When she waked the second time, it was with a calm, almost beatific smile that she gazed on Felipe, and whispered, "How did you find me, dear Felipe?" It was rather by the motions of her lips than by any sound that he knew the words. She had not yet strength enough to make an audible sound. When they laid her baby on her breast, she smiled again, and tried to embrace her, but was too weak. Pointing to the baby's eyes, she whispered, gazing earnestly at Felipe, "Alessandro." A convulsion passed over her face as she spoke the word, and the tears flowed.
Felipe could not speak. He glanced helplessly at Aunt Ri, who promptly responded: "Naow, honey, don't yeow talk. 'Tain't good fur ye; 'n' Feeleepy 'n' me, we air in a powerful hurry ter git yer strong 'n' well, 'n' tote ye out er this --" Aunt Ri stopped. No substantive in her vocabulary answered her need at that moment. "I allow ye kin go 'n a week, ef nothin' don't go agin ye more'n I see naow; but ef yer git ter talkin', thar's no tellin' when yer'll git up. Yeow jest shet up, honey. We'll look arter everythin'."
Feebly Ramona turned her grateful, inquiring eyes on Felipe. Her lips framed the words, "With you?"
"Yes, dear, home with me," said Felipe, clasping her hand in his. "I have been searching for you all this time."
An anxious look came into the sweet face. Felipe knew what it meant. How often he had seen it in the olden time. He feared to shock her by the sudden mention of the Senora's death; yet that would harm her less than continued anxiety. "I am alone, dear Ramona," he whispered. "There is no one now but you, my sister, to take care of me. My mother has been dead a year."
The eyes dilated, then filled with sympathetic tears. "Dear Felipe!" she sighed; but her heart took courage. Felipe's phrase was like one inspired; another duty, another work, another loyalty, waiting for Ramona. Not only her child to live for, but to "take care of Felipe"! Ramona would not die! Youth, a mother's love, a sister's affection and duty, on the side of life,-- the battle was won, and won quickly, too.
To the simple Cahuillas it seemed like a miracle; and they looked on Aunt Ri's weather-beaten face with something akin to a superstitious reverence. They themselves were not ignorant of the value of the herb by means of which she had wrought the marvellous cure; but they had made repeated experiments with it upon Ramona, without success. It must be that there had been some potent spell in Aunt Ri's handling. They would hardly believe her when, in answer to their persistent questioning, she reiterated the assertion that she had used nothing except the hot water and "old man," which was her name for the wild wormwood; and which, when explained to them, impressed them greatly, as having no doubt some significance in connection with the results of her preparation of the leaves.
Rumors about Felipe ran swiftly throughout the region. The presence in the Cahuilla village of a rich Mexican gentleman who spent gold like water, and kept mounted men riding day and night, after everything, anything, he wanted for his sick sister, was an event which in the atmosphere of that lonely country loomed into colossal proportions. He had travelled all over California, with four horses, in search of her. He was only waiting till she was well, to take her to his home in the south; and then he was going to arrest the man who had murdered her husband, and have him hanged, -- yes, hanged! Small doubt about that; or, if the law cleared him, there was still the bullet. This rich Senor would see him shot, if rope were not to be had. Jim Farrar heard these tales, and quaked in his guilty soul. The rope he had small fear of, for well he knew the temper of San Diego County juries and judges; but the bullet, that was another thing; and these Mexicans were like Indians in their vengeance. Time did not tire them, and their memories were long. Farrar cursed the day he had let his temper get the better of him on that lonely mountainside; how much the better, nobody but he himself knew,-- nobody but he and Ramona: and even Ramona did not know the bitter whole. She knew that Alessandro had no knife, and had gone forward with no hostile intent; but she knew nothing beyond that. Only the murderer himself knew that the dialogue which he had reported to the judge and jury, to justify his act, was an entire fabrication of his own, and that, instead of it, had been spoken but four words by Alessandro, and those were, "Senor, I will explain;" and that even after the first shot had pierced his lungs, and the blood was choking in his throat, he had still run a step or two farther, with his hand uplifted deprecatingly, and made one more effort to speak before he fell to the ground dead. Callous as Farrar was, and clear as it was in his mind that killing an Indian was no harm, he had not liked to recall the pleading anguish in Alessandro's tone and in his face as he fell. He had not liked to recall this, even before he heard of this rich Mexican brother-in-law who had appeared on the scene; and now, he found the memories still more unpleasant. Fear is a wonderful goad to remorse. There was another thing, too, which to his great wonder had been apparently overlooked by everybody; at least, nothing had been said about it; but the bearing of it on his case, if the case were brought up a second time and minutely investigated, would be most unfortunate. And this was, that the only clew he had to the fact of Alessandro's having taken his horse, was that the poor, half-crazed fellow had left his own well-known gray pony in the corral in place of the horse he took. A strange thing, surely, for a horse-thief to do! Cold sweat burst out on Farrar's forehead, more than once, as he realized how this, coupled with the well-known fact of Alessandro's liability to attacks of insanity, might be made to tell against him, if he should be brought to trial for the murder. He was as cowardly as he was cruel: never yet were the two traits separate in human nature; and after a few days of this torturing suspense and apprehension, he suddenly resolved to leave the country, if not forever, at least for a few years, till this brother-in-law should be out of the way. He lost no time in carrying out his resolution; and it was well he did not, for it was only three days after he had disappeared, that Felipe walked into Judge Wells's office, one morning, to make inquiries relative to the preliminary hearing which had been held there in the matter of the murder of the Indian, Alessandro Assis, by James Farrar. And when the judge, taking down his books, read to Felipe his notes of the case, and went on to say, "If Farrar's testimony is true, Ramona's, the wife's, must be false," and "at any rate, her testimony would not be worth a straw with any jury," Felipe sprang to his feet, and cried, "She of whom you speak is my foster-sister; and, by God, Senor, if I can find that man, I will shoot him as I would a dog! And I'll see, then, if a San Diego County jury will hang me for ridding the country of such a brute!" and Felipe would have been as good as his word. It was a wise thing Farrar had done in making his escape.