should give him a large piece of meat, and try to run away while he was
eating it, or whether she should let him go quietly along. She decided
on the latter course; and, picking up her other net, walked on. She was
safe now. She turned, and looked back towards the house; all was dark
and still. She could hardly see its outline. A great wave of emotion
swept over her. It was the only home she had ever known. All she
had experienced of happiness, as well as of bitter pain, had been
there, - Felipe, Father Salvierderra, the servants, the birds, the
garden, the dear chapel! Ah, if she could have once more prayed in the
chapel! Who would put fresh flowers and ferns in the chapel now? How
Felipe would miss her, when he knelt before the altar! For fourteen
years she had knelt by his side. And the Senora, - the hard, cold Senora!
She would alone be glad. Everybody else would be sorry. "They will all
be sorry I have gone, - all but the Senora! I wish it had been so that I
could have bidden them all good-by, and had them all bid me good-by, and
wish us good fortune!" thought the gentle, loving girl, as she drew a
long sigh, and, turning her back on her home, went forward in the path
she had chosen.
She stooped and patted Capitan on the head. "Will you come with me,
Capitan?" she said; and Capitan leaped up joyfully, giving two or three
short, sharp notes of delight. "Good Capitan, come! They will not
miss him out of so many," she thought, "and it will always seem like
something from home, as long as I have Capitan."
When Alessandro first saw Ramona's figure dimly in the gloom, drawing
slowly nearer, he did not recognize it, and he was full of apprehension
at the sight. What stranger could it be, abroad in these lonely meadows
at this hour of the night? Hastily he led the horses farther back into
the copse, and hid himself behind a tree, to watch. In a few moments
more he thought he recognized Capitan, bounding by the side of this
bent and slow-moving figure. Yet this was surely an Indian woman toiling
along under a heavy load. But what Indian woman would have so superb a
collie as Capitan? Alessandro strained his eyes through the darkness.
Presently he saw the figure halt, - drop part of its burden.
"Alessandro!" came in a sweet, low call.
He bounded like a deer, crying, "My Senorita! my Senorita! Can that be
you? To think that you have brought these heavy loads!"
Ramona laughed. "Do you remember the day you showed me how the Indian
women carried so much on their backs, in these nets? I did not think
then I would use it so soon. But it hurts my forehead, Alessandro. It
isn't the weight, but the strings cut. I couldn't have carried them much
"Ah, you had no basket to cover the head," replied Alessandro, as he
threw up the two nets on his shoulders as if they had been feathers. In
doing so, he felt the violin-case.
"Is it the violin?" he cried. "My blessed one, where did you get it?"
"Off the table in Felipe's room," she answered. "I knew you would rather
have it than anything else. I brought very little, Alessandro; it seemed
nothing while I was getting it; but it is very heavy to carry. Will
it be too much for the poor tired horse? You and I can walk. And see,
Alessandro, here is Capitan. He waked up, and I had to bring him, to
keep him still. Can't he go with us?"
Capitan was leaping up, putting his paws on Alessandro's breast,
licking his face, yelping, doing all a dog could do, to show welcome and
Alessandro laughed aloud. Ramona had not more than two or three times
heard him do this. It frightened her. "Why do you laugh, Alessandro?"
"To think what I have to show you, my Senorita," he said. "Look here;"
and turning towards the willows, he gave two or three low whistles, at
the first note of which Baba came trotting out of the copse to the end
of his lariat, and began to snort and whinny with delight as soon as he
Ramona burst into tears. The surprise was too great.
"Are you not glad, Senorita?" cried Alessandro, aghast. "Is it not your
own horse? If you do not wish to take him, I will lead him back. My pony
can carry you, if we journey very slowly. But I thought it would be joy
to you to have Baba."
"Oh, it is! it is!" sobbed Ramona, with her head on Baba's neck. "It is
a miracle, - a miracle. How did he come here? And, the saddle too!" she
cried, for the first time observing that. "Alessandro," in an awe-struck
whisper, "did the saints send him? Did you find him here?" It would have
seemed to Ramona's faith no strange thing, had this been so.
"I think the saints helped me to bring him," answered Alessandro,
seriously, "or else I had not done it so easily. I did but call, near
the corral-fence, and he came to my hand, and leaped over the rails at
my word, as quickly as Capitan might have done. He is yours, Senorita.
