and
the streams low; but look! as I say it, there comes the moon!" and
she pointed to the fine threadlike arc of the new moon, just visible
in the sky. "Not big enough to do us any harm, however," she
added. "But, dear Alessandro, do you not think we are safe now?"
"I know not, Majella, if ever we may be safe; but I hope so. I have
been all day thinking I had gone foolish last night, when I told
Mrs. Hartsel that I was on my way to San Pasquale. But if men
should come there asking for us, she would understand, I think,
and keep a still tongue. She would keep harm from us if she
Their way from San Diego to San Pasquale lay at first along a high
mesa, or table-land, covered with low shrub growths; after some
ten or twelve miles of this, they descended among winding ridges,
into a narrow valley,-- the Poway valley. It was here that the
Mexicans made one of their few abortive efforts to repel the
"Here were some Americans killed, in a fight with the Mexicans,
Majella," said Alessandro. "I myself have a dozen bullets which I
picked up in the ground about here. Many a time I have looked at
them and thought if there should come another war against the
Americans, I would fire them again, if I could. Does Senor Felipe
think there is any likelihood that his people will rise against them
any more? If they would, they would have all the Indians to help
them, now. It would be a mercy if they might be driven out of the
"Yes," sighed Majella. "But there is no hope. I have heard the
Senora speak of it with Felipe. There is no hope. They have power,
and great riches, she said. Money is all that they think of. To get
money, they will commit any crime, even murder. Every day there
comes the news of their murdering each other for gold. Mexicans
kill each other only for hate, Alessandro,-- for hate, or in anger;
never for gold."
"Indians, also," replied Alessandro. "Never one Indian killed
another, yet, for money. It is for vengeance, always. For money!
Bah! Majella, they are dogs!"
Rarely did Alessandro speak with such vehemence; but this last
outrage on his people had kindled in his veins a fire of scorn and
hatred which would never die out. Trust in an American was
henceforth to him impossible. The name was a synonym for fraud
"They cannot all be so bad, I think, Alessandro," said Ramona.
"There must be some that are honest; do you not think so?"
"Where are they, then," he cried fiercely,-- "the ones who are
good? Among my people there are always some that are bad; but
they are in disgrace. My father punished them, the whole people
punished them. If there are Americans who are good, who will not
cheat and kill, why do they not send after these robbers and punish
them? And how is it that they make laws which cheat? It was the
American law which took Temecula away from us, and gave it to
those men! The law was on the side of the thieves. No, Majella, it
is a people that steals! That is their name,-- a people that steals,
and that kills for money. Is not that a good name for a great people
to bear, when they are like the sands in the sea, they are so many?"
"That is what the Senora says," answered Ramona. "She says they
are all thieves; that she knows not, each day, but that on the next
will come more of them, with new laws, to take away more of her
land. She had once more than twice what she has now,
"Yes," he replied; "I know it. My father has told me. He was with
Father Peyri at the place, when General Moreno was alive. Then
all was his to the sea,-- all that land we rode over the second night,
"Yes," she said, "all to the sea! That is what the Senora is ever
saying: 'To the sea!' Oh, the beautiful sea! Can we behold it from
San Pasquale, Alessandro?"
"No, my Majella, it is too far. San Pasquale is in the valley; it has
hills all around it like walls. But it is good. Majella will love it;
and I will build a house, Majella. All the people will help me. That
is the way with our people. In two days it will be done. But it will
be a poor place for my Majella," he said sadly. Alessandro's heart
was ill at ease. Truly a strange bride's journey was this; but
Ramona felt no fear.
"No place can be so poor that I do not choose it, if you are there,
rather than the most beautiful place in the world where you are
not, Alessandro," she said.
"But my Majella loves things that are beautiful," said Alessandro.
"She has lived like a queen."
"Oh, Alessandro," merrily laughed Ramona, "how little you know
of the way queens live! Nothing was fine at the Senora Moreno's,
only comfortable; and any house you will build, I can make as
comfortable as that was; it is nothing but trouble to have one so
large as the Senora's. Margarita used to be tired to death, sweeping
all those rooms in which nobody lived except the blessed old San
Luis Rey saints. Alessandro, if we could have had just one statue,
either Saint Francis or the Madonna, to bring back to our house!
That is what I would like better than all other things in the world.
It is beautiful to sleep with the Madonna close to your bed. She
speaks often to you in dreams."
Alessandro fixed serious, questioning eyes on Ramona as she
uttered these words. When she spoke like this, he felt indeed as if a
being of some other sphere had come to dwell by his side. "I
cannot find how to feel towards the saints as you do, my Majella,"
he said. "I am afraid of them. It must be because they love you, and
do not love us. That is what I believe, Majella. I believe they are
displeased with us, and no longer make mention of us in heaven.
That is what the Fathers taught that the saints were ever doing,--
praying to God for us, and to the Virgin and Jesus. It is not
possible, you see, that they could have been praying for us, and yet
such things have happened, as happened in Temecula. I do not
know how it is my people have displeased them."
"I think Father Salvierderra would say that it is a sin to be afraid of
the saints, Alessandro," replied Ramona, earnestly. "He has often
told me that it was a sin to be unhappy; and that withheld me many
times from being wretched because the Senora would not love me.
And, Alessandro," she went on, growing more and more fervent in
tone, "even if nothing but misfortune comes to people, that does
not prove that the saints do not love them; for when the saints were
on earth themselves, look what they suffered: martyrs they were,
almost all of them. Look at what holy Saint Catharine endured, and
the blessed Saint Agnes. It is not by what happens to us here in this
world that we can tell if the saints love us, or if we will see the
"How can we tell, then?" he asked.
"By what we feel in our hearts, Alessandro," she replied; "just as I
knew all the time, when you did not come,-- I knew that you loved
me. I knew that in my heart; and I shall always know it, no matter
what happens. If you are dead, I shall know that you love me. And
you,-- you will know that I love you, the same."
"Yes," said Alessandro, reflectively, "that is true. But, Majella, it is
not possible to have the same thoughts about a saint as about a
person that one has seen, and heard the voice, and touched the
"No, not quite," said Ramona; "not quite, about a saint; but one can
for the Blessed Virgin, Alessandro! I am sure of that. Her statue, in
my room at the Senora's, has been always my mother. Ever since I
was little I have told her all I did. It was she helped me to plan
what I should bring away with us. She reminded me of many
things I had forgotten, except for her."
"Did you hear her speak?" said Alessandro, awe-stricken.
"Not exactly in words; but just the same as in words," replied
Ramona, confidently. "You see when you sleep in the room with
her, it is very different from what it is if you only see her in a
chapel. Oh, I could never be very unhappy with her in my room!"
"I would almost go and steal it for you, Majella," cried Alessandro,
with sacrilegious warmth.
"Holy Virgin!" cried Ramona, "never speak such a word. You
would be struck dead if you laid your hand on her! I fear even the
thought was a sin,"
"There was a small figure of her in the wall of our house," said
Alessandro. "It was from San Luis Rey. I do not know what
became of it,-- if it were left behind, or if they took it with my
father's things to Pachanga. I did not see it there. When I go again,
I will look."
"Again!" cried Ramona. "What say you? You go again to
Pachanga? You will not leave me, Alessandro?"
At the bare mention of Alessandro's leaving her, Ramona's courage
always vanished. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, she was
transformed from the dauntless, confident, sunny woman, who
bore him up as it were on wings of hope and faith, to a timid,
shrinking, despondent child, crying out in alarm, and clinging to
"After a time, dear Majella, when you are wonted to the place, I
must go, to fetch the wagon and the few things that were ours.
There is the raw-hide bed which was Father Peyri's, and he gave to
my father. Majella will like to lie on that. My father believed it had
"Like that you made for Felipe?" she asked.
"Yes; but it is not so large. In those days the cattle were not so
large as they are now: this is not so broad as Senor Felipe's. There
are chairs, too, from the Mission, three of them, one almost as fine
as those on your veranda at home. They were given to my father.
