A gleam of wild delight flitted across Alessandro's face. "It is well," he said. "My Majella, we will go to the mountain; we will be safe there."
The same fierce restlessness which took possession of him at San Pasquale again showed itself in his every act. His mind was unceasingly at work, planning the details of their move and of the new life. He mentioned them one after another to Ramona. They could not take both horses; feed would be scanty there, and there would be no need of two horses. The cow also they must give up. Alessandro would kill her, and the meat, dried, would last them for a long time. The wagon he hoped he could sell; and he would buy a few sheep; sheep and goats could live well in these heights to which they were going. Safe at last! Oh, yes, very safe; not only against whites, who, because the little valley was so small and bare, would not desire it, but against Indians also. For the Indians, silly things, had a terror of the upper heights of San Jacinto; they believed the Devil lived there, and money would not hire one of the Saboba Indians to go so high as this valley which Alessandro had discovered. Fiercely he gloated over each one of these features of safety in their hiding-place. "The first time I saw it, Majella,-- I believe the saints led me there,-- I said, it is a hiding-place. And then I never thought I would be in want of such,-- of a place to keep my Majella safe! safe! Oh, my Majel!" And he clasped her to his breast with a terrifying passion.
For an Indian to sell a horse and wagon in the San Jacinto valley was not an easy thing, unless he would give them away. Alessandro had hard work to give civil answers to the men who wished to buy Benito and the wagon for quarter of their value. He knew they would not have dared to so much as name such prices to a white man. Finally Ramona, who had felt unconquerable misgivings as to the wisdom of thus irrevocably parting from their most valuable possessions, persuaded him to take both horses and wagon to San Bernardino, and offer them to the Hyers to use for the winter.
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."