"No, my son, I cannot. Farewell. The saints keep you. Farewell." And she turned, that she might not see him go.
Felipe rode away with a sad heart, but his purpose did not falter. Following straight down the river road to the sea, he then kept up along the coast, asking here and there, cautiously, if persons answering to the description of Alessandro and Ramona had been seen. No one had seen any such persons.
When, on the night of the second day, he rode up to the Santa Barbara Mission, the first figure he saw was the venerable Father Salvierderra sitting in the corridor. As Felipe approached, the old man's face beamed with pleasure, and he came forward totteringly, leaning on a staff in each hand. "Welcome, my son!" he said. "Are all well? You find me very feeble just now; my legs are failing me sorely this autumn."
Dismay seized on Felipe at the Father's first words. He would not have spoken thus, had he seen Ramona. Barely replying to the greeting, Felipe exclaimed: "Father, I come seeking Ramona. Has she not been with you?"
Father Salvierderra's face was reply to the question. "Ramona!" he cried. "Seeking Ramona! What has befallen the blessed child?"
It was a bitter story for Felipe to tell; but he told it, sparing himself no shame. He would have suffered less in the telling, had he known how well Father Salvierderra understood his mother's character, and her almost unlimited power over all persons around her. Father Salvierderra was not shocked at the news of Ramona's attachment for Alessandro. He regretted it, but he did not think it shame, as the Senora had done. As Felipe talked with him, he perceived even more clearly how bitter and unjust his mother had been to Alessandro.
"He is a noble young man," said Father Salvierderra. "His father was one of the most trusted of Father Peyri's assistants. You must find them, Felipe. I wonder much they did not come to me. Perhaps they may yet come. When you find them, bear them my blessing, and say that I wish they would come hither. I would like to give them my blessing before I die. Felipe, I shall never leave Santa Barbara again. My time draws near."
Felipe was so full of impatience to continue his search, that he hardly listened to the Father's words. "I will not tarry," he said. "I cannot rest till I find her. I will ride back as far as Ventura to-night."
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