Chapter XIII

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XII Next: Chapter XIV

[page 184]

THE following afternoon, Father Kino was so much better that he sat out on the remado again for a while. Brother Ramirez was with him. It was as perfect a day as we sometimes see in early June in a northern latitude. The brilliant hues of the heavens had absorbed the lightest clouds, the sun gleamed on the giant tops of the mountains, summit rising above summit, and the whole land was full of those beautiful shadows, broken by rich bursts of sunshine, which make the autumn such a delightful season. The air was clear and warm, and seemed to Father Kino a perfect elixir.

‘‘How lovely all nature is this afternoon,’’ he said, ‘‘how few of us appreciate at their

[page 185]

proper value the beauties of this world in which we live: We go through the world with our eyes partly closed, and are surprised that we do not see more beauty in it; we move through it like ghosts, as if we were mere phantoms and had no part with it, except for the prosaic necessities of life.’’

‘‘It should absorb the soul, and fill it with beauty,’’ replied Brother Ramirez, ‘‘the spirit seeks rest in beauty, and when the thought of beauty first comes to us, it suggests flowers and trees, water and mountains, all the features of nature's beautiful landscapes; this is real life, all else is artificial.’’

‘‘I thought when I first came here from Germany, that I would never feel at home among these barren wastes and verdureless hills and mountains, but I have learned to love them, and have found nature even here a great comforter and consoler; they seem to have grown mystic and hallowed, and from them I have gathered a spiritual yearning which seems a link with Divinity.’’

[page 186]

‘‘Your own beautiful life forming the rivets which have united the links, I think, dear father.’’

Pressing his hand gently, Father Kino said, ‘‘Always our poet with your beautiful thoughts and expressions, but I fear the poem will not do justice to the poet. How did you find Canoche?’’

‘‘Much better; he is coming to see you this afternoon.’’

‘‘I have much to speak to you of, brother, while I yet have time. I feel that my days are numbered and they are few.’’

‘‘It will truly be said of you, dear father, that 'dead he yet liveth and his works do follow him.'’’

‘‘There are higher things that I hope for than the mere talk of tongues; the Pythagoreans did well to make good to be finite and certain, evil to be infinite and uncertain. My ever hopeful activity has come from the enthusiasm for humanity as well, I hope, as from an inspiration. A great teacher has said

[page 187]

that the humanities must outweigh the sciences at all times.’’

‘‘Yes; I hardly think the sciences would reach the necessities and misfortunes of this poor people,’’ said Brother Ramirez smiling.

‘‘Nor of any people, my son. It is the heart we wish to reach, and we could not do that by taking away from them the living humanities and giving them the problems of Euclid instead. But in all I have done for them I have been the mere servant, the mere instrument of my Divine Master. In the enthusiasm and love for humanity must ever rest much of the success of mission work; we must recognize in the heathen a man of like passions for good or evil as ourselves.’’

‘‘I think in that, father, has laid the secret of your wonderful success.’’

‘‘My object has been to claim them for their Maker; to teach them that it is the divine purpose of life which is the ultimate aim of man's existence, and its justification of the sorrows and misfortunes which here

[page 188]

seem inexplicable. This is part of the work I leave to you, dear brother, and now I would speak to you of other things. You know how dear to my heart Manuelita is, I leave her the little I possess, and I have built a home for her and Catiche; but more than all else she will need a protector. Promise me that you will be this to her always.’’

‘‘I do, father, indeed, with all my heart.’’

‘‘Catiche, must always remain with her. She is so young, she knows nothing of sin or sorrow; guard her from both, if possible. The young err often from mistaken zeal or enthusiasm, which time and patience will correct and quiet; be patient with her and tender of her. But I am sure I need not enjoin this upon you, it is your nature to be tender with everything, and I know you must have learned to love Manuelita, not as I did, of course, who have watched every step she has taken for twenty long years, listened with all a father's love for every syllable her gentle lips have uttered, but you must have learned to

[page 189]

love and appreciate her beauty and goodness.’’

How little the good father knew of the tumult that was going on in this poor brother's breast. When he said, ‘‘Be tender and patient with Manuelita,’’ and spoke of his having ‘‘learned to love her,’’ poor Louis Ramirez could with difficulty control his emotion. He had for months been laboring, through partial convalescence, from a moral fever, with such frequent relapses that they had shaken his physical as well as moral nature; his nervous system was completely unstrung. As he paused a few moments to master his emotion sufficiently to be able to reply, Father Kino turned to him and was shocked by the expression of his face.

