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"Alessandro, I have something to tell you. I am an Indian. I belong to
your people."

Alessandro's silence astonished her. "You are surprised," she said. "I
thought you would be glad."

"The gladness of it came to me long ago, my Senorita," he said. "I knew

"How?" cried Ramona. "And you never told me, Alessandro!"

"How could I?" he replied. "I dared not. Juan Canito, it was told me."

"Juan Canito!" said Ramona, musingly. "How could he have known?" Then in
a few rapid words she told Alessandro all that the Senora had told her.
"Is that what Juan Can said?" she asked.

"All except the father's name," stammered Alessandro.

"Who did he say was my father?" she asked.

Alessandro was silent.

"It matters not," said Ramona. "He was wrong. The Senora, of course,
knew. He was a friend of hers, and of the Senora Ortegna, to whom he
gave me. But I think, Alessandro, I have more of my mother than of my

"Yes, you have, my Senorita," replied Alessandro, tenderly. "After I
knew it, I then saw what it was in your face had always seemed to me
like the faces of my own people."

"Are you not glad, Alessandro?"

"Yes, my Senorita."

What more should Ramona say? Suddenly her heart gave way; and without
premeditation, without resolve, almost without consciousness of what
she was doing, she flung herself on Alessandro's breast, and cried: "Oh,
Alessandro, take me with you! take me with you! I would rather die than
have you leave me again!"


ALESSANDRO'S first answer to this cry of Ramona's was a tightening of
his arms around her; closer and closer he held her, till it was almost
pain; she could hear the throbs of his heart, but he did not speak.
Then, letting his arms fall, taking her hand in his, he laid it on
his forehead reverently, and said, in a voice which was so husky and
trembling she could barely understand his words: "My Senorita knows that
my life is hers. She can ask me to go into the fire or into the sea, and
neither the fire nor the sea would frighten me; they would but make
me glad for her sake. But I cannot take my Senorita's life to throw it
away. She is tender; she would die; she cannot lie on the earth for a
bed, and have no food to eat. My Senorita does not know what she says."

His solemn tone; this third-person designation, as if he were speaking
of her, not with her, almost as if he were thinking aloud to God rather
than speaking to her, merely calmed and strengthened, did not deter
Ramona. "I am strong; I can work too, Alessandro. You do not know. We
can both work. I am not afraid to lie on the earth; and God will give us
food," she said.

"That was what I thought, my Senorita, until now. When I rode away
that morning, I had it in my thoughts, as you say, that if you were not
afraid, I would not be; and that there would at least always be food,
and I could make it that you should never suffer; but, Senorita, the
saints are displeased. They do not pray for us any more. It is as my
father said, they have forsaken us. These Americans will destroy us all.
I do not know but they will presently begin to shoot us and poison
us, to get us all out of the country, as they do the rabbits and the
gophers; it would not be any worse than what they have done. Would not
you rather be dead, Senorita, than be as I am to-day?"

Each word he spoke but intensified Ramona's determination to share
his lot. "Alessandro," she interrupted, "there are many men among your
people who have wives, are there not?"

"Yes, Senorita!" replied Alessandro, wonderingly.

"Have their wives left them and gone away, now that this trouble has

"No, Senorita." still more wonderingly; "how could they?"

"They are going to stay with them, help them to earn money, try to make
them happier, are they not?"

"Yes, Senorita." Alessandro began to see whither these questions tended.
It was not unlike the Senora's tactics, the way in which Ramona narrowed
in her lines of interrogation.

"Do the women of your people love their husbands very much?"

"Very much, Senorita." A pause. It was very dark now. Alessandro could
not see the hot currents running swift and red over Ramona's face; even
her neck changed color as she asked her last question. "Do you think any
one of them loves her husband more than I love you, Alessandro?"

Alessandro's arms were again around her, before the words were done.
Were not such words enough to make a dead man live? Almost; but not
enough to make such a love as Alessandro's selfish. Alessandro was

"You know there is not one!" said Ramona, impetuously.

"Oh, it is too much!" cried Alessandro, throwing his arms up wildly.
Then, drawing her to him again, he said, the words pouring out
breathless: "My Senorita, you take me to the door of heaven, but I dare
not go in. I know it would kill you, Senorita, to live the life we must
live. Let me go, dearest Senorita; let me go! It had been better if you
had never seen me."

