"No, I know nothing," replied Ramona; "but if you know anything, it is
all forgiven. I am not going to die, Margarita. I am going away," she
added, after a second's pause. Her inmost instinct told her that she
could trust Margarita now. Alessandro being dead, Margarita would no
longer be her enemy, and Margarita could perhaps help her. "I am going
away, Margarita, as soon as I feel a little stronger. I am going to a
convent; but the Senora does not know. You will not tell?"
"No, Senorita!" whispered Margarita, - thinking in her heart, "Yes, she
is going away, but it will be with the angels." - "No, Senorita, I will
not tell. I will do anything you want me to."
"Thanks, Margarita mia," replied Ramona. "I thought you would;" and she
lay back on her pillow, and closed her eyes, looking so much more like
death than like life that Margarita's tears flowed faster than before,
and she ran to her mother, sobbing out, "Mother, mother! the Senorita is
ill to death. I am sure she is. She has taken to her bed; and she is as
white as Senor Felipe was at the worst of the fever."
"Ay," said old Marda, who had seen all this for days back; "ay, she has
wasted away, this last week, like one in a fever, sure enough; I have
seen it. It must be she is starving herself to death."
"Indeed, she has not eaten for ten days, - hardly since that day;"
and Margarita and her mother exchanged looks. It was not necessary to
further define the day.
"Juan Can says he thinks he will never be seen here again," continued
"The saints grant it, then," said Marda, hotly, "if it is he has cost
the Senorita all this! I am that turned about in my head with it all,
that I've no thoughts to think; but plain enough it is, he is mixed up
with whatever 'tis has gone wrong."
"I could tell what it is," said Margarita, her old pertness coming
uppermost for a moment; "but I've got no more to say, now the Senorita's
lying on her bed, with the face she's got. It's enough to break your
heart to look at her. I could just go down on my knees to her for all
I've said; and I will, and to Saint Francis too! She's going to be with
him before long; I know she is."
"No," said the wiser, older Marda. "She is not so ill as you think. She
is young. It's the heart's gone out of her; that's all. I've been that
way myself. People are, when they're young."
"I'm young!" retorted Margarita. "I've never been that way."
"There's many a mile to the end of the road, my girl," said Marda,
significantly; "and 'It's ill boasting the first day out,' was a proverb
when I was your age!"
Marda had never been much more than half-way fond of this own child
of hers. Their natures were antagonistic. Traits which, in Margarita's
father, had embittered many a day of Marda's early married life, were
perpetually cropping out in Margarita, making between the mother and
daughter a barrier which even parental love was not always strong enough
to surmount. And, as was inevitable, this antagonism was constantly
leading to things which seemed to Margarita, and in fact were, unjust
"She's always flinging out at me, whatever I do," thought Margarita.
"I know one thing; I'll never tell her what the Senorita's told me;
never, - not till after she's gone."
A sudden suspicion flashed into Margarita's mind. She seated herself on
the bench outside the kitchen door, to wrestle with it. What if it were
not to a convent at all, but to Alessandro, that the Senorita meant to
go! No; that was preposterous. If it had been that, she would have gone
with him in the outset. Nobody who was plotting to run away with a lover
ever wore such a look as the Senorita wore now. Margarita dismissed the
thought; yet it left its trace. She would be more observant for having
had it; her resuscitated affection far her young mistress was not yet
so strong that it would resist the assaults of jealousy, if that passion
were to be again aroused in her fiery soul. Though she had never been
deeply in love with Alessandro herself, she had been enough so, and
she remembered him vividly enough, to feel yet a sharp emotion of
displeasure at the recollection of his devotion to the Senorita. Now
that the Senorita seemed to be deserted, unhappy, prostrated, she had no
room for anything but pity for her; but let Alessandro come on the stage
again, and all would be changed. The old hostility would return. It was
but a dubious sort of ally, after all, that Ramona had so unexpectedly
secured in Margarita. She might prove the sharpest of broken reeds.