And music-books,-- beautiful parchment books! Oh, I hope those
are not lost, Majella! If Jose had lived, he would have looked after
it all. But in the confusion, all the things belonging to the village
were thrown into wagons together, and no one knew where
anything was. But all the people knew my father's chairs and the
books of the music. If the Americans did not steal them,
everything will be safe. My people do not steal. There was never
but one thief in our village, and my father had him so whipped, he
ran away and never came back. I heard he was living in San
Jacinto, and was a thief yet, spite of all that whipping he had. I
think if it is in the blood to be a thief, not even whipping will take
it out, Majella,"
"Like the Americans," she said, half laughing, but with tears in the
voice. "Whipping would not cure them."
It wanted yet more than an hour of dawn when they reached the
crest of the hill from which they looked down on the San Pasquale
valley. Two such crests and valleys they had passed; this was the
broadest of the three valleys, and the hills walling it were softer
and rounder of contour than any they had yet seen. To the east and
northeast lay ranges of high mountains, their tops lost in the
clouds. The whole sky was overcast and gray.
"If it were spring, this would mean rain," said Alessandro; "but it
cannot rain, I think, now."
"No!" laughed Ramona, "not till we get our house done. Will it be
of adobe, Alessandro?"
"Dearest Majella, not yet! At first it must be of the tule. They are
very comfortable while it is warm, and before winter I will build
one of adobe."
'Two houses! Wasteful Alessandro! If the tule house is good, I
shall not let you, Alessandro, build another."
Ramona's mirthful moments bewildered Alessandro. To his slower
temperament and saddened nature they seemed preternatural; as if
she were all of a sudden changed into a bird, or some gay creature
outside the pale of human life,-- outside and above it.
"You speak as the birds sing, my Majella," he said slowly. "It was
well to name you Majel; only the wood-dove has not joy in her
voice, as you have. She says only that she loves and waits."
"I say that, too, Alessandro!" replied Ramona, reaching out both
her arms towards him.
The horses were walking slowly, and very close side by side. Baba
and Benito were now such friends they liked to pace closely side
by side; and Baba and Benito were by no means without instinctive
recognitions of the sympathy between their riders. Already Benito
knew Ramona's voice, and answered it with pleasure; and Baba
had long ago learned to stop when his mistress laid her hand on
Alessandro's shoulder. He stopped now, and it was long minutes
before he had the signal to go on again.
"Majella! Majella!" cried Alessandro, as, grasping both her hands
in his, he held them to his cheeks, to his neck, to his mouth, "if the
saints would ask Alessandro to be a martyr for Majella's sake, like
those she was telling of, then she would know if Alessandro loved
her! But what can Alessandro do now? What, oh, what? Majella
gives all; Alessandro gives nothing!" and he bowed his forehead on
her hands, before he put them back gently on Baba's neck.
Tears filled Ramona's eyes. How should she win this saddened
man, this distrusting lover, to the joy which was his desert?
"Alessandro can do one thing," she said, insensibly falling into his
mode of speaking,-- "one thing for his Majella: never, never say
that he has nothing to give her. When he says that, he makes
Majella a liar; for she has said that he is all the world to her,-- he
himself all the world which she desires. Is Majella a liar?"
But it was even now with an ecstasy only half joy, the other half
anguish, that Alessandro replied: "Majella cannot lie. Majella is
like the saints. Alessandro is hers."
When they rode down into the valley, the whole village was astir.
The vintage-time had nearly passed; everywhere were to be seen
large, flat baskets of grapes drying in the sun. Old women and
children were turning these, or pounding acorns in the deep stone
bowls; others were beating the yucca-stalks, and putting them to
soak in water; the oldest women were sitting on the ground,
weaving baskets. There were not many men in the village now;
two large bands were away at work,-- one at the autumn
sheep-shearing, and one working on a large irrigating ditch at San
In different directions from the village slow-moving herds of goats
or of cattle could be seen, being driven to pasture on the hills;
some men were ploughing; several groups were at work building
houses of bundles of the tule reeds,
"These are some of the Temecula people," said Alessandro; "they
are building themselves new houses here. See those piles of
bundles darker-colored than the rest. Those are their old roofs they
brought from Temecula. There, there comes Ysidro!" he cried
joyfully, as a man, well-mounted, who had been riding from point
to point in the village, came galloping towards them. As soon as
Ysidro recognized Alessandro, he flung himself from his horse.
Alessandro did the same, and both running swiftly towards each
other till they met, they embraced silently. Ramona, riding up, held
out her hand, saying, as she did so, "Ysidro?"
Pleased, yet surprised, at this confident and assured greeting,
Ysidro saluted her, and turning to Alessandro, said in their own
tongue, "Who is this woman whom you bring, that has heard my
"My wife!" answered Alessandro, in the same tongue. "We were
married last night by Father Gaspara. She comes from the house of
the Senora Moreno. We will live in San Pasquale, if you have land
for me, as you have said."
What astonishment Ysidro felt, he showed none. Only a grave and
courteous welcome was in his face and in his words as he said, "It
is well. There is room. You are welcome." But when he heard the
soft Spanish syllables in which Ramona spoke to Alessandro, and
Alessandro, translating her words to him, said, "Majel speaks only
in the Spanish tongue, but she will learn ours," a look of disquiet
passed over his countenance. His heart feared for Alessandro, and
he said, "Is she, then, not Indian? Whence got she the name of
A look of swift intelligence from Alessandro reassured him.
"Indian on the mother's side!" said Alessandro, "and she belongs in
heart to our people. She is alone, save for me. She is one blessed
of the Virgin, Ysidro. She will help us. The name Majel I have
given her, for she is like the wood-dove; and she is glad to lay her
old name down forever, to bear this new name in our tongue."
And this was Ramona's introduction to the Indian village, -- this
and her smile; perhaps the smile did most. Even the little children
were not afraid of her. The women, though shy, in the beginning,
at sight of her noble bearing, and her clothes of a kind and quality
they associated only with superiors, soon felt her friendliness, and,
what was more, saw by her every word, tone, look, that she was
Alessandro's. If Alessandro's, theirs. She was one of them. Ramona
would have been profoundly impressed and touched, could she
have heard them speaking among themselves about her; wondering
how it had come about that she, so beautiful, and nurtured in the
Moreno house, of which they all knew, should be Alessandro's
loving wife. It must be, they thought in their simplicity, that the
saints had sent it as an omen of good to the Indian people. Toward
night they came, bringing in a hand-barrow the most aged woman
in the village to look at her. She wished to see the beautiful
stranger before the sun went down, they said, because she was now
so old she believed each night that before morning her time would
come to die. They also wished to hear the old woman's verdict on
her. When Alessandro saw them coming, he understood, and made
haste to explain it to Ramona. While he was yet speaking, the
procession arrived, and the aged woman in her strange litter was
placed silently on the ground in front of Ramona, who was sitting
under Ysidro's great fig-tree. Those who had borne her withdrew,
and seated themselves a few paces off. Alessandro spoke first. In a
few words he told the old woman of Ramona's birth, of their
marriage, and of her new name of adoption; then he said, "Take
her hand, dear Majella, if you feel no fear."
There was something scarcely human in the shrivelled arm and
hand outstretched in greeting; but Ramona took it in hers with
tender reverence: "Say to her for me, Alessandro," she said, "that I
bow down to her great age with reverence, and that I hope, if it is
the will of God that I live on the earth so long as she has, I may be
worthy of such reverence as these people all feel for her."
Alessandro turned a grateful look on Ramona as he translated this
speech, so in unison with Indian modes of thought and feeling. A
murmur of pleasure rose from the group of women sitting by. The
aged woman made no reply; her eyes still studied Ramona's face,
and she still held her hand.
"Tell her," continued Ramona, "that I ask if there is anything I can
do for her. Say I will be her daughter if she will let me."
"It must be the Virgin herself that is teaching Majella what to say,"
thought Alessandro, as he repeated this in the San Luiseno tongue.
Again the women murmured pleasure, but the old woman spoke
not. "And say that you will be her son," added Ramona.
Alessandro said it. It was perhaps for this that the old woman had
waited. Lifting up her arm, like a sibyl, she said: "It is well; I am
your mother. The winds of the valley shall love you, and the grass
shall dance when you come. The daughter looks on her mother's
face each day. I will go;" and making a sign to her bearers, she was
lifted, and carried to her house.
