At last he asked her. To his unutterable surprise, Ramona cried: "Felipe! The saints be praised! I should never have told you. I did not think that you could wish to leave this estate. But my most beautiful dream for Ramona would be, that she should grow up in Mexico."
And as she spoke, Felipe understood by a lightning intuition, and wondered that he had not foreknown it, that she would spare her daughter the burden she had gladly, heroically borne herself, in the bond of race.
The question was settled. With gladness of heart almost more than he could have believed possible, Felipe at once communicated with some rich American proprietors who had desired to buy the Moreno estate. Land in the valley had so greatly advanced in value, that the sum he received for it was larger than he had dared to hope; was ample for the realization of all his plans for the new life in Mexico. From the hour that this was determined, and the time for their sailing fixed, a new expression came into Ramona's face. Her imagination was kindled. An untried future beckoned,-- a future which she would embrace and conquer for her daughter. Felipe saw the look, felt the change, and for the first time hoped. It would be a new world, a new life; why not a new love? She could not always be blind to his devotion; and when she saw it, could she refuse to reward it? He would be very patient, and wait long, he thought. Surely, since he had been patient so long without hope, he could be still more patient now that hope had dawned! But patience is not hope's province in breasts of lovers. From the day when Felipe first thought to himself, "She will yet be mine," it grew harder, and not easier, for him to refrain from pouring out his love in words. Her tender sisterliness, which had been such balm and comfort to him, grew at times intolerable; and again and again her gentle spirit was deeply disquieted with the fear that she had displeased him, so strangely did he conduct himself.
He had resolved that nothing should tempt him to disclose to her his passion and its dreams, until they had reached their new home. But there came a moment which mastered him, and he spoke.
It was in Monterey. They were to sail on the morrow; and had been on board the ship to complete the last arrangements. They were rowed back to shore in a little boat. A full moon shone. Ramona sat bareheaded in the end of the boat, and the silver radiance from the water seemed to float up around her, and invest her as with a myriad halos. Felipe gazed at her till his senses swam; and when, on stepping from the boat, she put her hand in his, and said, as she had said hundreds of times before, "Dear Felipe, how good you are!" he clasped her hands wildly, and cried, "Ramona, my love! Oh, can you not love me?"
The moonlight was bright as day. They were alone on the shore. Ramona gazed at him for one second, in surprise. Only for a second; then she knew all. "Felipe! My brother!" she cried, and stretched out her hands as if in warning.
"No! I am not your brother!" he cried. "I will not be your brother! I would rather die!"
"Felipe!" cried Ramona again. This time her voice recalled him to himself. It was a voice of terror and of pain.