Steaming bowls of the bitterly odorous infusion she held at Ramona's nostrils; with infinite patience she forced drop after drop of it between the unconscious lips; she bathed the hands and head, her own hands blistered by the heat. It was a fight with death; but love and life won. Before night Ramona was asleep.
Felipe and Aunt Ri sat by her, strange but not uncongenial watchers, each taking heart from the other's devotion. All night long Ramona slept. As Felipe watched her, he remembered his own fever, and how she had knelt by his bed and prayed there. He glanced around the room. In a niche in the mud wall was a cheap print of the Madonna, one candle just smouldering out before it. The village people had drawn heavily on their poverty-stricken stores, keeping candles burning for Alessandro and Ramona during the past ten days. The rosary had slipped from Ramona's hold; taking it cautiously in his hand, Felipe went to the Madonna's picture, and falling on his knees, began to pray as simply as if he were alone. The Indians, standing on the doorway, also fell on their knees, and a low-whispered murmur was heard.
For a moment Aunt Ri looked at the kneeling figures with contempt. "Oh, Lawd!" she thought, "the pore heathen, prayin' ter a picter!" Then a sudden revulsion seized her. "I allow I ain't gwine ter be the unly one out er the hull number thet don't seem to hev nothin' ter pray ter; I allow I'll jine in prayer, tew, but I shan't say mine ter no picter!" And Aunt Ri fell on her knees; and when a young Indian woman by her side slipped a rosary into her hand, Aunt Ri did not repulse it, but hid it in the folds of her gown till the prayers were done. It was a moment and a lesson Aunt Ri never forgot.
THE Capitan's house faced the east. Just as day broke, and the light streamed in at the open door, Ramona's eyes unclosed. Felipe and Aunt Ri were both by her side. With a look of bewildered terror, she gazed at them.
"Thar, thar, naow! Yer jest shet yer eyes 'n' go right off ter sleep agin, honey," said Aunt Ri, composedly, laying her hand on Ramona's eyelids, and compelling them down. "We air hyar, Feeleepy 'n' me, 'n' we air goin' ter stay. I allow yer needn't be afeerd o' nothin'. Go ter sleep, honey."
The eyelids quivered beneath Aunt Ri's fingers. Tears forced their way, and rolled slowly down the cheeks. The lips trembled; the voice strove to speak, but it was only like the ghost of a whisper, the faint question that came,-- "Felipe?"
"Yes, dear! I am here, too," breathed Felipe; "go to sleep. We will not leave you!"
And again Ramona sank away into the merciful sleep which was saving her life.