The scene affected Ramona deeply. The simplest acts of these
people seemed to her marvellously profound in their meanings.
She was not herself sufficiently educated or versed in life to know
why she was so moved,-- to know that such utterances, such
symbolisms as these, among primitive peoples, are thus impressive
because they are truly and grandly dramatic; but she was none the
less stirred by them, because she could not analyze or explain
"I will go and see her every day," she said; "she shall be like my
mother, whom I never saw."
"We must both go each day," said Alessandro. "What we have said
is a solemn promise among my people; it would not be possible to
Ysidro's home was in the centre of the village, on a slightly rising
ground; it was a picturesque group of four small houses, three of
tule reeds and one of adobe,-- the latter a comfortable little house
of two rooms, with a floor and a shingled roof, both luxuries in
San Pasquale. The great fig-tree, whose luxuriance and size were
noted far and near throughout the country, stood half-way down
the slope; but its boughs shaded all three of the tule houses. On
one of its lower branches was fastened a dove-cote, ingeniously
made of willow wands, plastered with adobe, and containing so
many rooms that the whole tree seemed sometimes a-flutter with
doves and dovelings. Here and there, between the houses, were
huge baskets, larger than barrels, woven of twigs, as the eagle
weaves its nest, only tighter and thicker. These were the outdoor
granaries; in these were kept acorns, barley, wheat, and corn.
Ramona thought them, as well she might, the prettiest things she
"Are they hard to make?" she asked. "Can you make them,
Alessandro? I shall want many."
"All you want, my Majella," replied Alessandro. "We will go
together to get the twigs; I can, I dare say, buy some in the village.
It is only two days to make a large one."
"No. Do not buy one," she exclaimed. "I wish everything in our
house to be made by ourselves." In which, again, Ramona was
unconsciously striking one of the keynotes of pleasure in the
primitive harmonies of existence.
The tule house which stood nearest to the dove-cote was, by a
lucky chance, now empty. Ysidro's brother Ramon, who had
occupied it, having gone with his wife and baby to San Bernardino,
for the winter, to work; this house Ysidro was but too happy to
give to Alessandro till his own should be done. It was a tiny place,
though it was really two houses joined together by a roofed
passage-way. In this passage-way the tidy Juana, Ramon's wife,
kept her few pots and pans, and a small stove. It looked to Ramona
like a baby-house. Timidly Alessandro said: "Can Majella live in
this small place for a time? It will not be very long; there are
adobes already made."
His countenance cleared as Ramona replied gleefully, "I think it
will be very comfortable, and I shall feel as if we were all doves
together in the dove-cote!"
"Majel!" exclaimed Alessandro; and that was all he said.
Only a few rods off stood the little chapel; in front of it swung on a
cross-bar from two slanting posts an old bronze bell which had
once belonged to the San Diego Mission. When Ramona read the
date, "1790," on its side, and heard that it was from the San Diego
Mission church it had come, she felt a sense of protection in its
"Think, Alessandro," she said; "this bell, no doubt, has rung many
times for the mass for the holy Father Junipero himself. It is a
blessing to the village. I want to live where I can see it all the time.
It will be like a saint's statue in the house."
With every allusion that Ramona made to the saints' statues,
Alessandro's desire to procure one for her deepened. He said
nothing; but he revolved it in his mind continually. He had once
gone with his shearers to San Fernando, and there he had seen in a
room of the old Mission buildings a dozen statues of saints
huddled in dusty confusion. The San Fernando church was in
crumbled ruins, and such of the church properties as were left
there were in the keeping of a Mexican not over-careful, and not in
the least devout. It would not trouble him to part with a saint or
two, Alessandro thought, and no irreverence to the saint either; on
the contrary, the greatest of reverence, since the statue was to be
taken from a place where no one cared for it, and brought into one
where it would be tenderly cherished, and worshipped every day. If
only San Fernando were not so far away, and the wooden saints so
heavy! However, it should come about yet. Majella should have a
saint; nor distance nor difficulty should keep Alessandro from
procuring for his Majel the few things that lay within his power.
But he held his peace about it. It would be a sweeter gift, if she did
not know it beforehand. He pleased himself as subtly and secretly
as if he had come of civilized generations, thinking how her eyes
would dilate, if she waked up some morning and saw the saint by
her bedside; and how sure she would be to think, at first, it was a
miracle,-- his dear, devout Majella, who, with all her superior
knowledge, was yet more credulous than he. All her education had
not taught her to think, as he, untaught, had learned, in his solitude
Before Alessandro had been two days in San Pasquale, he had
heard of a piece of good-fortune which almost passed his belief,
and which startled him for once out of his usual impassive
"You know I have a herd of cattle of your father's, and near a
hundred sheep?" said Ysidro.
"Holy Virgin!" cried Alessandro, "you do not mean that! How is
that? They told me all our stock was taken by the Americans."
"Yes, so it was, all that was in Temecula," replied Ysidro; "but in
the spring your father sent down to know if I would take a herd for
him up into the mountains, with ours, as he feared the Temecula
pasture would fall short, and the people there, who could not
leave, must have their cattle near home; so he sent a herd over,-- I
think, near fifty head; and many of the cows have calved; and he
sent, also, a little flock of sheep,-- a hundred, Ramon said; he
herded them with ours all summer, and he left a man up there with
them. They will be down next week. It is time they were sheared."
Before he had finished speaking, Alessandro had vanished,
bounding like a deer. Ysidro stared after him; but seeing him enter
the doorway of the little tule hut, he understood, and a sad smile
passed over his face. He was not yet persuaded that this marriage
of Alessandro's would turn out a blessing. "What are a handful of
sheep to her!" he thought.
Breathless, panting, Alessandro burst into Ramona's presence.
"Majella! my Majella! There are cattle -- and sheep," he cried.
"The saints be praised! We are not like the beggars, as I said."
"I told you that God would give us food, dear Alessandro," replied
"You do not wonder! You do not ask!" he cried, astonished at her
calm. "Does Majella think that a sheep or a steer can come down
from the skies?"
"Nay, not as our eyes would see," she answered; "but the holy ones
who live in the skies can do anything they like on the earth.
Whence came these cattle, and how are they ours?"
When he told her, her face grew solemn. "Do you remember that
night in the willows," she said, "when I was like one dying,
because you would not bring me with you? You had no faith that
there would be food. And I told you then that the saints never
forsook those who loved them, and that God would give food. And
even at that moment, when you did not know it, there were your
cattle and your sheep feeding in the mountains, in the keeping of
God! Will my Alessandro believe after this?" and she threw her
arms around his neck and kissed him.
"It is true," said Alessandro. "I will believe, after this, that the
saints love my Majella."
But as he walked at a slower pace back to Ysidro, he said to
himself: "Majella did not see Temecula. What would she have said
about the saints, if she had seen that, and seen the people dying for
want of food? It is only for her that the saints pray. They are
displeased with my people."
ONE year, and a half of another year, had passed. Sheep-shearings
and vintages had been in San Pasquale; and Alessandro's new
house, having been beaten on by the heavy spring rains, looked no
longer new. It stood on the south side of the valley,-- too far,
Ramona felt, from the blessed bell; but there had not been land
enough for wheat-fields any nearer, and she could see the chapel,
and the posts, and, on a clear day, the bell itself. The house was
small. "Small to hold so much joy," she said, when Alessandro first
led her to it, and said, deprecatingly, "It is small, Majella,-- too
small;" and he recollected bitterly, as he spoke, the size of
Ramona's own room at the Senora's house. "Too small," he
"Very small to hold so much joy, my Alessandro," she laughed;
"but quite large enough to hold two persons."
