Chapter XI


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THE good Father Kino's heart and mind were sad with thought and feeling; many little evidences of Manuelita's love and suffering now came to him that had made no previous impression upon him. Where had his loving care and foresight been in this, the greatest danger that could have befallen her? How very blind he had been; he had never thought of her as a woman, young, beautiful and romantic, full of the tender, loving nature so natural to all maidens, especially to one so much alone, who knew nothing of the world or of men, save the little that she had read of in the few French or Spanish romances that had come in her way, and who would of course find much that was attractive in so young and handsome a man as Captain


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Carillo, so unlike those with whom she was in daily association. She had seemed to him still the child that he had reared with so much tenderness, who had grown up at his knees, and to whose sweet, innocent prattle he had for so many years bent his loving, willing ear.

‘‘If he only loved her, as Catiche says, it might all yet be well: hers is a soul which could rise to any heights, a mind already cultured beyond those of the high-born women of his own land, and a heart like an angel's, so full of ineffable tenderness and unselfish devotion—but men do not care for these things always, they do not even see them. My poor Manuelita.’’

When Manuelita joined him again, she asked, ‘‘Shall I read to you again, dear father?’’

‘‘Yes, my child,’’ he said, handing her St. Francis de Sales' ‘‘Introduction to a Devout Life.’’ He wished to think a few moments and determine how he should broach the subject to her which lay so heavily upon his heart.


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As she concluded the first chapters he said, ‘‘Where can we look for comfort and happiness if not in religion? How truly he says that in affliction we usually turn to devotion, though each one, he says, paints devotion according to his own fancy; as each plant brings forth fruit of its kind, so he commands all Christians, being living plants of the church, to bring forth fruits of devotion. God does not call us all to lead a devout life in the religious acceptation—that is, the life of a recluse; to many he gives other duties, other spheres of life which would make it impossible, and St. Francis himself says, a vigorous and constant soul may live in the world and find springs of sweet piety amidst the brackish waters of secular affairs. But where can we find such comfort, such hope as in religion? ‘‘What,’’ asks Micah, ‘‘does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.’’ This seems, my child, to embody the true Christian's law of action.’’


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‘‘Ah, father, if I could but learn your beautiful devotion, your entire self-abnegation for others.’’

‘‘I fear, my child, you give me credit for all a priest's duty, and do not consider my many shortcomings, but the true secret of all success lies in the culture of the heart: it brings love, tenderness and sympathy; we must have no divided interest from those we love, or our interest in and affection for them will necessarily be much weakened. In the forgetfulness of self you will find the nearest approach to happiness you can ever know here.’’

‘‘How hard a duty you would impose, dear father,’’ she said smiling.

‘‘Ah, my child, it must be learned in youth: habit is so much in life, it fastens upon us before we realise it, and becomes second nature, and it is not very hard in youth;’’ and he laid his hand tenderly upon her head, slowly caressing it.

‘‘Love thy Creator in the days of thy youth.


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It is the only love that will never fail you father, mother, lover, children, all must leave us: He alone remains to love and comfort us.’’

They sat a few moments in silence, when, taking Manuelita's hand gently in his, he said, ‘‘Shall I tell you something of my own early life, my child?’’

‘‘If you only would, dear father.’’

‘‘

These early memories come to me with strange tenderness this evening, they come with a tide as though from a sweet, fresh stream, and bring upon their incoming waves soft, sweet strains of music full of hope and love and joy. Much that I then thought hard and cruel I have lived to find a wise and merciful provision of my Heavenly Father's. Our sorrows and disappointments, child, are as much a part of our lives as our pleasures and joys. My youth was full of ambition, one of the strong mainsprings of motive power: the wish and hope to be a great scholar, one of the world's great mathematicians and cosmographers, seized me in my


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early college life, and to this end I gave all my time and energies during my college course. I wished to win renown in the world of science, and when I completed my studies I sought and obtained the chair of mathematics in the Ingoldstadt University of Bavaria. Here I taught, and devoted my leisure hours to study, with the ambition ever before me of making the world recognise my name and talent. I thought my ambition worthy because I was to accomplish so much for science. I thought I was putting all self-exaltation, all ideas of personal happiness or pleasure on one side, and laboring for knowledge and learning only. I did not know that it was vanity looking for its obulum of admiration, that vanity in man which is always looking for some means of form of development. I have learned that however much of culture or learning we acquire, it is in ourselves that we are worthy or unworthy. Youth throws a wonderful glamour over the present hour—it is well that age dispels it.


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Fortunately for me, my child, a humanising influence came into my life about this time, or I might have remained the dry, hard pedant. My favorite pupil was the son of a wealthy nobleman of the town, and to his home I often went: there I naturally met his young sister, a beautiful, gentle girl much interested in study, and at the evening meal, which I often took with them, I became strangely interested in her. I can see her now with her sunny golden hair, and honest, trusting eyes. In a word, my child, I learned to love her very dearly: there was a great charm in being able to turn from this life of close study and mathematical hardness to the gentle companionship of this beautiful girl, full of enthusiasm and trustfulness, her face warm with love's light, and pensive with sweet thoughts born more of heaven's spirituality than of earth's anxieties.

This varied, subtle drama between a young man and a young maiden can hardly be rendered in words at first; there is an eloquence,


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a passion in it, that no poet's words or musician's melodies can interpret. The joy, the absorption of two strong natures is as cloudless as their suffering is desolating. Love does not always say boldly at first 'I am here,' or we could guard against it, when we knew it would be unwise.