‘‘My poor brother,’’ he said, ‘‘you are more ill than I; you have more need of care. You have been overworked.’’

‘‘It is nothing; I will soon be well again,’’ he replied.

It came to him to open his heart to Father Kino; to tell him of his discovery of Manuelita's

[page 190]

love for Balthazar Carillo, and of his own misery and wretchedness; but it was in vain that he essayed to do this. He knew Father Kino's sense of a priest's duty, how he must be above such weaknesses, and he could not forfeit his respect and confidence; and then, with all Father Kino's tenderness and gentle sympathy, his presence inspired a certain awe to this dreamy, poetic postulate.

Something of the same thought had come to Father Kino during this conversation, to impart to Louis Ramirez his discovery of Manuelita's love for Balthazar Carillo, and take counsel with him upon the best course to pursue in discouraging it; but when he saw how wretched and how ill he seemed, he determined to defer it for some other conversation

‘‘Go now, brother,’’ he said, ‘‘and rest. I will see you to-morrow, and we must ask the doctor to come to see you. You must have rest and change at once.’’

Louis Ramirez went out to his favorite

[page 191]

haunt, on the bank of the little stream, not far from the mission home, and lay here several hours before he could sufficiently recover self-possession to analyze his own emotions. In the terrible isolation of individuality which a great sorrow like his brought, he must fight the battle alone until his soul recovered its strength—here he lay long, still and motionless; tears came freely into his eyes at last to revenge themselves for his continued effort at self-mastery; weak and womanly do some call these dews of the heart. Well it is Goethe, that masterly delineator of the human heart and its varying passions, who says, that, ‘‘it is what approaches nearest to the woman that is the most admirable in man.’’ Says this same writer, ‘‘Sooner mayst thou trust thy purse to a professional pickpocket, than thy loyal friendship to the man who boasts of eyes to which the heart never mounts in dew.’’

He listened to the calm reasonings of his lucid moments with a consciousness that reason

[page 192]

was right, and then her sweet, sad face, with all the pain and suffering of its own unsatisfied longings, that he had last seen upon it, rose before him, and thoughts fell upon his throbbing heart like the night dews upon the crater of Æna They could not quench the inner fire that rolled and swerved and threatened every moment to burst forth.

‘‘Poor child! poor child!’’ he murmured; how full of pity and sympathy he was for her,—for great love is so strong in compassion, so tender in thought of the loved one!

Noble resolves laid hold upon him and helped to calm this struggle; a stillness fell upon his mind, and his whole moral atmosphere became clear again; a noble strength of purpose subdued all excitability and crushed out all passion from his soul; but again all this would grow weaker and weaker, and he would find himself again upon the level of the old passion. Love is stronger than resolve; its hopes, its desires, its absorptions again filled his soul with an uncontrollable

[page 193]

delirium. Must his whole life be only a resistance? Would he never be able to look into his own soul and find it tranquil and holy? Would it always be a negative resistance of sin?

How all time seemed to this poor soul to converge itself as it were into the burning glass of the moment; his path now chosen must decide his fate—long and earnestly he prayed, ‘‘Oh, my blessed Saviour, by Thy Cross and Passion, let this cup pass from me;’’ and as he repeated these words over and over again, a calmness fell upon him—it seemed to him the calmness of despair; and then a voice came to him, ‘‘Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’’ Blessed hope, blessed comfort, he felt.

When he arose from the ground it was quite dark, the crescent of the young moon was just rising above the horizon, silvering the amber clouds as they floated into heaven's blue depths, the dark shadows on the mountains

[page 194]

were slowly giving place to silvery ones, embracing all the landscape around and blending all into harmony.

As he looked upon all nature so quiet, so peaceful, a great calmness that was not the calmness of despair stole upon him: he had fought the battle and his soul had conquered; he could now say, ‘‘Oh, my Father, not my will, but Thine be done.’’

In the meanwhile Father Kino had seen Canoche, who, entering, had fallen upon one knee, and taking his attenuated hand, said:

‘‘My good, good Senor Padre, I thought never to see you again. I am so glad to see you so much better.’’

