better Spanish than was wont to be heard from Indians.
"Where are you from?" said the Father, as he held his pen poised in
hand, ready to write their names in the old raw-hide-bound book.
"Temecula, Father," replied Alessandro.
Father Gaspara dropped his pen. "The village the Americans drove out the
other day?" he cried.
Father Gaspara sprang from his chair, took refuge from his excitement,
as usual, in pacing the floor. "Go! go! I'm done with you! It's all
over," he said fiercely to the Irish bride and groom, who had given him
their names and their fee, but were still hanging about irresolute, not
knowing if all were ended or not. "A burning shame! The most dastardly
thing I have seen yet in this land forsaken of God!" cried the Father.
"I saw the particulars of it in the San Diego paper yesterday." Then,
coming to a halt in front of Alessandro, he exclaimed: "The paper said
that the Indians were compelled to pay all the costs of the suit; that
the sheriff took their cattle to do it. Was that true?"
"Yes, Father," replied Alessandro.
The Father strode up and down again, plucking at his beard. "What are
you going to do?" he said. "Where have you all gone? There were two
hundred in your village the last time I was there."
"Some have gone over into Pachanga," replied Alessandro, "some to San
Pasquale, and the rest to San Bernardino."
"Body of Jesus! man! But you take it with philosophy!" stormed Father
Alessandro did not understand the word "philosophy," but he knew what
the Father meant. "Yes, Father," he said doggedly. "It is now twenty-one
days ago. I was not so at first. There is nothing to be done."
Ramona held tight to Alessandro's hand. She was afraid of this fierce,
black-bearded priest, who dashed back and forth, pouring out angry
"The United States Government will suffer for it!" he continued. "It is
a Government of thieves and robbers! God will punish them. You will see;
they will be visited with a curse, - a curse in their borders; their sons
and their daughters shall be desolate! But why do I prate in these vain
words? My son, tell me your names again;" and he seated himself once
more at the table where the ancient marriage-record lay open.
After writing Alessandro's name, he turned to Ramona. "And the woman's?"
Alessandro looked at Ramona. In the chapel he had said simply,
"Majella." What name should he give more?
Without a second's hesitation, Ramona answered, "Majella. Majella Phail
is my name."
She pronounced the word "Phail," slowly. It was new to her. She had
never seen it written; as it lingered on her lips, the Father, to
whom also it was a new word, misunderstood it, took it to be in two
syllables, and so wrote it.
The last step was taken in the disappearance of Ramona. How should any
one, searching in after years, find any trace of Ramona Ortegna, in the
woman married under the name of "Majella Fayeel"?
"No, no! Put up your money, son," said Father Gaspara, as Alessandro
began to undo the knots of the handkerchief in which his gold was tied.
"Put up your money. I'll take no money from a Temecula Indian. I would
the Church had money to give you. Where are you going now?"
"To San Pasquale, Father."
"Ah! San Pasquale! The head man there has the old pueblo paper," said
Father Gaspara. "He was showing it to me the other day. That will, it
may be, save you there. But do not trust to it, son. Buy yourself a
piece of land as the white man buys his. Trust to nothing."
Alessandro looked anxiously in the Father's face. "How is that, Father?"
he said. "I do not know."
"Well, their rules be thick as the crabs here on the beach," replied
Father Gaspara; "and, faith, they appear to me to be backwards of motion
also, like the crabs: but the lawyers understand. When you have picked
out your land, and have the money, come to me, and I will go with you
and see that you are not cheated in the buying, so far as I can tell;
but I myself am at my wit's ends with their devices. Farewell, son!
Farewell, daughter!" he said, rising from his chair. Hunger was again
getting the better of sympathy in Father Gaspara, and as he sat down
to his long-deferred supper, the Indian couple faded from his mind; but
after supper was over, as he sat smoking his pipe on the veranda, they
returned again, and lingered in his thoughts, - lingered strangely, it
seemed to him; he could not shake off the impression that there was
something unusual about the woman. "I shall hear of them again, some
day," he thought. And he thought rightly.
AFTER leaving Father Gaspara's door, Alessandro and Ramona rode slowly
through the now deserted plaza, and turned northward, on the river road,
leaving the old Presidio walls on their right. The river was low, and
they forded it without difficulty.