It looked like a palace to the San Pasquale people, after Ramona
had arranged their little possessions in it; and she herself felt rich
as she looked around her two small rooms. The old San Luis Rey
chairs and the raw-hide bedstead were there, and, most precious of
all, the statuette of the Madonna. For this Alessandro had built a
niche in the wall, between the head of the bed and the one
window. The niche was deep enough to hold small pots in front of
the statuette; and Ramona kept constantly growing there
wild-cucumber plants, which wreathed and re-wreathed the niche
till it looked like a bower. Below it hung her gold rosary and the
ivory Christ; and many a woman of the village, when she came to
see Ramona, asked permission to go into the bedroom and say her
prayers there; so that it finally came to be a sort of shrine for the
A broad veranda, as broad as the Senora's, ran across the front of
the little house. This was the only thing for which Ramona had
asked. She could not quite fancy life without a veranda, and linnets
in the thatch. But the linnets had not yet come. In vain Ramona
strewed food for them, and laid little trains of crumbs to lure them
inside the posts; they would not build nests inside. It was not their
way in San Pasquale. They lived in the canons, but this part of the
valley was too bare of trees for them. "In a year or two more, when
we have orchards, they will come," Alessandro said.
With the money from that first sheep-shearing, and from the sale
of part of his cattle, Alessandro had bought all he needed in the
way of farming implements,-- a good wagon and harnesses, and a
plough. Baba and Benito, at first restive and indignant, soon made
up their minds to work. Ramona had talked to Baba about it as she
would have talked to a brother. In fact, except for Ramona's help,
it would have been a question whether even Alessandro could have
made Baba work in harness. "Good Baba!" Ramona said, as she
slipped piece after piece of the harness over his neck,-- "Good
Baba, you must help us; we have so much work to do, and you are
so strong! Good Baba, do you love me?" and with one hand in his
mane, and her cheek, every few steps, laid close to his, she led
Baba up and down the first furrows he ploughed.
"My Senorita!" thought Alessandro to himself, half in pain, half in
pride, as, running behind with the unevenly jerked plough, he
watched her laughing face and blowing hair,-- "my Senorita!"
But Ramona would not run with her hand in Baba's mane this
winter. There was a new work for her, indoors. In a rustic cradle,
which Alessandro had made, under her directions, of the woven
twigs, like the great outdoor acorn-granaries, only closer woven,
and of an oval shape, and lifted from the floor by four uprights of
red manzanita stems,-- in this cradle, on soft white wool fleeces,
covered with white homespun blankets, lay Ramona's baby, six
months old, lusty, strong, and beautiful, as only children born of
great love and under healthful conditions can be. This child was a
girl, to Alessandro's delight; to Ramona's regret,-- so far as a loving
mother can feel regret connected with her firstborn. Ramona had
wished for an Alessandro; but the disappointed wish faded out of
her thoughts, hour by hour, as she gazed into her baby-girl's blue
eyes,-- eyes so blue that their color was the first thing noticed by
each person who looked at her.
"Eyes of the sky," exclaimed Ysidro, when he first saw her.
"Like the mother's," said Alessandro; on which Ysidro turned an
astonished look upon Ramona, and saw for the first time that her
eyes, too, were blue.
"Wonderful!" he said. "It is so. I never saw it;" and he wondered in
his heart what father it had been, who had given eyes like those to
one born of an Indian mother.
"Eyes of the sky," became at once the baby's name in the village;
and Alessandro and Ramona, before they knew it, had fallen into
the way of so calling her. But when it came to the christening, they
demurred. The news was brought to the village, one Saturday, that
Father Gaspara would hold services in the valley the next day, and
that he wished all the new-born babes to be brought for
christening. Late into the night, Alessandro and Ramona sat by
their sleeping baby and discussed what should be her name.
Ramona wondered that Alessandro did not wish to name her
"No! Never but one Majella," he said, in a tone which gave
Ramona a sense of vague fear, it was so solemn.
They discussed "Ramona," "Isabella." Alessandro suggested
Carmena. This had been his mother's name.
At the mention of it Ramona shuddered, recollecting the scene in
the Temecula graveyard. "Oh, no, no! Not that!" she cried. "It is
ill-fated;" and Alessandro blamed himself for having forgotten her
only association with the name.
At last Alessandro said: "The people have named her, I think,
Majella. Whatever name we give her in the chapel, she will never
be called anything but 'Eyes of the Sky,' in the village."
"Let that name be her true one, then," said Ramona. And so it was
settled; and when Father Gaspara took the little one in his arms,
and made the sign of the cross on her brow, he pronounced with
some difficulty the syllables of the Indian name, which meant
"Blue Eyes," or "Eyes of the Sky."
Heretofore, when Father Gaspara had come to San Pasquale to say
mass, he had slept at Lomax's, the store and post-office, six miles
away, in the Bernardo valley. But Ysidro, with great pride, had this
time ridden to meet him, to say that his cousin Alessandro, who
had come to live in the valley, and had a good new adobe house,
begged that the Father would do him the honor to stay with him.
"And indeed, Father," added Ysidro, "you will be far better lodged
and fed than in the house of Lomax. My cousin's wife knows well
how all should be done."
"Alessandro! Alessandro!" said the Father, musingly. "Has he been
"No, Father," answered Ysidro. "But little more than two years.
They were married by you, on their way from Temecula here."
"Ay, ay. I remember," said Father Gaspara. "I will come;" and it
was with no small interest that he looked forward to meeting again
the couple that had so strongly impressed him.
Ramona was full of eager interest in her preparations for
entertaining the priest. This was like the olden time; and as she
busied herself with her cooking and other arrangements, the
thought of Father Salvierderra was much in her mind. She could,
perhaps, hear news of him from Father Gaspara. It was she who
had suggested the idea to Alessandro; and when he said, "But
where will you sleep yourself, with the child, Majella, if we give
our room to the Father? I can lie on the floor outside; but you?" --
"I will go to Ysidro's, and sleep with Juana," she replied. "For two
nights, it is no matter; and it is such shame to have the Father sleep
in the house of an American, when we have a good bed like this!"
Seldom in his life had Alessandro experienced such a sense of
gratification as he did when he led Father Gaspara into his and
Ramona's bedroom. The clean whitewashed walls, the bed neatly
made, with broad lace on sheets and pillows, hung with curtains
and a canopy of bright red calico, the old carved chairs, the
Madonna shrine in its bower of green leaves, the shelves on the
walls, the white-curtained window, -- all made up a picture such as
Father Gaspara had never before seen in his pilgrimages among the
Indian villages. He could not restrain an ejaculation of surprise.
Then his eye falling on the golden rosary, he exclaimed, "Where
got you that?"
"It is my wife's," replied Alessandro, proudly. "It was given to her
by Father Salvierderra."
"Ah!" said the Father. "He died the other day."
"Dead! Father Salvierderra dead!" cried Alessandro. "That will be
a terrible blow. Oh, Father, I implore you not to speak of it in her
presence. She must not know it till after the christening. It will
make her heart heavy, so that she will have no joy."
Father Gaspara was still scrutinizing the rosary and crucifix. "To
be sure, to be sure," he said absently; "I will say nothing of it; but
this is a work of art, this crucifix; do you know what you have
here? And this,-- is this not an altar-cloth?" he added, lifting up the
beautiful wrought altar-cloth, which Ramona, in honor of his
coming, had pinned on the wall below the Madonna's shrine.
"Yes, Father, it was made for that. My wife made it. It was to be a
present to Father Salvierderra; but she has not seen him, to give it
to him. It will take the light out of the sun for her, when first she
hears that he is dead,"
Father Gaspara was about to ask another question, when Ramona
appeared in the doorway, flushed with running. She had carried the
baby over to Juana's and left her there, that she might be free to
serve the Father's supper.
"I pray you tell her not," said Alessandro, under his breath; but it
was too late. Seeing the Father with her rosary in his hand,
Ramona exclaimed: --
"That, Father, is my most sacred possession. It once belonged to
Father Peyri, of San Luis Rey, and he gave it to Father
Salvierderra, who gave it to me, Know you Father Salvierderra? I
was hoping to hear news of him through you."
"Yes, I knew him,-- not very well; it is long since I saw him,"
stammered Father Gaspara. His hesitancy alone would not have
told Ramona the truth; she would have set that down to the secular
priest's indifference, or hostility, to the Franciscan order; but
looking at Alessandro, she saw terror and sadness on his face. No
shadow there ever escaped her eye. "What is it, Alessandro?" she
exclaimed. "Is it something about Father Salvierderra? Is he ill?"
