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alone. The Indians, standing on the doorway, also fell on their knees,
and a low-whispered murmur was heard.

For a moment Aunt Ri looked at the kneeling figures with contempt. "Oh,
Lawd!" she thought, "the pore heathen, prayin' ter a picter!" Then a
sudden revulsion seized her. "I allow I ain't gwine ter be the unly one
out er the hull number thet don't seem to hev nothin' ter pray ter; I
allow I'll jine in prayer, tew, but I shan't say mine ter no picter!"
And Aunt Ri fell on her knees; and when a young Indian woman by her side
slipped a rosary into her hand, Aunt Ri did not repulse it, but hid it
in the folds of her gown till the prayers were done. It was a moment and
a lesson Aunt Ri never forgot.


THE Capitan's house faced the east. Just as day broke, and the light
streamed in at the open door, Ramona's eyes unclosed. Felipe and Aunt
Ri were both by her side. With a look of bewildered terror, she gazed at

"Thar, thar, naow! Yer jest shet yer eyes 'n' go right off ter sleep
agin, honey," said Aunt Ri, composedly, laying her hand on Ramona's
eyelids, and compelling them down. "We air hyar, Feeleepy 'n' me, 'n'
we air goin' ter stay. I allow yer needn't be afeerd o' nothin'. Go ter
sleep, honey."

The eyelids quivered beneath Aunt Ri's fingers. Tears forced their way,
and rolled slowly down the cheeks. The lips trembled; the voice strove
to speak, but it was only like the ghost of a whisper, the faint
question that came, - "Felipe?"

"Yes, dear! I am here, too," breathed Felipe; "go to sleep. We will not
leave you!"

And again Ramona sank away into the merciful sleep which was saving her

"Ther longer she kin sleep, ther better," said Aunt Ri, with a sigh,
deep-drawn like a groan. "I allow I dread ter see her reely come to.
'T'll be wus'n the fust; she'll hev ter live it all over again!"

But Aunt Ri did not know what forces of fortitude had been gathering
in Ramona's soul during these last bitter years. Out of her gentle
constancy had been woven the heroic fibre of which martyrs are made;
this, and her inextinguishable faith, had made her strong, as were
those of old, who "had trial of cruel mocking, wandering about, being
destitute, afflicted, tormented, wandered in deserts and in mountains,
and in dens and caves of the earth."

When she waked the second time, it was with a calm, almost beatific
smile that she gazed on Felipe, and whispered, "How did you find me,
dear Felipe?" It was rather by the motions of her lips than by any
sound that he knew the words. She had not yet strength enough to make an
audible sound. When they laid her baby on her breast, she smiled again,
and tried to embrace her, but was too weak. Pointing to the baby's eyes,
she whispered, gazing earnestly at Felipe, "Alessandro." A convulsion
passed over her face as she spoke the word, and the tears flowed.

Felipe could not speak. He glanced helplessly at Aunt Ri, who promptly
responded: "Naow, honey, don't yeow talk. 'Tain't good fur ye; 'n'
Feeleepy 'n' me, we air in a powerful hurry ter git yer strong 'n'
well, 'n' tote ye out er this - " Aunt Ri stopped. No substantive in her
vocabulary answered her need at that moment. "I allow ye kin go 'n a
week, ef nothin' don't go agin ye more'n I see naow; but ef yer git ter
talkin', thar's no tellin' when yer'll git up. Yeow jest shet up, honey.
We'll look arter everythin'."

Feebly Ramona turned her grateful, inquiring eyes on Felipe. Her lips
framed the words, "With you?"

"Yes, dear, home with me," said Felipe, clasping her hand in his. "I
have been searching for you all this time."

An anxious look came into the sweet face. Felipe knew what it meant. How
often he had seen it in the olden time. He feared to shock her by the
sudden mention of the Senora's death; yet that would harm her less than
continued anxiety. "I am alone, dear Ramona," he whispered. "There is no
one now but you, my sister, to take care of me. My mother has been dead
a year."

