It was bootless thinking, until Ramona was by his side. He must lay each plan before her. She must decide. The first thing was to get to San Diego, to the priest, to be married. That would be three days' hard ride; five for the exhausted Indian pony. What should they eat on the ways Ah! Alessandro bethought him of the violin at Hartsel's. Mr. Hartsel would give him money on that; perhaps buy it. Then Alessandro remembered his own violin. He had not once thought of it before. It lay in its case on a table in Senor Felipe's room when he came away, Was it possible? No, of course it could not be possible that the Senorita would think to bring it. What would she bring? She would be wise, Alessandro was sure.
How long the hours seemed as he sat thus plotting and conjecturing; more and more thankful, as each hour went by, to see the sky still clouded, the darkness dense. "It must have been the saints, too, that brought me on a night when there was no moon," he thought; and then he said again, devout and simple-minded man that he was. "They mean to protect my Senorita; they will let me take care of her."
Ramona was threading a perilous way, through great difficulties. She had reached her room unobserved, so far as she could judge. Luckily for her, Margarita was in bed with a terrible toothache, for which her mother had given her a strong sleeping-draught. Margarita was disposed of. If she had not been, Ramona would never have got away, for Margarita would have known that she had been out of the house for two hours, and would have watched to see what it meant.
Ramona came in through the court-yard; she dared not go by the veranda, sure that Felipe and his mother were sitting there still, for it was not late.
As she entered her room, she heard them talking. She closed one of her windows, to let them know she was there. Then she knelt at the Madonna's feet, and in an inaudible whisper told her all she was going to do, and prayed that she would watch over her and Alessandro, and show them where to go.
"I know she will! I am sure she will!" whispered Ramona to herself as she rose from her knees.
Then she threw herself on her bed, to wait till the Senora and Felipe should be asleep. Her brain was alert, clear. She knew exactly what she wished to do. She had thought that all out, more than two weeks ago, when she was looking for Alessandro hour by hour.
Early in the summer Alessandro had given to her, as curiosities, two of the large nets which the Indian women use for carrying all sorts of burdens. They are woven out of the fibres of a flax-like plant, and are strong as iron. The meshes being large, they are very light; are gathered at each end, and fastened to a band which goes around the forehead. In these can be carried on the back, with comparative ease, heavier loads than could be lifted in any other way. Until Ramona recollected these, she had been perplexed to know how she should carry the things which she had made up her mind it would be right for her to take,-- only a few; simply necessaries; one stuff gown and her shawls; the new altar-cloth, and two changes of clothes; that would not be a great deal; she had a right to so much, she thought, now that she had seen the jewels in the Senora's keeping. "I will tell Father Salvierderra exactly what I took," she thought, "and ask him if it was too much." She did not like to think that all these clothes she must take had been paid for with the Senora Moreno's money.
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