Alessandro shook his head. He did not know what to say. Looking
from one to the other, seeing the confused pain in both their faces,
Ramona, laying both her hands on her breast, in the expressive
gesture she had learned from the Indian women, cried out in a
piteous tone: "You will not tell me! You do not speak! Then he is
dead!" and she sank on her knees.
"Yes, my daughter, he is dead," said Father Gaspara, more tenderly
than that brusque and warlike priest often spoke. "He died a month
ago, at Santa Barbara. I am grieved to have brought you tidings to
give you such sorrow. But you must not mourn for him. He was
very feeble, and he longed to die, I heard. He could no longer
work, and he did not wish to live."
Ramona had buried her face in her hands. The Father's words were
only a confused sound in her ears. She had heard nothing after the
words, "a month ago." She remained silent and motionless for
some moments; then rising, without speaking a word, or looking at
either of the men, she crossed the room and knelt down before the
Madonna. By a common impulse, both Alessandro and Father
Gaspara silently left the room. As they stood together outside the
door, the Father said, "I would go back to Lomax's if it were not so
late. I like not to be here when your wife is in such grief."
"That would but be another grief, Father," said Alessandro. "She
has been full of happiness in making ready for you. She is very
strong of soul. It is she who makes me strong often, and not I who
give strength to her."
"My faith, but the man is right," thought Father Gaspara, a
half-hour later, when, with a calm face, Ramona summoned them
to supper. He did not know, as Alessandro did, how that face had
changed in the half-hour. It wore a look Alessandro had never seen
upon it. Almost he dreaded to speak to her.
When he walked by her side, later in the evening, as she went
across the valley to Fernando's house, he ventured to mention
Father Salvierderra's name. Ramona laid her hand on his lips. "I
cannot talk about him yet, dear," she said. "I never believed that he
would die without giving us his blessing. Do not speak of him till
to-morrow is over."
Ramona's saddened face smote on all the women's hearts as they
met her the next morning. One by one they gazed, astonished, then
turned away, and spoke softly among themselves. They all loved
her, and half revered her too, for her great kindness, and readiness
to teach and to help them. She had been like a sort of missionary in
the valley ever since she came, and no one had ever seen her face
without a smile. Now she smiled not. Yet there was the beautiful
baby in its white dress, ready to be christened; and the sun shone,
and the bell had been ringing for half an hour, and from every
corner of the valley the people were gathering, and Father Gaspara,
in his gold and green cassock, was praying before the altar; it was
a joyous day in San Pasquale. Why did Alessandro and Ramona
kneel apart in a corner, with such heart-stricken countenances, not
even looking glad when their baby laughed, and reached up her
hands? Gradually it was whispered about what had happened.
Some one had got it from Antonio, of Temecula, Alessandro's
friend. Then all the women's faces grew sad too. They all had
heard of Father Salvierderra, and many of them had prayed to the
ivory Christ in Ramona's room, and knew that he had given it to
As Ramona passed out of the chapel, some of them came up to
her, and taking her hand in theirs, laid it on their hearts, speaking
no word. The gesture was more than any speech could have been.
When Father Gaspara was taking leave, Ramona said, with
quivering lips, "Father, if there is anything you know of Father
Salvierderra's last hours, I would be grateful to you for telling me."
"I heard very little," replied the Father, "except that he had been
feeble for some weeks; yet he would persist in spending most of
the night kneeling on the stone floor in the church, praying."
"Yes," interrupted Ramona; "that he always did."
"And the last morning," continued the Father, "the Brothers found
him there, still kneeling on the stone floor, but quite powerless to
move; and they lifted him, and carried him to his room, and there
they found, to their horror, that he had had no bed; he had lain on
the stones; and then they took him to the Superior's own room, and
laid him in the bed, and he did not speak any more, and at noon he
"Thank you very much, Father," said Ramona, without lifting her
eyes from the ground; and in the same low, tremulous tone, "I am
glad that I know that he is dead."
"Strange what a hold those Franciscans got on these Indians!"
mused Father Gaspara, as he rode down the valley. "There's none
of them would look like that if I were dead, I warrant me! There,"
he exclaimed, "I meant to have asked Alessandro who this wife of
his is! I don't believe she is a Temecula Indian. Next time I come, I
will find out. She's had some schooling somewhere, that's plain.
She's quite superior to the general run of them. Next time I come, I
will find out about her."
"Next time!" In what calendar are kept the records of those next
times which never come? Long before Father Gaspara visited San
Pasquale again, Alessandro and Ramona were far away, and
strangers were living in their home.
It seemed to Ramona in after years, as she looked back over this
life, that the news of Father Salvierderra's death was the first note
of the knell of their happiness. It was but a few days afterward,
when Alessandro came in one noon with an expression on his face
that terrified her; seating himself in a chair, he buried his face in
his hands, and would neither look up nor speak; not until Ramona
was near crying from his silence, did he utter a word. Then,
looking at her with a ghastly face, he said in a hollow voice, "It has
begun!" and buried his face again. Finally Ramona's tears wrung
from him the following story:
Ysidro, it seemed, had the previous year rented a canon, at the
head of the valley, to one Doctor Morong. It was simply as
bee-pasture that the Doctor wanted it, he said. He put his hives
there, and built a sort of hut for the man whom he sent up to look
after the honey. Ysidro did not need the land, and thought it a good
chance to make a little money. He had taken every precaution to
make the transaction a safe one; had gone to San Diego, and got
Father Gaspara to act as interpreter for him, in the interview with
Morong; it had been a written agreement, and the rent agreed upon
had been punctually paid. Now, the time of the lease having
expired, Ysidro had been to San Diego to ask the Doctor if he
wished to renew it for another year; and the Doctor had said that
the land was his, and he was coming out there to build a house,
Ysidro had gone to Father Gaspara for help, and Father Gaspara
had had an angry interview with Doctor Morong; but it had done
no good. The Doctor said the land did not belong to Ysidro at all,
but to the United States Government; and that he had paid the
money for it to the agents in Los Angeles, and there would very
soon come papers from Washington, to show that it was his. Father
Gaspara had gone with Ysidro to a lawyer in San Diego, and had
shown to his lawyer Ysidro's paper,-- the old one from the
Mexican Governor of California, establishing the pueblo of San
Pasquale, and saying how many leagues of land the Indians were to
have; but the lawyer had only laughed at Father Gaspara for
believing that such a paper as that was good for anything. He said
that was all very well when the country belonged to Mexico, but it
was no good now; that the Americans owned it now; and
everything was done by the American law now, not by the
Mexican law any more.
"Then we do not own any land in San Pasquale at all," said Ysidro.
"Is that what it means?"
And the lawyer had said, he did not know how it would be with the
cultivated land, and the village where the houses were,-- he could
not tell about that; but he thought it all belonged to the men at
Father Gaspara was in such rage, Ysidro said, that he tore open his
gown on his breast, and he smote himself, and he said he wished
he were a soldier, and no priest, that he might fight this accursed
United States Government; and the lawyer laughed at him, and
told him to look after souls, -- that was his business,-- and let the
Indian beggars alone! "Yes, that was what he said,-- 'the Indian
beggars!' and so they would be all beggars, presently."
Alessandro told this by gasps, as it were; at long intervals. His
voice was choked; his whole frame shook. He was nearly beside
himself with rage and despair.
"You see, it is as I said, Majella. There is no place safe. We can do
nothing! We might better be dead!"
"It is a long way off, that canon Doctor Morong had," said
Ramona, piteously. "It wouldn't do any harm, his living there, if no
"Majella talks like a dove, and not like a woman," said Alessandro,
fiercely. "Will there be one to come, and not two? It is the
beginning. To-morrow may come ten more, with papers to show
that the land is theirs. We can do nothing, any more than the wild
beasts. They are better than we."
From this day Alessandro was a changed man. Hope had died in
his bosom. In all the village councils,-- and they were many and
long now, for the little community had been plunged into great
anxiety and distress by this Doctor Morong's affair,-- Alessandro
sat dumb and gloomy. To whatever was proposed, he had but one
reply: "It is of no use. We can do nothing."
