Chapter XIV

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TEN days had passed since Father Kino's death, and life had resumed its old course in the San Xavier mission home.

Captain Carillo had been out several times, so that in the midst of her great sorrow Manuelita had experienced much happiness; for she loved him with all the passionate intensity of her nature. Several times she had tried hard to tell Louis Ramirez of Balthazar Carillo's love for her, but her courage had failed her, and Captain Carillo was to tell him of it, and ask his consent to their engagement this evening.

During these visits Catiche had watched him closely, and her woman's instincts told her that he loved Manuelita. The good woman's heart was gladdened, for now she

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knew that her child would be happy. When Manuelita threw her arms about her and whispered into her ear that, ‘‘she had a secret to tell her,’’ she returned the embrace warmly and said:

‘‘Ah, Chiquita! how beautiful it makes life, to be loved so!’’

‘‘What do you mean, madre? I have not told you what it is yet.’’

‘‘But a little bird has,’’ replied Catiche smiling, as she saw the colour mantle the young girl's face. ‘‘Did my child, of whose welfare and happiness I think always, and for which I would give my life, think that I was blind, that I saw nothing?’’

‘‘How long have you seen it, madre?’’

‘‘For several months, my child. A mother's love makes her very anxious for her children, and I have watched you all the time. I was unhappy for you very long.’’

‘‘Why, madre?’’

‘‘Because I thought only you loved him: I did not think he loved you.’’

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‘‘And now, what think you?’’

‘‘That the secret my child had to tell me was, that he loved her.’’

‘‘Madre, you are a sorcerer.’’

‘‘No, child, but something still better at reading her child's heart—a mother.’’

‘‘Did Father Kino know?’’ she asked.

‘‘He suspected, my child;’’ and she told her the incident of the roses found in the little box beside the rosary.

‘‘And what did he say?’’

‘‘He could not tell whether he loved you, and he feared suffering and disappointment for you, because he said Captain Carillo was so above you in rank and fortune.’’

‘‘Dear Father Kino, that was his object in telling me the history of his own early life and its romance.’’

‘‘Yes, child; he feared that only you loved, and that sorrow and misery would come upon you through your love. It is a dreadful thing, child, to give one's heart where one is not given in return: it burns up the soul and

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eats out the heart. And all the time, with the great sorrow eating out one's heart, we must seem brave and do our duty.’’

‘‘That is what dear Father Kino said. How brave he was. Madre, do you know that when a young man he loved a beautiful girl above his station in wealth as well as rank, and his sorrow and disappointment brought upon him a dreadful illness, and that when he recovered he vowed to devote his life to what he so poetically called us, 'the children of the American Desert?'’’

‘‘He never told me of his past life, my child.’’

‘‘And, madre, he spoke of it as the mercy and goodness of God, to take him from his own narrow life, which his own happiness would have made for him, and giving him such a wide beautiful field with us.’’

‘‘It is hard, child, for the young to feel that way. I think the dear padre was always a saint.’’

‘‘He knows I am happy now; he said that

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love was well and holy where it leads to a happy marriage, and, madre, I am to be his wife. Was there ever joy like mine, madre mio?’’ and into her eyes came the love-lit beauty of youth and happiness.

Early that afternoon Captain Carillo rode out to see Manuelita. A letter from his father had reached him the evening before, enclosing a six months leave of absence, with permission for him to return to Spain, and he was to leave in two or three weeks, or as soon as another officer could be sent from head-quarters to take his command.

‘‘I cannot tell you, my darling, how much I hate to leave you,’’ he said, folding her tenderly in his arms.

It was the first intimation Manuelita had received of the possibility of a separation; in thinking of her marriage she had of course expected to go to the presidio with him, and rejoiced in it, in that it would enable her to have Catiche with her and to see Brother Ramirez often. She knew that he would

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ultimately return to Spain, but that was in the future—she would of course go with him and take Catiche with her. She was stunned by the intelligence of his early departure.

‘‘I have so short a time to remain with you now, that Brother Ramirez must let me see my darling every day,’’ he continued.

‘‘To be absent six months,’’ she gasped, ‘‘oh, what may not happen in so long a time?’’

‘‘Why, nothing that shall separate me longer from you, Manuelita. You will write me by every opportunity, and when I return it will be nevermore to leave you—you will be mine forever and ever.’’

‘‘I shall feel and fear every evil in your absence,’’ she said gently.

‘‘But love must know no absence—you must have me so constantly in your heart, as you will be in mine, that my presence will always be felt. You will think of me each hour, and when I return you will become my dear little wife.’’

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She looked grave and thoughtful, and made no reply; taking her hand in his and holding it very firmly he asked, ‘‘Is love so serious to my darling that it robs her eyes of their smile, and her tongue of its speech?’’

