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The miles seemed leagues to Felipe. Aunt Ri's drawling tones, as she chatted volubly with young Merrill, chafed him. How could she chatter! But when he thought this, it would chance that in a few moments more he would see her clandestinely wiping away tears, and his heart would warm to her again.

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They slept at a miserable cabin in one of the clearings, and at early dawn pushed on, reaching the Cahuilla village before noon. As their carriage came in sight, a great running to and fro of people was to be seen. Such an event as the arrival of a comfortable carriage drawn by four horses had never before taken place in the village. The agitation into which the people had been thrown by the murder of Alessandro had by no means subsided; they were all on the alert, suspicious of each new occurrence. The news had only just reached the village that Farrar had been set at liberty, and would not be punished for his crime, and the flames of indignation and desire for vengeance, which the aged Capitan had so much difficulty in allaying in the outset, were bursting forth again this morning. It was therefore a crowd of hostile and lowering faces which gathered around the carriage as it stopped in front of the Capitan's house.

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Aunt Ri's face was a ludicrous study of mingled terror, defiance, and contempt. "Uv all ther low-down, no-'count, beggarly trash ever I laid eyes on," she said in a low tone to Merrill, "I allow these yere air the wust! But I allow they'd flatten us all aout in jest abaout a minnit, if they wuz to set aout tew! Ef she ain't hyar, we air in a scrape, I allow."

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"Oh, they're friendly enough," laughed Merrill. "They're all stirred up, now, about the killin' o' that Injun; that's what makes 'em look so fierce. I don't wonder! 'Twas a derned mean thing Jim Farrar did, a firin' into the man after he was dead. I don't blame him for killin' the cuss, not a bit; I'd have shot any man livin' that 'ad taken a good horse o' mine up that trail. That's the only law we stock men've got out in this country. We've got to protect ourselves. But it was a mean, low-lived trick to blow the feller's face to pieces after he was dead; but Jim's a rough feller, 'n' I expect he was so mad, when he see his horse, that he didn't know what he did."

Aunt Ri was half paralyzed with astonishment at this speech. Felipe had leaped out of the carriage, and after a few words with the old Capitan, had hurried with him into his house. Felipe had evidently forgotten that she was still in the carriage. His going into the house looked as if Ramona was there. Aunt Ri, in all her indignation and astonishment, was conscious of this train of thought running through her mind; but not even the near prospect of seeing Ramona could bridle her tongue now, or make her defer replying to the extraordinary statements she had just heard. The words seemed to choke her as she began. "Young man," she said, "I donno much abaout yeour raisin'. I've heered yeour folks wuz great on religion. Naow, we ain't, Jeff 'n' me; we warn't raised thet way; but I allow ef I wuz ter hear my boy, Jos,-- he's jest abaout yeour age, 'n' make tew, though he's narrerer chested,-- ef I should hear him say what yeou've jest said, I allow I sh'd expect to see him struck by lightnin'; 'n' I sh'dn't think he hed got more 'n his deserts, I allow I sh'dn't!"

What more Aunt Ri would have said to the astounded Merrill was never known, for at that instant the old Capitan, returning to the door, beckoned to her; and springing from her seat to the ground, sternly rejecting Sam's offered hand, she hastily entered the house. As she crossed the threshold, Felipe turned an anguished face toward her, and said, "Come, speak to her." He was on his knees by a wretched pallet on the floor. Was that Ramona,-- that prostrate form; hair dishevelled, eyes glittering, cheeks scarlet, hands playing meaninglessly, like the hands of one crazed, with a rosary of gold beads? Yes, it was Ramona; and it was like this she had lain there now ten days; and the people had exhausted all their simple skill for her in vain.

Aunt Ri burst into tears. "Oh, Lawd!" she said. "Ef I had some 'old man' hyar, I'd bring her aout er thet fever! I dew bleeve I seed some on 't growin' not more'n er mile back." And without a second look, or another word, she ran out of the door, and springing into the carriage, said, speaking faster than she had been heard to speak for thirty years: "Yeow jest turn raound 'n' drive me back a piece, the way we come. I allow I'll git a weed thet'll break thet fever. Faster, faster! Run yer hosses. 'Tain't above er mile back, whar I seed it," she cried, leaning out, eagerly scrutinizing each inch of the barren ground. "Stop! Here 'tis!" she cried. "I knowed I smelt the bitter on 't somewhars along hyar;" and in a few minutes more she had a mass of the soft, shining, gray, feathery leaves in her hands, and was urging the horses fiercely on their way back. "This'll cure her, ef ennything will," she said, as she entered the room again; but her heart sank as she saw Ramona's eyes roving restlessly over Felipe's face, no sign of recognition in them. "She's bad," she said, her lips trembling; "but, 'never say die!' ez allers our motto; 'tain't never tew late fur ennything but oncet, 'n' yer can't tell when thet time's come till it's past 'n' gone."

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.

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