It is no harm to take him?"
"Oh, no!" answered Ramona. "He is more mine than anything else I had;
for it was Felipe gave him to me when he could but just stand on his
legs; he was only two days old; and I have fed him out of my hand every
day till now; and now he is five. Dear Baba, we will never be parted,
never!" and she took his head in both her hands, and laid her cheek
against it lovingly.
Alessandro was busy, fastening the two nets on either side of the
saddle. "Baba will never know he has a load at all; they are not so
heavy as my Senorita thought," he said. "It was the weight on the
forehead, with nothing to keep the strings from the skin, which gave her
Alessandro was making all haste. His hands trembled. "We must make all
the speed we can, dearest Senorita," he said, "for a few hours. Then we
will rest. Before light, we will be in a spot where we can hide safely
all day. We will journey only by night, lest they pursue us."
"They will not," said Ramona. "There is no danger. The Senora said she
should do nothing. 'Nothing!'" she repeated, in a bitter tone. "That is
what she made Felipe say, too. Felipe wanted to help us. He would have
liked to have you stay with us; but all he could get was, that she would
do 'nothing!' But they will not follow us. They will wish never to hear
of me again. I mean, the Senora will wish never to hear of me. Felipe
will be sorry. Felipe is very good, Alessandro."
They were all ready now, - Ramona on Baba, the two packed nets swinging
from her saddle, one on either side. Alessandro, walking, led his tired
pony. It was a sad sort of procession for one going to be wed, but
Ramona's heart was full of joy.
"I don't know why it is, Alessandro," she said; "I should think I
would be afraid, but I have not the least fear, - not the least; not of
anything that can come, Alessandro," she reiterated with emphasis. "Is
it not strange?"
"Yes, Senorita," he replied solemnly, laying his hand on hers as he
walked close at her side. "It is strange. I am afraid, - afraid for you,
my Senorita! But it is done, and we will not go back; and perhaps the
saints will help you, and will let me take care of you. They must love
you, Senorita; but they do not love me, nor my people."
"Are you never going to call me by my name?" asked Ramona. "I hate your
calling me Senorita. That was what the Senora always called me when she
"I will never speak the word again!" cried Alessandro. "The saints
forbid I should speak to you in the words of that woman!"
"Can't you say Ramona?" she asked.
Alessandro hesitated. He could not have told why it seemed to him
difficult to say Ramona.
"What was that other name, you said you always thought of me by?" she
continued. "The Indian name, - the name of the dove?"
"Majel," he said. "It is by that name I have oftenest thought of you
since the night I watched all night for you, after you had kissed me,
and two wood-doves were calling and answering each other in the dark;
and I said to myself, that is what my love is like, the wood-dove: the
wood-dove's voice is low like hers, and sweeter than any other sound in
the earth; and the wood-dove is true to one mate always - " He stopped.
"As I to you, Alessandro," said Ramona, leaning from her horse, and
resting her hand on Alessandro's shoulder.
Baba stopped. He was used to knowing by the most trivial signs what his
mistress wanted; he did not understand this new situation; no one had
ever before, when Ramona was riding him, walked by his side so close
that he touched his shoulders, and rested his hand in his mane. If it
had been anybody else than Alessandro, Baba would not have permitted it
even now. But it must be all right, since Ramona was quiet; and now she
had stretched out her hand and rested it on Alessandro's shoulder.
Did that mean halt for a moment? Baba thought it might, and acted
accordingly; turning his head round to the right, and looking back to
see what came of it.
Alessandro's arms around Ramona, her head bent down to his, their lips
together, - what could Baba think? As mischievously as if he had been
a human being or an elf, Baba bounded to one side and tore the lovers
apart. They both laughed, and cantered on, - Alessandro running; the poor
Indian pony feeling the contagion, and loping as it had not done for
many a day.
"Majel is my name, then," said Ramona, "is it? It is a sweet sound, but
I would like it better Majella. Call me Majella."
"That will be good," replied Alessandro, "for the reason that never
before had any one the same name. It will not be hard for me to say
Majella. I know not why your name of Ramona has always been hard to my
"Because it was to be that you should call me Majella," said Ramona.
