It would be just the work for Jos, to keep him in the open air, if he could get teaming to do; she was sure he would be thankful for the chance. "He is as fond of the horses as we are ourselves, Alessandro," she said. "They would be well cared for; and then, if we did not like living on the mountain, we could have the horses and wagon again when we came down, or Jos could sell them for us in San Bernardino. Nobody could see Benito and Baba working together, and not want them."
"Majella is wiser than the dove!" cried Alessandro. "She has seen what is the best thing to do. I will take them."
When he was ready to set off, he implored Ramona to go with him; but with a look of horror she refused. "Never," she cried, "one step on that accursed road! I will never go on that road again unless it is to be carried, as we brought her, dead."
Neither did Ramona wish to see Aunt Ri. Her sympathy would be intolerable, spite of all its affectionate kindliness. "Tell her I love her," she said, "but I do not want to see a human being yet; next year perhaps we will go down,-- if there is any other way besides that road."
Aunt Ri was deeply grieved. She could not understand Ramona's feeling. It rankled deep. "I allow I'd never hev bleeved it uv her, never," she said. "I shan't never think she wuz quite right 'n her head, to do 't! I allow we shan't never set eyes on ter her, Jos. I've got jest thet feelin' abaout it. 'Pears like she'd gone klar out 'er this yer world inter anuther."
The majestic bulwark of San Jacinto Mountain looms in the southern horizon of the San Bernardino valley. It was in full sight from the door of the little shanty in which Aunt Ri's carpet-loom stood. As she sat there hour after hour, sometimes seven hours to the day, working the heavy treadle, and slipping the shuttle back and forth, she gazed with tender yearnings at the solemn, shining summit. When sunset colors smote it, it glowed like fire; on cloudy days, it was lost in the clouds.
"'Pears like 'twas next door to heaven, up there, Jos," Aunt Ri would say. "I can't tell yer the feelin' 't comes over me, to look up 't it, ever sence I knowed she wuz there. 'T shines enuf to put yer eyes aout, sometimes; I allow 'tain't so light's thet when you air into 't; 't can't be; ther couldn't nobody stan' it, ef 't wuz. I allow 't must be like bein' dead, Jos, don't yer think so, to be livin' thar? He sed ther couldn't nobody git to 'em. Nobody ever seed the place but hisself. He found it a huntin'. Thar's water thar, 'n' thet's abaout all thar is, fur's I cud make aout; I allow we shan't never see her agin."
The horses and the wagon were indeed a godsend to Jos. It was the very thing he had been longing for; the only sort of work he was as yet strong enough to do, and there was plenty of it to be had in San Bernardino. But the purchase of a wagon suitable for the purpose was at present out of their power; the utmost Aunt Ri had hoped to accomplish was to have, at the end of a year, a sufficient sum laid up to buy one. They had tried in vain to exchange their heavy emigrant-wagon for one suitable for light work. "'Pears like I'd die o' shame," said Aunt Ri, "sometimes when I ketch myself er thinkin' what luck et's ben to Jos, er gettin' thet Injun's hosses an' waggin. But ef Jos keeps on, airnin' ez much ez he hez so fur, he's goin' ter pay the Injun part on 't, when he cums. I allow ter Jos 'tain't no more'n fair. Why, them hosses, they'll dew good tew days' work'n one. I never see sech hosses; 'n' they're jest like kittens; they've ben drefful pets, I allow. I know she set all the world, 'n' more tew, by thet nigh one. He wuz hern, ever sence she wuz a child. Pore thing,-- 'pears like she hedn't hed no chance!"