But it was even now with an ecstasy only half joy, the other half anguish, that Alessandro replied: "Majella cannot lie. Majella is like the saints. Alessandro is hers."
When they rode down into the valley, the whole village was astir. The vintage-time had nearly passed; everywhere were to be seen large, flat baskets of grapes drying in the sun. Old women and children were turning these, or pounding acorns in the deep stone bowls; others were beating the yucca-stalks, and putting them to soak in water; the oldest women were sitting on the ground, weaving baskets. There were not many men in the village now; two large bands were away at work,-- one at the autumn sheep-shearing, and one working on a large irrigating ditch at San Bernardino.
In different directions from the village slow-moving herds of goats or of cattle could be seen, being driven to pasture on the hills; some men were ploughing; several groups were at work building houses of bundles of the tule reeds,
"These are some of the Temecula people," said Alessandro; "they are building themselves new houses here. See those piles of bundles darker-colored than the rest. Those are their old roofs they brought from Temecula. There, there comes Ysidro!" he cried joyfully, as a man, well-mounted, who had been riding from point to point in the village, came galloping towards them. As soon as Ysidro recognized Alessandro, he flung himself from his horse. Alessandro did the same, and both running swiftly towards each other till they met, they embraced silently. Ramona, riding up, held out her hand, saying, as she did so, "Ysidro?"
Pleased, yet surprised, at this confident and assured greeting, Ysidro saluted her, and turning to Alessandro, said in their own tongue, "Who is this woman whom you bring, that has heard my name?"
"My wife!" answered Alessandro, in the same tongue. "We were married last night by Father Gaspara. She comes from the house of the Senora Moreno. We will live in San Pasquale, if you have land for me, as you have said."
What astonishment Ysidro felt, he showed none. Only a grave and courteous welcome was in his face and in his words as he said, "It is well. There is room. You are welcome." But when he heard the soft Spanish syllables in which Ramona spoke to Alessandro, and Alessandro, translating her words to him, said, "Majel speaks only in the Spanish tongue, but she will learn ours," a look of disquiet passed over his countenance. His heart feared for Alessandro, and he said, "Is she, then, not Indian? Whence got she the name of Majel?"
A look of swift intelligence from Alessandro reassured him. "Indian on the mother's side!" said Alessandro, "and she belongs in heart to our people. She is alone, save for me. She is one blessed of the Virgin, Ysidro. She will help us. The name Majel I have given her, for she is like the wood-dove; and she is glad to lay her old name down forever, to bear this new name in our tongue."
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