The eyes dilated, then filled with sympathetic tears. "Dear Felipe!"
she sighed; but her heart took courage. Felipe's phrase was like one
inspired; another duty, another work, another loyalty, waiting for
Ramona. Not only her child to live for, but to "take care of Felipe"!
Ramona would not die! Youth, a mother's love, a sister's affection and
duty, on the side of life, - the battle was won, and won quickly, too.

To the simple Cahuillas it seemed like a miracle; and they looked on
Aunt Ri's weather-beaten face with something akin to a superstitious
reverence. They themselves were not ignorant of the value of the herb
by means of which she had wrought the marvellous cure; but they had made
repeated experiments with it upon Ramona, without success. It must be
that there had been some potent spell in Aunt Ri's handling. They would
hardly believe her when, in answer to their persistent questioning, she
reiterated the assertion that she had used nothing except the hot water
and "old man," which was her name for the wild wormwood; and which,
when explained to them, impressed them greatly, as having no doubt some
significance in connection with the results of her preparation of the

Rumors about Felipe ran swiftly throughout the region. The presence in
the Cahuilla village of a rich Mexican gentleman who spent gold like
water, and kept mounted men riding day and night, after everything,
anything, he wanted for his sick sister, was an event which in the
atmosphere of that lonely country loomed into colossal proportions. He
had travelled all over California, with four horses, in search of her.
He was only waiting till she was well, to take her to his home in the
south; and then he was going to arrest the man who had murdered her
husband, and have him hanged, - yes, hanged! Small doubt about that;
or, if the law cleared him, there was still the bullet. This rich Senor
would see him shot, if rope were not to be had. Jim Farrar heard these
tales, and quaked in his guilty soul. The rope he had small fear of, for
well he knew the temper of San Diego County juries and judges; but the
bullet, that was another thing; and these Mexicans were like Indians in
their vengeance. Time did not tire them, and their memories were long.
Farrar cursed the day he had let his temper get the better of him on
that lonely mountainside; how much the better, nobody but he himself
knew, - nobody but he and Ramona: and even Ramona did not know the bitter
whole. She knew that Alessandro had no knife, and had gone forward with
no hostile intent; but she knew nothing beyond that. Only the murderer
himself knew that the dialogue which he had reported to the judge and
jury, to justify his act, was an entire fabrication of his own, and
that, instead of it, had been spoken but four words by Alessandro, and
those were, "Senor, I will explain;" and that even after the first shot
had pierced his lungs, and the blood was choking in his throat, he had
still run a step or two farther, with his hand uplifted deprecatingly,
and made one more effort to speak before he fell to the ground dead.
Callous as Farrar was, and clear as it was in his mind that killing an
Indian was no harm, he had not liked to recall the pleading anguish in
Alessandro's tone and in his face as he fell. He had not liked to recall
this, even before he heard of this rich Mexican brother-in-law who
had appeared on the scene; and now, he found the memories still more
unpleasant. Fear is a wonderful goad to remorse. There was another
thing, too, which to his great wonder had been apparently overlooked by
everybody; at least, nothing had been said about it; but the bearing of
it on his case, if the case were brought up a second time and minutely
investigated, would be most unfortunate. And this was, that the only
clew he had to the fact of Alessandro's having taken his horse, was that
the poor, half-crazed fellow had left his own well-known gray pony in
the corral in place of the horse he took. A strange thing, surely, for a
horse-thief to do! Cold sweat burst out on Farrar's forehead, more
than once, as he realized how this, coupled with the well-known fact
of Alessandro's liability to attacks of insanity, might be made to tell
against him, if he should be brought to trial for the murder. He was
as cowardly as he was cruel: never yet were the two traits separate
in human nature; and after a few days of this torturing suspense and
apprehension, he suddenly resolved to leave the country, if not forever,
at least for a few years, till this brother-in-law should be out of the
way. He lost no time in carrying out his resolution; and it was well
he did not, for it was only three days after he had disappeared, that
Felipe walked into Judge Wells's office, one morning, to make inquiries
relative to the preliminary hearing which had been held there in the
matter of the murder of the Indian, Alessandro Assis, by James Farrar.
And when the judge, taking down his books, read to Felipe his notes of
the case, and went on to say, "If Farrar's testimony is true, Ramona's,
the wife's, must be false," and "at any rate, her testimony would not be
worth a straw with any jury," Felipe sprang to his feet, and cried, "She
of whom you speak is my foster-sister; and, by God, Senor, if I can find
that man, I will shoot him as I would a dog! And I'll see, then, if a
San Diego County jury will hang me for ridding the country of such a
brute!" and Felipe would have been as good as his word. It was a wise
thing Farrar had done in making his escape.