‘‘Yes, Canoche, it is pleasant to see you once more. we have worked many years together, and you must soon work without me, my faithful friend. Brother Ramirez and others, who will come after me, will help you.’’

‘‘No one can ever take the Senor Padre's place,’’ said Canoche, great tears filling his

[page 195]

eyes, ‘‘the Christian God sent him to the poor Indian.’’

‘‘And the Christian's God will not desert you, He will send you many friends. I depend much upon you, Canoche, to keep up my teachings among your people, and to live up to them yourself: remember that you can do more by example than by precept. Teach them to be honest, true, merciful; to be industrious, to be contented with what the good God has given them, and how to make the most of it, and in the harmony and simplicity of their lives their hearts will soon see the greatness and tenderness of their Creator.’’

‘‘I will, Senor Padre, I will.’’

‘‘Teach them that their Saviour is the centre of all religion, and their only hope, and that it was He who told them to love one another. And remember, Canoche, that the same time spent in teaching your lads how to fight and to hunt, will teach them how to read and write, so that they can learn the

[page 196]

Divine Master's will for themselves, and it will make so much better men of them.’’

‘‘I will do it, Senor Padre. I will indeed.’’

‘‘Teach them to love their homes, their wives, to be gentle to them, tender to their children, and teach them to love nature, the mountains, the trees, the grass, the flowers—this is a triple armour against many evils: there is much of the poetic in the Indian character, and nature speaks in so many different languages, and she speaks right to the human heart, and oh, she tells such a beautiful story of the greatness and goodness of God; how merciful it was of him to give us all this beauty and utility combined.’’

‘‘I will do it, Senor Padre, with God's grace.’’

‘‘And Canoche, do not forget my church; you must do your best to see to its completion. And now, my good friend, there is one more trust I wish to confide to you. You know how faithful and true my good Catiche has been to me for twenty long years: promise

[page 197]

me that while you live she shall be watched over and cared for as if I were with you, see that she does not want, and that she is tenderly cared for.’’

‘‘I promise, I promise, Senor.’’

‘‘And now, Canoche, last, because so near my heart, is my beloved Manuelita. As you value my blessing both here and hereafter, love her, guard her, care for her as you would have done for Panchita, had she been spared to you; she is my treasure, my one little ewe lamb, which I confide to your love and goodness.’’

‘‘I will be faithful to your trust, Senor. As I deal by her may my God deal with me.’’

‘‘And now, my friend, good-night—I am a little weary and would retire. You may come to see me to-morrow.’’

Alas, for the good father, to-morrow never came for him! He was to have seen Captain Carrilo that evening, but excused himself until the morrow.

Shortly after retiring he was taken very ill,

[page 198]

and Brother Ramirez and Catiche were hastily summoned to his bedside; they remained with him all night, having promised Manuelita to call her if any change for the worse appeared. A little after midnight they called her: all felt that the end was drawing very near. When she entered the room he held out his hand to her—he was speechless, but still conscious. Closing his eyes he seemed to be framing a prayer; then he opened them, fixed them upon her and closed his hand more firmly upon hers. For a few moments he slept, his noble face serene and beautiful.

Night gradually gave place to the first white gleams of dawn, the hour that death loves, while all nature lay asleep, waiting for the coming of the sun. Not a sound fell upon the ear, save that of suppressed sobs. The shadow of death's chill presence filled the barren chamber.

A smile of exquisite tenderness broke over the dying man's face as his eyes finally opened upon a picture of the Holy Mother, which

[page 199]

hung at the foot of his bed, and looking from it to Manuelita, they understood that he was placing his beloved child into the Holy Mother's keeping.

Life flickered on until the increasing warmth of the sun brought forth the mountains slowly from their misty shadows, all earth became roseate, and when every line of suffering had been effaced from his holy face, the spirit of the good man, made perfect, was borne by the "Angel of Death" to its heavenly rest.

‘‘My father, my father,’’ sobbed Manuelita, ‘‘how can I live without you?’’

‘‘The finite has passed to the infinite, the image of the Divine to the Divine,’’ said Louis Ramirez.

‘‘He was an angel here, he is a saint there,’’ said the sorrowing Catiche.

How true to their hearts was that beautiful sleeper!
With smiles for the joyful, with tears for the weeper!—
Yet evermore prompt, whether mournful or gay,
With warnings in love to the passing astray.

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XII Next: Chapter XIV

© Arizona Board of Regents