Alessandro looked anxiously in the Father's face. "How is that, Father?" he said. "I do not know."
"Well, their rules be thick as the crabs here on the beach," replied Father Gaspara; "and, faith, they appear to me to be backwards of motion also, like the crabs: but the lawyers understand. When you have picked out your land, and have the money, come to me, and I will go with you and see that you are not cheated in the buying, so far as I can tell; but I myself am at my wit's ends with their devices. Farewell, son! Farewell, daughter!" he said, rising from his chair. Hunger was again getting the better of sympathy in Father Gaspara, and as he sat down to his long-deferred supper, the Indian couple faded from his mind; but after supper was over, as he sat smoking his pipe on the veranda, they returned again, and lingered in his thoughts,-- lingered strangely, it seemed to him; he could not shake off the impression that there was something unusual about the woman. "I shall hear of them again, some day," he thought. And he thought rightly.
AFTER leaving Father Gaspara's door, Alessandro and Ramona rode slowly through the now deserted plaza, and turned northward, on the river road, leaving the old Presidio walls on their right. The river was low, and they forded it without difficulty.
"I have seen this river so high that there was no fording it for many days," said Alessandro; "but that was in spring."
"Then it is well we came not at that time," said Ramona, "All the times have fallen out well for us, Alessandro,-- the dark nights, and the streams low; but look! as I say it, there comes the moon!" and she pointed to the fine threadlike arc of the new moon, just visible in the sky. "Not big enough to do us any harm, however," she added. "But, dear Alessandro, do you not think we are safe now?"
"I know not, Majella, if ever we may be safe; but I hope so. I have been all day thinking I had gone foolish last night, when I told Mrs. Hartsel that I was on my way to San Pasquale. But if men should come there asking for us, she would understand, I think, and keep a still tongue. She would keep harm from us if she could."
Their way from San Diego to San Pasquale lay at first along a high mesa, or table-land, covered with low shrub growths; after some ten or twelve miles of this, they descended among winding ridges, into a narrow valley,-- the Poway valley. It was here that the Mexicans made one of their few abortive efforts to repel the American forces.
"Here were some Americans killed, in a fight with the Mexicans, Majella," said Alessandro. "I myself have a dozen bullets which I picked up in the ground about here. Many a time I have looked at them and thought if there should come another war against the Americans, I would fire them again, if I could. Does Senor Felipe think there is any likelihood that his people will rise against them any more? If they would, they would have all the Indians to help them, now. It would be a mercy if they might be driven out of the land, Majella."
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