When Aunt Ri heard that Farrar had fled the country, she pushed up
her spectacles and looked reflectively at her informant. It was young
Merrill. "Fled ther country, hez he?" she said. "Wall, he kin flee ez
many countries ez he likes, an' 't won't dew him no good. I know yeow
folks hyar don't seem ter think killin' an Injun's enny murder, but I
say 'tis; an' yeow'll all git it brung home ter yer afore yer die: ef
'tain't brung one way, 't'll be anuther; yeow jest mind what I say, 'n'
don't yeow furgit it. Naow this miser'ble murderer, this Farrar, thet's
lighted out er hyar, he's nothin' more'n a skunk, but he's got the Lawd
arter him, naow. It's jest's well he's gawn; I never did b'leeve in
hangin'. I never could. It's jest tew men dead 'stead o' one. I don't
want to see no man hung, no marter what he's done, 'n' I don't want to
see no man shot down, nuther, no marter what he's done; 'n' this hyar
Feeleepy, he's thet highstrung, he'd ha' shot thet Farrar, any minnit,
quicker'n lightnin', ef he'd ketched him; so it's better all raound
he's lit aout. But I tell yeow, naow, he hain't made much by goin'! Thet
Injun he murdered 'll foller him night 'n' day, till he dies, 'n' long
arter; he'll wish he wuz dead afore he doos die, I allow he will, naow.
He'll be jest like a man I knowed back in Tennessee. I wa'n't but a
mite then, but I never forgot it. 'Tis a great country fur gourds, East
Tennessee is, whar I wuz raised; 'n' thar wuz two houses, 'n' a fence
between 'em, 'n' these gourds a runnin' all over the fence; 'n' one o'
ther childun picked one o' them gourds, an' they fit abaout it; 'n' then
the women took it up, - ther childun's mothers, yer know, - 'n' they got
fightin' abaout it; 'n' then 't the last the men took it up, 'n' they
fit; 'n' Rowell he got his butcher-knife, 'n' he ground it up, 'n' he
picked a querril with Claiborne, 'n' he cut him inter pieces. They hed
him up for 't, 'n' somehow they clared him. I don't see how they ever
did, but they put 't off, 'n' put 't off, 'n' 't last they got him free;
'n' he lived on thar a spell, but he couldn't stan' it; 'peared like
he never hed no peace; 'n' he came over ter our 'us, 'n' sed he,
'Jake,' - they allers called daddy 'Jake,' or 'Uncle Jake,' - 'Jake,' sed
he, 'I can't stan' it, livin' hyar.' 'Why,' sez daddy, 'the law o' the
country's clar'd ye.' 'Yes,' sez he, 'but the law o' God hain't; 'n'
I've got Claiborne allers with me. Thar ain't any path so narrer, but
he's a walkin' in it, by my side, all day; 'n' come night, I sleep with
him ter one side, 'n' my wife 't other; 'n' I can't stan' it.' Them's
ther very words I heered him say, 'n' I wuzn't ennythin' but a mite, but
I didn't furgit it. Wall, sir, he went West, way aout hyar to Californy,
'n' he couldn't stay thar nuther, 'n' he came back hum agin; 'n' I wuz
bigger then, a gal grown, 'n' daddy sez to him, - I heern him, - 'Wal,'
sez he, 'did Claiborne foller yer?' 'Yes,' sez he, 'he follered me. I'll
never git shet o' him in this world. He's allers clost to me everywhar.'
Yer see, 'twas jest his conscience er whippin' him. Thet's all 't wuz.
'T least, thet's all I think 't wuz; though thar wuz those thet said
't wuz Claiborne's ghost. 'N' thet'll be the way 't 'll be with this
miser'ble Farrar. He'll live ter wish he'd let hisself be hanged er
shot, er erry which way, ter git out er his misery."

