In Felipe's overwrought frame of mind this seemed to him a terrible omen; and he set out on his journey with a still heavier heart than before. He believed Ramona was dead, buried in some unknown, unconsecrated spot, never to be found; yet he would not give up the search. As he journeyed southward, he began to find persons who had known of Alessandro; and still more, those who had known his father, old Pablo. But no one had heard anything of Alessandro's whereabouts since the driving out of his people from Temecula; there was no knowing where any of those Temecula people were now. They had scattered "like a flock of ducks," one Indian said,-- "like a flock of ducks after they are fired into. You'd never see all those ducks in any one place again. The Temecula people were here, there, and everywhere, all through San Diego County. There was one Temecula man at San Juan Capistrano, however. The Senor would better see him. He no doubt knew about Alessandro. He was living in a room in the old Mission building. The priest had given it to him for taking care of the chapel and the priest's room, and a little rent besides. He was a hard man, the San Juan Capistrano priest; he would take the last dollar from a poor man."
It was late at night when Felipe reached San Juan Capistrano; but he could not sleep till he had seen this man. Here was the first clew he had gained. He found the man, with his wife and children, in a large corner room opening on the inner court of the Mission quadrangle. The room was dark and damp as a cellar; a fire smouldered in the enormous fireplace; a few skins and rags were piled near the hearth, and on these lay the woman, evidently ill. The sunken tile floor was icy cold to the feet; the wind swept in at a dozen broken places in the corridor side of the wall; there was not an article of furniture. "Heavens!" thought Felipe, as he entered, "a priest of our Church take rent for such a hole as this!"
There was no light in the place, except the little which came from the fire. "I am sorry I have no candle, Senor," said the man, as he came forward. "My wife is sick, and we are very poor."
"No matter," said Felipe, his hand already at his purse. "I only want to ask you a few questions. You are from Temecula, they tell me."
"Yes, Senor," the man replied in a dogged tone,-- no man of Temecula could yet hear the word without a pang,-- "I was of Temecula."
"I want to find one Alessandro Assis who lived there. You knew him, I suppose," said Felipe, eagerly.
At this moment a brand broke in the smouldering fire, and for one second a bright blaze shot up; only for a second, then all was dark again. But the swift blaze had fallen on Felipe's face, and with a start which he could not control, but which Felipe did not see, the Indian had recognized him. "Ha, ha!" he thought to himself. "Senor Felipe Moreno, you come to the wrong house asking for news of Alessandro Assis!"
It was Antonio,-- Antonio, who had been at the Moreno sheep-shearing; Antonio, who knew even more than Carmena had known, for he knew what a marvel and miracle it seemed that the beautiful Senorita from the Moreno house should have loved Alessandro, and wedded him; and he knew that on the night she went away with him, Alessandro had lured out of the corral a beautiful horse for her to ride. Alessandro had told him all about it,-- Baba, fiery, splendid Baba, black as night, with a white star in his forehead. Saints! but it was a bold thing to do, to steal such a horse as that, with a star for a mark; and no wonder that even now, though near three years afterwards, Senor Felipe was in search of him. Of course it could be only the horse he wanted. Ha! much help might he get from Antonio!