"Eat your dinners to-day, to-morrow we starve," he said one night,
bitterly, as the council broke up. When Ysidro proposed to him
that they should journey to Los Angeles, where Father Gaspara had
said the headquarters of the Government officers were, and where
they could learn all about the new laws in regard to land,
Alessandro laughed at him. "What more is it, then, which you wish
to know, my brother, about the American laws?" he said. "Is it not
enough that you know they have made a law which will take the
land from Indians; from us who have owned it longer than any can
remember; land that our ancestors are buried in,-- will take that
land and give it to themselves, and say it is theirs? Is it to hear this
again said in your face, and to see the man laugh who says it, like
the lawyer in San Diego, that you will journey to Los Angeles? I
will not go!"
And Ysidro went alone. Father Gaspara gave him a letter to the
Los Angeles priest, who went with him to the land-office, patiently
interpreted for him all he had to say, and as patiently interpreted
all that the officials had to say in reply. They did not laugh, as
Alessandro in his bitterness had said. They were not inhuman, and
they felt sincere sympathy for this man, representative of two
hundred hard-working, industrious people, in danger of being
turned out of house and home. But they were very busy; they had
to say curtly, and in few words, all there was to be said: the San
Pasquale district was certainly the property of the United States
Government, and the lands were in market, to be filed on, and
bought, according to the homestead laws, These officials had
neither authority nor option in the matter. They were there simply
to carry out instructions, and obey orders.
Ysidro understood the substance of all this, though the details were
beyond his comprehension. But he did not regret having taken the
journey; he had now made his last effort for his people. The Los
Angeles priest had promised that he would himself write a letter to
Washington, to lay the case before the head man there, and
perhaps something would be done for their relief. It seemed
incredible to Ysidro, as, riding along day after day, on his sad
homeward journey, he reflected on the subject,-- it seemed
incredible to him that the Government would permit such a village
as theirs to be destroyed. He reached home just at sunset; and
looking down, as Alessandro and Ramona had done on the
morning of their arrival, from the hillcrests at the west end of the
valley, seeing the broad belt of cultivated fields and orchards, the
peaceful little hamlet of houses, he groaned. "If the people who
make these laws could only see this village, they would never turn
us out, never! They can't know what is being done. I am sure they
"What did I tell you?" cried Alessandro, galloping up on Benito,
and reining him in so sharply he reared and plunged. "What did I
tell you? I saw by your face, many paces back, that you had come
as you went, or worse! I have been watching for you these two
days. Another American has come in with Morong in the canon;
they are making corrals; they will keep stock. You will see how
long we have any pasture-lands in that end of the valley. I drive all
my stock to San Diego next week. I will sell it for what it will
bring,-- both the cattle and the sheep. It is no use. You will see."
When Ysidro began to recount his interview with the land-office
authorities, Alessandro broke in fiercely: "I wish to hear no more
of it. Their names and their speech are like smoke in my eyes and
my nose. I think I shall go mad, Ysidro. Go tell your story to the
men who are waiting to hear it, and who yet believe that an
American may speak truth!"
Alessandro was as good as his word. The very next week he drove
all his cattle and sheep to San Diego, and sold them at great loss.
"It is better than nothing," he said. "They will not now be sold by
the sheriff, like my father's in Temecula." The money he got, he
took to Father Gaspara. "Father," he said huskily. "I have sold all
my stock. I would not wait for the Americans to sell it for me, and
take the money. I have not got much, but it is better than nothing.
It will make that we do not starve for one year. Will you keep it for
me, Father? I dare not have it in San Pasquale. San Pasquale will
be like Temecula,-- it may be to-morrow."
To the Father's suggestion that he should put the money in a bank
in San Diego, Alessandro cried: "Sooner would I throw it in the sea
yonder! I trust no man, henceforth; only the Church I will trust.
Keep it for me, Father, I pray you," and the Father could not refuse
his imploring tone.
"What are your plans now?" he asked.
"Plans!" repeated Alessandro,-- "plans, Father! Why should I make
plans? I will stay in my house so long as the Americans will let
me. You saw our little house, Father!" His voice broke as he said
this. "I have large wheat-fields; if I can get one more crop off
them, it will be something; but my land is of the richest in the
valley, and as soon as the Americans see it, they will want it.
Farewell, Father. I thank you for keeping my money, and for all
you said to the thief Morong. Ysidro told me. Farewell." And he
was gone, and out of sight on the swift galloping Benito, before
Father Gaspara bethought himself.
"And I remembered not to ask who his wife was. I will look back
at the record," said the Father. Taking down the old volume, he ran
his eye back over the year. Marriages were not so many in Father
Gaspara's parish, that the list took long to read. The entry of
Alessandro's marriage was blotted. The Father had been in haste
that night. "Alessandro Assis. Majella Fa--" No more could be
read. The name meant nothing to Father Gaspara. "Clearly an
Indian name," he said to himself; "yet she seemed superior in every
way. I wonder where she got it."
The winter wore along quietly in San Pasquale. The delicious soft
rains set in early, promising a good grain year. It seemed a pity not
to get in as much wheat as possible; and all the San Pasquale
people went early to ploughing new fields,-- all but Alessandro.
"If I reap all I have, I will thank the saints," he said. "I will plough
no more land for the robbers." But after his fields were all planted,
and the beneficent rains still kept on, and the hills all along the
valley wall began to turn green earlier than ever before was
known, he said to Ramona one morning, "I think I will make one
more field of wheat. There will be a great yield this year. Maybe
we will be left unmolested till the harvest is over."
"Oh, yes, and for many more harvests, dear Alessandro!" said
Ramona, cheerily. "You are always looking on the black side."
"There is no other but the black side, Majella," he replied. "Strain
my eyes as I may, on all sides all is black. You will see. Never any
more harvests in San Pasquale for us, after this. If we get this, we
are lucky. I have seen the white men riding up and down in the
valley, and I found some of their cursed bits of wood with figures
on them set up on my land the other day; and I pulled them up and
burned them to ashes. But I will plough one more field this week;
though, I know not why it is, my thoughts go against it even now.
But I will do it; and I will not come home till night, Majella, for
the field is too far to go and come twice. I shall be the whole day
ploughing." So saying, he stooped and kissed the baby, and then
kissing Ramona, went out.
Ramona stood at the door and watched him as he harnessed Benito
and Baba to the plough. He did not once look back at her; his face
seemed full of thought, his hands acting as it were mechanically.
After he had gone a few rods from the house, he stopped, stood
still for some minutes meditatingly, then went on irresolutely,
halted again, but finally went on, and disappeared from sight
among the low foothills to the east. Sighing deeply, Ramona
turned back to her work. But her heart was too disquieted. She
could not keep back the tears.
"How changed is Alessandro!" she thought. "It terrifies me to see
him thus. I will tell the Blessed Virgin about it;" and kneeling
before the shrine, she prayed fervently and long. She rose
comforted, and drawing the baby's cradle out into the veranda,
seated herself at her embroidery. Her skill with her needle had
proved a not inconsiderable source of income, her fine lace-work
being always taken by San Diego merchants, and at fairly good
It seemed to her only a short time that she had been sitting thus,
when, glancing up at the sun, she saw it was near noon; at the
same moment she saw Alessandro approaching, with the horses. In
dismay, she thought, "There is no dinner! He said he would not
come!" and springing up, was about to run to meet him, when she
observed that he was not alone. A short, thick-set man was
walking by his side; they were talking earnestly. It was a white
man. What did it bode? Presently they stopped. She saw
Alessandro lift his hand and point to the house, then to the tule
sheds in the rear. He seemed to be talking excitedly; the white man
also; they were both speaking at once. Ramona shivered with fear.
Motionless she stood, straining eye and ear; she could hear
nothing, but the gestures told much. Had it come,-- the thing
Alessandro had said would come? Were they to be driven out,--
driven out this very day, when the Virgin had only just now
seemed to promise her help and protection?
The baby stirred, waked, began to cry. Catching the child up to her
breast, she stilled her by convulsive caresses. Clasping her tight in
her arms, she walked a few steps towards Alessandro, who, seeing
her, made an imperative gesture to her to return. Sick at heart, she
went back to the veranda and sat down to wait.
