Chapter XVIII

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MANUELITA had been nearly three months a happy wife in her home at the presidio when the reply to the letter written by Captain Carillo to his father, announcing his intended marriage, was received. It was short and stern, commanding him to break off all such connection and return at once to Spain, under pain of his everlasting displeasure and disinheritance. He tried hard to soften its severity to Manuelita, but her great absorbing love for him made her at last realize all he had sacrificed for her.

‘‘Ah, Balthazar, how can I ever forgive myself for having brought all this sorrow upon you?’’ she asked.

‘‘Do not think of that, my darling,’’ he said, ‘‘but of the happiness you have given me.’’

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‘‘Ah, I loved you so well, and thought to make you happy; in my selfish happiness in your love I did not see beyond it.’’

‘‘And, you must not now,’’ he replied, affectionately, ‘‘my father has only to see you and know you to forgive me.’’

‘‘Ah, but he will not see me with your eyes, I fear. I did not think of him, of your family and position, only of my love for you. I can see it all now.’’

‘‘But I will think you do not love me as you did at first, if you can see one cause of regret in our marriage.’’

‘‘Oh! no, not that, Balthazar, but your father's disappointment; how stern his letter is!’’ and her soft eyes looked into his for further comfort and argument for her newly awakened anxieties.

‘‘We must not waste the few precious days that remain to us now before my departure, in sorrowful anticipations,’’ he said, folding her in his arms very tenderly. ‘‘The heavens are still bright and beautiful above us,’’ he

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continued, drawing her to the window which looked out upon a glorious morn. ‘‘We will not anticipate the storm. My father is severe, but he must forgive me, I am sure he will.’’

‘‘But if he should not?’’ she asked trembling in his arms.

‘‘Then together we will wait for time to soften his heart towards us. Well did the Egyptians of old make love the highest and greatest blessing the gods could bestow upon man. I have been very happy in your love, Manuelita. I wish you could go with me: surely if my father saw you he would understand and forgive us.’’

‘‘No, my husband,’’ she said gently, ‘‘I think with Brother Ramirez, that it would be best for you to go alone. Your father might resent it, and it would be so unhappy for you. But return very soon; love is so apprehensive, it fears every ill, and I shall be so unhappy until you are with me again.’’

How well it is for us that we are not seers,

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that we are not permitted to lift the veil which shuts out the sorrows of the future from us. She had been so happy in his love that for days, and weeks, even, she could feed upon its memories. In the single motive of her daily life she would await his return, a return he had assured her which would see them reunited for ever, that nothing should ever again separate them in life.

Fearful, terrible, is the nearness of Death to Life,—the happy love, in which the bride of a couple of months lovingly, beautifully awaits the coming of her bridegroom, the broad, deep storm-beaten ocean, beneath whose angry waves, in all the pride and beauty of his early manhood, the bridegroom finds his lonely grave.

Two months later, when the young wife waited and longed for news of her husband's outward journey, news was brought that the sailing vessel upon which he had embarked had been lost with all on board, except the first mate and a couple of sailors, who had

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been picked up and brought back by a returning vessel.

For days and weeks Manuelita lay as one stunned under the pressure of her sorrow; for many long months they watched and nursed her, scarcely daring to hope that her life would be spared to them, or uncertain whether reason would not be dethroned. Little by little and very slowly came back consciousness, and with it remembrance, and she would lie for hours murmuring, ‘‘Oh, my love! my love! why did I sacrifice you!’’

But a day finally came, oh, blessed day for those who watched and loved her! and upon her breast lay a beautiful boy, a babe with large dark eyes, full of a sadness, a prescience, of his fatherless birth. Once more hope and prayer awoke in her bosom as the babe nestled there. The long months of doubt and anxiety were over, and those who loved her saw that she was saved.

How she wept over him, and cooed to him the softest Indian lullabies, full of a touching

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pathos that came from her own soul. they had neither rhythm nor metre, but were full of soft, sweet sounds. How she watched him awake and hung over him asleep, that beautiful sleep of childhood which awakes in a mother's heart such hopes and wishes, and deep fountains of passion and of love! A warmth gathered around her heart that she had not thought to ever feel again; she enveloped him in a love that was almost worship: so many of the dark shadows of the past months seemed to melt away in the dawn of baby's smile.

‘‘Will we call him Eusebio?’’ asked Catiche.

‘‘No, his name is Balthazar, his father's name,’’ she replied. ‘‘Dear Father Kino will understand.’’