’’

Here he turned to look at her, and observed that she had turned a little to one side to screen her face from him, but he could see the tears coursing slowly down her cheeks. ‘‘Poor child,’’ he thought, as he continued: ‘‘The power of beauty upon the human heart is very strong in youth; I went on loving her, until my whole power of vision seemed absorbed in her, sleeping or waking I saw only her. All the former concentration and intensity of my nature, which had so loved solitude, and had been so filled with unuttered thought, now found expression in love for this beautiful girl. She was to me as the smile of the earth upon the first flowers of spring, as the rainbow that shines in the heavens


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when darkness gives place to light, as the mariner's star that alone guides him to safety and shelter. Unfortunately she reciprocated my passion. Nature is stronger than law or circumstances, and the strongest minds are not proof against this sentiment, my child; and where it can lead to marriage it is well, but it is a terrible misfortune to love above one's station. In my egotism I did not think of that. I thought my culture and learning placed me on a level with the proudest, but like seeks like in life, and I found that the rich seek in marriage to augment their fortune. The Baron had other views for his daughter, and when I sought him to lay bare our hearts and wishes to him, he abruptly informed me that his daughter had been betrothed from childhood to her cousin, and must marry him, and that he trusted to my sense of honor to break off all intercourse with her.

Life is so full of real sorrow, child; some of them we bring upon ourselves and they


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are evils, others come to us and are misfortunes.

’’

Here he saw the tears chasing each other rapidly down her cheeks, but he continued, ‘‘If we face them boldly, strive with them, we can often conquer them. We are many of us like the pool of Siloam, and need troubling before we can be purified. I fear my little dauther will think I did not love her very ardently to give her up so easily.’’

‘‘Oh, no, father. I know your deep capacity for loving too well for that. What became of her?’’

‘‘Her father sent her at once to France, and six months later she married her cousin.’’

‘‘Oh, father, how could she, after having once loved you?’’

‘‘Young German girls are brought up to very strict obedience, my child, and there are so many ways by which parents can enforce it. And now, my child, see how the hand of Providence rules all well and wisely. When trouble comes upon us the mind rushes into


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an unfathomable gulf of despair and knows nothing but its own disapointment and consequent lamentations. Solitary brooding and closer application to my studies brought on a desperate illness, and for weeks I lay scarcely conscious; finally my youth and vigorous constitution triumphed and convalescence set in. I had time, during these long idle weeks, to review my life. I knew that many weeks must pass before I could again take up my studies. My physician recommended travel, change of scene—but where to go, what do? I could not bear the thought of idle travel. I needed something to occupy the mind. I could not see that Heaven was using this as a means of moving, even forcing me nearer to itself: it had ordained the sacrifice of unholy ambition, of earthly love, to give me a nobler and a better one. I do not tire you, my child?’’

‘‘Oh, no, dear father: you are so good to tell me of your sorrow.’’

‘‘Taking listlessly into my hand one day a


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volume of the classics I opened it at a sketch of Socrates, and my eye fell upon these words, ‘‘Renouncing the honours at which the world aims I desire only to know the truth, and to live as well as I can. I wish to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life and greater than every other earthly conflict.’’ The idol I had so long revered stood before me as it was, a mere idol; ambition for the glory of my own name to be found among men of science. So it came to me then to devote my life to these children of the American Desert. Now, do you not see, child, the great tenderness and wisdom of the Omniscient? He showed me that he had given me a soul to enrich and develop for another life, nay more, that he had chosen me as his instrument to offer the eternal life to so many other beautiful souls. Think of the narrow field that I had chosen for myself, my own individual happiness and welfare, the love and companionship of one lovely, beloved woman, perchance of children to call me father, but


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He showed me that there were nobler purposes of life of such inestimably higher value. ‘‘Do you limit your ambition,’’ He asked me, ‘‘to your own narrow life and pleasures when so many of my children need you? Sacrifice it to me and I will show you the true ambition.’’ And do you not see, child, what a broad, beautiful field He gave me to work in, instead of the narrow one I had chosen? How He has filled me with that sympathy and love for these people which has made my labour so happy and successful. I have found peace and duty and much love among them. The tenderness and love of a wife was denied me, but look at all these children who call me father. Where could I have found a fuller, richer life, a more precious child,’’ he continued tenderly, extending his hand to her as she drew nearer to him, and pressed it to her lips.

‘‘And now, my daughter, the object for which I have laid bare to you this sorrowful chapter of my early manhood, will not have


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been without its lesson. But few of us find ourselves born to be the central figure of an epic; through the daily error of undervaluing what is termed common we are apt to pass by the small duties of life as of little worth; but as in the creations of nature the common is the most important, the most precious, so are the common attributes of love and sympathy and unselfishness of much more worth in our daily intercourse with our fellow creatures than the rare endowments which enable us to give a new chapter to science or learning, and enroll our names upon its tablets. Fix your heart, my dear child, upon a loftier purpose than personal happiness. When I am taken from you, remember that I leave you my people. Continue the work that I have commenced among them. When our love and sympathy are excited we see so differently; what the rest of the world sees in these poor children, is only the barbarian, whose labour would be well utilised in excavating from the earth its mineral wealth :


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do you see in them, my daughter, the image of God and His infinity.’’

Manuelita did not answer, but once more pressed his hand to her lips.

Here they both sat a few moments longer in silence, looking out upon the sinking sun, a fiery ball shining behind the summit of the tall mountains just opposite them, lengthening the shadows in the valley. Day was declining gently, and on the charmed air there was the soft blush of an autumn sunset, with the purple light sleeping on the mountains and in the valley beneath them. All nature was redolent of tender, earnest meaning.

‘‘We will go in now, daughter,’’ said Father Kino, rising. ‘‘I would speak to Brother Ramirez before retiring.’’

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