"I have seen this river so high that there was no fording it for many
days," said Alessandro; "but that was in spring."
"Then it is well we came not at that time," said Ramona, "All the times
have fallen out well for us, Alessandro, - the dark nights, and the
streams low; but look! as I say it, there comes the moon!" and she
pointed to the fine threadlike arc of the new moon, just visible in the
sky. "Not big enough to do us any harm, however," she added. "But, dear
Alessandro, do you not think we are safe now?"
"I know not, Majella, if ever we may be safe; but I hope so. I have been
all day thinking I had gone foolish last night, when I told Mrs. Hartsel
that I was on my way to San Pasquale. But if men should come there
asking for us, she would understand, I think, and keep a still tongue.
She would keep harm from us if she could."
Their way from San Diego to San Pasquale lay at first along a high mesa,
or table-land, covered with low shrub growths; after some ten or twelve
miles of this, they descended among winding ridges, into a narrow
valley, - the Poway valley. It was here that the Mexicans made one of
their few abortive efforts to repel the American forces.
"Here were some Americans killed, in a fight with the Mexicans,
Majella," said Alessandro. "I myself have a dozen bullets which I picked
up in the ground about here. Many a time I have looked at them and
thought if there should come another war against the Americans, I
would fire them again, if I could. Does Senor Felipe think there is
any likelihood that his people will rise against them any more? If they
would, they would have all the Indians to help them, now. It would be a
mercy if they might be driven out of the land, Majella."
"Yes," sighed Majella. "But there is no hope. I have heard the Senora
speak of it with Felipe. There is no hope. They have power, and great
riches, she said. Money is all that they think of. To get money, they
will commit any crime, even murder. Every day there comes the news of
their murdering each other for gold. Mexicans kill each other only for
hate, Alessandro, - for hate, or in anger; never for gold."
"Indians, also," replied Alessandro. "Never one Indian killed another,
yet, for money. It is for vengeance, always. For money! Bah! Majella,
they are dogs!"
Rarely did Alessandro speak with such vehemence; but this last outrage
on his people had kindled in his veins a fire of scorn and hatred
which would never die out. Trust in an American was henceforth to him
impossible. The name was a synonym for fraud and cruelty.
"They cannot all be so bad, I think, Alessandro," said Ramona. "There
must be some that are honest; do you not think so?"
"Where are they, then," he cried fiercely, - "the ones who are good?
Among my people there are always some that are bad; but they are in
disgrace. My father punished them, the whole people punished them. If
there are Americans who are good, who will not cheat and kill, why do
they not send after these robbers and punish them? And how is it that
they make laws which cheat? It was the American law which took Temecula
away from us, and gave it to those men! The law was on the side of the
thieves. No, Majella, it is a people that steals! That is their name, - a
people that steals, and that kills for money. Is not that a good name
for a great people to bear, when they are like the sands in the sea,
they are so many?"
"That is what the Senora says," answered Ramona. "She says they are all
thieves; that she knows not, each day, but that on the next will come
more of them, with new laws, to take away more of her land. She had once
more than twice what she has now, Alessandro."
"Yes," he replied; "I know it. My father has told me. He was with Father
Peyri at the place, when General Moreno was alive. Then all was his to
the sea, - all that land we rode over the second night, Majella."
"Yes," she said, "all to the sea! That is what the Senora is ever
saying: 'To the sea!' Oh, the beautiful sea! Can we behold it from San
"No, my Majella, it is too far. San Pasquale is in the valley; it has
hills all around it like walls. But it is good. Majella will love it;
and I will build a house, Majella. All the people will help me. That is
the way with our people. In two days it will be done. But it will be a
poor place for my Majella," he said sadly. Alessandro's heart was ill at
ease. Truly a strange bride's journey was this; but Ramona felt no fear.
"No place can be so poor that I do not choose it, if you are there,
rather than the most beautiful place in the world where you are not,
Alessandro," she said.
"But my Majella loves things that are beautiful," said Alessandro. "She
has lived like a queen."
"Oh, Alessandro," merrily laughed Ramona, "how little you know of
the way queens live! Nothing was fine at the Senora Moreno's, only
comfortable; and any house you will build, I can make as comfortable
as that was; it is nothing but trouble to have one so large as the
Senora's. Margarita used to be tired to death, sweeping all those
rooms in which nobody lived except the blessed old San Luis Rey saints.