Young Merrill listened with unwonted gravity to Aunt Ri's earnest words.
They reached a depth in his nature which had been long untouched; a
stratum, so to speak, which lay far beneath the surface. The character
of the Western frontiersman is often a singular accumulation of such
strata, - the training and beliefs of his earliest days overlain by
successions of unrelated and violent experiences, like geological
deposits. Underneath the exterior crust of the most hardened and
ruffianly nature often remains - its forms not yet quite fossilized - a
realm full of the devout customs, doctrines, religious influences, which
the boy knew, and the man remembers, By sudden upheaval, in some great
catastrophe or struggle in his mature life, these all come again into
the light. Assembly Catechism definitions, which he learned in his
childhood, and has not thought of since, ring in his ears, and he is
thrown into all manner of confusions and inconsistencies of feeling and
speech by this clashing of the old and new man within him. It was much
in this way that Aunt Ri's words smote upon young Merrill. He was not
many years removed from the sound of a preaching of the straitest New
England Calvinism. The wild frontier life had drawn him in and under, as
in a whirlpool; but he was New Englander yet at heart.

"That's so, Aunt Ri!" he exclaimed. "That's so! I don't s'pose a man
that's committed murder 'll ever have any peace in this world, nor in
the next nuther, without he repents; but ye see this horse-stealin'
business is different. 'Tain't murder to kill a hoss-thief, any way you
can fix it; everybody admits that. A feller that's caught horse-stealin'
had ought to be shot; and he will be, too, I tell you, in this country!"

A look of impatient despair spread over Aunt Ri's face. "I hain't no
patience left with yer," she said, "er talkin' abaout stealin' hosses ez
ef hosses wuz more'n human bein's! But lettin' thet all go, this Injun,
he wuz crazy. Yer all knowed it. Thet Farrar knowed it. D'yer think ef
he'd ben stealin' the hoss, he'd er left his own hoss in the corral,
same ez, yer might say, leavin' his kyerd to say 't wuz he done it; 'n'
the hoss er tied in plain sight 'n front uv his house fur ennybody ter

"Left his own horse, so he did!" retorted Merrill. "A poor, miserable,
knock-kneed old pony, that wa'n't worth twenty dollars; 'n' Jim's horse
was worth two hundred, 'n' cheap at that."

"Thet ain't nuther here nor thar in what we air sayin'," persisted Aunt
Ri. "I ain't a speakin' on 't ez a swap er hosses. What I say is, he
wa'n't tryin' to cover 't up thet he'd tuk the hoss. We air sum used ter
hoss-thieves in Tennessee; but I never heered o' one yit thet left
his name fur a refference berhind him, ter show which road he tuk, 'n'
fastened ther stolen critter ter his front gate when he got hum! I allow
me 'n' yeow hedn't better say anythin' much more on ther subjeck, fur I
allow we air bound to querril ef we dew;" and nothing that Merrill said
could draw another word out of Aunt Ri in regard to Alessandro's death.
But there was another subject on which she was tireless, and her speech
eloquent. It was the kindness and goodness of the Cahuilla people. The
last vestige of her prejudice against Indians had melted and gone, in
the presence of their simple-hearted friendliness. "I'll never hear a
word said agin 'em, never, ter my longest day," she said. "The way the
pore things hed jest stripped theirselves, to git things fur Ramony,
beat all ever I see among white folks, 'n' I've ben raound more'n most.
'N' they wa'n't lookin' fur no pay, nuther; fur they didn't know, till
Feeleepy 'n' me cum, thet she had any folks ennywhar, 'n' they'd ha'
taken care on her till she died, jest the same. The sick allers ez took
care on among them, they sed, 's long uz enny on em hez got a thing
left. Thet's ther way they air raised; I allow white folks might take a
lesson on 'em, in thet; 'n' in heaps uv other things tew. Oh, I'm done
talkin' again Injuns, naow, don't yeow furgit it! But I know, fur all
thet, 't won't make any difference; 'pears like there cuddn't nobody
b'leeve ennythin' 'n this world 'thout seein' 't theirselves. I wuz thet
way tew; I allow I hain't got no call ter talk; but I jest wish the hull
world could see what I've seen! Thet's all!"