"Do you know what I was going to do, Alessandro, if you had not come?"
said Ramona. "I was going to run away from the Senora's house, all
alone, and walk all the way to Santa Barbara, to Father Salvierderra,
and ask him to put me in the convent at San Juan Bautista; and that is
what I will do now if you leave me!"

"Oh, no, no, Senorita, my Senorita, you will not do that! My beautiful
Senorita in the convent! No, no!" cried Alessandro, greatly agitated.

"Yes, if you do not let me come with you, I shall do it. I shall set out

Her words carried conviction to Alessandro's soul. He knew she would do
as she said. "Even that would not be so dreadful as to be hunted like a
wild beast, Senorita; as you may be, if you come with me."

"When I thought you were dead, Alessandro, I did not think the convent
would be dreadful at all. I thought it would be peace; and I could do
good, teaching the children. But if I knew you were alive, I could never
have peace; not for one minute have peace, Alessandro! I would rather
die, than not be where you are. Oh, Alessandro, take me with you!"

Alessandro was conquered. "I will take you, my most beloved Senorita,"
he said gravely, - no lover's gladness in his tone, and his voice was
hollow; "I will take you. Perhaps the saints will have mercy on you,
even if they have forsaken me and my people!"

"Your people are my people, dearest; and the saints never forsake any
one who does not forsake them. You will be glad all our lives long,
Alessandro," cried Ramona; and she laid her head on his breast in solemn
silence for a moment, as if registering a vow.

Well might Felipe have said that he would hold himself fortunate if any
woman ever loved him as Ramona loved Alessandro.

When she lifted her head, she said timidly, now that she was sure, "Then
you will take your Ramona with you, Alessandro?"

"I will take you with me till I die; and may the Madonna guard you, my
Ramona," replied Alessandro, clasping her to his breast, and bowing
his head upon hers. But there were tears in his eyes, and they were not
tears of joy; and in his heart he said, as in his rapturous delight when
he first saw Ramona bending over the brook under the willows he had said
aloud, "My God! what shall I do!"

It was not easy to decide on the best plan of procedure now. Alessandro
wished to go boldly to the house, see Senor Felipe, and if need be the
Senora. Ramona quivered with terror at the bare mention of it. "You do
not know the Senora, Alessandro," she cried, "or you would never think
of it. She has been terrible all this time. She hates me so that she
would kill me if she dared. She pretends that she will do nothing to
prevent my going away; but I believe at the last minute she would throw
me in the well in the court-yard, rather than have me go with you."

"I would never let her harm you," said Alessandro. "Neither would Senor

"She turns Felipe round her finger as if he were soft wax," answered
Ramona. "She makes him of a hundred minds in a minute, and he can't help
himself. Oh, I think she is in league with the fiends, Alessandro! Don't
dare to come near the house; I will come here as soon as every one is
asleep. We must go at once."

Ramona's terrors overruled Alessandro's judgment, and he consented to
wait for her at the spot where they now stood. She turned back twice to
embrace him again. "Oh, my Alessandro, promise me that you will not stir
from this place till I come," she said.

"I will be here when you come," he said.

"It will not be more than two hours," she said, "or three, at the
utmost. It must be nine o'clock now."

