For a moment Aunt Ri looked at the kneeling figures with contempt. "Oh, Lawd!" she thought, "the pore heathen, prayin' ter a picter!" Then a sudden revulsion seized her. "I allow I ain't gwine ter be the unly one out er the hull number thet don't seem to hev nothin' ter pray ter; I allow I'll jine in prayer, tew, but I shan't say mine ter no picter!" And Aunt Ri fell on her knees; and when a young Indian woman by her side slipped a rosary into her hand, Aunt Ri did not repulse it, but hid it in the folds of her gown till the prayers were done. It was a moment and a lesson Aunt Ri never forgot.
THE Capitan's house faced the east. Just as day broke, and the light streamed in at the open door, Ramona's eyes unclosed. Felipe and Aunt Ri were both by her side. With a look of bewildered terror, she gazed at them.
"Thar, thar, naow! Yer jest shet yer eyes 'n' go right off ter sleep agin, honey," said Aunt Ri, composedly, laying her hand on Ramona's eyelids, and compelling them down. "We air hyar, Feeleepy 'n' me, 'n' we air goin' ter stay. I allow yer needn't be afeerd o' nothin'. Go ter sleep, honey."
The eyelids quivered beneath Aunt Ri's fingers. Tears forced their way, and rolled slowly down the cheeks. The lips trembled; the voice strove to speak, but it was only like the ghost of a whisper, the faint question that came,-- "Felipe?"
"Yes, dear! I am here, too," breathed Felipe; "go to sleep. We will not leave you!"
And again Ramona sank away into the merciful sleep which was saving her life.
"Ther longer she kin sleep, ther better," said Aunt Ri, with a sigh, deep-drawn like a groan. "I allow I dread ter see her reely come to. 'T'll be wus'n the fust; she'll hev ter live it all over again!"
But Aunt Ri did not know what forces of fortitude had been gathering in Ramona's soul during these last bitter years. Out of her gentle constancy had been woven the heroic fibre of which martyrs are made; this, and her inextinguishable faith, had made her strong, as were those of old, who "had trial of cruel mocking, wandering about, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."