It was a sad day in the village when Ramona and her friends departed.
Heartily as the kindly people rejoiced in her having found such a
protector for herself and her child, and deeply as they felt Felipe's
and Aunt Ri's good-will and gratitude towards them, they were yet
conscious of a loss, - of a void. The gulf between them and the rest of
the world seemed defined anew, their sense of isolation deepened, their
hopeless poverty emphasized. Ramona, wife of Alessandro, had been as
their sister, - one of them; as such, she would have had share in all
their life had to offer. But its utmost was nothing, was but hardship
and deprivation; and she was being borne away from it, like one rescued,
not so much from death, as from a life worse than death.

The tears streamed down Ramona's face as she bade them farewell. She
embraced again and again the young mother who had for so many days
suckled her child, even, it was said, depriving her own hardier babe
that Ramona's should not suffer. "Sister, you have given me my child,"
she cried; "I can never thank you; I will pray for you all my life."

She made no inquiries as to Felipe's plans. Unquestioningly, like a
little child, she resigned herself into his hands. A power greater than
hers was ordering her way; Felipe was its instrument. No other voice
spoke to guide her. The same old simplicity of acceptance which had
characterized her daily life in her girlhood, and kept her serene
and sunny then, - serene under trials, sunny in her routine of little
duties, - had kept her serene through all the afflictions, and calm,
if not sunny, under all the burdens of her later life; and it did not
desert her even now.

Aunt Ri gazed at her with a sentiment as near to veneration as her dry,
humorous, practical nature was capable of feeling. "I allow I donno but
I sh'd cum ter believin' in saints tew," she said, "ef I wuz ter live
'long side er thet gal. 'Pears like she wuz suthin' more 'n human. 'T
beats me plum out, ther way she takes her troubles. Thar's sum would
say she hedn't no feelin'; but I allow she hez more 'n most folks. I kin
see, 'tain't thet. I allow I didn't never expect ter think 's well uv
prayin' to picters, 'n' strings er beads, 'n' sech; but ef 't 's thet
keeps her up ther way she's kept up, I allow thar's more in it 'n
it's hed credit fur. I ain't gwine ter say enny more agin it' nor agin
Injuns. 'Pears like I'm gittin' heaps er new idears inter my head, these
days. I'll turn Injun, mebbe, afore I git through!"

The farewell to Aunt Ri was hardest of all. Ramona clung to her as to a
mother. At times she felt that she would rather stay by her side than go
home with Felipe; then she reproached herself for the thought, as for a
treason and ingratitude. Felipe saw the feeling, and did not wonder at
it. "Dear girl," he thought; "it is the nearest she has ever come to
knowing what a mother's love is like!" And he lingered in San Bernardino
week after week, on the pretence that Ramona was not yet strong enough
to bear the journey home, when in reality his sole motive for staying
was his reluctance to deprive her of Aunt Ri's wholesome and cheering

Aunt Ri was busily at work on a rag carpet for the Indian Agent's wife.
She had just begun it, had woven only a few inches, on that dreadful
morning when the news of Alessandro's death reached her. It was of her
favorite pattern, the "hit-er-miss" pattern, as she called it; no set
stripes or regular alternation of colors, but ball after ball of the
indiscriminately mixed tints, woven back and forth, on a warp of a
single color. The constant variety in it, the unexpectedly harmonious
blending of the colors, gave her delight, and afforded her a subject,
too, of not unphilosophical reflection.

