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outer air. With us, it is thought death to be shut up in walls, as he
has been so long. Not till we are sure to die, do we go into the dark
like that."

The Senora hesitated. She did not share Alessandro's prejudice in favor
of fresh air.

"Night and day both?" she said. "Surely it is not well to sleep out in
the night?"

"That is the best of all, Senora," replied Alessandro, earnestly. "I beg
the Senora to try it. If Senor Felipe have not mended greatly after the
first night he had so slept, then Alessandro will be a liar."

"No, only mistaken," said the Senora, gently. She felt herself greatly
drawn to this young man by his devotion, as she thought, of Felipe.
"When I die and leave Felipe here," she had more than once said to
herself, "it would be a great good to him to have such a servant as this
on the place."

"Very well, Alessandro," she replied; "make the bed, and we will try it
at once."

This was early in the forenoon. The sun was still high in the west,
when Ramona, sitting as usual in the veranda, at her embroidery, saw
Alessandro coming, followed by two men, bearing the raw-hide bed.

"What can that be?" she said. "Some new invention of Alessandro's, but
for what?"

"A bed for the Senor Felipe, Senorita," said Alessandro, running lightly
up the steps. "The Senora has given permission to place it here on the
veranda, and Senor Felipe is to lie here day and night; and it will be
a marvel in your eyes how he will gain strength. It is the close room
which is keeping him weak now; he has no illness."

"I believe that is the truth, Alessandro," exclaimed Ramona; "I have
been thinking the same thing. My head aches after I am in that room but
an hour, and when I come here I am well. But the nights too, Alessandro?
Is it not harmful to sleep out in the night air?"

"Why, Senorita?" asked Alessandro, simply.

And Ramona had no answer, except, "I do not know; I have always heard

"My people do not think so," replied Alessandro; "unless it is cold,
we like it better. It is good, Senorita, to look up at the sky in the

"I should think it would be," cried Ramona. "I never thought of it. I
should like to do it."

Alessandro was busy, with his face bent down, arranging the bedstead in
a sheltered corner of the veranda. If his face had been lifted, Ramona
would have seen a look on it that would have startled her more than
the one she had surprised a few days previous, after the incident with
Margarita. All day there had been coming and going in Alessandro's brain
a confused procession of thoughts, vague yet intense. Put in words,
they would have been found to be little more than ringing changes on
this idea: "The Senorita Ramona has Indian blood in her veins. The
Senorita Ramona is alone. The Senora loves her not. Indian blood! Indian
blood!" These, or something like them, would have been the words; but
Alessandro did not put them in words. He only worked away on the rough
posts for Senor Felipe's bedstead, hammered, fitted, stretched the
raw-hide and made it tight and firm, driving every nail, striking every
blow, with a bounding sense of exultant strength, as if there were
suddenly all around him a new heaven and a new earth.

Now, when he heard Ramona say suddenly in her girlish, eager tone, "It
must be; I never thought of it; I should like to try it," these vague
confused thoughts of the day, and the day's bounding sense of exultant
strength, combined in a quick vision before Alessandro's eyes, - a vision
of starry skies overhead, Ramona and himself together, looking up to
them. But when he raised his head, all he said was, "There, Senorita!
That is all firm, now. If Senor Felipe will let me lay him an this bed,
he will sleep as he has not slept since he fell ill."

Ramona ran eagerly into Felipe's room, "The bed is all ready on the
veranda," she exclaimed. "Shall Alessandro come in and carry you out?"

Felipe looked up, startled. The Senora turned on Ramona that expression
of gentle, resigned displeasure, which always hurt the girl's sensitive
nature far worse than anger. "I had not spoken to Felipe yet of the
change, Ramona," she said. "I supposed that Alessandro would have
informed me when the bed was ready; I am sorry you came in so suddenly.
Felipe is still very weak, you see."

"What is it? What is it?" exclaimed Felipe, impatiently.

As soon as it was explained to him, he was like a child in his haste to
be moved.

"That's just what I needed!" he exclaimed. "This cursed bed racks every
bone in my body, and I have longed for the sun more than ever a thirsty
man longed for water. Bless you, Alessandro," he went on, seeing
Alessandro in the doorway. "Come here, and take me up in those long arms
of yours, and carry me quick. Already I feel myself better."