She did not observe that Alessandro had evaded the promise not to leave
the spot. That promise Alessandro would not have given. He had something
to do in preparation for this unexpected flight of Ramona. In her
innocence, her absorption in her thoughts of Alessandro and of love, she
had never seemed to consider how she would make this long journey.
As Alessandro had ridden towards Temecula, eighteen days ago, he had
pictured himself riding back on his fleet, strong Benito, and bringing
Antonio's matchless little dun mare for Ramona to ride. Only eighteen
short days ago; and as he was dreaming that very dream, he had looked up
and seen Antonio on the little dun mare, galloping towards him like the
wind, the overridden creature's breath coming from her like pants of
a steam-engine, and her sides dripping blood, where Antonio, who loved
her, had not spared the cruel spurs; and Antonio, seeing him, had
uttered a cry, and flinging himself off, came with a bound to his side,
and with gasps between his words told him. Alessandro could not remember
the words, only that after them he set his teeth, and dropping the
bridle, laid his head down between Benito's ears, and whispered to him;
and Benito never stopped, but galloped on all that day, till he came
into Temecula; and there Alessandro saw the roofless houses, and
the wagons being loaded, and the people running about, the women and
children wailing; and then they showed him the place where his father
lay on the ground, under the tule, and jumping off Benito he let him go,
and that was the last he ever saw of him. Only eighteen days ago! And
now here he was, under the willows, - the same copse where he first
halted, at his first sight of Ramona; and it was night, dark night, and
Ramona had been there, in his arms; she was his; and she was going back
presently to go away with him, - where! He had no home in the wide world
to which to take her, - and this poor beast he had ridden from Temecula,
had it strength enough left to carry her? Alessandro doubted. He had
himself walked more than half the distance, to spare the creature, and
yet there had been good pasture all the way; but the animal had been too
long starved to recover quickly. In the Pachanga canon, where they had
found refuge, the grass was burned up by the sun, and the few horses
taken over there had suffered wretchedly; some had died. But Alessandro,
even while his arms were around Ramona, had revolved in his mind a
project he would not have dared to confide to her. If Baba, Ramona's own
horse, was still in the corral, Alessandro could without difficulty
lure him out. He thought it would be no sin. At any rate, if it were,
it could not be avoided. The Senorita must have a horse, and Baba had
always been her own; had followed her about like a dog ever since he
could run; in fact, the only taming he had ever had, had been done by
Ramona, with bread and honey. He was intractable to others; but Ramona
could guide him by a wisp of his silky mane. Alessandro also had nearly
as complete control over him; for it had been one of his greatest
pleasures, during the summer, when he could not see Ramona, to caress
and fondle her horse, till Baba knew and loved him next to his young
mistress. If only Baba were in the corral, all would be well. As soon as
the sound of Ramona's footsteps had died away, Alessandro followed with
quick but stealthy steps; keeping well down in the bottom, below the
willows, he skirted the terrace where the artichoke-patch and the
sheepfolds lay, and then turned up to approach the corral from the
farther side. There was no light in any of the herdsmen's huts. They
were all asleep. That was good. Well Alessandro knew how sound they
slept; many a night while he slept there with them he had walked twice
over their bodies as they lay stretched on skins on the floor, - out
and in without rousing them. If only Baba would not give a loud whinny.
leaning on the corral-fence, Alessandro gave a low, hardly audible
whistle. The horses were all in a group together at the farther end of
the corral. At the sound there was a slight movement in the group; and
one of them turned and came a pace or two toward Alessandro.

"I believe that is Baba himself," thought Alessandro; and he made
another low sound. The horse quickened his steps; then halted, as if he
suspected some mischief.

"Baba," whispered Alessandro. The horse knew his name as well as any
dog; knew Alessandro's voice too; but the sagacious creature seemed
instinctively to know that here was an occasion for secrecy and caution.
If Alessandro whispered, he, Baba, would whisper back; and it was little
more than a whispered whinny which he gave, as he trotted quickly to the
fence, and put his nose to Alessandro's face, rubbing and kissing and
giving soft whinnying sighs.

"Hush! hush! Baba," whispered Alessandro, as if he were speaking to a
human being. "Hush!" and he proceeded cautiously to lift off the upper
rails and bushes of the fence. The horse understood instantly; and as
soon as the fence was a little lowered, leaped over it and stood still
by Alessandro's side, while he replaced the rails, smiling to himself,
spite of his grave anxiety, to think of Juan Can's wonder in the morning
as to how Baba had managed to get out of the corral.

This had taken only a few moments. It was better luck than Alessandro
had hoped for; emboldened by it, he began to wonder if he could not get
the saddle too. The saddles, harnesses, bridles, and all such things
hung on pegs in an open barn, such as is constantly to be seen in
Southern California; as significant a testimony, in matter of climate,
as any Signal Service Report could be, - a floor and a roof; no walls,
only corner posts to hold the roof. Nothing but summerhouses on a large
scale are the South California barns. Alessandro stood musing. The
longer he thought, the greater grew his desire for that saddle.