It was sunset of the eighteenth day since Alessandro's departure. Ramona
had lain for four days well-nigh motionless on her bed. She herself
began to think she must be going to die. Her mind seemed to be vacant of
all thought. She did not even sorrow for Alessandro's death; she seemed
torpid, body and soul. Such prostrations as these are Nature's enforced
rests. It is often only by help of them that our bodies tide over
crises, strains, in which, if we continued to battle, we should be
As Ramona lay half unconscious, - neither awake nor yet asleep, - on this
evening, she was suddenly aware of a vivid impression produced upon her;
it was not sound, it was not sight. She was alone; the house was still
as death; the warm September twilight silence reigned outside, She sat
up in her bed, intent - half alarmed - half glad - bewildered - alive. What
had happened? Still there was no sound, no stir. The twilight was fast
deepening; not a breath of air moving. Gradually her bewildered senses
and faculties awoke from their long-dormant condition; she looked around
the room; even the walls seemed revivified; she clasped her hands, and
leaped from the bed. "Alessandro is not dead!" she said aloud; and she
laughed hysterically. "He is not dead!" she repeated. "He is not dead!
He is somewhere near!"
With quivering hands she dressed, and stole out of the house. After
the first few seconds she found herself strangely strong; she did not
tremble; her feet trod firm on the ground. "Oh, miracle!" she thought,
as she hastened down the garden-walk; "I am well again! Alessandro is
near!" So vivid was the impression, that when she reached the willows
and found the spot silent, vacant, as when she had last sat there,
hopeless, broken-hearted, she experienced a revulsion of disappointment.
"Not here!" she cried; "not here!" and a swift fear shook her. "Am I
mad? Is it this way, perhaps, people lose their senses, when they are as
I have been!"
But the young, strong blood was running swift in her veins. No! this
was no madness; rather a newly discovered power; a fulness of sense; a
revelation. Alessandro was near.
Swiftly she walked down the river road. The farther she went, the keener
grew her expectation, her sense of Alessandro's nearness. In her present
mood she would have walked on and on, even to Temecula itself, sure that
she was at each step drawing nearer to Alessandro.
As she approached the second willow copse, which lay perhaps a quarter
of a mile west of the first, she saw the figure of a man, standing,
leaning against one of the trees. She halted. It could not be
Alessandro. He would not have paused for a moment so near the house
where he was to find her. She was afraid to go on. It was late to meet
a stranger in this lonely spot. The figure was strangely still; so still
that, as she peered through the dusk, she half fancied it might be an
optical illusion. She advanced a few steps, hesitatingly, then stopped.
As she did so, the man advanced a few steps, then stopped. As he came
out from the shadows of the trees, she saw that he was of Alessandro's
height. She quickened her steps, then suddenly stopped again. What did
this mean? It could not be Alessandro. Ramona wrung her hands in agony
of suspense. An almost unconquerable instinct urged her forward; but
terror held her back. After standing irresolute for some minutes, she
turned to walk back to the house, saying, "I must not run the risk of
its being a stranger. If it is Alessandro, he will come."
But her feet seemed to refuse to move in the opposite direction. Slower
and slower she walked for a few paces, then turned again. The man had
returned to his former place, and stood as at first, leaning against the
"It may be a messenger from him," she said; "a messenger who has been
told not to come to the house until after dark."
Her mind was made up. She quickened her pace to a run. A few moments
more brought her so near that she could see distinctly. It was - yes, it
was Alessandro. He did not see her. His face was turned partially away,
his head resting against the tree; he must be ill. Ramona flew, rather
than ran. In a moment more, Alessandro had heard the light steps,
turned, saw Ramona, and, with a cry, bounded forward, and they were
clasped in each other's arms before they had looked in each other's
faces. Ramona spoke first. Disengaging herself gently, and looking
up, she began: "Alessandro - " But at the first sight of his face she
shrieked. Was this Alessandro, this haggard, emaciated, speechless man,
who gazed at her with hollow eyes, full of misery, and no joy! "O God,"
cried Ramona, "You have been ill! you are ill! My God, Alessandro, what
Alessandro passed his hand slowly over his forehead, as if trying to
collect his thoughts before speaking, all the while keeping his eyes
fixed on Ramona, with the same anguished look, convulsively holding both
her hands in his.
"Senorita," he said, "my Senorita!" Then he stopped. His tongue seemed
to refuse him utterance; and this voice, - this strange, hard, unresonant
voice, - whose voice was it? Not Alessandro's.
