Alessandro made no reply. He was looking at Ramona. She had flung her shawl over her head, as the other woman had done, and the two were cowering in the corner, their faces turned away. Ramona dared not look on; she felt sure Alessandro would kill some one. But this was not the type of outrage that roused Alessandro to dangerous wrath. He even felt a certain enjoyment in the discomfiture of the self-constituted posse of searchers for stolen goods. To all their questions in regard to the stolen steer, he maintained silence. He would not open his lips. At last, angry, ashamed, with a volley of coarse oaths at him for his obstinacy, they rode away. Alessandro went to Ramona's side. She was trembling. Her hands were like ice.
"Let us go to the mountain to-night!" she gasped. "Take me where I need never see a white face again!"
A melancholy joy gleamed in Alessandro's eyes. Ramona, at last, felt as he did.
"I would not dare to leave Majella there alone, while there is no house," he said; "and I must go and come many times, before all the things can be carried."
"It will be less danger there than here, Alessandro," said Ramona, bursting into violent weeping as she recalled the insolent leer with which the man Jake had looked at her. "Oh! I cannot stay here!"
"It will not be many days, my Majel. I will borrow Fernando's pony, to take double at once; then we can go sooner."
"Who was it stole that man's steer?" said Ramona. "Why did you not tell them? They looked as if they would kill you."
"It was that Mexican that lives in the bottom, Jose Castro. I myself came on him, cutting the steer up. He said it was his; but I knew very well, by the way he spoke, he was lying. But why should I tell? They think only Indians will steal cattle. I can tell them, the Mexicans steal more."