THE next morning Brother Ramirez proposed to Manuelita that they should resume their French readings and studies. ‘‘It will help to occupy your mind, and draw you somewhat from your sorrow,’’ he had said to her.
‘‘And he was right. They lead us to the lofty ambitions of life, which should be synonymous with duty, much more surely than pleasure, or what the world calls happiness, does. I have never seen this more forcibly, or beautifully illustrated and exemplified than in the life of our dear Father Kino.’’
‘‘Yes, my child, and what a world of love and sympathy it enabled him to bring into his work here; without this knowledge of suffering and the passions of the human heart he would not have known that fuller, higher life which enabled him to subordinate his own will to a higher one.’’
‘‘All lives, child,’’ Louis Ramirez replied, almost fiercely, ‘‘contain a romance either written deep upon the heart, or acted; those are the saddest, I think, which, written deep upon the heart in burning letters, can never be brought to light.’’
‘‘But, brother,’’ she asked, the blush mantling her cheek and her voice sinking lower, ‘‘you do not think that it can be wrong to love one above and beyond all others, to wait for his coming, to be happy in his presence? There seems to me to be something in the human heart that makes it difficult to live without this. It comes voluntarily, without our knowledge or thought at first.’’
‘‘Oh, child!’’ he said fiercely again, ‘‘beware that you love wisely and well. The most beautiful thing in life is the love, the unselfish devotion of a woman's heart, and how few men are worthy of it!’’
‘‘Brother,’’ and the sisterly tenderness of her voice again brought agony to his heart, ‘‘Father Kino left me to your guardianship and care. He told me that you would be father, brother, friend, all to me. You have read my heart. Have I loved well and wisely?’’
‘‘But will he always love you? Youthful passion is like a giant overleaping all obstacles it finds in its way, and driving madly towards the consummation of its own wishes, thinking nothing of the essentials of real love, a sympathy in those things which bring permanency and constancy in the cycle of its revolutions.’’
‘‘Some men—not many, child; most men think how they will absorb a woman's love and life, not how they will yield up theirs to her. Such love, child, is to the holy and beautiful passion of which we read in Pascal, like the light emitted by the firefly is to the steady, brilliant glow of the most beautiful constellation in the heavens.’’
To this gentle girl, intensely absorbed in her love, all these questions seemed indeed a profanation, measuring the ideal of love with a practical standard of worthiness. It would have dashed to the ground all the exquisite sentiment that had for months filled her soul, could she for one moment have doubted the
‘‘Ah, child, he is good now, but marriage changes one's relations so! Now, your slightest wish would be law to him—then, his must be to you; and you do not know the Spanish men, my child—they are jealous, exacting, tyrannical.’’
‘‘Think well, my child; marriage is so unlike anything else, in the nearness, the absorption into another life, unless one loves above and beyond all else. His world is so unlike yours here—you know nothing of it. Love does not reason, does not see.’’
‘‘Yes, for that reason, because it does not see the object of its love as others can. And are the blind happy, think you, child? Do you think if the chance were given them that they would not gladly have their eyes opened? When did you tell me that he would leave for Spain?’’
‘‘Do not give way thus to grief, my child. There must always be much that is sad and uncertain about the important steps of life, but we will hope that all will be well. I would give my life to secure your happiness, child. I must leave you now,’’ and in a moment he was gone.
As he rapidly paced the ground at some little distance from the house, her lovely, tearful face came once again between him and his duty. In thinking and loving, doubting and longing came upon him once more, and he found himself listening to the tumults of a rebellious heart which fought and struggled still for mastery over him; a voice seemed to mock at his efforts, as it asked if he hoped to achieve a victory over nature, and if he stilled it now, would it not soon