It was near sunrise when they reached the place. The trees had not been cut down. Their tops, seen from above, looked like a solid bed of moss filling in the canon bottom. The sky and the sea were both red. As Ramona looked down into this soft green pathway, it seemed, leading out to the wide and sparkling sea, she thought Alessandro had brought her into a fairy-land.
"What a beautiful world!" she cried; and riding up so close to Benito that she could lay her hand on Alessandro's, she said solemnly: "Do you not think we ought to be very happy, Alessandro, in such a beautiful world as this? Do you think we might sing our sunrise hymn here?"
Alessandro glanced around. They were alone on the breezy open; it was not yet full dawn; great masses of crimson vapor were floating upward from the hills behind San Diego. The light was still burning in the light-house on the promontory walling the inner harbor, but in a few moments more it would be day. "No, Majella, not here." he said. "We must not stay. As soon as the sun rises, a man or a horse may be seen on this upper coast-line as far as eye can reach. We must be among the trees with all the speed we can make."
It was like a house with a high, thick roof of oak tree-tops, the shelter they found. No sun penetrated it; a tiny trickle of water still remained, and some grass along its rims was still green, spite of the long drought,-- a scanty meal for Baba and Benito, but they ate it with relish in each other's company.
"They like each other, those two," said Ramona, laughing, as she watched them. "They will be friends."
"Ay," said Alessandro, also smiling. "Horses are friends, like men, and can hate each other, like men, too. Benito would never see Antonio's mare, the little yellow one, that he did not let fly his heels at her; and she was as afraid, at sight of him, as a cat is at a dog. Many a time I have laughed to see it."
"Know you the priest at San Diego?" asked Ramona.
"Not well," replied Alessandro. "He came seldom to Temecula when I was there; but he is a friend of Indians. I know he came with the men from San Diego at the time when there was fighting, and the whites were in great terror; and they said, except for Father Gaspara's words, there would not have been a white man left alive in Pala. My father had sent all his people away before that fight began. He knew it was coming, but he would have nothing to do with it. He said the Indians were all crazy. It was no use. They would only be killed themselves. That is the worst thing, my Majella. The stupid Indians fight and kill, and then what can we do? The white men think we are all the same. Father Gaspara has never been to Pala, I heard, since that time. There goes there now the San Juan Capistrano priest. He is a bad man. He takes money from the starving poor."
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