Alessandro, if we could have had just one statue, either Saint Francis
or the Madonna, to bring back to our house! That is what I would like
better than all other things in the world. It is beautiful to sleep with
the Madonna close to your bed. She speaks often to you in dreams."
Alessandro fixed serious, questioning eyes on Ramona as she uttered
these words. When she spoke like this, he felt indeed as if a being of
some other sphere had come to dwell by his side. "I cannot find how to
feel towards the saints as you do, my Majella," he said. "I am afraid of
them. It must be because they love you, and do not love us. That is what
I believe, Majella. I believe they are displeased with us, and no longer
make mention of us in heaven. That is what the Fathers taught that the
saints were ever doing, - praying to God for us, and to the Virgin and
Jesus. It is not possible, you see, that they could have been praying
for us, and yet such things have happened, as happened in Temecula. I do
not know how it is my people have displeased them."
"I think Father Salvierderra would say that it is a sin to be afraid of
the saints, Alessandro," replied Ramona, earnestly. "He has often told
me that it was a sin to be unhappy; and that withheld me many times from
being wretched because the Senora would not love me. And, Alessandro,"
she went on, growing more and more fervent in tone, "even if nothing but
misfortune comes to people, that does not prove that the saints do not
love them; for when the saints were on earth themselves, look what they
suffered: martyrs they were, almost all of them. Look at what holy
Saint Catharine endured, and the blessed Saint Agnes. It is not by what
happens to us here in this world that we can tell if the saints love us,
or if we will see the Blessed Virgin."
"How can we tell, then?" he asked.
"By what we feel in our hearts, Alessandro," she replied; "just as I
knew all the time, when you did not come, - I knew that you loved me.
I knew that in my heart; and I shall always know it, no matter what
happens. If you are dead, I shall know that you love me. And you, - you
will know that I love you, the same."
"Yes," said Alessandro, reflectively, "that is true. But, Majella, it is
not possible to have the same thoughts about a saint as about a person
that one has seen, and heard the voice, and touched the hand."
"No, not quite," said Ramona; "not quite, about a saint; but one can
for the Blessed Virgin, Alessandro! I am sure of that. Her statue, in my
room at the Senora's, has been always my mother. Ever since I was little
I have told her all I did. It was she helped me to plan what I should
bring away with us. She reminded me of many things I had forgotten,
except for her."
"Did you hear her speak?" said Alessandro, awe-stricken.
"Not exactly in words; but just the same as in words," replied Ramona,
confidently. "You see when you sleep in the room with her, it is very
different from what it is if you only see her in a chapel. Oh, I could
never be very unhappy with her in my room!"
"I would almost go and steal it for you, Majella," cried Alessandro,
with sacrilegious warmth.
"Holy Virgin!" cried Ramona, "never speak such a word. You would be
struck dead if you laid your hand on her! I fear even the thought was a
"There was a small figure of her in the wall of our house," said
Alessandro. "It was from San Luis Rey. I do not know what became of
it, - if it were left behind, or if they took it with my father's things
to Pachanga. I did not see it there. When I go again, I will look."
"Again!" cried Ramona. "What say you? You go again to Pachanga? You will
not leave me, Alessandro?"
At the bare mention of Alessandro's leaving her, Ramona's courage always
vanished. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, she was transformed
from the dauntless, confident, sunny woman, who bore him up as it were
on wings of hope and faith, to a timid, shrinking, despondent child,
crying out in alarm, and clinging to the hand.
"After a time, dear Majella, when you are wonted to the place, I must
go, to fetch the wagon and the few things that were ours. There is the
raw-hide bed which was Father Peyri's, and he gave to my father. Majella
will like to lie on that. My father believed it had great virtue."
"Like that you made for Felipe?" she asked.
"Yes; but it is not so large. In those days the cattle were not so
large as they are now: this is not so broad as Senor Felipe's. There
are chairs, too, from the Mission, three of them, one almost as fine
as those on your veranda at home. They were given to my father. And
music-books, - beautiful parchment books! Oh, I hope those are not lost,
Majella! If Jose had lived, he would have looked after it all. But in
the confusion, all the things belonging to the village were thrown into
wagons together, and no one knew where anything was. But all the people
knew my father's chairs and the books of the music. If the Americans did
not steal them, everything will be safe. My people do not steal.
