"Is it not true," she persisted, "that is what you mean?"
Reluctantly Felipe admitted that it was.
Ramona was silent for some moments; then she said, speaking still more slowly, "If you feel like that, we had better never talk about Alessandro again. I suppose it is not possible that you should know, as I do, that nothing but. his being dead would keep him from coming back. Thanks, dear Felipe;" and after this she did not speak again of Alessandro.
Days went by; a week. The vintage was over. The Senora wondered if Ramona would now ask again for a messenger to go to Temecula. Almost even the Senora relented, as she looked into the girl's white and wasted face, as she sat silent, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes fixed on the willows. The altar-cloth was done, folded and laid away. It would never hang in the Moreno chapel. It was promised, in Ramona's mind, to Father Salvierderra. She had resolved to go to him; if he, a feeble old man, could walk all the way between Santa Barbara and their home, she could surely do the same. She would not lose the way. There were not many roads; she could ask. The convent, the bare thought of which had been so terrible to Ramona fourteen days ago, when the Senora had threatened her with it, now seemed a heavenly refuge, the only shelter she craved. There was a school for orphans attached to the convent at San Juan Bautista, she knew; she would ask the Father to let her go there, and she would spend the rest of her life in prayer, and in teaching the orphan girls. As hour after hour she sat revolving this plan, her fancy projected itself so vividly into the future, that she lived years of her life. She felt herself middle-aged, old. She saw the procession of nuns, going to vespers, leading the children by the hand; herself wrinkled and white-haired, walking between two of the little ones. The picture gave her peace. As soon as she grew a little stronger, she would set off on her journey to the Father; she could not go just yet, she was too weak; her feet trembled if she did but walk to the foot of the garden. Alessandro was dead; there could be no doubt of that. He was buried in that little walled graveyard of which he had told her. Sometimes she thought she would try to go there and see his grave, perhaps see his father; if Alessandro had told him of her, the old man would be glad to see her; perhaps, after all, her work might lie there, among Alessandro's people. But this looked hard: she had not courage for it; shelter and rest were what she wanted,-- the sound of the Church's prayers, and the Father's blessing every day. The convent was the best.
She thought she was sure that Alessandro was dead; but she was not, for she still listened, still watched. Each day she walked out on the river road, and sat waiting till dusk. At last came a day when she could not go; her strength failed her. She lay all day on her bed. To the Senora, who asked frigidly if she were ill, she answered: "No, Senora, I do not think I am ill, I have no pain, but I cannot get up. I shall be better to-morrow."
"I will send you strong broth and a medicine," the Senora said; and sent her both by the hands of Margarita, whose hatred and jealousy broke down at the first sight of Ramona's face on the pillow; it looked so much thinner and sharper there than it had when she was sitting up. "Oh, Senorita! Senorita!" she cried, in a tone of poignant grief, "are you going to die? Forgive me, forgive me!"
"I have nothing to forgive you, Margarita," replied Ramona, raising herself on her elbow, and lifting her eyes kindly to the girl's face as she took the broth from her hands. "I do not know why you ask me to forgive you."
Margarita flung herself on her knees by the bed, in a passion of weeping. "Oh, but you do know, Senorita, you do know! Forgive me!"
Reminder: Arrow keys left and right (← →) to turn pages forward and backward, up and down (↑ ↓) to scroll up and down, Enter key: return to the list