"My Senorita," he began again, "I could not go without one sight of your
face; but when I was here, I had not courage to go near the house. If
you had not come, I should have gone back without seeing you."
Ramona heard these words in fast-deepening terror, What did they mean?
Her look seemed to suggest a new thought to Alessandro.
"Heavens, Senorita!" he cried, "have you not heard? Do you not know what
"I know nothing, love," answered Ramona. "I have heard nothing since
you went away. For ten days I have been sure you were dead; but to-night
something told me that you were near, and I came to meet you."
At the first words of Ramona's sentence, Alessandro threw his arms
around her again. As she said "love," his whole frame shook with
"My Senorita!" he whispered, "my Senorita! how shall I tell you! How
shall I tell you!"
"What is there to tell, Alessandro?" she said. "I am afraid of nothing,
now that you are here, and not dead, as I thought."
But Alessandro did not speak. It seemed impossible. At last, straining
her closer to his breast, he cried: "Dearest Senorita! I feel as if
I should die when I tell you, - I have no home; my father is dead;
my people are driven out of their village. I am only a beggar now,
Senorita; like those you used to feed and pity in Los Angeles convent!"
As he spoke the last words, he reeled, and, supporting himself against
the tree, added: "I am not strong, Senorita; we have been starving."
Ramona's face did not reassure him. Even in the dusk he could see its
look of incredulous horror. He misread it.
"I only came to look at you once more," he continued. "I will go now.
May the saints bless you, my Senorita, always. I think the Virgin sent
you to me to-night. I should never have seen your face if you had not
While he was speaking, Ramona had buried her face in his bosom. Lifting
it now, she said, "Did you mean to leave me to think you were dead,
"I thought that the news about our village must have reached you," he
said, "and that you would know I had no home, and could not come, to
seem to remind you of what you had said. Oh, Senorita, it was little
enough I had before to give you! I don't know how I dared to believe
that you could come to be with me; but I loved you so much, I had
thought of many things I could do; and - " lowering his voice and
speaking almost sullenly - "it is the saints, I believe, who have
punished me thus for having resolved to leave my people, and take all I
had for myself and you. Now they have left me nothing;" and he groaned.
"Who?" cried Ramona. "Was there a battle? Was your father killed?" She
was trembling with horror.
"No," answered Alessandro. "There was no battle. There would have been,
if I had had my way; but my father implored me not to resist. He said it
would only make it worse for us in the end. The sheriff, too, he begged
me to let it all go on peaceably, and help him keep the people quiet. He
felt terribly to have to do it. It was Mr. Rothsaker, from San Diego. We
had often worked for him on his ranch. He knew all about us. Don't you
recollect, Senorita, I told you about him, - how fair he always was, and
kind too? He has the biggest wheat-ranch in Cajon; we've harvested miles
and miles of wheat for him. He said he would have rather died, almost,
than have had it to do; but if we resisted, he would have to order his
men to shoot. He had twenty men with him. They thought there would be
trouble; and well they might, - turning a whole village full of men and
women and children out of their houses, and driving them off like foxes.
If it had been any man but Mr. Rothsaker, I would have shot him dead,
if I had hung for it; but I knew if he thought we must go, there was no
help for us."
"But, Alessandro," interrupted Ramona, "I can't understand. Who was it
made Mr. Rothsaker do it? Who has the land now?"
"I don't know who they are," Alessandro replied, his voice full of
anger and scorn. "They're Americans - eight or ten of them. They all got
together and brought a suit, they call it, up in San Francisco; and it
was decided in the court that they owned all our land. That was all Mr.
Rothsaker could tell about it. It was the law, he said, and nobody could
go against the law."
"Oh," said Ramona, "that's the way the Americans took so much of the
Senora's land away from her. It was in the court up in San Francisco;
and they decided that miles and miles of her land, which the General
had always had, was not hers at all. They said it belonged to the United
"They are a pack of thieves and liars, every one of them!" cried
Alessandro. "They are going to steal all the land in this country; we
might all just as well throw ourselves into the sea, and let them have
it. My father had been telling me this for years. He saw it coming; but
I did not believe him. I did not think men could be so wicked; but he
was right. I am glad he is dead. That is the only thing I have to be
thankful for now. One day I thought he was going to get well, and I
prayed to the Virgin not to let him. I did not want him to live. He
never knew anything clear after they took him out of his house. That was
before I got there. I found him sitting on the ground outside. They said
it was the sun that had turned him crazy; but it was not. It was his
heart breaking in his bosom. He would not come out of his house, and
the men lifted him up and carried him out by force, and threw him on the
ground; and then they threw out all the furniture we had; and when he
saw them doing that, he put his hands up to his head, and called out,
'Alessandro! Alessandro!' and I was not there! Senorita, they said it
was a voice to make the dead hear, that he called with; and nobody
could stop him. All that day and all the night he kept on calling. God!