Alessandro lifted him as if he were a baby; indeed, it was but a light
burden now, Felipe's wasted body, for a man much less strong than
Alessandro to lift.

Ramona, chilled and hurt, ran in advance, carrying pillows and blankets.
As she began to arrange them on the couch, the Senora took them from her
hands, saying, "I will arrange them myself;" and waved Ramona away.

It was a little thing. Ramona was well used to such. Ordinarily it would
have given her no pain she could not conceal. But the girl's nerves were
not now in equilibrium. She had had hard work to keep back her tears
at the first rebuff. This second was too much. She turned, and walked
swiftly away, the tears rolling down her cheeks.

Alessandro saw it; Felipe saw it.

To Felipe the sight was, though painful, not a surprise. He knew but
too well how often his mother hurt Ramona. All he thought now, in his
weakness, was, "Alas! what a pity my mother does not love Ramona!"

To Alessandro the sight was the one drop too much in the cup. As he
stooped to lay Felipe on the bed, he trembled so that Felipe looked up,
half afraid.

"Am I still so heavy, Alessandro?" he said smiling.

"It is not your weight, Senor Felipe," answered Alessandro, off guard,
still trembling, his eyes following Ramona.

Felipe saw. In the next second, the eyes of the two young men met.
Alessandro's fell before Felipe's. Felipe gazed on, steadily, at

"Ah!" he said; and as he said it, he closed his eyes, and let his head
sink back into the pillow.

"Is that comfortable? Is that right?" asked the Senora, who had seen

"The first comfortable moment I have had, mother," said Felipe. "Stay,
Alessandro, I want to speak to you as soon as I am rested. This move has
shaken me up a good deal. Wait."

"Yes, Senor," replied Alessandro, and seated himself on the veranda

"If you are to stay, Alessandro," said the Senora, "I will go and look
after some matters that need my attention. I feel always at ease about
Senor Felipe when you are with him. You will stay till I come back?"

"Yes, Senora," said Alessandro, in a tone cold as the Senora's own had
been to Ramona. He was no longer in heart the Senora Moreno's servant.
In fact, he was at that very moment revolving confusedly in his mind
whether there could be any possibility of his getting away before the
expiration of the time for which he had agreed to stay.

It was a long time before Felipe opened his eyes. Alessandro thought he
was asleep.

At last Felipe spoke. He had been watching Alessandro's face for some
minutes. "Alessandro," he said.

Alessandro sprang to his feet, and walked swiftly to the bedside. He did
not know what the next word might be. He felt that the Senor Felipe had
seen straight into his heart in that one moment's look, and Alessandro
was preparing for anything.

"Alessandro," said Felipe, "my mother has been speaking to me about your
remaining with us permanently. Juan Can is now very old, and after this
accident will go on crutches the rest of his days, poor soul! We are in
great need of some man who understands sheep, and the care of the place

As he spoke, he watched Alessandro's face closely. Swift changing
expressions passed over it. Surprise predominated. Felipe misunderstood
the surprise. "I knew you would be surprised," he said. "I told my
mother that you would not think of it; that you had stayed now only
because we were in trouble."

Alessandro bowed his head gratefully. This recognition from Felipe gave
him pleasure.

"Yes, Senor," he said, "that was it. I told Father Salvierderra it was
not for the wages. But my father and I have need of all the money we can
earn. Our people are very poor, Senor. I do not know whether my father
would think I ought to take the place you offer me, or not, Senor. It
would be as he said. I will ask him."

"Then you would be willing to take it?" asked Felipe.

"Yes, Senor, if my father wished me to take it," replied Alessandro,
looking steadily and gravely at Felipe; adding, after a second's
pause, "if you are sure that you desire it, Senor Felipe, it would be a
pleasure to me to be of help to you."

And yet it was only a few moments ago that Alessandro had been turning
over in his mind the possibility of leaving the Senora Moreno's service
immediately. This change had not been a caprice, not been an impulse
of passionate desire to remain near Ramona; it had come from a sudden
consciousness that the Senor Felipe would be his friend. And Alessandro
was not mistaken.


WHEN the Senora came back to the veranda, she found Felipe asleep,
Alessandro standing at the foot of the bed, with his arms crossed on his
breast, watching him. As the Senora drew near, Alessandro felt again the
same sense of dawning hatred which had seized him at her harsh speech to
Ramona. He lowered his eyes, and waited to be dismissed.

