Before Alessandro had been two days in San Pasquale, he had heard of a piece of good-fortune which almost passed his belief, and which startled him for once out of his usual impassive demeanor.
"You know I have a herd of cattle of your father's, and near a hundred sheep?" said Ysidro.
"Holy Virgin!" cried Alessandro, "you do not mean that! How is that? They told me all our stock was taken by the Americans."
"Yes, so it was, all that was in Temecula," replied Ysidro; "but in the spring your father sent down to know if I would take a herd for him up into the mountains, with ours, as he feared the Temecula pasture would fall short, and the people there, who could not leave, must have their cattle near home; so he sent a herd over,-- I think, near fifty head; and many of the cows have calved; and he sent, also, a little flock of sheep,-- a hundred, Ramon said; he herded them with ours all summer, and he left a man up there with them. They will be down next week. It is time they were sheared."
Before he had finished speaking, Alessandro had vanished, bounding like a deer. Ysidro stared after him; but seeing him enter the doorway of the little tule hut, he understood, and a sad smile passed over his face. He was not yet persuaded that this marriage of Alessandro's would turn out a blessing. "What are a handful of sheep to her!" he thought.
Breathless, panting, Alessandro burst into Ramona's presence. "Majella! my Majella! There are cattle -- and sheep," he cried. "The saints be praised! We are not like the beggars, as I said."
"I told you that God would give us food, dear Alessandro," replied Ramona, gently.
"You do not wonder! You do not ask!" he cried, astonished at her calm. "Does Majella think that a sheep or a steer can come down from the skies?"
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