‘‘Yes,’’ she replied, ‘‘it is, or ought to be, very serious, but I fear it does not often stop to reason.’’

‘‘And was my darling reasoning? You know that is treason to love; love knows no past because it never loved before, no future because it will never love again, only the present which is love itself, and is ours,’’ he said playfully.

Still the serious expression did not leave her face, as she replied, ‘‘I was thinking of your father. Father Kino said that he was a proud and wealthy Spanish noble. Think you that he will ever consent to our marriage?’’

‘‘He loves me well: I shall win his consent.’’

‘‘You know,’’ she said, with an effort to be playful, ‘‘that in Spain they think of us all

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here in New Spain as barbarians. I fear they would make few exceptions.’’

‘‘But they must see you with my eyes first, and when they see you with their own, they cannot help loving you.’’

‘‘I know nothing of your world. I should so fail in it.’’

‘‘There is no teacher like love, my darling. You are much more learned than the women of my country,’’ and he smiled playfully, ‘‘Father Kino and Brother Ramirez have made quite a little pedant of you; they do not know German, they have not read as much as you have, and for the customs of our rigid Spanish society, my cousin and aunt will soon teach them to you, and they will teach you to dance;’’ and he laughed. ‘‘The Spanish women are very fond of dancing, and dance very beautifully. My Manuelita is very graceful in her movements, and will look very pretty on the floor waltzing,’’ and he gave her hand a little reassuring pressure.

‘‘Tell me of your cousin,’’ she asked.

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‘‘Isabella Carillo! she is a very lovely woman, and you will love her very dearly.’’

‘‘Do you love her?’’ and her eyes looked eagerly into his for his reply.

‘‘Yes, very dearly, she has been to me like a young sister all her life.’’

‘‘Tell me of your home. How different all must be from our little home here.’’

He laughed merrily as he replied, ‘‘Yes, darling, it is very different. My father is a man of wealth and station, and his home in Madrid is very stately. Manuelita must think of herself henceforth as the future mistress of a home worthy of her.’’

‘‘I have been very happy in this home, surrounded by so much love and care. Dear Father Kino and Catiche have been to me all a father or mother could have been.’’

‘‘Yes, darling, but now a new love has come into your life, which will absorb all others.’’

‘‘Oh no, no! It is so different, but I do

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not love the others less. When you return, will you remain here awhile?’’

‘‘Yes, I shall have two years more in this presidio. I will try to make my little bride very comfortable there. Lieutenant Bernal, who is now in Spain, is going to bring his bride out with him, so you will not be alone. I shall be back early in April. Will you not name the 25th, the anniversary of the day I first saw you, for our wedding day? It is what Father Kino used to call your adopted birthday,’’ he continued playfully.

‘‘Dear Father Kino, I shall never find his great tender heart again.’’

It is an exquisite thing in a sensitive nature that when the heart is fullest of its own happiness, such tender memories of the loved dead come to it unresistingly, and unconsciously. Says a tender-souled modern novelist, ‘‘Our dead are never quite dead to us until we have forgotten them.’’

‘‘This to your lover?’’ he replied, seeing the great tears standing in her eyes. ‘‘What

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becomes of my great, tender heart, I should like to know.’’

‘‘I have yet to learn yours. My life was so interwoven with his for twenty long years that I had learned every expression of his face, every thought of his heart. It was one of those great, sympathetic natures that did not wear or change by daily friction.’’

‘‘You will find mine as tender, and as steadfast for you, my darling; trust me until you know me better.’’

‘‘But you leave me for so long an absence—how can I know that you will always love me?’’ Seeing that he grew grave and thoughtful she continued, ‘‘But hope shall not desert me, though often as evanescent as a cloud, and fading away even while we are feasting our gaze upon it, it always returns in some form.’’

‘‘Yes, it is the anchor of many a yearning, bleeding heart, and is sustained by faith. Have faith in me, Manuelita, for I love you.’’

‘‘How beautiful St. Paul's definition of

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faith, 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'’’ For a moment she remained silent, and then placing her hand in his, ‘‘Such shall be my faith in you,’’ she said.

A half hour later he rose and said, ‘‘And now, my darling, for my interview with Brother Ramirez, your guardian. He does not seem to me to have Father Kino's tender, sympathetic heart,’’ and he laughed. ‘‘I think he looks upon me a little suspiciously: he suspects my design to steal the one little ewe lamb of his flock.’’

‘‘Dear Brother Ramirez—he is a poet and a scholar, and thinks more of his books than of anything else.’’

When Captain Carillo asked for Brother Ramirez, he had disappeared, leaving word that he would see him the following evening.

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