Part 9 out of 9
beautiful dream for Ramona would be, that she should grow up in
And as she spoke, Felipe understood by a lightning intuition, and
wondered that he had not foreknown it, that she would spare her
daughter the burden she had gladly, heroically borne herself, in the
bond of race.
The question was settled. With gladness of heart almost more than
he could have believed possible, Felipe at once communicated
with some rich American proprietors who had desired to buy the
Moreno estate. Land in the valley had so greatly advanced in
value, that the sum he received for it was larger than he had dared
to hope; was ample for the realization of all his plans for the new
life in Mexico. From the hour that this was determined, and the
time for their sailing fixed, a new expression came into Ramona's
face. Her imagination was kindled. An untried future beckoned,-- a
future which she would embrace and conquer for her daughter.
Felipe saw the look, felt the change, and for the first time hoped. It
would be a new world, a new life; why not a new love? She could
not always be blind to his devotion; and when she saw it, could she
refuse to reward it? He would be very patient, and wait long, he
thought. Surely, since he had been patient so long without hope, he
could be still more patient now that hope had dawned! But
patience is not hope's province in breasts of lovers. From the day
when Felipe first thought to himself, "She will yet be mine," it
grew harder, and not easier, for him to refrain from pouring out his
love in words. Her tender sisterliness, which had been such balm
and comfort to him, grew at times intolerable; and again and again
her gentle spirit was deeply disquieted with the fear that she had
displeased him, so strangely did he conduct himself.
He had resolved that nothing should tempt him to disclose to her
his passion and its dreams, until they had reached their new home.
But there came a moment which mastered him, and he spoke.
It was in Monterey. They were to sail on the morrow; and had been
on board the ship to complete the last arrangements. They were
rowed back to shore in a little boat. A full moon shone. Ramona
sat bareheaded in the end of the boat, and the silver radiance from
the water seemed to float up around her, and invest her as with a
myriad halos. Felipe gazed at her till his senses swam; and when,
on stepping from the boat, she put her hand in his, and said, as she
had said hundreds of times before, "Dear Felipe, how good you
are!" he clasped her hands wildly, and cried, "Ramona, my love!
Oh, can you not love me?"
The moonlight was bright as day. They were alone on the shore.
Ramona gazed at him for one second, in surprise. Only for a
second; then she knew all. "Felipe! My brother!" she cried, and
stretched out her hands as if in warning.
"No! I am not your brother!" he cried. "I will not be your brother! I
would rather die!"
"Felipe!" cried Ramona again. This time her voice recalled him to
himself. It was a voice of terror and of pain.
"Forgive me, my sweet one!" he exclaimed. "I will never say it
again. But I have loved you so long -- so long!"
Ramona's head had fallen forward on her breast, her eyes fixed on
the shining sands; the waves rose and fell, rose and fell, at her feet
gently as sighs. A great revelation had come to Ramona. In this
supreme moment of Felipe's abandonment of all disguises, she saw
his whole past life in a new light. Remorse smote her. "Dear
Felipe," she said, clasping her hands, "I have been very selfish. I
did not know --"
"Of course you did not, love," said Felipe. "How could you? But I
have never loved any one else. I have always loved you. Can you
not learn to love me? I did not mean to tell you for a long time yet.
But now I have spoken; I cannot hide it any more."
Ramona drew nearer to him, still with her hands clasped. "I have
always loved you," she said. "I love no other living man; but,
Felipe," -- her voice sank to a solemn whisper,-- "do you not know,
Felipe, that part of me is dead,-- dead? can never live again? You
could not want me for your wife, Felipe, when part of me is dead!"
Felipe threw his arms around her. He was beside himself with joy.
"You would not say that if you did not think you could be my
wife," he cried. "Only give yourself to me, my love, I care not
whether you call yourself dead or alive!"
Ramona stood quietly in his arms. Ah, well for Felipe that he did
not know, never could know, the Ramona that Alessandro had
known. This gentle, faithful, grateful Ramona, asking herself
fervently now if she would do her brother a wrong, yielding up to
him what seemed to her only the broken fragment of a life;
weighing his words, not in the light of passion, but of calmest,
most unselfish action,-- ah, how unlike was she to that Ramona
who flung herself on Alessandro's breast, crying, "Take me with
you! I would rather die than have you leave me!"
Ramona had spoken truth. Part of her was dead. But Ramona saw
now, with infallible intuition, that even as she had loved
Alessandro, so Felipe loved her. Could she refuse to give Felipe
happiness, when he had saved her, saved her child? What else now
remained for them, these words having been spoken? "I will be
your wife, dear Felipe," she said, speaking solemnly, slowly, "if
you are sure it will make you happy, and if you think it is right."
"Right!" ejaculated Felipe, mad with the joy unlooked for so soon.
"Nothing else would be right! My Ramona, I will love you so, you
will forget you ever said that part of you was dead!"
A strange look which startled Felipe swept across Ramona's face;
it might have been a moonbeam. It passed. Felipe never saw it
General Moreno's name was still held in warm remembrance in the
city of Mexico, and Felipe found himself at once among friends.
On the day after their arrival he and Ramona were married in the
cathedral, old Marda and Juan Can, with his crutches, kneeling in
proud joy behind them. The story of the romance of their lives,
being widely rumored, greatly enhanced the interest with which
they were welcomed. The beautiful young Senora Moreno was the
theme of the city; and Felipe's bosom thrilled with pride to see the
gentle dignity of demeanor by which she was distinguished in all
assemblages. It was indeed a new world, a new life. Ramona might
well doubt her own identity. But undying memories stood like
sentinels in her breast. When the notes of doves, calling to each
other, fell on her ear, her eyes sought the sky, and she heard a
voice saying, "Majella!" This was the only secret her loyal, loving
heart had kept from Felipe. A loyal, loving heart indeed it was,--
loyal, loving, serene. Few husbands so blest as the Senor Felipe
Sons and daughters came to bear his name. The daughters were all
beautiful; but the most beautiful of them all, and, it was said, the
most beloved by both father and mother, was the eldest one: the
one who bore the mother's name, and was only step-daughter to the
Senor,-- Ramona,-- Ramona, daughter of Alessandro the Indian.