There was never but one thief in our village, and my father had him so
whipped, he ran away and never came back. I heard he was living in San
Jacinto, and was a thief yet, spite of all that whipping he had. I think
if it is in the blood to be a thief, not even whipping will take it out,
"Like the Americans," she said, half laughing, but with tears in the
voice. "Whipping would not cure them."
It wanted yet more than an hour of dawn when they reached the crest of
the hill from which they looked down on the San Pasquale valley. Two
such crests and valleys they had passed; this was the broadest of the
three valleys, and the hills walling it were softer and rounder of
contour than any they had yet seen. To the east and northeast lay ranges
of high mountains, their tops lost in the clouds. The whole sky was
overcast and gray.
"If it were spring, this would mean rain," said Alessandro; "but it
cannot rain, I think, now."
"No!" laughed Ramona, "not till we get our house done. Will it be of
"Dearest Majella, not yet! At first it must be of the tule. They are
very comfortable while it is warm, and before winter I will build one of
"Two houses! Wasteful Alessandro! If the tule house is good, I shall not
let you, Alessandro, build another."
Ramona's mirthful moments bewildered Alessandro. To his slower
temperament and saddened nature they seemed preternatural; as if she
were all of a sudden changed into a bird, or some gay creature outside
the pale of human life, - outside and above it.
"You speak as the birds sing, my Majella," he said slowly. "It was well
to name you Majel; only the wood-dove has not joy in her voice, as you
have. She says only that she loves and waits."
"I say that, too, Alessandro!" replied Ramona, reaching out both her
arms towards him.
The horses were walking slowly, and very close side by side. Baba and
Benito were now such friends they liked to pace closely side by side;
and Baba and Benito were by no means without instinctive recognitions of
the sympathy between their riders. Already Benito knew Ramona's voice,
and answered it with pleasure; and Baba had long ago learned to stop
when his mistress laid her hand on Alessandro's shoulder. He stopped
now, and it was long minutes before he had the signal to go on again.
"Majella! Majella!" cried Alessandro, as, grasping both her hands in
his, he held them to his cheeks, to his neck, to his mouth, "if the
saints would ask Alessandro to be a martyr for Majella's sake, like
those she was telling of, then she would know if Alessandro loved her!
But what can Alessandro do now? What, oh, what? Majella gives all;
Alessandro gives nothing!" and he bowed his forehead on her hands,
before he put them back gently on Baba's neck.
Tears filled Ramona's eyes. How should she win this saddened man, this
distrusting lover, to the joy which was his desert? "Alessandro can
do one thing," she said, insensibly falling into his mode of
speaking, - "one thing for his Majella: never, never say that he has
nothing to give her. When he says that, he makes Majella a liar; for
she has said that he is all the world to her, - he himself all the world
which she desires. Is Majella a liar?"
But it was even now with an ecstasy only half joy, the other half
anguish, that Alessandro replied: "Majella cannot lie. Majella is like
the saints. Alessandro is hers."
When they rode down into the valley, the whole village was astir. The
vintage-time had nearly passed; everywhere were to be seen large, flat
baskets of grapes drying in the sun. Old women and children were turning
these, or pounding acorns in the deep stone bowls; others were beating
the yucca-stalks, and putting them to soak in water; the oldest women
were sitting on the ground, weaving baskets. There were not many men in
the village now; two large bands were away at work, - one at the autumn
sheep-shearing, and one working on a large irrigating ditch at San
In different directions from the village slow-moving herds of goats or
of cattle could be seen, being driven to pasture on the hills; some men
were ploughing; several groups were at work building houses of bundles
of the tule reeds.
"These are some of the Temecula people," said Alessandro; "they
are building themselves new houses here. See those piles of bundles
darker-colored than the rest. Those are their old roofs they brought
from Temecula. There, there comes Ysidro!" he cried joyfully, as a man,
well-mounted, who had been riding from point to point in the village,
came galloping towards them. As soon as Ysidro recognized Alessandro, he
flung himself from his horse. Alessandro did the same, and both running
swiftly towards each other till they met, they embraced silently.