In a few moments she saw the white man counting out money into
Alessandro's hand; then he turned and walked away, Alessandro
still standing as if rooted to the spot, gazing into the palm of his
hand, Benito and Baba slowly walking away from him unnoticed;
at last he seemed to rouse himself as from a trance, and picking up
the horses' reins, came slowly toward her. Again she started to
meet him; again he made the same authoritative gesture to her to
return; and again she seated herself, trembling in every nerve of
her body. Ramona was now sometimes afraid of Alessandro. When
these fierce glooms seized him, she dreaded, she knew not what.
He seemed no more the Alessandro she had loved.
Deliberately, lingeringly, he unharnessed the horses and put them
in the corral. Then still more deliberately, lingeringly, he walked
to the house; walked, without speaking, past Ramona, into the
door. A lurid spot on each cheek showed burning red through the
bronze of his skin. His eyes glittered. In silence Ramona followed
him, and saw him draw from his pocket a handful of gold-pieces,
fling them on the table, and burst into a laugh more terrible than
any weeping,-- a laugh which wrung from her instantly,
involuntarily, the cry, "Oh, my Alessandro! my Alessandro! What
is it? Are you mad?"
"No, my sweet Majel," he exclaimed, turning to her, and flinging
his arms round her and the child together, drawing them so close
to his breast that the embrace hurt,-- "no, I am not mad; but I think
I shall soon be! What is that gold? The price of this house, Majel,
and of the fields,-- of all that was ours in San Pasquale!
To-morrow we will go out into the world again. I will see if I can
find a place the Americans do not want!"
It did not take many words to tell the story. Alessandro had not
been ploughing more than an hour, when, hearing a strange sound,
he looked up and saw a man unloading lumber a few rods off'.
Alessandro stopped midway in the furrow and watched him. The
man also watched Alessandro. Presently he came toward him, and
said roughly, "Look here! Be off, will you? This is my land. I'm
going to build a house here."
Alessandro had replied, "This was my land yesterday. How comes
it yours to-day?"
Something in the wording of this answer, or something in
Alessandro's tone and bearing, smote the man's conscience, or
heart, or what stood to him in the place of conscience and heart,
and he said: "Come, now, my good fellow, you look like a
reasonable kind of a fellow; you just clear out, will you, and not
make me any trouble. You see the land's mine. I've got all this land
round here;" and he waved his arm, describing a circle; "three
hundred and twenty acres, me and my brother together, and we're
coming in here to settle. We got our papers from Washington last
week. It's all right, and you may just as well go peaceably, as make
a fuss about it. Don't you see?"
Yes, Alessandro saw. He had been seeing this precise thing for
months. Many times, in his dreams and in his waking thoughts, he
had lived over scenes similar to this. An almost preternatural calm
and wisdom seemed to be given him now.
"Yes, I see, Senor," he said. "I am not surprised. I knew it would
come; but I hoped it would not be till after harvest. I will not give
you any trouble, Senor, because I cannot. If I could, I would. But I
have heard all about the new law which gives all the Indians' lands
to the Americans. We cannot help ourselves. But it is very hard,
Senor." He paused.
The man, confused and embarrassed, astonished beyond
expression at being met in this way by an Indian, did not find
words come ready to his tongue. "Of course, I know it does seem a
little rough on fellows like you, that are industrious, and have done
some work on the land. But you see the land's in the market; I've
paid my money for it."
"The Senor is going to build a house?" asked Alessandro.
"Yes," the man answered. "I've got my family in San Diego, and I
want to get them settled as soon as I can. My wife won't feel
comfortable till she's in her own house. We're from the States, and
she's been used to having everything comfortable."
"I have a wife and child, Senor," said Alessandro, still in the same
calm, deliberate tone; "and we have a very good house of two
rooms. It would save the Senor's building, if he would buy mine."
"How far is it?" said the man. "I can't tell exactly where the
boundaries of my land are, for the stakes we set have been pulled
"Yes, Senor, I pulled them up and burned them. They were on my
land," replied Alessandro. "My house is farther west than your
stakes; and I have large wheat-fields there, too,-- many acres,
Senor, all planted."
Here was a chance, indeed. The man's eyes gleamed. He would do
the handsome thing. He would give this fellow something for his
house and wheat-crops. First he would see the house, however; and
it was for that purpose he had walked back with Alessandro, When
he saw the neat whitewashed adobe, with its broad veranda, the
sheds and corrals all in good order, he instantly resolved to get
possession of them by fair means or foul.
"There will be three hundred dollars' worth of wheat in July,
Senor, you can see for yourself; and a house so good as that, you
cannot build for less than one hundred dollars. What will you give
me for them?"
"I suppose I can have them without paying you for them, if I
choose," said the man, insolently.
"No, Senor," replied Alessandro.
"What's to hinder, then, I'd like to know!" in a brutal sneer. "You
haven't got any rights here, whatever, according to law."
"I shall hinder, Senor," replied Alessandro. "I shall burn down the
sheds and corrals, tear down the house; and before a blade of the
wheat is reaped, I will burn that." Still in the same calm tone.
"What'll you take?" said the man, sullenly.
"Two hundred dollars," replied Alessandro.
"Well, leave your plough and wagon, and I'll give it to you," said
the man; "and a big fool I am, too. Well laughed at, I'll be, do you
know it, for buying out an Indian!"
"The wagon, Senor, cost me one hundred and thirty dollars in San
Diego. You cannot buy one so good for less. I will not sell it. I
need it to take away my things in. The plough you may have. That
is worth twenty."
"I'll do it," said the man; and pulling out a heavy buckskin pouch,
he counted out into Alessandro's hand two hundred dollars in gold.
"Is that all right?" he said, as he put down the last piece.
"That is the sum I said, Senor," replied Alessandro. "Tomorrow, at
noon, you can come into the house."
"Where will you go?" asked the man, again slightly touched by
Alessandro's manner. "Why don't you stay round here? I expect you
could get work enough; there are a lot of farmers coming in here;
they'll want hands."
A fierce torrent of words sprang to Alessandro's lips, but he
choked them back. "I do not know where I shall go, but I will not
stay here," he said; and that ended the interview.
"I don't know as I blame him a mite for feeling that way," thought
the man from the States, as he walked slowly back to his pile of
lumber. "I expect I should feel just so myself."
Almost before Alessandro had finished this tale, he began to move
about the room, taking down, folding up, opening and shutting
lids; his restlessness was terrible to see. "By sunrise, I would like
to be off," he said. "It is like death, to be in the house which is no
longer ours." Ramona had spoken no words since her first cry on
hearing that terrible laugh. She was like one stricken dumb. The
shock was greater to her than to Alessandro. He had lived with it
ever present in his thoughts for a year. She had always hoped. But
far more dreadful than the loss of her home, was the anguish of
seeing, hearing, the changed face, changed voice, of Alessandro.
Almost this swallowed up the other. She obeyed him
mechanically, working faster and faster as he grew more and more
feverish in his haste. Before sundown the little house was
dismantled; everything, except the bed and the stove, packed in the
"Now, we must cook food for the journey," said Alessandro.
"Where are we going?" said the weeping Ramona.
"Where?" ejaculated Alessandro, so scornfully that it sounded like
impatience with Ramona, and made her tears flow afresh. "Where?
I know not, Majella! Into the mountains, where the white men
come not! At sunrise we will start."
Ramona wished to say good-by to their friends. There were women
in the village that she tenderly loved. But Alessandro was
unwilling. "There will be weeping and crying, Majella; I pray you
do not speak to one. Why should we have more tears? Let us
disappear. I will say all to Ysidro. He will tell them."
This was a sore grief to Ramona. In her heart she rebelled against
it, as she had never yet rebelled against an act of Alessandro's; but
she could not distress him. Was not his burden heavy enough now?
Without a word of farewell to any one, they set off in the gray
dawn, before a creature was stirring in the village,-- the wagon
piled high; Ramona, her baby in her arms, in front; Alessandro
walking. The load was heavy. Benito and Baba walked slowly.
Capitan, unhappy, looking first at Ramona's face, then at
Alessandro's, walked dispiritedly by their side. He knew all was
As Alessandro turned the horses into a faintly marked road leading
in a northeasterly direction, Ramona said with a sob, "Where does
this road lead, Alessandro?"
