"How know you that it is with Alessandro?" she said.
"Because she has written it here!" cried Felipe, defiantly holding up his little note. "She left this, her good-by to me. Bless her! She writes like a saint, to thank me for all my goodness to her,-- I, who drove her to steal out of my house like a thief!"
The phrase, "my house," smote the Senora's ear like a note from some other sphere, which indeed it was,-- from the new world into which Felipe had been in an hour born. Her cheeks flushed, and she opened her lips to reply; but before she had uttered a word, Luigo came running round the corner, Juan Can hobbling after him at a miraculous pace on his crutches. "Senor Felipe! Senor Felipe! Oh, Senora!" they cried. "Thieves have been here in the night! Baba is gone,-- Baba, and the Senorita's saddle."
A malicious smile broke over the Senora's countenance, and turning to Felipe, she said in a tone -- what a tone it was! Felipe felt as if he must put his hands to his ears to shut it out; Felipe would never forget,-- "As you were saying, like a thief in the night!"
With a swifter and more energetic movement than any had ever before seen Senor Felipe make, he stepped forward, saying in an undertone to his mother, "For God's sake, mother, not a word before the men! -- What is that you say, Luigo? Baba gone? We must see to our corral. I will come down, after breakfast, and look at it;" and turning his back on them, he drew his mother by a firm grasp, she could not resist, into the house.
She gazed at him in sheer, dumb wonder.
"Ay, mother," he said, "you may well look thus in wonder; I have been no man, to let my foster-sister, I care not what blood were in her veins, be driven to this pass! I will set out this day, and bring her back."
"The day you do that, then, I lie in this house dead!" retorted the Senora, at white heat. "You may rear as many Indian families as you please under the Moreno roof, I will at least have my grave!" In spite of her anger, grief convulsed her; and in another second she had burst into tears, and sunk helpless and trembling into a chair. No counterfeiting now. No pretences. The Senora Moreno's heart broke within her, when those words passed her lips to her adored Felipe. At the sight, Felipe flung himself on his knees before her; he kissed the aged hands as they lay trembling in her lap. "Mother mia," he cried, "you will break my heart if you speak like that! Oh, why, why do you command me to do what a man may not? I would die for you, my mother; but how can I see my sister a homeless wanderer in the wilderness?"
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