she continued, repeating the first lines of the song; and then, sinking on her knees, reached out one hand for Alessandro's, and glided, almost without a break in the melodious sound, into a low recitative of the morning-prayers. Her rosary was of fine-chased gold beads, with an ivory crucifix; a rare and precious relic of the Missions' olden times. It had belonged to Father Peyri himself, was given by him to Father Salvierderra, and by Father Salvierderra to the "blessed child," Ramona, at her confirmation. A warmer token of his love and trust he could not have bestowed upon her, and to Ramona's religious and affectionate heart it had always seemed a bond and an assurance, not only of Father Salvierderra's love, but of the love and protection of the now sainted Peyri.
As she pronounced the last words of her trusting prayer, and slipped the last of the golden beads along on its string, a thread of sunlight shot into the canon through a deep narrow gap in its rocky eastern crest,-- shot in for a second, no more; fell aslant the rosary, lighted it; by a flash as if of fire, across the fine-cut facets of the beads, on Ramona's hands, and on the white face of the ivory Christ. Only a flash, and it was gone! To both Ramona and Alessandro it came like an omen,-- like a message straight from the Virgin. Could she choose better messenger,-- she, the compassionate one, the loving woman in heaven; mother of the Christ to whom they prayed, through her,-- mother, for whose sake He would regard their least cry,-- could she choose better messenger, or swifter, than the sunbeam, to say that she heard and would help them in these sore straits'
Perhaps there were not, in the whole great world, at that moment to be found, two souls who were experiencing so vivid a happiness as thrilled the veins of these two friendless ones, on their knees, alone in the wilderness, gazing half awe-stricken at the shining rosary.
BEFORE the end of their second day in the canon, the place had become to Ramona so like a friendly home, that she dreaded to leave its shelter. Nothing is stronger proof of the original intent of Nature to do more for man than the civilization in its arrogance will long permit her to do, than the quick and sure way in which she reclaims his affection, when by weariness, idle chance, or disaster, he is returned, for an interval, to her arms. How soon he rejects the miserable subterfuges of what he had called habits; sheds the still more miserable pretences of superiority, makeshifts of adornment, and chains of custom! "Whom the gods love, die young," has been too long carelessly said. It is not true, in the sense in which men use the words. Whom the gods love, dwell with nature; if they are ever lured away, return to her before they are old. Then, however long they live before they die, they die young. Whom the gods love, live young -- forever.
With the insight of a lover added to the instinct of the Indian, Alessandro saw how, hour by hour, there grew in Ramona's eyes the wonted look of one at home; how she watched the shadows, and knew what they meant.
"If we lived here, the walls would be sun-dials for us, would they not?" she said, in a tone of pleasure. "I see that yon tall yucca has gone in shadow sooner than it did yesterday."
And, "What millions of things grow here, Alessandro! I did not know there were so many. Have they all names? The nuns taught us some names; but they were hard, and I forgot them, We might name them for ourselves, if we lived here. They would be our relations."
And, "For one year I should lie and look up at the sky, my Alessandro, and do nothing else. It hardly seems as if it would be a sin to do nothing for a year, if one gazed steadily at the sky all the while."
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