"Remember, I am Ramona no longer. That also was the name the Senora
called me by - and dear Felipe too," she added thoughtfully. "He would
not know me by my new name. I would like to have him always call
me Ramona. But for all the rest of the world I am Majella,
now, - Alessandro's Majel!"
AFTER they reached the highway, and had trotted briskly on for a mile,
Alessandro suddenly put out his hand, and taking Baba by the rein, began
turning him round and round in the road.
"We will not go any farther in the road," he said, "but I must conceal
our tracks here. We will go backwards for a few paces." The obedient
Baba backed slowly, half dancing, as if he understood the trick; the
Indian pony, too, curvetted awkwardly, then by a sudden bound under
Alessandro's skilful guidance, leaped over a rock to the right, and
stood waiting further orders. Baba followed, and Capitan; and there was
no trail to show where they had left the road.
After trotting the pony round and round again in ever-widening circles,
cantering off in one direction after another, then backing over the
tracks for a few moments, Ramona docilely following, though much
bewildered as to what it all meant, Alessandro said: "I think now they
will never discover where we left the road. They will ride along, seeing
our tracks plain, and then they will be so sure that we would have kept
straight on, that they will not notice for a time; and when they do,
they will never be able to see where the trail ended. And now my Majella
has a very hard ride before her. Will she be afraid?"
"Afraid." laughed Ramona. "Afraid, - on Baba, and with you!"
But it was indeed a hard ride. Alessandro had decided to hide for
the day in a canon he knew, from which a narrow trail led direct to
Temecula, - a trail which was known to none but Indians. Once in this
canon, they would be safe from all possible pursuit. Alessandro did not
in the least share Ramona's confidence that no effort would be made to
overtake them. To his mind, it appeared certain that the Senora would
never accept the situation without making an attempt to recover at least
the horse and the dog. "She can say, if she chooses, that I have stolen
one of her horses," he thought to himself bitterly; "and everybody would
believe her. Nobody would believe us, if we said it was the Senorita's
The head of the canon was only a couple of miles from the road; but it
was in a nearly impenetrable thicket of chaparral, where young oaks had
grown up so high that their tops made, as it were, a second stratum of
thicket. Alessandro had never ridden through it; he had come up on foot
once from the other side, and, forcing his way through the tangle had
found, to his surprise, that he was near the highway. It was from this
canon that he had brought the ferns which it had so delighted Ramona
to arrange for the decoration of the chapel. The place was filled with
them, growing almost in tropical luxuriance; but this was a mile or so
farther down, and to reach that spot from above, Alessandro had had to
let himself down a sheer wall of stone. The canon at its head was little
more than a rift in the rocks, and the stream which had its rise in
it was only a trickling spring at the beginning. It was this precious
water, as well as the inaccessibility of the spot, which had decided
Alessandro to gain the place at all hazards and costs. But a wall of
granite would not have seemed a much more insuperable obstacle than did
this wall of chaparral, along which they rode, vainly searching for a
break in it. It appeared to Alessandro to have thickened and knit even
since the last spring. At last they made their way down a small side
canon, - a sort of wing to the main canon; a very few rods down this, and
they were as hidden from view from above as if the earth had swallowed
them. The first red tints of the dawn were coming. From the eastern
horizon to the zenith, the whole sky was like a dappled crimson fleece.
"Oh, what a lovely place." exclaimed Ramona. "I am sure this was not a
hard ride at all, Alessandro! Is this where we are to stay?"
Alessandro turned a compassionate look upon her. "How little does the
wood-dove know of rough places!" he said. "This is only the beginning;
hardly is it even the beginning."
Fastening his pony to a bush, he reconnoitred the place, disappearing
from sight the moment he entered the chaparral in any direction.
Returning at last, with a grave face, he said, "Will Majella let me
leave her here for a little time? There is a way, but I can find it only
on foot. I will not be gone long. I know it is near."
Tears came into Ramona's eyes. The only thing she dreaded was the losing
sight of Alessandro. He gazed at her anxiously. "I must go, Majella," he
said with emphasis. "We are in danger here."
"Go! go! Alessandro," she cried. "But, oh, do not be long!"
As he disappeared in the thicket, the tough boughs crackling and
snapping before him, it seemed to Ramona that she was again alone in the
world. Capitan, too, bounded after Alessandro, and did not return at her
call. All was still. Ramona laid her head on Baba's neck. The moments
seemed hours. At last, just as the yellow light streamed across the
sky, and the crimson fleeces turned in one second to gold, she heard
Alessandro's steps, the next moment saw his face. It was aglow with joy.