"Baba, if only you knew what I wanted of you, you'd lie down on the
ground here and wait while I got the saddle. But I dare not risk leaving
you. Come, Baba!" and he struck down the hill again, the horse following
him softly. When he got down below the terrace, he broke into a run,
with his hand in Baba's mane, as if it were a frolic; and in a few
moments they were safe in the willow copse, where Alessandro's poor pony
was tethered. Fastening Baba with the same lariat, Alessandro patted him
on the neck, pressed his face to his nose, and said aloud, "Good Baba,
stay here till the Senorita comes." Baba whinnied.

"Why shouldn't he know the Senorita's name! I believe he does!" thought
Alessandro, as he turned and again ran swiftly back to the corral. He
felt strong now, - felt like a new man. Spite of all the terror, joy
thrilled him. When he reached the corral, all was yet still. The horses
had not moved from their former position. Throwing himself flat on the
ground, Alessandro crept on his breast from the corral to the barn,
several rods' distance. This was the most hazardous part of his
adventure; every other moment he paused, lay motionless for some
seconds, then crept a few paces more. As he neared the corner where
Ramona's saddle always hung, his heart beat. Sometimes, of a warm night,
Luigo slept on the barn floor. If he were there to-night, all was lost.
Groping in the darkness, Alessandro pulled himself up on the post, felt
for the saddle, found it, lifted it, and in a trice was flat on the
ground again, drawing the saddle along after him. Not a sound had he
made, that the most watchful of sheep-dogs could hear.

"Ha, old Capitan, caught you napping this time!" said Alessandro to
himself, as at last he got safe to the bottom of the terrace, and,
springing to his feet, bounded away with the saddle on his shoulders.
It was a weight for a starving man to carry, but he felt it not, for
the rejoicing he had in its possession. Now his Senorita would go in
comfort. To ride Baba was to be rocked in a cradle. If need be, Baba
would carry them both, and never know it; and it might come to that,
Alessandro thought, as he knelt by the side of his poor beast, which was
stretched out on the ground exhausted; Baba standing by, looking down in
scornful wonder at this strange new associate.

"The saints be praised!" thought Alessandro, as he seated himself to
wait. "This looks as if they would not desert my Senorita."

Thoughts whirled in his brain. Where should they go first? What would be
best? Would they be pursued? Where could they hide? Where should he seek
a new home?

It was bootless thinking, until Ramona was by his side. He must lay
each plan before her. She must decide. The first thing was to get to
San Diego, to the priest, to be married. That would be three days' hard
ride; five for the exhausted Indian pony. What should they eat on
the ways Ah! Alessandro bethought him of the violin at Hartsel's. Mr.
Hartsel would give him money on that; perhaps buy it. Then Alessandro
remembered his own violin. He had not once thought of it before. It lay
in its case on a table in Senor Felipe's room when he came away, Was it
possible? No, of course it could not be possible that the Senorita would
think to bring it. What would she bring? She would be wise, Alessandro
was sure.

How long the hours seemed as he sat thus plotting and conjecturing; more
and more thankful, as each hour went by, to see the sky still clouded,
the darkness dense. "It must have been the saints, too, that brought me
on a night when there was no moon," he thought; and then he said again,
devout and simple-minded man that he was. "They mean to protect my
Senorita; they will let me take care of her."

Ramona was threading a perilous way, through great difficulties. She had
reached her room unobserved, so far as she could judge. Luckily for her,
Margarita was in bed with a terrible toothache, for which her mother had
given her a strong sleeping-draught. Margarita was disposed of. If she
had not been, Ramona would never have got away, for Margarita would have
known that she had been out of the house for two hours, and would have
watched to see what it meant.

Ramona came in through the court-yard; she dared not go by the veranda,
sure that Felipe and his mother were sitting there still, for it was not

As she entered her room, she heard them talking. She closed one of her
windows, to let them know she was there. Then she knelt at the Madonna's
feet, and in an inaudible whisper told her all she was going to do, and
prayed that she would watch over her and Alessandro, and show them where
to go.

"I know she will! I am sure she will!" whispered Ramona to herself as
she rose from her knees.

Then she threw herself on her bed, to wait till the Senora and Felipe
should be asleep. Her brain was alert, clear. She knew exactly what she
wished to do. She had thought that all out, more than two weeks ago,
when she was looking for Alessandro hour by hour.