"You can go now, Alessandro," said the Senora. "I will sit here. You
are quite sure that it will be safe for Senor Felipe to sleep here all

"It will cure him before many nights," replied Alessandro, still without
raising his eyes, and turning to go.

"Stay," said the Senora. Alessandro paused. "It will not do for him to
be alone here in the night, Alessandro."

Alessandro had thought of this, and had remembered that if he lay on
the veranda floor by Senor Felipe's side, he would also lie under the
Senorita's window.

"No, Senora," he replied. "I will lie here by his side. That was what I
had thought, if the Senora is willing."

"Thank you, Alessandro," said the Senora, in a tone which would have
surprised poor Ramona, still sitting alone in her room, with sad eyes.
She did not know the Senora could speak thus sweetly to any one but
Felipe. "Thank you! You are kind. I will have a bed made for you."

"Oh, no." cried Alessandro; "if the Senora will excuse me, I could not
lie on a bed. A raw-hide like Senor Felipe's, and my blanket, are all I
want. I could not lie on any bed."

"To be sure," thought the Senora; "what was I thinking of! How the
boy makes one forget he is an Indian! But the floor is harder than the
ground, Alessandro," she said kindly.

"No, Senora," he said, "it is all one; and to-night I will not sleep.
I will watch Senor Felipe, in case there should be a wind, or he should
wake and need something."

"I will watch him myself till midnight," said the Senora. "I should feel
easier to see how he sleeps at first."

It was the balmiest of summer nights, and as still as if no living thing
were on the earth. There was a full moon, which shone on the garden, and
on the white front of the little chapel among the trees. Ramona, from
her window, saw Alessandro pacing up and down the walk. She had seen him
spread down the raw-hide by Felipe's bed, and had seen the Senora take
her place in one of the big carved chairs. She wondered if they were
both going to watch; she wondered why the Senora would never let her sit
up and watch with Felipe.

"I am not of any use to anybody," she thought sadly. She dared not
go out and ask any questions about the arrangements for the night. At
supper the Senora had spoken to her only in the same cold and distant
manner which always made her dumb and afraid. She had not once seen
Felipe alone during the day. Margarita, who, in the former times, - ah,
how far away those former times looked now! - had been a greater comfort
to Ramona than she realized, - Margarita now was sulky and silent, never
came into Ramona's presence if she could help it, and looked at her
sometimes with an expression which made Ramona tremble, and say to
herself, "She hates me; She has always hated me since that morning."

It had been a long, sad day to Ramona; and as she sat in her window
leaning her head against the sash, and looked at Alessandro pacing up
and down, she felt for the first time, and did not shrink from it nor in
any wise disavow or disguise it to herself, that she was glad he loved
her. More than this she did not think; beyond this she did not go.
Her mind was not like Margarita's, full of fancies bred of freedom in
intercourse with men. But distinctly, tenderly glad that Alessandro
loved her, and distinctly, tenderly aware how well he loved her, she
was, as she sat at her window this night, looking out into the moonlit
garden; after she had gone to bed, she could still hear his slow,
regular steps on the garden-walk, and the last thought she had, as she
fell asleep, was that she was glad Alessandro loved her.

The moon had been long set, and the garden, chapel-front, trees, vines,
were all wrapped in impenetrable darkness, when Ramona awoke, sat up in
her bed, and listened. All was so still that the sound of Felipe's low,
regular breathing came in through her open window. After hearkening to
it for a few moments, she rose noiselessly from her bed, and creeping to
the window parted the curtains and looked out; noiselessly, she thought;
but it was not noiselessly enough to escape Alessandro's quick ear;
without a sound, he sprang to his feet, and stood looking at Ramona's

"I am here, Senorita," he whispered. "Do you want anything?"

"Has he slept all night like this?" she whispered back.

"Yes, Senorita. He has not once moved."

"How good!" said Ramona. "How good!"

Then she stood still; she wanted to speak again to Alessandro, to hear
him speak again, but she could think of no more to say. Because she
could not, she gave a little sigh.

Alessandro took one swift step towards the window. "May the saints bless
you, Senorita," he whispered fervently.

"Thank you, Alessandro," murmured Ramona, and glided back to her bed,
but not to sleep. It lacked not much of dawn; as the first faint light
filtered through the darkness, Ramona heard the Senora's window open.

