"Oh, Alessandro! Did he die?" cried the kindly woman, coming closer to Alessandro, and laying her hand on his shoulder. "I heard he was sick." She paused; she did not know what to say. She had suffered so at the time of the ejectment of the Indians, that it had made her ill. For two days she had kept her doors shut and her windows close curtained, that she need not see the terrible sights. She was not a woman of many words. She was a Mexican, but there were those who said that some Indian blood ran in her veins. This was not improbable; and it seemed more than ever probable now, as she stood still by Alessandro's side, her hand on his shoulder, her eyes fixed in distress on his face. How he had altered! How well she recollected his lithe figure, his alert motion, his superb bearing, his handsome face, when she last saw him in the spring!
"You were away all summer, Alessandro?" she said at last, turning back to her work.
"Yes," he said: "at the Senora Moreno's."
"So I heard," she said. "That is a fine great place, is it not? Is her son grown a fine man? He was a lad when I saw him. He went through here with a drove of sheep once."
"Ay, he is a man now," said Alessandro, and buried his face in his hands again.
"Poor fellow! I don't wonder he does not want to speak," thought Mrs. Hartsel. "I'll just let him alone;" and she spoke no more for some moments.
Alessandro sat still by the fire. A strange apathy seemed to have seized him; at last he said wearily: "I must be going now. I wanted to see Mr. Hartsel a minute, but he seems to be busy in the store."
"Yes," she said, "a lot of San Francisco men; they belong to the company that's coming in here in the valley; they've been here two days. Oh, Alessandro," she continued, bethinking herself, "Jim's got your violin here; Jose brought it."
Reminder: Arrow keys left and right (← →) to turn pages forward and backward, up and down (↑ ↓) to scroll up and down, Enter key: return to the list