"I have found the trail!" he exclaimed; "but we must climb up again out
of this; and it is too light. I like it not."
With fear and trembling they urged their horses up and out into the open
again, and galloped a half-mile farther west, still keeping as close
to the chaparral thicket as possible. Here Alessandro, who led the way,
suddenly turned into the very thicket itself; no apparent opening; but
the boughs parted and closed, and his head appeared above them;
still the little pony was trotting bravely along. Baba snorted
with displeasure as he plunged into the same bristling pathway. The
thick-set, thorny branches smote Ramona's cheeks. What was worse, they
caught the nets swung on Baba's sides; presently these were held fast,
and Baba began to rear and kick. Here was a real difficulty. Alessandro
dismounted, cut the strings, and put both the packages securely on the
back of his own pony. "I will walk," he said. "It was only a little way
longer I would have ridden. I shall lead Baba, where it is narrow."
"Narrow," indeed. It was from sheer terror, soon, that Ramona shut her
eyes. A path, it seemed to her only a hand's-breadth wide, - a stony,
crumbling path, - on the side of a precipice, down which the stones
rolled, and rolled, and rolled, echoing, far out of sight, as they
passed; at each step the beasts took, the stones rolled and fell. Only
the yucca-plants, with their sharp bayonet-leaves, had made shift to
keep foothold on this precipice. Of these there were thousands; and
their tall flower-stalks, fifteen, twenty feet high, set thick with the
shining, smooth seed-cups, glistened like satin chalices in the sun.
Below - hundreds of feet below - lay the canon bottom, a solid bed of
chaparral, looking soft and even as a bed of moss. Giant sycamore-trees
lifted their heads, at intervals, above this; and far out in the plain
glistened the loops of the river, whose sources, unknown to the world,
seen of but few human eyes, were to be waters of comfort to these
fugitives this day.
Alessandro was cheered. The trail was child's play to him. At the first
tread of Baba's dainty steps on the rolling stones, he saw that the
horse was as sure-footed as an Indian pony. In a few short hours, now,
they would be all at rest. He knew where, under a sycamore-clump, there
was running water, clear as crystal, and cold, - almost colder than one
could drink, - and green grass too; plenty for two days' feed for the
horses, or even three; and all California might be searched over in vain
for them, once they were down this trail. His heart full of joy at these
thoughts, he turned, to see Ramona pallid, her lips parted, her eyes
full of terror. He had forgotten that her riding had hitherto been
only on the smooth ways of the valley and the plain, There she was so
fearless, that he had had no misgiving about her nerves here; but she
had dropped the reins, was clutching Baba's mane with both hands, and
sitting unsteadily in her saddle. She had been too proud to cry out; but
she was nearly beside herself with fright. Alessandro halted so suddenly
that Baba, whose nose was nearly on his shoulder, came to so sharp a
stop that Ramona uttered a cry. She thought he had lost his footing.
Alessandro looked at her in dismay. To dismount on that perilous trail
was impossible; moreover, to walk there would take more nerve than to
ride. Yet she looked as if she could not much longer keep her seat.
"Carita," he cried, "I was stupid not to have told you how narrow the
way is; but it is safe. I can run in it. I ran all this way with the
ferns on my back I brought for you."
"Oh, did you?" gasped Ramona, diverted, for the moment, from her
contemplation of the abyss, and more reassured by that change of her
thoughts than she could have been by anything else. "Did you? It is
frightful, Alessandro. I never heard of such a trail. I feel as if I
were on a rope in the air. If I could get down and go on my hands and
knees, I think I would like it better. Could I?"
"I would not dare to have you get off, just here, Majella," answered
Alessandro, sorrowfully. "It is dreadful to me to see you suffer so; I
will go very slowly. Indeed, it is safe; we all came up here, the whole
band, for the sheep-shearing, - old Fernando on his horse all the way."
"Really," said Ramona, taking comfort at each word, "I will try not to
be so silly. Is it far, dearest Alessandro?"
"Not much more as steep as this, dear, nor so narrow; but it will be an
hour yet before we stop."