"Surely she will not strike up the hymn and wake Felipe," thought
Ramona; and she sprang again to the window to listen. A few low words
between the Senora and Alessandro, and then the Senora's window closed
again, and all was still.

"I thought she would not have the heart to wake him," said Ramona to
herself. "The Virgin would have had no pleasure in our song, I am sure;
but I will say a prayer to her instead;" and she sank on her knees at
the head of her bed, and began saying a whispered prayer. The footfall
of a spider in Ramona's room had not been light enough to escape the
ear of that watching lover outside. Again Alessandro's tall figure arose
from the floor, turning towards Ramona's window; and now the darkness
was so far softened to dusk, that the outline of his form could be seen.
Ramona felt it rather than saw it, and stopped praying. Alessandro was
sure he had heard her voice.

"Did the Senorita speak?" he whispered, his face close at the curtain.
Ramona, startled, dropped her rosary, which rattled as it fell on the
wooden floor.

"No, no, Alessandro," she said, "I did not speak." And she trembled,
she knew not why. The sound of the beads on the floor explained to
Alessandro what had been the whispered words he heard.

"She was at her prayers," he thought, ashamed and sorry. "Forgive me,"
he whispered, "I thought you called;" and he stepped back to the outer
edge of the veranda, and seated himself on the railing. He would lie
down no more. Ramona remained on her knees, gazing at the window.
Through the transparent muslin curtain the dawning light came slowly,
steadily, till at last she could see Alessandro distinctly. Forgetful
of all else, she knelt gazing at him. The rosary lay on the floor,
forgotten. Ramona would not finish that prayer, that day. But her heart
was full of thanksgiving and gratitude, and the Madonna had a better
prayer than any in the book.

The sun was up, and the canaries, finches, and linnets had made the
veranda ring with joyous racket, before Felipe opened his eyes. The
Senora had come and gone and come again, looking at him anxiously, but
he stirred not. Ramona had stolen timidly out, glancing at Alessandro
only long enough to give him one quick smile, and bent over Felipe's
bed, holding her breath, he lay so still.

"Ought he to sleep so long?" she whispered.

"Till the noon, it may be," answered Alessandro; "and when he wakes, you
will see by his eye that he is another man."

It was indeed so. When Felipe first looked about him, he laughed
outright with pure pleasure. Then catching sight of Alessandro at the
steps, he called, in a stronger voice than had yet been heard from him,
"Alessandro, you are a famous physician. Why couldn't that fool from
Ventura have known as much? With all his learning, he had had me in the
next world before many days, except for you. Now, Alessandro, breakfast!
I'm hungry. I had forgotten what the thought of food was like to a
hungry stomach. And plenty! plenty!" he called, as Alessandro ran toward
the kitchen. "Bring all they have."

When the Senora saw Felipe bolstered up in the bed, his eye bright,
his color good, his voice clear, eating heartily like his old self,
she stood like a statue in the middle of the veranda for a moment; then
turning to Alessandro, she said chokingly, "May Heaven reward you!" and
disappeared abruptly in her own room. When she came out, her eyes
were red. All day she moved and spoke with a softness unwonted, indeed
inconceivable. She even spoke kindly and without constraint to Ramona.
She felt like one brought back from the dead.

After this, a new sort of life began for them all. Felipe's bed on
the veranda was the rallying point for everything and everybody.. The
servants came to look up at him, and wish him well, from the garden-walk
below. Juan Can, when he first hobbled out on the stout crutches
Alessandro had made him of manzanita wood, dragged himself all the way
round the house, to have a look at Senor Felipe and a word with him. The
Senora sat there, in the big carved chair, looking like a sibyl with her
black silk banded head-dress severely straight across her brow, and her
large dark eyes gazing out, past Felipe, into the far south sky. Ramona
lived there too, with her embroidery or her book, sitting on cushions on
the floor in a corner, or at the foot of Felipe's bed, always so placed,
however, - if anybody had noticed, but nobody did, - so placed that she
could look at Felipe without looking full at the Senora's chair, even if
the Senora were not in it.

