"But, Alessandro," continued Ramona, "were there really bad men at the other Missions? Surely not the Franciscan Fathers?"
"Perhaps not the Fathers themselves, but the men under them. It was too much power, Majella. When my father has told me how it was, it has seemed to me I should not have liked to be as he was. It is not right that one man should have so much power. There was one at the San Gabriel Mission; he was an Indian. He had been set over the rest; and when a whole band of them ran away one time, and went back into the mountains, he went after them; and he brought back a piece of each man's ear; the pieces were strung on a string; and he laughed, and said that was to know them by again,-- by their clipped ears. An old woman, a Gabrieleno, who came over to Temecula, told me she saw that. She lived at the Mission herself. The Indians did not all want to come to the Missions; some of them preferred to stay in the woods, and live as they always had lived; and I think they had a right to do that if they preferred, Majella. It was stupid of them to stay and be like beasts, and not know anything; but do you not think they had the right?"
"It is the command to preach the gospel to every creature," replied the pious Ramona. "That is what Father Salvierderra said was the reason the Franciscans came here. I think they ought to have made the Indians listen. But that was dreadful about the ears, Alessandro. Do you believe it?"
"The old woman laughed when she told it," he answered. "She said it was a joke; so I think it was true. I know I would have killed the man who tried to crop my ears that way."
"Did you ever tell that to Father Salvierderra?" asked Ramona.
"No, Majella. It would not be polite," said Alessandro.
"Well, I don't believe it," replied Ramona, in a relieved tone. "I don't believe any Franciscan ever could have permitted such things."
The great red light in the light-house tower had again blazed out, and had been some time burning before Alessandro thought it prudent to resume their journey. The road on which they must go into old San Diego, where Father Gaspara lived, was the public road from San Diego to San Luis Rey, and they were almost sure to meet travellers on it.
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