But the worst was over for Ramona now, and long before they reached the
bottom of the precipice she was ready to laugh at her fears; only,
as she looked back at the zigzag lines of the path over which she had
come, - little more than a brown thread, they seemed, flung along the
rock, - she shuddered.
Down in the bottom of the canon it was still the dusky gloaming when
they arrived. Day came late to this fairy spot. Only at high noon did
the sun fairly shine in. As Ramona looked around her, she uttered an
exclamation of delight, which satisfied Alessandro. "Yes," he said,
"when I came here for the ferns, I wished to myself many times that you
could see it. There is not in all this country so beautiful a place.
This is our first home, my Majella," he added, in a tone almost solemn;
and throwing his arms around her, he drew her to his breast, with the
first feeling of joy he had experienced.
"I wish we could live here always," cried Ramona.
"Would Majella be content?" said Alessandro.
"Very," she answered.
He sighed. "There would not be land enough, to live here," he said.
"If there were, I too would like to stay here till I died, Majella, and
never see the face of a white man again!" Already the instinct of the
hunted and wounded animal to seek hiding, was striving in Alessandro's
blood. "But there would be no food. We could not live here." Ramona's
exclamation had set Alessandro to thinking, however. "Would Majella be
content to stay here three days now?" he asked. "There is grass enough
for the horses for that time. We should be very safe here; and I fear
very much we should not be safe on any road. I think, Majella, the
Senora will send men after Baba."
"Baba!" cried Ramona, aghast at the idea. "My own horse! She would not
dare to call it stealing a horse, to take my own Baba!" But even as
she spoke, her heart misgave her. The Senora would dare anything; would
misrepresent anything; only too well Ramona knew what the very mention
of the phrase "horse-stealing" meant all through the country. She looked
piteously at Alessandro. He read her thoughts.
"Yes, that is it, Majella," he said. "If she sent men after Baba, there
is no knowing what they might do. It would not do any good for you to
say he was yours. They would not believe you; and they might take me
too, if the Senora had told them to, and put me into Ventura jail."
"She's just wicked enough to do it!" cried Ramona. "Let us not stir out
of this spot, Alessandro, - not for a week! Couldn't we stay a week? By
that time she would have given over looking for us."
"I am afraid not a week. There is not feed for the horses; and I do not
know what we could eat. I have my gun, but there is not much, now, to
"But I have brought meat and bread, Alessandro," said Ramona, earnestly,
"and we could eat very little each day, and make it last!" She was like
a child, in her simplicity and eagerness. Every other thought was for
the time being driven out of her mind by the terror of being pursued.
Pursuit of her, she knew, would not be in the Senora's plan; but the
reclaiming of Baba and Capitan, that was another thing. The more Ramona
thought of it, the more it seemed to her a form of vengeance which would
be likely to commend itself to the Senora's mind. Felipe might possibly
prevent it. It was he who had given Baba to her. He would feel that
it would be shameful to recall or deny the gift. Only in Felipe lay
If she had thought to tell Alessandro that in her farewell note
to Felipe she had said that she supposed they were going to Father
Salvierderra, it would have saved both her and Alessandro much
disquietude. Alessandro would have known that men pursuing them, on that
supposition, would have gone straight down the river road to the sea,
and struck northward along the coast. But it did not occur to Ramona to
mention this; in fact, she hardly recollected it after the first day.
Alessandro had explained to her his plan, which was to go by way of
Temecula to San Diego, to be married there by Father Gaspara, the priest
of that parish, and then go to the village or pueblo of San Pasquale,
about fifteen miles northwest of San Diego. A cousin of Alessandro's
was the head man of this village, and had many times begged him to come
there to live; but Alessandro had steadily refused, believing it to
be his duty to remain at Temecula with his father. San Pasquale was
a regularly established pueblo, founded by a number of the Indian
neophytes of the San Luis Rey Mission at the time of the breaking up
of that Mission. It was established by a decree of the Governor of
California, and the lands of the San Pasquale Valley given to it. A
paper recording this establishment and gift, signed by the Governor's
own hand, was given to the Indian who was the first Alcalde of the
pueblo. He was Chief Pablo's brother. At his death the authority passed
into the hands of his son, Ysidro, the cousin of whom Alessandro had
"Ysidro has that paper still," Alessandro said, "and he thinks it
will keep them their village. Perhaps it will; but the Americans are