"To San Jacinto," he said. "San Jacinto Mountain. Do not look
back, Majella! Do not look back!" he cried, as he saw Ramona,
with streaming eyes, gazing back towards San Pasquale. "Do not
look back! It is gone! Pray to the saints now, Majella! Pray! Pray!"
THE Senora Moreno was dying. It had been a sad two years in the
Moreno house. After the first excitement following Ramona's
departure had died away, things had settled down in a surface
similitude of their old routine. But nothing was really the same. No
one was so happy as before. Juan Canito was heart-broken. There
had been set over him the very Mexican whose coming to the
place he had dreaded. The sheep had not done well; there had been
a drought; many had died of hunger,-- a thing for which the new
Mexican overseer was not to blame, though it pleased Juan to hold
him so, and to say from morning till night that if his leg had not
been broken, or if the lad Alessandro had been there, the
wool-crop would have been as big as ever. Not one of the servants
liked this Mexican; he had a sorry time of it, poor fellow; each
man and woman on the place had or fancied some reason for being
set against him; some from sympathy with Juan Can, some from
idleness and general impatience; Margarita, most of all, because
he was not Alessandro. Margarita, between remorse about her
young mistress and pique and disappointment about Alessandro,
had become a very unhappy girl; and her mother, instead of
comforting or soothing her, added to her misery by continually
bemoaning Ramona's fate. The void that Ramona had left in the
whole household seemed an irreparable one; nothing came to fill
it; there was no forgetting; every day her name was mentioned by
some one; mentioned with bated breath, fearful conjecture,
compassion, and regret. Where had she vanished? Had she indeed
gone to the convent, as she said, or had she fled with Alessandro?
Margarita would have given her right hand to know. Only Juan
Can felt sure. Very well Juan Can knew that nobody but
Alessandro had the wit and the power over Baba to lure him out of
that corral, "and never a rail out of its place." And the saddle, too!
Ay, the smart lad! He had done the best he could for the Senorita;
but, Holy Virgin! what had got into the Senorita to run off like
that, with an Indian,-- even Alessandro! The fiends had bewitched
her. Tirelessly Juan Can questioned every traveller, every
wandering herder he saw. No one knew anything of Alessandro,
beyond the fact that all the Temecula Indians had been driven out
of their village, and that there was now not an Indian in the valley.
There was a rumor that Alessandro and his father had both died;
but no one knew anything certainly. The Temecula Indians had
disappeared, that was all there was of it,-- disappeared, like any
wild creatures, foxes or coyotes, hunted down, driven out; the
valley was rid of them. But the Senorita! She was not with these
fugitives. That could not be! Heaven forbid!
"If I'd my legs, I'd go and see for myself." said Juan Can. "It would
be some comfort to know even the worst. Perdition take the
Senora, who drove her to it! Ay, drove her to it! That's what I say,
Luigo." In some of his most venturesome wrathy moments he
would say: "There's none of you know the truth about the Senorita
but me! It's a hard hand the Senora's reared her with, from the first.
She's a wonderful woman, our Senora! She gets power over one."
But the Senora's power was shaken now. More changed than all
else in the changed Moreno household, was the relation between
the Senora Moreno and her son Felipe. On the morning after
Ramona's disappearance, words had been spoken by each which
neither would ever forget. In fact, the Senora believed that it was
of them she was dying, and perhaps that was not far from the truth;
the reason that forces could no longer rally in her to repel disease,
lying no doubt largely in the fact that to live seemed no longer to
Felipe had found the note Ramona had laid on his bed. Before it
was yet dawn he had waked, and tossing uneasily under the light
covering had heard the rustle of the paper, and knowing
instinctively that it was from Ramona, had risen instantly to make
sure of it. Before his mother opened her window, he had read it.
He felt like one bereft of his senses as he read. Gone! Gone with
Alessandro! Stolen away like a thief in the night, his dear, sweet
little sister! Ah, what a cruel shame! Scales seemed to drop from
Felipe's eyes as he lay motionless, thinking of it. A shame! a cruel
shame! And he and his mother were the ones who had brought it
on Ramona's head, and on the house of Moreno. Felipe felt as if he
had been under a spell all along, not to have realized this. "That's
what I told my mother!" he groaned,-- "that it drove her to running
away! Oh, my sweet Ramona! what will become of her? I will go
after them, and bring them back;" and Felipe rose, and hastily
dressing himself, ran down the veranda steps, to gain a little more
time to think. He returned shortly, to meet his mother standing in
the doorway, with pale, affrighted face.
"Felipe!" she cried, "Ramona is not here."
"I know it," he replied in an angry tone. "That is what I told you we
should do,-- drive her to running away with Alessandro!"
"With Alessandro!" interrupted the Senora.
"Yes," continued Felipe,-- "with Alessandro, the Indian! Perhaps
you think it is less disgrace to the names of Ortegna and Moreno to
have her run away with him, than to be married to him here under
our roof! I do not! Curse the day, I say, when I ever lent myself to
breaking the girl's heart! I am going after them, to fetch them
If the skies had opened and rained fire, the Senora had hardly less
quailed and wondered than she did at these words; but even for fire
from the skies she would not surrender till she must.
"How know you that it is with Alessandro?" she said.
"Because she has written it here!" cried Felipe, defiantly holding
up his little note. "She left this, her good-by to me. Bless her! She
writes like a saint, to thank me for all my goodness to her,-- I, who
drove her to steal out of my house like a thief!"
The phrase, "my house," smote the Senora's ear like a note from
some other sphere, which indeed it was,-- from the new world into
which Felipe had been in an hour born. Her cheeks flushed, and
she opened her lips to reply; but before she had uttered a word,
Luigo came running round the corner, Juan Can hobbling after him
at a miraculous pace on his crutches. "Senor Felipe! Senor Felipe!
Oh, Senora!" they cried. "Thieves have been here in the night!
Baba is gone,-- Baba, and the Senorita's saddle."
A malicious smile broke over the Senora's countenance, and
turning to Felipe, she said in a tone -- what a tone it was! Felipe
felt as if he must put his hands to his ears to shut it out; Felipe
would never forget,-- "As you were saying, like a thief in the
With a swifter and more energetic movement than any had ever
before seen Senor Felipe make, he stepped forward, saying in an
undertone to his mother, "For God's sake, mother, not a word
before the men! -- What is that you say, Luigo? Baba gone? We
must see to our corral. I will come down, after breakfast, and look
at it;" and turning his back on them, he drew his mother by a firm
grasp, she could not resist, into the house.
She gazed at him in sheer, dumb wonder.
"Ay, mother," he said, "you may well look thus in wonder; I have
been no man, to let my foster-sister, I care not what blood were in
her veins, be driven to this pass! I will set out this day, and bring
"The day you do that, then, I lie in this house dead!" retorted the
Senora, at white heat. "You may rear as many Indian families as
you please under the Moreno roof, I will at least have my grave!"
In spite of her anger, grief convulsed her; and in another second
she had burst into tears, and sunk helpless and trembling into a
chair. No counterfeiting now. No pretences. The Senora Moreno's
heart broke within her, when those words passed her lips to her
adored Felipe. At the sight, Felipe flung himself on his knees
before her; he kissed the aged hands as they lay trembling in her
lap. "Mother mia," he cried, "you will break my heart if you speak
like that! Oh, why, why do you command me to do what a man
may not? I would die for you, my mother; but how can I see my
sister a homeless wanderer in the wilderness?"
"I suppose the man Alessandro has something he calls a home,"
said the Senora, regaining herself a little. "Had they no plans?
Spoke she not in her letter of what they would do?"
"Only that they would go to Father Salvierderra first," he replied.
"Ah!" The Senora reflected. At first startled, her second thought
was that this would be the best possible thing which could happen.
"Father Salvierderra will counsel them what to do," she said. "He
could no doubt establish them in Santa Barbara in some way. My
son, when you reflect, you will see the impossibility of bringing
them here. Help them in any way you like, but do not bring them
here." She paused. "Not until I am dead, Felipe! It will not be
Felipe bowed his head in his mother's lap. She laid her hands on
his hair, and stroked it with passionate tenderness. "My Felipe!"