"Wall," she said, "it's called ther 'hit-er-miss' pattren; but it's
'hit' oftener'n 'tis 'miss.' Thar ain't enny accountin' fur ther way
ther breadths'll come, sometimes; 'pears like 't wuz kind er magic, when
they air sewed tergether; 'n' I allow thet's ther way it's gwine ter
be with heaps er things in this life. It's jest a kind er 'hit-er-miss'
pattren we air all on us livin' on; 'tain't much use tryin' ter reckon
how 't 'll come aout; but the breadths doos fit heaps better 'n yer'd
think; come ter sew 'em, 'tain't never no sech colors ez yer thought
't wuz gwine ter be; but it's allers pooty, allers; never see a
'hit-er-miss' pattren 'n my life yit, thet wa'n't pooty. 'N' ther wa'n't
never nobody fetched me rags, 'n' hed 'em all planned aout, 'n' jest
ther way they wanted ther warp, 'n' jest haow ther stripes wuz ter come,
'n' all, thet they wa'n't orful diserpynted when they cum ter see 't
done. It don't never look's they thought 't would, never! I larned thet
lesson airly; 'n' I allers make 'em write aout on a paper, jest ther
wedth er every stripe, 'n' each er ther colors, so's they kin see it's
what they ordered; 'r else they'd allers say I hedn't wove 't's I wuz
told ter. I got ketched thet way oncet! I allow ennybody's a bawn fool
gits ketched twice runnin' ther same way. But fur me, I'll take ther
'hit-er-miss' pattren, every time, sir, straight along."

When the carpet was done, Aunt Ri took the roll in her own independent
arms, and strode with it to the Agent's house. She had been biding the
time when she should have this excuse for going there. Her mind was
burdened with questions she wished to ask, information she wished to
give, and she chose an hour when she knew she would find the Agent
himself at home.

"I allow yer heered why I wuz behind time with this yere carpet," she
said; "I wuz up ter San Jacinto Mounting, where thet Injun wuz murdered.
We brung his widder 'n' ther baby daown with us, me 'n' her brother.
He's tuk her home ter his house ter live. He's reel well off."

Yes, the Agent had heard this; he had wondered why the widow did not
come to see him; he had expected to hear from her.

"Wall, I did hent ter her thet p'raps yer could dew something, ef she
wuz ter tell yer all abaout it; but she allowed thar wa'n't enny use in
talkin'. Ther jedge, he sed her witnessin' wouldn't be wuth nuthin' to
no jury; 'n' thet wuz what I wuz a wantin' to ask yeow, ef thet wuz so."

"Yes, that is what the lawyers here told me," said the Agent. "I was
going to have the man arrested, but they said it would be folly to bring
the case to trial. The woman's testimony would not be believed."

"Yeow've got power ter git a man punished fur sellin' whiskey to Injuns,
I notice," broke in Aunt Ri; "hain't yer? I see yeour man 'n' the
marshal here arrestin' 'em pooty lively last month; they sed 'twas yeour
doin'; yeow was a gwine ter prossacute every livin' son o' hell - them
wuz thar words - thet sold whiskey ter Injuns."

"That's so!" said the Agent. "So I am; I am determined to break up this
vile business of selling whiskey to Indians. It is no use trying to do
anything for them while they are made drunk in this way; it's a sin and
a shame."

"Thet's so, I allow ter yeow," said Aunt Ri. "Thar ain't any gainsayin'
thet. But ef yeow've got power ter git a man put in jail fur sellin'
whiskey 't 'n Injun, 'n' hain't got power to git him punished ef he goes
'n' kills thet Injun, 't sems ter me thar's suthin' cur'us abaout thet."

"That is just the trouble in my position here, Aunt Ri," he said. "I
have no real power over my Indians, as I ought to have."

"What makes yer call 'em yeour Injuns?" broke in Aunt Ri.

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