Ramona, riding up, held out her hand, saying, as she did so, "Ysidro?"
Pleased, yet surprised, at this confident and assured greeting, Ysidro
saluted her, and turning to Alessandro, said in their own tongue, "Who
is this woman whom you bring, that has heard my name?"
"My wife!" answered Alessandro, in the same tongue. "We were married
last night by Father Gaspara. She comes from the house of the Senora
Moreno. We will live in San Pasquale, if you have land for me, as you
What astonishment Ysidro felt, he showed none. Only a grave and
courteous welcome was in his face and in his words as he said, "It
is well. There is room. You are welcome." But when he heard the soft
Spanish syllables in which Ramona spoke to Alessandro, and Alessandro,
translating her words to him, said, "Majel speaks only in the Spanish
tongue, but she will learn ours," a look of disquiet passed over his
countenance. His heart feared for Alessandro, and he said, "Is she,
then, not Indian? Whence got she the name of Majel?"
A look of swift intelligence from Alessandro reassured him. "Indian on
the mother's side!" said Alessandro, "and she belongs in heart to our
people. She is alone, save for me. She is one blessed of the Virgin,
Ysidro. She will help us. The name Majel I have given her, for she is
like the wood-dove; and she is glad to lay her old name down forever, to
bear this new name in our tongue."
And this was Ramona's introduction to the Indian village, - this and her
smile; perhaps the smile did most. Even the little children were not
afraid of her. The women, though shy, in the beginning, at sight of her
noble bearing, and her clothes of a kind and quality they associated
only with superiors, soon felt her friendliness, and, what was more,
saw by her every word, tone, look, that she was Alessandro's. If
Alessandro's, theirs. She was one of them. Ramona would have been
profoundly impressed and touched, could she have heard them speaking
among themselves about her; wondering how it had come about that she,
so beautiful, and nurtured in the Moreno house, of which they all knew,
should be Alessandro's loving wife. It must be, they thought in their
simplicity, that the saints had sent it as an omen of good to the Indian
people. Toward night they came, bringing in a hand-barrow the most aged
woman in the village to look at her. She wished to see the beautiful
stranger before the sun went down, they said, because she was now so old
she believed each night that before morning her time would come to die.
They also wished to hear the old woman's verdict on her. When Alessandro
saw them coming, he understood, and made haste to explain it to Ramona.
While he was yet speaking, the procession arrived, and the aged woman in
her strange litter was placed silently on the ground in front of Ramona,
who was sitting under Ysidro's great fig-tree. Those who had borne her
withdrew, and seated themselves a few paces off. Alessandro spoke
first. In a few words he told the old woman of Ramona's birth, of their
marriage, and of her new name of adoption; then he said, "Take her hand,
dear Majella, if you feel no fear."
There was something scarcely human in the shrivelled arm and hand
outstretched in greeting; but Ramona took it in hers with tender
reverence: "Say to her for me, Alessandro," she said, "that I bow down
to her great age with reverence, and that I hope, if it is the will of
God that I live on the earth so long as she has, I may be worthy of such
reverence as these people all feel for her."
Alessandro turned a grateful look on Ramona as he translated this
speech, so in unison with Indian modes of thought and feeling. A murmur
of pleasure rose from the group of women sitting by. The aged woman made
no reply; her eyes still studied Ramona's face, and she still held her
"Tell her," continued Ramona, "that I ask if there is anything I can do
for her. Say I will be her daughter if she will let me."
"It must be the Virgin herself that is teaching Majella what to say,"
thought Alessandro, as he repeated this in the San Luiseno tongue.
Again the women murmured pleasure, but the old woman spoke not. "And say
that you will be her son," added Ramona.
Alessandro said it. It was perhaps for this that the old woman had
waited. Lifting up her arm, like a sibyl, she said: "It is well; I am
your mother. The winds of the valley shall love you, and the grass shall
dance when you come. The daughter looks on her mother's face each day. I
will go;" and making a sign to her bearers, she was lifted, and carried
to her house.
The scene affected Ramona deeply. The simplest acts of these people
seemed to her marvellously profound in their meanings. She was not
herself sufficiently educated or versed in life to know why she was so
moved, - to know that such utterances, such symbolisms as these, among