Early in the summer Alessandro had given to her, as curiosities, two
of the large nets which the Indian women use for carrying all sorts of
burdens. They are woven out of the fibres of a flax-like plant, and
are strong as iron. The meshes being large, they are very light; are
gathered at each end, and fastened to a band which goes around the
forehead. In these can be carried on the back, with comparative ease,
heavier loads than could be lifted in any other way. Until Ramona
recollected these, she had been perplexed to know how she should carry
the things which she had made up her mind it would be right for her to
take, - only a few; simply necessaries; one stuff gown and her shawls;
the new altar-cloth, and two changes of clothes; that would not be a
great deal; she had a right to so much, she thought, now that she
had seen the jewels in the Senora's keeping. "I will tell Father
Salvierderra exactly what I took," she thought, "and ask him if it was
too much." She did not like to think that all these clothes she must
take had been paid for with the Senora Moreno's money.

And Alessandro's violin. Whatever else she left, that must go. What
would life be to Alessandro without a violin! And if they went to Los
Angeles, he might earn money by playing at dances. Already Ramona had
devised several ways by which they could both earn money.

There must be also food for the journey. And it must be good food, too;
wine for Alessandro. Anguish filled her heart as she recalled how gaunt
he looked. "Starving," he said they had been. Good God! Starving! And
she had sat down each day at loaded tables, and seen, each day, good
food thrown to the dogs to eat.

It was long before the Senora went to her room; and long after that
before Felipe's breathing had become so deep and regular that Ramona
dared feel sure that he was asleep. At last she ventured out. All was
dark; it was past midnight.

"The violin first!" she said; and creeping into the dining-room, and
through the inner door to Felipe's room, she brought it out, rolled it
in shawl after shawl, and put it in the net with her clothes. Then she
stole out, with this net on her back, "like a true Indian woman as I
am," she said, almost gayly, to herself, - through the court-yard, around
the southeast corner of the house, past the garden, down to the willows,
where she laid down her load, and went back for the second.

This was harder. Wine she was resolved to have and bread and cold
meat. She did not know so well where to put her hand on old Marda's
possessions as on her own, and she dared not strike a light. She made
several journeys to the kitchen and pantry before she had completed her
store. Wine, luckily, she found in the dining-room, - two full bottles;
also milk, which she poured into a leathern flask which hung on the wall
in the veranda.

Now all was ready. She leaned from her window, and listened to Felipe's
breathing. "How can I go without bidding him good-by?" she said. "How
can I?" and she stood irresolute.

"Dear Felipe! Dear Felipe! He has always been so good to me! He has done
all he could for me. I wish I dared kiss him. I will leave a note for

Taking a pencil and paper, and a tiny wax taper, whose light
would hardly be seen across a room, she slipped once more into the
dining-room, knelt on the floor behind the door, lighted her taper, and
wrote: -

"DEAR FELIPE, - Alessandro has come, and I am going away with him
to-night. Don't let anything be done to us, if you can help it. I don't
know where we are going. I hope, to Father Salvierderra. I shall love
you always. Thank you, dear Felipe, for all your kindness.


It had not taken a moment. She blew out her taper, and crept back into
her room. Felipe's bed was now moved close to the wall of the house.
From her window she could reach its foot. Slowly, cautiously, she
stretched out her arm and dropped the little paper on the coverlet, just
over Felipe's feet. There was a risk that the Senora would come out in
the morning, before Felipe awaked, and see the note first; but that risk
she would take.

"Farewell, dear Felipe!" she whispered, under her breath, as she turned
from the window.

The delay had cost her dear. The watchful Capitan, from his bed at the
upper end of the court, had half heard, half scented, something strange
going on. As Ramona stepped out, he gave one short, quick bark, and came
bounding down.

"Holy Virgin, I am lost!" thought Ramona; but, crouching on the ground,
she quickly opened her net, and as Capitan came towards her, gave him a
piece of meat, fondling and caressing him. While he ate it, wagging his
tail, and making great demonstrations of joy, she picked up her load
again, and still fondling him, said, "Come on, Capitan!" It was her last
chance. If he barked again, somebody would be waked; if he went by her
side quietly, she might escape. A cold sweat of terror burst on her
forehead as she took her first step cautiously. The dog followed. She
quickened her pace; he trotted along, still smelling the meat in the
net. When she reached the willows, she halted, debating whether she

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