Senorita, I wonder I did not die when they told me! When I got there,
some one had built up a little booth of tule over his head, to keep the
sun off. He did not call any more, only for water, water. That was what
made them think the sun had done it. They did all they could; but it was
such a dreadful time, nobody could do much; the sheriff's men were in
great hurry; they gave no time. They said the people must all be off in
two days. Everybody was running hither and thither. Everything out of
the houses in piles on the ground. The people took all the roofs off
their houses too. They were made of the tule reeds; so they would do
again. Oh, Senorita, don't ask me to tell you any more! It is like
death. I can't!"
Ramona was crying bitterly. She did not know what to say. What was love,
in face of such calamity? What had she to give to a man stricken like
"Don't weep, Senorita," said Alessandro, drearily. "Tears kill one, and
do no good."
"How long did your father live?" asked Ramona, clasping her arms closer
around his neck. They were sitting on the ground now, and Ramona,
yearning over Alessandro, as if she were the strong one and he the one
to be sheltered, had drawn his head to her bosom, caressing him as if
he had been hers for years. Nothing could have so clearly shown his
enfeebled and benumbed condition, as the manner in which he received
these caresses, which once would have made him beside himself with joy.
He leaned against her breast as a child might.
"He! He died only four days ago. I stayed to bury him, and then I came
away. I have been three days on the way; the horse, poor beast, is
almost weaker than I. The Americans took my horse," Alessandro said.
"Took your horse!" cried Ramona, aghast. "Is that the law, too?"
"So Mr. Rothsaker told me. He said the judge had said he must take
enough of our cattle and horses to pay all it had cost for the suit up
in San Francisco. They didn't reckon the cattle at what they were worth,
I thought; but they said cattle were selling very low now. There were
not enough in all the village to pay it, so we had to make it up in
horses; and they took mine. I was not there the day they drove the
cattle away, or I would have put a ball into Benito's head before any
American should ever have had him to ride. But I was over in Pachanga
with my father. He would not stir a step for anybody but me; so I led
him all the way; and then after he got there he was so ill I never left
him a minute. He did not know me any more, nor know anything that had
happened. I built a little hut of tule, and he lay on the ground till he
died. When I put him in his grave, I was glad."
"In Temecula?" asked Ramona.
"In Temecula." exclaimed Alessandro, fiercely. "You don't seem to
understand, Senorita. We have no right in Temecula, not even to our
graveyard full of the dead. Mr. Rothsaker warned us all not to be
hanging about there; for he said the men who were coming in were a
rough set, and they would shoot any Indian at sight, if they saw him
trespassing on their property."
"Their property!" ejaculated Ramona.
"Yes; it is theirs," said Alessandro, doggedly. "That is the law.
They've got all the papers to show it. That is what my father always
said, - if the Senor Valdez had only given him a paper! But they never
did in those days. Nobody had papers. The American law is different."
"It's a law of thieves!" cried Ramona.
"Yes, and of murderers too," said Alessandro. "Don't you call my father
murdered just as much as if they had shot him? I do! and, O Senorita,
my Senorita, there was Jose! You recollect Jose, who went for my violin?
But, my beloved one, I am killing you with these terrible things! I will
speak no more."
"No, no, Alessandro. Tell me all, all. You must have no grief I do not
share. Tell me about Jose," cried Ramona, breathlessly.
"Senorita, it will break your heart to hear. Jose was married a year
ago. He had the best house in Temecula, next to my father's. It was the
only other one that had a shingled roof. And he had a barn too, and that
splendid horse he rode, and oxen, and a flock of sheep. He was at home
when the sheriff came. A great many of the men were away, grapepicking.
