"Oh, give her to me! Let her lie on my breast! I will hold her warm!" gasped Ramona.
Silently Alessandro laid the body in her arms. He had not spoken since his first cry of alarm, If Ramona had looked at him, she would have forgotten her grief for her dead child. Alessandro's face seemed turned to stone.
When they reached the house, Ramona, laying the child on the bed, ran hastily to a corner of the room, and lifting the deerskin, drew from its hiding-place the little wooden Jesus. With tears streaming, she laid it again in the Madonna's arms, and flinging herself on her knees, sobbed out prayers for forgiveness. Alessandro stood at the foot of the bed, his arms folded, his eyes riveted on the child. Soon he went out, still without speaking. Presently Ramona heard the sound of a saw. She groaned aloud, and her tears flowed faster: Alessandro was making the baby's coffin. Mechanically she rose, and, moving like one half paralyzed, she dressed the little one in fresh white clothes for the burial; then laying her in the cradle, she spread over it the beautiful lace-wrought altar-cloth. As she adjusted its folds, her mind was carried back to the time when she embroidered it, sitting on the Senora's veranda; the song of the finches, the linnets; the voice and smile of Felipe; Alessandro sitting on the steps, drawing divine music from his violin. Was that she, -- that girl who sat there weaving the fine threads in the beautiful altar-cloth? Was it a hundred years ago? Was it another world? Was it Alessandro yonder, driving those nails into a coffin? How the blows rang, louder and louder! The air seemed deafening full of sound. With her hands pressed to her temples, Ramona sank to the floor. A merciful unconsciousness set her free, for an interval, from her anguish.
When she opened her eyes, she was lying on the bed. Alessandro had lifted her and laid her there, making no effort to rouse her. He thought she would die too; and even that thought did not stir him from his lethargy. When she opened her eyes, and looked at him, he did not speak. She closed them. He did not move. Presently she opened them again. "I heard you out there," she said.
"Yes," he replied. "It is done." And he pointed to a little box of rough boards by the side of the cradle.
"Is Majella ready to go to the mountain now?" he asked.
"Yes, Alessandro, I am ready," she said.
"We will hide forever," he said.