Her mind was made up. She quickened her pace to a run. A few moments more brought her so near that she could see distinctly. It was -- yes, it was Alessandro. He did not see her. His face was turned partially away, his head resting against the tree; he must be ill. Ramona flew, rather than ran. In a moment more, Alessandro had heard the light steps, turned, saw Ramona, and, with a cry, bounded forward, and they were clasped in each other's arms before they had looked in each other's faces. Ramona spoke first. Disengaging herself gently, and looking up, she began: "Alessandro --" But at the first sight of his face she shrieked. Was this Alessandro, this haggard, emaciated, speechless man, who gazed at her with hollow eyes, full of misery, and no joy! "O God," cried Ramona, "You have been ill! you are ill! My God, Alessandro, what is it?"
Alessandro passed his hand slowly over his forehead, as if trying to collect his thoughts before speaking, all the while keeping his eyes fixed on Ramona, with the same anguished look, convulsively holding both her hands in his.
"Senorita," he said, "my Senorita!" Then he stopped. His tongue seemed to refuse him utterance; and this voice,-- this strange, hard, unresonant voice,-- whose voice was it? Not Alessandro's.
"My Senorita," he began again, "I could not go without one sight of your face; but when I was here, I had not courage to go near the house. If you had not come, I should have gone back without seeing you."
Ramona heard these words in fast-deepening terror, What did they mean? Her look seemed to suggest a new thought to Alessandro.
"Heavens, Senorita!" he cried, "have you not heard? Do you not know what has happened?"
"I know nothing, love," answered Ramona. "I have heard nothing since you went away. For ten days I have been sure you were dead; but to-night something told me that you were near, and I came to meet you."
At the first words of Ramona's sentence, Alessandro threw his arms around her again. As she said "love," his whole frame shook with emotion.
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