That made it worse. But Jose was at home; for his wife had a little baby
only a few weeks old, and the child seemed sickly and not like to live,
and Jose would not leave it. Jose was the first one that saw the sheriff
riding into the village, and the band of armed men behind him, and Jose
knew what it meant. He had often talked it over with me and with my
father, and now he saw that it had come; and he went crazy in one
minute, and fell on the ground all froth at his mouth. He had had a fit
like that once before; and the doctor said if he had another, he would
die. But he did not. They picked him up, and presently he was better;
and Mr. Rothsaker said nobody worked so well in the moving the first
day as Jose did. Most of the men would not lift a hand. They sat on the
ground with the women, and covered up their faces, and would not see.
But Jose worked; and, Senorita, one of the first things he did, was to
run with my father's violin to the store, to Mrs. Hartsel, and ask her
to hide it for us; Jose knew it was worth money. But before noon the
second day he had another fit, and died in it, - died right in his own
door, carrying out some of the things; and after Carmena - that's his
wife's name - saw he was dead, she never spoke, but sat rocking back
and forth on the ground, with the baby in her arms. She went over to
Pachanga at the same time I did with my father. It was a long procession
"Where is Pachanga?" asked Ramona.
"About three miles from Temecula, a little sort of canon. I told
the people they'd better move over there; the land did not belong to
anybody, and perhaps they could make a living there. There isn't any
water; that's the worst of it."
"No water!" cried Ramona.
"No running water. There is one little spring, and they dug a well by it
as soon as they got there; so there was water to drink, but that is all.
I saw Carmena could hardly keep up, and I carried the baby for her on
one arm, while I led my father with the other hand; but the baby cried,
so she took it back. I thought then it wouldn't live the day out; but
it did live till the morning of the day my father died. Just a few hours
before he died, Carmena came along with the baby rolled up in her shawl,
and sat down by me on the ground, and did not speak. When I said, 'How
is the little one?' she opened her shawl and showed it to me, dead.
'Good, Carmena!' said I. 'It is good! My father is dying too. We will
bury them together.' So she sat by me all that morning, and at night
she helped me dig the graves. I wanted to put the baby on my father's
breast; but she said, no, it must have a little grave. So she dug it
herself; and we put them in; and she never spoke, except that once. She
was sitting there by the grave when I came away. I made a cross of two
little trees with the boughs chopped off, and set it up by the graves.
So that is the way our new graveyard was begun, - my father and the
little baby; it is the very young and the very old that have the blessed
fortune to die. I cannot die, it seems!"
"Where did they bury Jose?" gasped Ramona.
"In Temecula," said Alessandro. "Mr. Rothsaker made two of his men dig
a grave in our old graveyard for Jose. But I think Carmena will go at
night and bring his body away. I would! But, my Senorita, it is very
dark, I can hardly see your beloved eyes. I think you must not stay
longer. Can I go as far as the brook with you, safely, without being
seen? The saints bless you, beloved, for coming. I could not have lived,
I think, without one more sight of your face;" and, springing to his
feet, Alessandro stood waiting for Ramona to move. She remained
still. She was in a sore strait. Her heart held but one impulse, one
desire, - to go with Alessandro; nothing was apparently farther from
his thoughts than this. Could she offer to go? Should she risk laying a
burden on him greater than he could bear? If he were indeed a beggar, as
he said, would his life be hindered or helped by her? She felt herself
strong and able. Work had no terrors for her; privations she knew
nothing of, but she felt no fear of them.
"Alessandro!" she said, in a tone which startled him.
"My Senorita!" he said tenderly.
"You have never once called me Ramona."
"I cannot, Senorita!" he replied.
"I do not know. I sometimes think 'Ramona,'" he added faintly; "but not
often. If I think of you by any other name than as my Senorita, it is
usually by a name you never heard."
"What is it?" exclaimed Ramona, wonderingly.
"An Indian word, my dearest one, the name of the bird you are like, - the
wood-dove. In the Luiseno tongue that is Majel; that was what I thought
my people would have called you, if you had come to dwell among us. It
is a beautiful name, Senorita, and is like you."
Alessandro was still standing. Ramona rose; coming close to him, she
laid both her hands on his breast, and her head on her hands, and said: