"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 father."
"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?"
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?"
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