Here also came Alessandro many times a day, - sometimes sent for,
sometimes of his own accord. He was freely welcome. When he played or
sang he sat on the upper step of the stairs leading down to the garden.
He also had a secret, which he thought all his own, in regard to the
positions he chose. He sat always, when Ramona was there, in the spot
which best commanded a view of her face. The secret was not all his own.
Felipe knew it. Nothing was escaping Felipe in these days. A bomb-shell
exploding at their feet would not have more astonished the different
members of this circle, the Senora, Ramona, Alessandro, than it would
to have been made suddenly aware of the thoughts which were going on in
Felipe's mind now, from day to day, as he lay there placidly looking at
them all.

It is probable that if Felipe had been in full health and strength when
the revelation suddenly came to him that Alessandro loved Ramona, and
that Ramona might love Alessandro, he would have been instantly filled
with jealous antagonism. But at the time when this revelation came, he
was prostrate, feeble, thinking many times a day that he must soon die;
it did not seem to Felipe that a man could be so weak as he was, and
ever again be strong and well. Side by side with these forebodings of
his own death, always came the thought of Ramona. What would become of
her, if he were gone? Only too well he knew that the girl's heart would
be broken; that she could not live on alone with his mother. Felipe
adored his mother; but he understood her feeling about Ramona.

With his feebleness had also come to Felipe, as is often the case in
long illnesses, a greater clearness of perception. Ramona had ceased to
puzzle him. He no longer asked himself what her long, steady look into
his eyes meant. He knew. He saw it mean that as a sister she loved him,
had always loved him, and could love him in no other way. He wondered a
little at himself that this gave him no more pain; only a sort of sweet,
mournful tenderness towards her. It must be because he was so soon going
out of the world, he thought. Presently he began to be aware that a new
quality was coming into his love for her. He himself was returning
to the brother love which he had had for her when they were children
together, and in which he had felt no change until he became a man and
Ramona a woman. It was strange what a peace fell upon Felipe when this
was finally clear and settled in his mind. No doubt he had had more
misgiving and fear about his mother in the matter than he had ever
admitted to himself; perhaps also the consciousness of Ramona's
unfortunate birth had rankled at times; but all this was past now.
Ramona was his sister. He was her brother. What course should he pursue
in the crisis which he saw drawing near? How could he best help Ramona?
What would be best for both her and Alessandro? Long before the thought
of any possible union between himself and Ramona had entered into
Alessandro's mind, still longer before it had entered into Ramona's to
think of Alessandro as a husband, Felipe had spent hours in forecasting,
plotting, and planning for them. For the first time in his life he felt
himself in the dark as to his mother's probable action. That any concern
as to Ramona's personal happiness or welfare would influence her, he
knew better than to think for a moment. So far as that was concerned,
Ramona might wander out the next hour, wife of a homeless beggar,
and his mother would feel no regret. But Ramona had been the adopted
daughter of the Senora Ortegna, bore the Ortegna name, and had lived as
foster-child in the house of the Morenos. Would the Senora permit such a
one to marry an Indian?

Felipe doubted. The longer he thought, the more he doubted. The more
he watched, the more he saw that the question might soon have to be
decided. Any hour might precipitate it. He made plan after plan for
forestalling trouble, for preparing his mother; but Felipe was by nature
indolent, and now he was, in addition, feeble. Day after day slipped by.
It was exceedingly pleasant on the veranda. Ramona was usually with him;
his mother was gentler, less sad, than he had ever seen her. Alessandro
was always at hand, ready for any service, - in the field, in the
house, - his music a delight, his strength and fidelity a repose, his
personal presence always agreeable. "If only my mother could think
it," reflected Felipe, "it would be the best thing, all round, to have
Alessandro stay here as overseer of the place, and then they might be
married. Perhaps before the summer is over she will come to see it so."

And the delicious, languid, semi-tropic summer came hovering over the
valley. The apricots turned golden, the peaches glowed, the grapes
filled and hardened, like opaque emeralds hung thick under the canopied
vines. The garden was a shade brown, and the roses had all fallen; but
there were lilies, and orange-blossoms, and poppies, and carnations, and
geraniums in the pots, and musk, - oh, yes, ever and always musk. It was
like an enchanter's spell, the knack the Senora had of forever keeping
relays of musk to bloom all the year; and it was still more like an
enchanter's spell, that Felipe would never confess that he hated it.'
But the bees liked it, and the humming-birds, - the butterflies also;
and the air was full of them. The veranda was a quieter place now as the
season's noon grew near. The linnets were all nesting, and the finches
and the canaries too; and the Senora spent hours, every day, tirelessly

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