But as he walked at a slower pace back to Ysidro, he said to himself: "Majella did not see Temecula. What would she have said about the saints, if she had seen that, and seen the people dying for want of food? It is only for her that the saints pray. They are displeased with my people."
ONE year, and a half of another year, had passed. Sheep-shearings and vintages had been in San Pasquale; and Alessandro's new house, having been beaten on by the heavy spring rains, looked no longer new. It stood on the south side of the valley,-- too far, Ramona felt, from the blessed bell; but there had not been land enough for wheat-fields any nearer, and she could see the chapel, and the posts, and, on a clear day, the bell itself. The house was small. "Small to hold so much joy," she said, when Alessandro first led her to it, and said, deprecatingly, "It is small, Majella,-- too small;" and he recollected bitterly, as he spoke, the size of Ramona's own room at the Senora's house. "Too small," he repeated.
"Very small to hold so much joy, my Alessandro," she laughed; "but quite large enough to hold two persons."
It looked like a palace to the San Pasquale people, after Ramona had arranged their little possessions in it; and she herself felt rich as she looked around her two small rooms. The old San Luis Rey chairs and the raw-hide bedstead were there, and, most precious of all, the statuette of the Madonna. For this Alessandro had built a niche in the wall, between the head of the bed and the one window. The niche was deep enough to hold small pots in front of the statuette; and Ramona kept constantly growing there wild-cucumber plants, which wreathed and re-wreathed the niche till it looked like a bower. Below it hung her gold rosary and the ivory Christ; and many a woman of the village, when she came to see Ramona, asked permission to go into the bedroom and say her prayers there; so that it finally came to be a sort of shrine for the whole village.
A broad veranda, as broad as the Senora's, ran across the front of the little house. This was the only thing for which Ramona had asked. She could not quite fancy life without a veranda, and linnets in the thatch. But the linnets had not yet come. In vain Ramona strewed food for them, and laid little trains of crumbs to lure them inside the posts; they would not build nests inside. It was not their way in San Pasquale. They lived in the canons, but this part of the valley was too bare of trees for them. "In a year or two more, when we have orchards, they will come," Alessandro said.
With the money from that first sheep-shearing, and from the sale of part of his cattle, Alessandro had bought all he needed in the way of farming implements,-- a good wagon and harnesses, and a plough. Baba and Benito, at first restive and indignant, soon made up their minds to work. Ramona had talked to Baba about it as she would have talked to a brother. In fact, except for Ramona's help, it would have been a question whether even Alessandro could have made Baba work in harness. "Good Baba!" Ramona said, as she slipped piece after piece of the harness over his neck,-- "Good Baba, you must help us; we have so much work to do, and you are so strong! Good Baba, do you love me?" and with one hand in his mane, and her cheek, every few steps, laid close to his, she led Baba up and down the first furrows he ploughed.
"My Senorita!" thought Alessandro to himself, half in pain, half in pride, as, running behind with the unevenly jerked plough, he watched her laughing face and blowing hair,-- "my Senorita!"
But Ramona would not run with her hand in Baba's mane this winter. There was a new work for her, indoors. In a rustic cradle, which Alessandro had made, under her directions, of the woven twigs, like the great outdoor acorn-granaries, only closer woven, and of an oval shape, and lifted from the floor by four uprights of red manzanita stems,-- in this cradle, on soft white wool fleeces, covered with white homespun blankets, lay Ramona's baby, six months old, lusty, strong, and beautiful, as only children born of great love and under healthful conditions can be. This child was a girl, to Alessandro's delight; to Ramona's regret,-- so far as a loving mother can feel regret connected with her firstborn. Ramona had wished for an Alessandro; but the disappointed wish faded out of her thoughts, hour by hour, as she gazed into her baby-girl's blue eyes,-- eyes so blue that their color was the first thing noticed by each person who looked at her.
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