As he grew older she seemed to see his father in every look and action; in his broken babyish murmurs she heard the tones of her husband's voice, in his beautiful dark eyes she saw the father's tenderness and love, and

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as he lay in her arms in the quiet sleep of innocent infancy, she would press him to her bosom and say: ‘‘You will be good and true like him, will you not, my beautiful boy?’’

She kept him as sweet and fresh as the newly-washed rose, she prayed for him, tended him and cherished him, and in him centered all her faith and hope and love. In the early months of his infancy he became her religion.

The warmth of the spring grew into the heat of the full summer, and Manuelita returned to the San Xavier mission to live; the little home which Father Kino had built for her and Catiche was now occupied for the first time. Brother Ramirez and Catiche had made it very pretty and pleasant in its simplicity. Catiche with her love for flowers had planted them in every available spot.

‘‘How good God has been to me at last,’’ she said, as with the babe in her arms she crossed the threshold of this new home with Manuelita. ‘‘He has given me back my two

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children, and I need not fear to be separated from them ever again.’’

Brother Ramirez was now Father Ramirez, having taken his final vows soon after Manuelita's marriage: he had been appointed to the charge of the mission.

How hard life had been for him when Manuelita married and went to the presidio to live, no one but the faithful Catiche ever knew; the days grew so long and desolate that it was with great difficulty that he went through with the routine of his most important duties. Wherever he went, whatever he did the loved face and form seemed to come between him and his duty; every one had loved her, they spoke of her to him hourly and it seemed to him impossible to realize that she had passed out of his life, never to return to it again. She was the one living thing in all the universe that he had loved with a personal feeling, an absorbing love. He had never had any hope, any illusions that she had ever thought of him beyond the gentle,

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tender, kindliness of a sisterly affection, but the vision of a real world blessed by her love, a world beautiful, rich, full—such a world as haunts the poet's imagination in the dreams of a moonlit summer's night filled with sweet ideal phantoms clothed in silver light, had filled his mind and heart too recently to be put aside all at once. For a short while the struggle was fierce and terrible. When the news came of Balthazar Carillo's loss he hastened to Manuelita's side, and it was from his lips that the young wife first learned of her desolating sorrow; strange how, in this first sight of her great grief, all his former love seemed to merge into an infinite compassion and regret; death seemed to have absorbed it in its shadow; and his heart, freed of all other love, knew for this beautiful woman and bereaved wife only the infinite tenderness and compassion that an angel might feel. All other feeling lay dead within him. He wrote the haughty Spanish grandfather a few lines, announcing the birth of the little Balthazar,

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but no acknowledgment of the letter ever came.

As the months rolled slowly by, and Manuelita recovered her physical strength, and time, with "healing in his wings" began to soften her sorrow and bitterness, she recovered some of her old interest in her mission work. Louis Ramirez would remind her of her promise to Father Kino, that she would never lose her interest in his new church, so side by side she worked with him, a calmness, a content, even a happiness in her companionship, replacing his old turbulent love for her, and he was happier than he had ever thought it possible to be. He knew, of course, that she would never leave them now, and in the little Balthazar they found such a bond of union and interest as nothing else could have given them. As the child grew older he instructed him as he had done the mother years before, and the boy's mind expanded under the quieting, holy influence of the love and example which surrounded him; his

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mother would talk to him for hours about his father, his goodness, his courage, his beauty, his kindness and love for her; it seemed to her but rightful homage to the dead and loved, that she should fill his boy's heart with a love for him equal to her own.

He grew to so love his mother that the very tones of her voice had in them a charm which vibrated to his heart, and soothed any boyish grief, and when her mind was silent and sad, he would creep to her side, put his little hand in hers, and look up to her with eyes in whose tender and beautiful soul she saw his father's face each time; he was serious and thoughtful far beyond the usual capacity of childhood, and his constant intercourse with his mother and Louis Ramirez gave him great precocity of mind and feeling.

Manuelita told him often of her own childhood's life here, of Father Kino's loving care and devotion to her, of his beautiful life and work here, and his great anxiety for the completion of this church, of which she had laid

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the corner stone; and his eyes would brighten and his little face grow rapt with animation and enthusiasm, and he would say, ‘‘I too will do like Father Kino when I grow up. I will build the church for you, dear mamma.’’

And she would go with him to look at the foundation often, and tell him how she had first met his father there.

‘‘I bequeath you this work, my boy, as a tender, loving offering to the memory of the best of men,’’ she would say to him, as side by side they knelt in prayer, the mother pleading, the child lisping those prayers which the angel on high recorded, in which they so earnestly besought the blessing of their lost ones.

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